Dancing Robots, Flying Fish—Here Come the Hot Holiday Toys
It's that most wonderful time of the year for toy makers. Parents will soon be stuffing the closets full of toys to give as holiday gifts.
But before we get there, parents will need to know what to buy. So here comes the parade of hot holiday toy lists.
First out the gate is the world's largest toy retailer, Toys 'R Us, and Sears Holdings' Kmart, with their lists.
Both retailers issue a list of their top 15 toy picks, but Toys 'R Us also dishes up a larger list of hot toys broken down by age groups.
From the looks of it, there's music in the air.
Most likely there will be a real battle of the bands between Hasbro and Mattel's Fisher-Price, which are bringing out rock-star versions of two of their top licensed characters, Elmo and Mickey.
It will be interesting to see which star shines the brightest in this duo. Toys 'R Us may be giving the edge to Elmo. Although both toys made the Toys 'R Us list, Elmo is among the retailer's "Fabulous 15." And there may be good reason for this.
One of the more attractive features of the Elmo doll is it's a versatile member of the band. He can strum a guitar, he can play the drum, shake a tambourine, or jam on the keyboards. What's more, Elmo shares. The child can join the chorus and play Elmo's instruments when they're not being used by the doll.
Mickey, on the other hand, is a dedicated guitar player, but he has some slick dance moves to keep it interesting for his fans.
Toys 'R Us, not surprisingly, is highlighting its own value pack, which combines Elmo and several instruments. Other retailers may be selling Elmo and the instruments either individually or in other bundled configurations.
In keeping with its strategy to focus on its exclusives this year, Toys 'R Us put a few toys that can only be found at its stores on its hot toy list. It will be interesting to see if these items truly become the hot sellers this year.
One item with a lot of potential is Air Swimmers, a remote-controlled flying fish balloon that had the convention hall buzzing at this year's American International Toy Fair in New York City.
The Toys 'R Us list includes several brands that became popular last year and still have a steady following. Among them are Monster High and Lalaloopsy.
Kmart also has selected a product from the Lalaloopsy brand for its list, but it opted to include a Barbie product — specifically Barbie Designable Hair Extensions and Doll — instead of a selection from the Monster High brand.
In addition, Toys 'R Us is throwing a lot of support behind Moshi Monsters, a brand sold only in its stores. Commercials for the toy line, which is manufactured by Spin Master, have already started running on TV during children's programming. So if kids were unfamiliar with online Moshi Monsters game, they won't be for long.
The toys help bring online play into the real world, and the toys include codes to unlock new elements of the game online.
This game already has a strong fan base, and judging by the turnout at Toys 'R Us's launch event for Moshi that attracted hundreds and hundreds of kids, there is real momentum behind the brand heading into the holiday season.
The Moshi Monsters also help highlight the range of price levels on this year's list. While many of the Moshi packs sell for less than $10, the retailer also included the Power Wheels Dune Racer,a car that sells for nearly $270.
But most toys included on the list fall somewhere in between.
There are several that were new editions of popular brands that incorporate some pretty interesting technology.
For example, Air Hogs Hyperactives — which is on the Toys 'R Us list — upholds the tradition of the brand by testing the boundaries of affordable radio-controlled vehicles. Hyperactives can travel more than 20 miles per hour and run on a 2.4 gigahertz controller so they have a long range and good staying power, which means the biggest limitation may be the size of your own backyard.
Kmart included the latest addition to Hasbro's FurReal line, Cookie My Playful Pup, to its list. Cookie is a toy dog that barks, moves its head and wags its talk, and responds to sounds from a squeaky toy that comes with the dog.
But both retailers agreed Nerf's on to something with its Vortex blasters. Kmart tapped the Nitron blaster for its "Fab 15" while Toys 'R Us included the Vigilon. Both are toy guns that use "XLR" discs instead of the foam pellets in Nerf's N-Strike product line. The discs are able to shoot farther, faster and with more accuracy than the N-Strike models.