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BY Joe Marianek


Toys R Us Grows

Toys R Us Logo, Before and After

Toys R Us, Inc. finally trimmed a thread of frivolous grammatical imposition from their logo. The company’s new legal name is Toys R Us…(no quotation marks around the backwards R). The star has been stuffed into the engorged R in order to make a tight and simple(r) wordmark which is less patriotic, more bulbous and more fun.

This cleanup of the standby colloquial faux-mistake “R” is the result of a re-branding process which puts the company and its family of sub-brands right up-to-date with the implicit actions of their audience: kids who don’t dwell on writing mistakes or punctuation, and would rather just get lost in toys and acting their age. So the famous jingle by ad-veteran Linda Kaplan Thaler goes:

I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys R Us kid. There’s a million toys at Toys R Us that I can play with! More bikes, more trains, more video games, it’s the biggest toy store there is! I don’t want to grow, because then if I did, I wouldn’t be a Toys R Us kid!

If you need a reminder try this, or this ad from 1986. The Jingle is gone… but not forgotten.

Founder Charles Lazarus punned the brand name out of his own: Laz “R” Us owned a kids furniture store during the post-war baby boom era; kids and parents started asking for toys and so it came to be…Toys “R” Us. The backward-ness of the R was meant to evoke child’s naiveté. Curiously, in the Russian Alphabet, the letter (Я) pronounced “ya,” is the personal pronoun “I.” One could wonder if Mr. Lazarus had an affinity for the commy-tongue, as he was a cryptologist in WWII. It’s goofy to have any sign spelled wrong, and kids crack the code. “We at Toys R Us are young and like toys, also, when it comes to matters of spelling—well, this is a toy store—not a classroom.”

The festive appearance of what would be a box of a store communicates play and experience. Even in small spaces, the backlit signs do the job. The authority of its sign’s huge letters not only accurately hint to the kids at the fun contents of the box, but it nods to parents who turn to it as a one-stop experiential pacifier: a commercial playground at which their family can pass the afternoon. Toys R Us remains the bright beacon of hope, the reward to end any 4-hour shopping spree.

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Apparently, 400 of these stores will receive facelifts soon… in light of the new branding campaign by Leo Burnett. A beautiful collection of their old stores can be seen on here.

“For the past 18 months we’ve been rebuilding our business to provide our customers with stores that are easier to navigate and feature exclusive products that they can’t get anywhere else combined with a superior shopping experience that’s second to none,” said John Eyler, Chairman and CEO of Toys “R” Us, Inc. “Now, with about 60% of the chain in the new store formats — the balance will be ready by holiday 2002 — we’re ready to tell the world about what’s been going on at Toys “R” Us through our new branding campaign.”

Just as he did in 1978, Geoffrey the Giraffe remains a rigorous mascot who has accompanied the store to lend a friendly, safe, non-corporate tone, though the other day my friend actually saw Geoffrey chasing some scared pedestrians down Broadway near the new Toys R Us popup location. Geoff’s evolution is striking: he has gone from a cartoon to a realistic to a 14-foot animatronic Stan Winston creation, with the distinctive buttery voice of Jim (brother-of-Tom) Hanks.

geoff.gif
This may be the new animatronic Geoffrey.

Cheryl Berman, chairman and creative officer at Leo Burnett USA says in this article on the rebranding… “Geoffrey’s just what we need in today’s world to remind us of the delight we experience in making our children happy.”

So, to recap, slight and often imperceptible cleanups include:
–The loss of the quotation marks. (redundant?)
–Moving the big marshmellow holding-shape star into the counter of the R (for less cutesy patriotism?)
–Redrawn, rescaled and re-spaced lettering (to signal more extreme and varied toys?)
–Shifting wordmark colors to simpler equivalents (more timeless and easier to control on screen.?)
–Neutral blue for background-control (to harness the white stroke on the web?)
–Cleanup of related brand logos, such as the clothes store ‘Babies R Us’.

babies.gif

Overall, this is an improvement over the former mark. They didn’t toss any real equities, and it seems that they’re guidelining it so that it can look the same in Detroit as it does in Dubai. Both the current and former operate on a necessary visceral level…and carries multiple burdens very well. The logo still has a background control issue, which are almost solved by squishing the letters together. Nonetheless, the white outline won’t always be necessary, and at times will be critical in providing visibility against the beige stucco/crag storefronts. Those quotation marks have long played a belt-and-suspenders role to parse the R; so it is logical and pleasing to see it without. In fact, it elucidates the R and just lets in all the goofy. Also, these new colors will probably be easier to manage now that yellow is gone (usually a nightmare to achieve in print and light).

