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Toymakers Stress Value for the Holidays

You can tell it's getting close to Christmas by the frequency of the "hot toy" lists.

Toys
CNBC.com
Toys

We covered Toys 'R Us's list last week, and today, Timetoplay.com issued its list and hosted a Holiday Showcase.

Affordable toys reign supreme again on this latest list. But there are other trends emerging as well.

Continuing off of brisk sales of food-based toys last year, we are seeing toys that not only bake but make candy.

This actually may be a subcategory of another trend, a resurgence in the popularity of activity-based playsets.

This trend can be seen in Wild Planet's Crayola-branded Crayon Town. This playset combines components. There is a 3-D town a child can color, along with plastic molded parts that can be combined with crayons for imaginative play.

Other trends are toys that have an online component. This may be carried out by including a code that unlocks more content online or be a fully integrated component of how toy operates.

For example, Crayola is beginning to sell its larger size crayon packs with codes that allow users to upload photographs that can be converted into coloring books.

But the online component of the Dora the Explorer doll is an essential part of play with the doll. Change Dora's hair, eye or lip color online, and the doll changes in the real world.

(See the accompanying video for more industry interviews with CNBC's Bertha Coombs.)

It should be noted that this Dora doll, licensed by Viacom's Nickeloden and manufactured by Mattel, has grown up and is targeted to tweens.

Other names on the list should be very familiar. Spin Master's Bakugan is back, with its Bakugan 7 in 1 Maxus Dragonoid. This has been included on many hot toy lists, and will no doubt be on many boys' wish lists.

For girls, there is Mattel's Barbie Fashionistas. These dolls are all about the things that make Barbie so popular: clothes and hair. But they also have articulated arms, which will make them easier to pose.

The interactive Zhu Zhu Pets Hamster, which was also on the Toys 'R Us list, is on this one as well. The inexpensive toy, which sells for less than $10, is already selling out at many stores.

While some brands tend to be back year after year, the list's creators shy away from having virtually the same toys on the list for two straight years. However. They brought back Jakks Pacific's EyeClops Night Vision Goggles. This time the toy has a lower price, $60, and a greater distance, 50 feet, of night vision.

Rocky the Robot Truck from Matchbox also made today's list as well as another list from Toy Insider. This toy, which dances and says more than 100 phrases may provide boys with the inspiration to truly give its toys a personality.

Speaking with toymakers from Mattel and Hasbro to Jakks Pacific and Spin Master, they emphasized that in these days of restrained spending, toys are still accessible to most parents and offer hours of shared family time for low price points.

Still, there has been more time to prepare for this climate. MEGA Brands admits to be very aware of this trend while developing its Battle Strikers to ensure that the product provides a better value to consumers.

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