It may be too soon to tell whether this holiday season will be a blockbuster for certain toys, but it’s never too soon for retailers to place their bets. Several major toy retailers —Toys ‘R Us, Wal-Mart Stores, Sears Holdings’ Kmart, and Kohl’s— have weighed in with their picks for this year’s hottest toys.
There are already some strong contenders. Several toys have earned a place on more than one list, but others turned up in fewer places.
The lists also offer clues regarding popular trends in the toy industry. Most notably, it looks as though retailers are expecting parents to spend a little more this year. Some of the items on this year’s hot toy lists are quite a bit pricier than those that were on last year’s lists.
There’s also a sense of deja vu. Furby is back, and so are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Classic toy brands such as Lego, Barbie, and Twister have snagged some spots. There’s a new version of three toys that were popular last year. There is a sequel to the Skylanders videogame, and the LeapPad and VTech tablets have returned with faster processing speeds and new features.
So what will be the must-have this holiday season? Click ahead and decide for yourself.
By Christina Cheddar BerkPosted 24 September 2012
Manufacturer: Hasbro (HAS)
Suggested Price: $54
After 14 years in retirement, Furby is back. He’s one of several retro toys that are expected to be on wish lists this holiday season. But the big question is: Can this toy woo today’s kids in the same way it enchanted them back in 1998, when the owl-like creature was a huge hit? Millions of Furbys were sold in the late ‘90s, and it’s likely that some of those fans will want to buy Furby again – most likely for their own children but possibly for themselves.
This edition of Furby has come a long way from its first incarnation, technically speaking. Still, parents will likely have the same complaint now as they did then: Furby is a little needy, and its babbling can become tiresome.
Meep Kids Tablet (upper left)
Manufacturer: Oregon Scientific
Suggested Price: $149.99
LeapPad2 (upper right)
Manufacturer: Leapfrog (LF)
Suggested Price: $99
Tabeo (lower left)
Manufacturer: Toys ‘R Us
Suggested Price: $149.99
InnoTab 2 Learning App Tablet (lower right)
Suggested Price: $79
Last year’s battle between LeapPad and InnoTab has nothing on this year’s rematch. They’re both back with more robust versions, yet this time they have a lot more competition. Several kid-oriented tablets — from Toys ‘R Us’ Tabeo, Techno Source’s Kurio 7, and Oregon Scientific’s Meep Learning Tablet — will be on the shelves as well.
Most of the retailers’ hot toy lists mention LeapPad, as well as one of the Andriod-based tablets.
Products like the Tabeo often highlight that they are more like a tablet a parent would have, and they have the advantage of having parental controls that can be set easily. Meanwhile, products such as LeapFrog and VTech tablets tout their educational software and portfolio of licensed characters. These products also stress that they are good for younger children.
Manufacturer: Activision (ATVI)
Suggested Price: $74.99
Skylanders has been a bright spot in a depressed videogame category this year. As a result, there are high hopes for Giants, the product’s sequel. One factor that has made Skylanders such a hit for retailers is that kids want to collect the character toys that interact with the game. These characters store a player’s experience, and also can be played across videogame platforms, making them highly versatile.
Suggested Price: $299.99-$349.99
New videogame consoles usually capture a lot of attention, and Nintendo’s Wii U is no exception. This could be a good contender for a truly hot toy. Online pre-orders sold out quickly, but that could be a factor of limited pre-order supply rather than true demand. (Read More:Nintendo’s Wii Already Selling Out Online)
Still, it has been six years since kids were able to get their hands on a new game console from a major gaming industry company. The Wii U will have innovative TV and video features, and will allow games with team play options within the games.
Suggested Price: $49.97
The Imaginext Eagle Talon Castle was on both Wal-Mart Stores’ and Kmart’s hot toy list. Playsets like this one are always a popular choice for the holidays, because they offer kids chance to engage in open-ended play.
The Eagle Talon Castle has some nice features, including a drawbridge that can be raised and lowered and sounds that can be activated by the play pieces.
Manufacturer: Spin Master
Suggested Price: $39.97
What’s better than a radio-controlled flying helicopter? A radio-controlled flying helicopter that shoots as it flies. Add in the ability to drive the vehicle on the ground over bumps — and an affordable price tag — and you have Air Hogs’ Hover Assault Radio-Controlled Helicopter.
Suggested Price: Varies
The pastel-colored bricks in the Lego’s Friends line have taken more than their fair share of criticism. Lego Friends has been branded as sexist and perpetuating gender stereotypes. But so far, it appears that the product is helping to bring more girls into the construction category, meaning Lego’s strategy may be working.
For the past few years, Lego has seen strong sales growth. Cash strapped parents have turned to time tested brands like Lego, which have shown themselves to be the sort that kids will play with again and again. This year should be no exception: in addition to Friends, several other Lego products have made the “hot toy” lists.
Yet it’s likely the industry will be watching closely to see whether Friends continues to attract girls to the brand.
Suggested Price: $78.87
Dolls are always a go-to gift during the holidays. No doubt there will be plenty of Barbies, Lalaloopsys, and Monster High dolls wrapped up for holiday gift giving.
Most of the major retailers featured at least one of these brands — if not all three — on their hot toy lists.
Monster High, pictured here, continues to broaden its fan base, winning over kids and parents alike with its anti-bullying message that celebrates tolerance and loving the things that make each individual unique.
One item that could be in demand for Monster High fans this holiday season is a high school playset that will allow kids to act out their own Monster High stories in the halls of the school.
Manufacturer: Just Play
Suggested Price: $39.99
Walt Disney’s new show “Doc McStuffins” has won many fans since it started airing earlier this year. Included in this playset are Doc McStuffins and her pal Lambie, as well as all the medical tools she’ll need to give a magical checkup.
Suggested Price: $119.99
Playmates has brought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ sewer lair to life, with details such as a zip line and swinging tires.
Suggested Price: $249
If you needed any proof that retailers are expecting parents to be more willing to splurge on toys this year, look no further than Wal-Mart’s hot toy list. Two items on the list are priced at $249: a Power Wheels Dune Racer ride-on toy and the Razor Pocket Mod Electric Scooter, pictured here.
Suggested Price: $99.99
Instead of wheels, this rugged remote control car has corkscrew shape pontoons to help it tackle tough terrain. This vehicle can plow through dirt, sand, grass, water, and snow. One nice feature is the remote control, which is easy to use, even for younger children.
This scooter, available only at Toys ‘R Us, is unlike traditional kick scooters. Kids will need to use a side to side motion to glide down the street.
Suggested Price: $39.99
Beyblades has a huge fan base. This year Hasbro is out with a new playset that offers kids a whole new way to battle with the collectible pieces. Reviews suggest it may take a little practice to work up enough force to get the Beyblades to maintain their spin in the round dome, as well as to get the right angle to knock the opponent’s piece down.