There may be a recession going on but don't look for signs of it in the toy aisle. There, you may still see mom-to-mom combat for the hottest toys — that is, if you can even find them.
In fact, in raising its forecast for the holiday-shopping season, America's Research Group cited toys among the top-three selling items this season, along with kids' clothes and electronics.
Wal-Mart, which jumped out front in early October with toy discounts, is dominating overall foot traffic, garnering a whopping two-thirds of shoppers last weekend. More than 12 percent went to Toys "R" Us.
"When you look at overall dollars, no question [toy spending is] going to be down, but relative to other sectors and industries, it's going to hold up pretty well," said Gareb Shamus, publisher of Toy Wishesmagazine.
Reflecting shoppers' low-price priorities this holiday season, the No. 1 hottest-selling toy has been Bakugan Battle Brawlers, a line of action figures from — wait for it — Japan, based on an animated series that runs on the Cartoon Network. It's got the cool factor that kids love — roll a ball and a robo-warrior pops out, or launch one off your wrist — and a $5 entry price that moms love. Of course, collecting all the pieces can be pricey. The Battle Arena, for example, is $30, and a rare Bakugan can run you as much as $100.
"Bakugan has been on every list — It's just powering through at retail," Shamus says. And, the harder to find it becomes, the more kids have to have it.
"There is that chase element," Shamus says.
And, this could go on for a while — Universal Pictures just agreed to make a live action film, due out in 2010. (Like CNBC, Universal is owned by General Electric .)
Speaking of movies, Lego Star Warsand Lego Batman videogames have also been hot sellers, along with Star Wars action figures, thanks to the popularity of their respective films and, in the case of the Lego videogames, YouTube. (Check out a video of the Lego Star Wars videogame.)
Here's another YouTube video you have to watch: A surprisingly professional-looking short film of two boys playing with another one of the season's most elusive toys: the Clone-Trooper Voice-Changer Helmet.
Oh, that's right.
Broughten, it has been.
Some of the season's hottest toys got their following not on the big screen, or the little screen, but on your computer screen. Club Penguin, which was bought by Disney recently, and Webkinz all started off as destination Web sites for kids, then grew into a merchandising franchise.
"It gives [manufacturers] an enormous amount of exposure on a very regular basis that's not tied to a schedule," Shamus points out, compared with television-based characters which are only on on a certain day and time.
One noticeable trend this season is that parents are favoring inexpensive toys this season, but more of them.
"It's definitely more challenging from a financial perspective, however, there’s such a great selection of toys, we’re finding that parents are opting to buy lots more smaller items to create more volume of products for their children," Shamus says.
Wait, did he just say more toys?
This is gonna be the best Christmas EVEEEEEEEEEEEEEER!!!!!!!!
Here's the full list of hot toys that are selling out or close to it, according to Toy Wishes:
- Bakugan Battle Brawlers
- Lego Star Warsand Lego Batman videogames
- Star Wars Action Figures — All, but particulary Clone Command Cody and Ahsoka Tano
- Dora Magical Castle Figures (Here's the castle)
- Ben 10 Alien Creation Chamber
- Hasbro — Marvel Transformers
- Yo Gabba Gabba Dance Mat
- Clone Wars Voice-Changing Helmet
- Wall-E – U-Command, I-dance and Transforming
- Club Penguin – Plush and trading cards
- Webkinz – Plush
- Imaginext – Superfriends
- Nerf Blasters
- EyeClops NightVision Infrared Stealth Goggles
- Girl Gourmet cupcake maker
Recent Holiday Central Posts:
- Airline-Baggage Fees Deliver Boost to UPS
- Online Retailers Ramp Up Deals as Holidays Near
- Are Luxury Retail Stocks a Diamond in the Rough?
- Forget Elmo. And the iPod. This is the Year of ...
- Shoppers Want 70% Off—and Something Fuzzy
- The Christmas Tree Indicator: Myth or Magic?
- Are Toys Too Pricey for a Recession?
Questions? Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org