Will the Real Hot Holiday Toy Please Stand Up?
The orbs start off as very tiny pellets, but when they are soaked in water they expand into squishy balls that feel wet to the touch. If they stay moist, they will stay expanded, but if they dry out or touch heat, they will shrink or crack.
Maya has designed a jewelry maker, a perfume blender, a foot spa and a mood lamp, all of which use the brightly colored balls. And there are several different versions of the Xploderz blasters as well.
Orbeez and Xploderz are not the only squishy playthings. There are a number of collectibles that can be squeezed and scrunched. Most of these are in the same vein as another one of last year's surprise hits, Squinkies.
Toys ‘R Us already touted the Trash Pack, little squishy, and slightly slimy "Trashies" that are sold in miniature trash cans. The characters are based on the items you might find in the garbage, and the hope is that boys will want to collect them. A company spokeswoman said the garbage truck playset and metal storage cans in the product line are already strong sellers.
Also competing in the race is Ickee Stickeez, which is from Zing. Like Squinkies, these miniature characters are sold in vending-machine-type balls, but their appeal comes from a little suction cup on the bottom. This means you can stick them around your computer monitor, inside a locker, or together to create jewelry, tops, and other configurations.
It also means — and this will likely be the big draw — they make a suction sound when you put them down and pick them up. It's sort of like bubble wrap on steroids.
Collecting is a big trend, and has been for several years. There is an attraction to the trend in a tough economy: Parents can buy as many or as few as their budget will allow.
"Value is still key," said John Frascotti, Hasbro's chief marketing officer. "If Mom has a fixed budget, she's going to want to know that her child is going to play with it for a long time."
That usually means Mom will turn to trusted brands she knows, or yes, maybe, to some of these hot toy lists.
Time to Play Holiday 2011 Most Wanted Toys List
Angry Birds Knock on Wood Game (Mattel)
Beyblade: Metal Fusion (Hasbro)
Big Action Construction Site (Fisher-Price)
FyrFlyz (i-Star Entertainment)
Hot Wheels Wall Tracks (Mattel)
Lalaloopsy Silly Hair Jewel Sparkles (MGA Entertainment)
Lazer Stunt Chaser Dragon Fire (Thinkway Toys)
LeapPad Explorer (LeapFrog)
LEGO Alien Conquest (LEGO)
LEGO Ninjago (LEGO)
Lite Sprites (WowWee)
The Logo Board Game (Spin Master)
Monster High Dead Tired (Mattel)
Nerf Vortex (Hasbro)
Redakai (Spin Master)
Spy Net Stealth Video Glasses (Jakks Pacific)
3D Break Through Puzzle – Classic Mickey Mouse (Mega Brands)
Toy Insider List
Elefun Busy Ball Popper (Playskool)
Let’s Rock Elmo (Hasbro)
Little People Zoo Talkers Animal Sounds Zoo (Fisher-Price)
Pocoyo Swiggletraks (Bandai)
Chuggington Interactive Railway (Learning Curve)
Lazer Stunt Chaser (Thinkway Toys)
Mini Lalaloopsy Treehouse (MGA Entertainment)
Lite Sprites (WowWee)
Angry Birds Plush (Commonwealth Toy & Novelty Co.)
Justin Bieber Rockin’ Tour Bus and Concert Stage (The Bridge Direct)
Nerf Vortex Proton Blaster (Hasbro)
Radica Fijit Friends (Mattel)
Redakai Championship Tin (Spin Master)
Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure (Activision)
Alien Conquest: Alien Mothership (Lego Systems)
Paper Jamz Pro Series Microphone (WowWee)
Scene It? Harry Potter: The Complete Cinematic Journey (Screenlife)
uDraw Game Tablet (THQ)