One would hope for the sake of environmental sensibility that the company does not hastily remake every single piece of signage and business collateral in their big box stores across 30 countries… There can’t possibly be a pressing need or benefit to shareholders and audiences to communicate this nearly imperceptible change. Rather, this could be a sober implementation that is installed on new stores, and so-forth on an as-needed basis.

Young users of the metaverse, or internet as it were, have long-used shorthand chat-room English to communicate casually and quickly-kids today know this sh*t cold; and it’s dorky to use quotes, save that for 7th grade.

Bonus: Here’s that fun balloon font, ToyBox.

Entry Information

DATE: Oct.29.2007|CAT: Retailers| 54

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Comments Jump to Most Recent Comment

stefano picco’s comment is:

I like it!

great to create logo families ;)

On Oct.29.2007 at 10:03 AM

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Ty’s comment is:

Not sure how I feel about the R being so loud with the star in it. Other than that, I am pleased to see the quote marks go.

On Oct.29.2007 at 10:05 AM

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john c.’s comment is:

I like it but i think the backwards R encourages dyslexia.

On Oct.29.2007 at 11:20 AM

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Armin’s comment is:

I'm just coocoo for how the O fits so snuggly between the T and Y. Those three letters, in this bubbly and friendly style were meant to be together.

The US could have been just a tad closer to the R to keep the same spacing throughout.

This is great touchup to an already memorable logo.

On Oct.29.2007 at 11:27 AM

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damon’s comment is:

I like it better.

I think they might have been better off doing a full rebrand rather than just refresh. I also think they've done a good thing by adding a bit more depth to the colour scheme. Orange is deeper and the green is fresher and more modern.

On Oct.29.2007 at 11:30 AM

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nicelogo’s comment is:

TOYS-ARE-WE. Nice work coming from a large shop. The R eating the star looks fun too. I'd love to hear who did the actual typography. The Babies R Us didn't seem to get the same love. Now about that shopping experience (by 2002?). The changes to the stores floor plan seems well organized however the prices are not low enough for the T-R-U low-brow experience they actually deliver. It takes more then a good logo and live animals to inspire brand change... good luck with that, really.

On Oct.29.2007 at 11:33 AM

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Ryan’s comment is:

It's a good revision with such a minor visual change that it improves upon the old without sacrificing its legacy.

Now all Toys R Us needs to do is make some decent stores that don't look run down from the exterior (and interior).

On Oct.29.2007 at 11:37 AM

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darrel’s comment is:

Logo aside, they still seem to be the most disorganized, ugliest, poorly laid out retail chains I've ever seen.

And while the quotes always bothered me, it is interesting to hear the origin of them.

On Oct.29.2007 at 11:37 AM

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C-Lo’s comment is:

It's a subtle change that does wonders. I esp. like the bouncing of the letters expressed in the "toys". That gives the overall logo a much more fun and energetic feel. Much better then the set type look of the old one. Little changes like this remind me of what my teacher said to me in college. "Always review your art one last time even when you think your done. Cause it'll take half as long to make it twice as good."

On Oct.29.2007 at 11:39 AM

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darrel’s comment is:

Logo aside, they still seem to be the most disorganized, ugliest, poorly laid out retail chains I've ever seen.

And while the quotes always bothered me, it is interesting to hear the origin of them.

On Oct.29.2007 at 11:42 AM

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Doug’s comment is:

Finally, a brand update that's sensibly, carefully handled and doesn't abandon everything that the public has come to associate with the logo. With Wal-Mart becoming the biggest toy retailer in the US, it's a great time for Toys R Us to reposition itself, visually.

