Will the Real Hot Holiday Toy Please Stand Up?
Just how many soft, squishy things can one kid own? Toy makers are hoping the answer is a whole lot of them.
Last week, the retailers took a crack at picking the hot toys for the upcoming Christmas holiday season, and this week, it’s the publications that write and review toys that are taking a crack at it. But ultimately, the only lists that matter are the ones children write with their wishes.
Still, those industry lists offer a good guide for the toys that will be sought after this holiday season. They often feature the items that will be promoted heavily by the toy manufacturers, and they certainly provide a glimpse of the big trends.
Toy Insider released its Hot 20 list on Monday, which lays out the hottest items from its larger toy guide that runs in the Nov. 17 issue of Woman’s Day magazine. Time to Playreleased its favorites at a media event in New York on Tuesday.
Based on those lists, there are a few toys that are already emerging as favorites. They include LeapFrog’s Leap Pad, a tablet computer for kids, WowWee’s Lite Sprites, fairy dolls that have a wand that can transfer color; Spin Master’s Redakai, a card game with eye-catching 3D images; and Hasbro’s Let’s Rock Elmo, an animated Elmo doll that plays several musical instruments.
Also receiving accolades were ThinkwayToys’ Lazer Stunt Chaser, a toy car that can chase a ray of laser light; Mattel’s Radica Fijit Friends, an interactive robot; Hasbro’s Poppin’ Park Elefun Busy Ball Popper from Playskool, and Activision video game "Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure."
Several of the toys speak to larger trends in the industry, according to Laurie Schacht, publisher of Toy Insider. For example, the Leap Pad fits into a trend Schacht calls "stealth learning." Kids will think they are playing with their own tablet computer, but the games they play incorporate educational elements, and parents can track their progress.
Schacht also said there will be lots of products that are influenced by the entertainment we use. These range from the Angry Bird app, which has inspired plush toys and a board game, as well as Justin Bieber dolls and microphones that adjust your voice as you sing.
But every year there are surprise hits. Lalaloopsy was one of those last year, and judging from this year's lists, many expect the magic has not worn off the brand yet. However, depending on which list you look at, a different Lalaloopsy toy is highlighted. Although the brand should do well in general, I’d bet on Time to Play’s pick, the Lalaloopsy Silly Hair Jewel Sparkles.
Why? Girls have been smitten with Lalaloopsy. The brand puts a twist on the concept of a rag doll, and the Silly Hair doll is no exception. Its main draw is its long strands of bendable plastic hair, which offer girls the ability to do something they love: style a doll’s hair.
Monster High, a line of fashion dolls from Mattel, and Lego's Ninjago and Alien Conquest also have had strong sales in recent years, and the experts expect that to continue this holiday season.
But that’s not to say that the lists are identical. There are a few unique additions. For example, Toy Insider picked Scene It's latest edition, a Harry Potter trivia game, and THQ's uDraw Pad, a drawing pad that works with video game consoles.
Time to Play highlighted Mega Brand's Break Through 3D puzzle and i-Star Entertainment's FyrFlyz. Both are pretty classic toys, and parents are likely to see them as good values — a factor that will continue to be important this holiday season in this challenging economic environment.
The big unkown is will there be a toy that comes out of nowhere and forces moms to camp out in the aisles for new shipments this holiday season.
At the Time to Play event, toymakers were showcasing many products that didn’t make any of the lists, but nonetheless caught my eye.
One example is Maya Group’s Orbeez, which aleady is a top-seller in the limited number of stores where it is sold. For this holiday season, the company has five new toys that incorporate the Orbeez’s balls, as well as Xploderz, a blaster that uses the squishy orbs to recreate paintball play without the pain. (If you've played paintball, you know what I'm talking about.)