“They tried this last year,” said Mattel spokeswoman Lauren Dougherty, “but Barbie is still the number one fashion theme doll for the year in the United States and worldwide.” So who is the real princess? Neither, according to Alison Marek, the managing editor of TD monthly, a specialty toy trade magazine. “As far as (my readers) are concerned, neither Bratz or Barbie is the number one doll because they don’t want their kids playing with them,” she said. “A lot of parents would prefer that their kids find something that reflects their own peer group.” But the competition is healthy. “If somebody is breathing down your neck,” Marek said, “you need to think of the next thing.” email@example.com (818) 713-3735 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Let the catfight begin. If the toy industry is one big popularity contest, Barbie and Bratz are wrestling over the queen’s crown. Both claimed Monday to be the fashionable doll that has won the hearts – and purses – of little girls. The dueling claims are the latest in a drawn-out battle between the two doll makers that has included lawsuits, counter-lawsuits and backhanded gossip about the dolls. Both Mattel, which makes Barbie, and MGA Entertainment, which makes Bratz, can say they are number one by touting different statistics from the NPD Group, a market research firm. If you look at sales from the last three months of 2006 in the United States, Bratz reigns. After trailing in Barbie’s taller, thinner shadow for years, Bratz elbowed Barbie out of the way with 34 percent of sales in the fourth quarter, said Isaac Larian, head of MGA in Van Nuys. Mattel declined to disclose Barbie’s market share for the same period. “For the whole year they were just a little bit higher than us,” Larian said. “For the past seven years we have not been able to beat them. But we finally beat them.” Larian expects Bratz’s lead to last because January sales of the dolls increased by double digits. But Bratz’s lead disappears if you step back and examine sales from the entire year. Then, Barbie is the favorite.