On Oct.29.2007 at 12:11 PM

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Von Glitschka’s comment is:

Nice!

On Oct.29.2007 at 01:02 PM

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Unit B’s comment is:

I'm glad Darrel said it. The store itself is kind of a downer as a shopping experience. No logo update is going to change that. As for the logo, metza-metz. Bland, little impact.

On Oct.29.2007 at 01:40 PM

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Joe Marianek’s comment is:

Evidentally, the tweaked logo is the tip of the iceberg, intended to signal and supplement improvements in their brick and mortar operations. According to this article, they're overhauling 400 retail locations.

On Oct.29.2007 at 02:02 PM

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Von Glitschka’s comment is:

I agree with Armin the "US" is too far away from the "R".

On Oct.29.2007 at 02:18 PM

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Gregg Jones’s comment is:

Color scheme is much nicer.
Offset type is more playful.
Not sure they even need the knocked out star in the "R" but overall, I really like the subtle changes.

On Oct.29.2007 at 03:21 PM

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disgruntled designer’s comment is:

reminds me of baskin robbins.

On Oct.29.2007 at 03:26 PM

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ChrisM70’s comment is:

Better logo. The "o" in Toys is MUCH better.

As for the mascot Geoffrey, if you look on the website, he appears to have gone back to being a cartoon, but now he's a retro-styled giraffe (notice the star-shaped spots). Also an improvement.

Now, all they need to do is become a better store!

On Oct.29.2007 at 03:30 PM

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ChrisM70’s comment is:

Better logo. The "o" in Toys is MUCH better.

As for the mascot Geoffrey, if you look on the website, he appears to have gone back to being a cartoon, but now he's a retro-styled giraffe (notice the star-shaped spots). Also an improvement.

Now, all they need to do is become a better store!

On Oct.29.2007 at 03:31 PM

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Mark’s comment is:

This is soooooo much better than the previous mark, which the huge star took out the logos original simplicity.

This has got me hyped up to go to Toys R Us soon.

Hopefully this will bring back some remnants of the rainbow color pattern, I loved that pattern so colorful!!!!

Now if only they ditch the plain white walls in their new stores and the blue monochrome color scheme.

ah, nostalgia. :)

On Oct.29.2007 at 03:42 PM

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Jeff’s comment is:

A vast improvement! I love it actually, though agree that the spacing between the backwards R and US should have been more tightly kerned.

Now see this is what the guys at Interbrand should have been aiming for with the Holiday Inn rebrand. A facelift that hold true to the integrity of the original mark without losing the charm.

On Oct.29.2007 at 04:25 PM

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zedzedeye’s comment is:

The new cartoon Giraffe seems to come into the new "kids book" style. With a girlfriend who teaches kindergarden, I see all the new new styles, and its all about paper cutting out shapes like Southpark. Classroom meets Corpoate America (scary as usual)

On Oct.29.2007 at 10:43 PM

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K. West’s comment is:

I like it as well, though I find it odd that the "o" in "toys" is the only orange character while all the other minor character's colors repeat once (2 greens, 2 magentas, 1 orange).

I do not have a proposed solution however.

On Oct.29.2007 at 11:37 PM

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K. West’s comment is:

I also dislike the dullness of the new orange.

Oh well, nitpicks.

On Oct.29.2007 at 11:38 PM

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Danny Tanner’s comment is:

Looks pretty tooty fruity.
I'm reminded of gummy bears and zebra fruit stripe gum.

Both available at Toys"R"us!

Recently, I witnessed a child crying out of joy on the CANDY FLOOR of Toys"R"us in Times Square. Holding two lollypops, both larger than her head, and a life sized chocolate rabbit (I thought may be out of season, but didn't remark) she fell to her knees and exclaimed "I could die right here and it would be OK."

I guess Toys"R"us is still doin what they do best.

