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Already Two Holiday Toys Are in Short Supply

Tuesday, 28 Sep 2010 | 6:28 PM ET

Talking with toy manufacturers at Time to Play magazine's annual holiday showcase event in New York, the message is clear: It is still all about value.

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Perhaps that should not be a surprise, given that unemployment is still high, and the latest read on consumer confidence showed it at its lowest level since February.

Some even scoff and say, the toy business has always been about value no matter the state of the economy. That may be true, but lately it seems it is very rare to see a toy priced above $100 dollars, and in fact most are selling below $50.

That doesn't means consumers aren't buying. The editors of Time to Playmagazine expect the industry can reach estimates that call for sales to be rise between 1 and 2 percent this holiday season over last year. But with prices falling, that means shoppers will be buying a lot of toys to reach that goal.

Time to Play has taken a crack at what it suspects will be the hottest toys of the 2010 Christmas holiday season, and already, for at least two of them, we are hearing reports that supplies are scarce.

The two are: Squinkies from Blip andZooblesfrom Spin Master. Both toys, which have made other hot toy lists, begin selling at extremely low prices. Sets of Squinkies start at as low as $6.99, while some Zoobles cost as little as $4.99. They are made to be collectible, which is great for parents on a budget, who can buy as many—or as little—as they see fit.

Both companies said they were already looking for new ways to ramp up manufacturing and increase supply, but it looks like the hunt will be on for these items.

Squinkies are based on a vending machine concept. There are playsets that can dispense balls containing the little rubbery figures. Kids can also buy figures in packs, each of them containing a number of figures in opaque plastic balls, so it is impossible for kids to know what they'll get.

Zoobles are loosely based on the Bakugan toy, which is also from Spin Master, but this time there are animal-like characters that convert into orbs that open when placed on their magnetic "happitats."

Both toys are more geared toward girls, with pastel colors and designs that are more feminine, but the two companies see enormous possibilites for licensing deals in the future if the products take off.

Zoombles
Source: Amazon.com
Zoombles

Other notables on Time to Play's "Most Wanted" list include Disney Princess & Me Dolls, which were the first toys in limited distribution to make the publication's list.

The dolls, from Jakks Pacific , are sold exclusively at the Disney Store and Toys 'R Us. The collection also includes accessories such as a tea set and an armoire.

To promote the doll, the companies will be hosting Princess & Me parties at Toys 'R Stores around the country in mid-October, giving girls a chance to interact with the brand.

For the boys, the radio contol category continues to have some interesting items with both Mattel's Hot Wheel R/C Stealth Rides and Spin Master'sAir Hogs Moto Frenzy making the list.

Several toys were included that have made it on to other "hot toy" lists this year such as Mattel's Sing-a-ma-jigs, Wowee's Paper Jamz, and Mattel's Monster High dolls.

And yes, Mattel's $29.99 Loopz motion-sensor memory game made yet another hot toy list. As we said there is a lot of buzz building about this toy as well this year.

The complete "Time to Play Holiday 2010 Most Wanted List" is as follows:

Air Hogs Moto Frenzy - Spin Master
Retail price: $24.99

Disney Princess & Me dolls- Jakks Pacific
Retail price: $49.99

Hot Wheels R/C Stealth Rides - Mattel
Retail price: $24.99

Leapster Explorer - Leapfrog
Retail price: $69.99

Lego Games - Lego
Retail price: $29.99

Loopz - Mattel
Retail price: $29.99

Monster High - Mattel
Retail price: $16.99

Nerf N-Strike Stampede ECS Blaster - Hasbro
Retail price: $49.99

Paper Jamz - WowWee
Retail price: $24.99

Real Construction - Jakks Pacific
Retail price: $24.99

Scrabble Flash - Hasbro
Retail price: $29.99

Sing-a-Ma-Jigs - Mattel
Retail price: $12.99

Squinkies - Blip Toys
Retail price: $6.99

Tonka Chuck & Friends Chuck's Stunt Park Playset - Hasbro Playskool
Retail price: $39.99

V.Reader - VTech
Retail price: $59.99

Zoobles - Spin Master
Retail price $4.99

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com

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