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Hot Holiday Toys — Even Santa Needs a Reservation

Wednesday, 12 Sep 2012 | 1:15 PM ET
Photo by Christina Cheddar-Berk

When people think of holiday gift giving, one of the classic images that comes to mind is that of parents fighting it out in the store aisle to score a hot holiday gift for their child.

But that scenario may become a tale of yesteryear.

Toys 'R Us, the world's largest toy retailer, has announced a plan to allow parents to reserve any of the 50 toys on its hot holiday toy list for guaranteed delivery by Dec. 16.

But there are a few catches. First, there are a limited number of reservations, and the service is first come, first served.

Second, customers will need to put down a 20-percent non-refundable deposit to guarantee their spots and make their reservations in person. They will be notified by email when the product is available.

Photo by Christina Cheddar-Berk

And Santa better be organized and know what junior's must-have item is by Halloween, or this program won't work.

Reservations have to be made by Oct. 31.

While some may think that's a tall order, Toys 'R Us CEO Jerry Storch appears confident there will be interest in the program. He is also adamant that whatever the hot holiday toy turns out to be, it will be on the retailer's list.

The last few holiday seasons have lacked a huge blockbuster toy that is hot enough to get shoppers worked into a frenzy. But while last year's popular LeapPad , for example, did not gain the attention of a Zhu Zhu pet or a Cabbage Patch Kid doll in their heydays, the product sold out, and surely left some kids disappointed.

There also have been some relative flops on Toys 'R Us hot toy list. Last year, for example, the retailer was excited about an interactive toy called My Keepon. While the toy had garnered a large YouTube following, sales didn't sizzle. (Read More:Dancing Robots, Flying Fish, Here Come the Hot Holiday Toys)

Photo by Christina Cheddar-Berk

But other toys on the list — even some that were exclusive to Toys 'R Us — won a strong following. Storch cited Air Swimmers, a remote-controlled flying shark, as an example.

So what's on the list this year? We'll have to wait a little longer to find out. The list will be released "soon," Storch said. (Read More: Highlights from Toy Fair 2012)

But it will likely include a number of toys that are exclusive to Toys 'R Us. That's a strategy that has worked well for the retailer in recent years, and if anything, the company is placing a bigger bet on it by releasing not only exclusive products but also exclusive product lines from branded manufacturers.

One example is the Technic line from Lego Systems, which includes 20 vehicles. Technic is geared toward avid Lego fans aged 9 years old and up who enjoy more complex construction.

Another example is Gelarti, a line of gel stickers kids can create, from Moose Toys. If this craft line is a hit, it will be the second year in a row that an exclusive line from Moose has been successful at Toys 'R Us. Last year, its Trash Pack collectible toys were very popular. (Read More: Mighty Beanz Maker Scores Another Hit With Trash Pack)

-By Christina Cheddar Berk, CNBC.com News Editor

(Update: Deposits for the program are non-refundable. At the company's request an earlier version of this story was corrected to say that deposits were refundable if the order was cancelled, but that is not the case.)

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com. Follow Christina Cheddar Berk on Twitter @ccheddarberk.

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