On Oct.30.2007 at 12:29 AM

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Name (Required)’s comment is:

Apparently, 400 of these stores will receive facelifts soon...in lieu of the new branding campaign by Leo Burnett.

Wait a second... did you say they're giving stores face-lifts instead of a new branding campaign? Isn't it both at once? The quote following your sentence contradicts it, the connection to Burnett isn't explained elsewhere, and there is no mention of a failed or reconsidered "new" campaign.

On Oct.30.2007 at 01:13 AM

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ZzaRaZza’s comment is:

What's with that 'affinity for the commy-tongue'?

On Oct.30.2007 at 04:48 AM

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Blake’s comment is:

I like the idea of letting go of gramatical correctness, and letting kids be kids ("Jesus Margaret, the kid's not gonna grow up a moron because this store's name isn't spelled properly")

I'm still partial to the spacing and sizing of the letters in the old logo though. Maybe the craziness was taken a little too far. Then again, putting myself in a kid's shoes, it doesn't bother me one bit.

TOYS!!!

On Oct.30.2007 at 08:56 AM

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Joe M. ’s comment is:

No name,
Thanks—indeed 'in lieu' is 'in light.'
i've made the change. (At least we didn't
get our punctuation marks wrong.)

On Oct.30.2007 at 12:25 PM

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rynot’s comment is:

a very nice update using existing equities and, what is all-too-rare, restraint. i actually believe the space between the R & US is just fine, it provides a much needed pause and a subtle balance to the right half of the logotype. bravo.

On Oct.30.2007 at 03:28 PM

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stock_illustration’s comment is:

Very nice and seamless update to the old logo...something I wish alot of the other case studies shown lately would have considered.

On Oct.31.2007 at 11:31 AM

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T’s comment is:

Complete waste of money. They'll never recoup the cost of the new signage.

On Nov.10.2007 at 02:08 AM

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Mark’s comment is:

They really succeeded in making the letters playful.

nice.

Now if only they could retain some of that old brown roofed rainbow style in their store design.

On Nov.10.2007 at 02:14 PM

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Gus Gusimio’s comment is:

Yeah... It's a great new logo and they've also implemented an email spam program to go with it! I get an email everyday from the new toysrus and I've tried to unregister my email address no less than ten times. Because of this uncontrollable spam, I will never buy another toysrus product. So, when you add the frustrated recipients to the China recall fearful, it looks like toysrus is going to go south quickly.

On Nov.11.2007 at 08:27 AM

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David B.’s comment is:

Me likey... Much, much better.

On Nov.18.2007 at 11:37 AM

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bill’s comment is:

Seems like they're focusing on the wrong things. If they need to revamp their corporate infrastructure, why are they fooling around with a logo noone really looks at anyway? People glance for the logo as they're looking for the store; then they just drive in and park & go in. They don't care about quotation marks; they care about buying their kids more junk.

If you really want to tell the world you've re-branded, create a totally new logo that SHOWS the big changes. Create new store layouts, exteriors, employee t-shirts, etc. But making subtle (almost unnoticeable), yet costly, changes seems like a waste.

On Jan.11.2008 at 12:43 PM

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Robin Standard’s comment is:

I think that instead of worrying about changing the logo the owners/upper management need to get in these stores and see them. They are horrible! They are dirty, unorganized, and the only way I ever go there is if I absolutely have to have something that only they carry. I used to love toys r us, it was so neat and fun as a kid, I have four kids and I have only taken my kids there once! After that I didn't go back because it is filthy, unorganized, and there was one cashier to a line of 20 people. We waited in line for 30 minutes or more! Really....dont concentrate on the logo FIX your stores! I am giving this advice not to be rude, but as a customer who would like to see the toys r us I remember as a kid, a clean and fun store, not a dirty, run down store. I hope that you will consider this.

On Apr.28.2008 at 02:42 AM

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Joan’s comment is:

I was really hoping the backward "r" would be corrected. Kids don't need to see letters in a reversed position. It's not funny and it's not being picky.

On Apr.30.2008 at 11:34 PM

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Jucarii’s comment is:

Nice shop, great family and with their devoted talent, over time, a lot of kids enjoyed all good stuff.
Jucarii copii

On May.12.2008 at 07:38 PM

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andrew’s comment is:

i dont think toys r us shoud chage i think it could have a brand new inside of every tos r us and more toys that could be made by peolpe

On May.14.2008 at 06:56 PM

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Glenn’s comment is:

Love it.

On May.15.2008 at 01:27 AM

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Anonymous’s comment is:

I want zebra gum back in the stores

On May.18.2008 at 11:36 AM

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designabiffita’s comment is:

I swore to myself that I wouldn't make juvenile, unconstructive comments here, but.

The R looks like a pair of puffy blue jeans to me, and a big butt. Sorry.

I think these types of brand makeovers are too minor. I seriously doubt the typical consumer will notice the visual update. It is not profound enough to re-position or ellicit reconsideration of the chain vs. Wal-Mart. The capital expense of changing signs and internal forms will not be recovered in incremental sales. TRU needs another Christmas selling season to stay profitable. Maybe they can invent a summer gift-giving holiday, or maybe sell jeans?

On May.19.2008 at 05:18 PM

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Priscilla Williams’s comment is:

As a former associate of Toys R Us, retiring a year and half ago. When they changed my Geoffrey, I was unhappy, the new logo is nice. Time moves on. I joined Toys 1978, had a wonderful career. Yes, we need some changes in our stores, cleaning up etc. But I am so very proud to have been a loyal employee with a wonderful company through all the changes. I will always be a Toys R us Kid...leaving my career as a Manager, my life was full of wonderful GUESTS, that came through our stores. Thank you for 29 wonderful years....Geoffrey!And all of you whom shop in our stores.

On May.21.2008 at 12:36 AM

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Tim Whalen’s comment is:

I think the Babies R Us Logo works better in terms of the spacing between the R and the Us, but overall I like the new mark. It's an evolution in the right direction.

On Jul.30.2008 at 08:15 PM

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Tim Whalen’s comment is:

Ah... I meant between the Toys and the R... crap... that's what you get for being a first time poster...

On Jul.30.2008 at 08:15 PM

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Miyuki S’s comment is:

I'm not buying the "Emperor's New Clothes". I think the bloated and larger R makes the whole logo harder to read. And, I disagree with the comment that the star looked patriotic before. It wasn't broken; it didn't need to be fixed.

On Oct.14.2008 at 12:06 PM

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Michael Pardo’s comment is:

All that needed to be done was to remove the quotes from the "R". Keep the bright vibrant colors. The new colors are all about the same tone and everything seems to blend together. It's no longer interesting.

On Oct.14.2008 at 12:13 PM

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Mark’s comment is:

I miss the blue color and the rainbow colors they were much more cheery, this new tan color they're painting the stores, is just dull and unexciting, they killed the magic from the storefronts, why that dull tan color? How is that going to attract attention from the road?

I found an example of this on a forum:



On Oct.14.2008 at 10:44 PM

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Anonymous’s comment is:

I do not go to TOYs "R" us /TOYs R us
NOW.

On Oct.16.2008 at 01:07 PM

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Amanda’s comment is:

i like it! a nice update, I think.

and that gif above...HILARIOUS!!!

On Oct.28.2008 at 03:06 AM

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Michael Skjei’s comment is:

The Toys R Us logo redesign and branding was not done by
Leo Burnett as stated in your article.It was done in Minneapolis by Carmichael Lynch Thorburn.

On Jan.07.2009 at 10:49 AM

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Elaine’s comment is:

Thank goodness; the quotation marks have been bugging me since probably age 10. I remember wondering why "R" and not 'R or just R??

On Mar.10.2009 at 05:32 PM

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BRU Employee’s comment is:

The pic in Mark's comment is an example of the company's new direction. All future Toys R Us and Babies R Us will be in a side-by-side superstore format.

Babies R Us employee

On Apr.20.2009 at 11:13 PM

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As we move into a new chapter of Brand New — and a new commenting mechanism — all posts published before June 2009 have been closed for comments.


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