Will a $10 Hamster Have Them Fighting in the Aisles?

Maybe it's a sign of the times when one of the toys predicted to be among the top sellers this Christmas Holiday is a $10 Zhu Zhu pet hamster.

Zhu Zhu Hampsters
Source: Toys R Us
Zhu Zhu Hampsters

Toys 'R Us has issued its 2009 Holiday Hot Toy list. The list includes 36 total items, but the fuzzy hamster is one of the "Fabulous 15," which is considered to be the best of the best on the retailer's list.

The retailer puts a lot of effort into selecting these toys, which will be featured promiently at its stores and promotions. This year, the company has put an extra focus on selecting toys that offer parents good value.

Take the priciest item on the list. It's a Disney Netpal, a Disney-branded netbook computer, that sells for about $350. That item, while pricey, may be a more affordable option for parents, who might have purchased a new computer for their child in more prosperous times.

The list includes many brands that are familiar: Hasbro's Transformers action figures, Nintendo's Wii video games, and a Star Wars Lego set. (To see all of the "Fabulous Fifteen", plus other selected toys from the hot list, click here.)

Toys 'R' Us also is expecting radio-controlled vehicles to sell well, and has added an all-terrain vehicle from its own store brand to its list. That toy sells for $120.

As for the holiday season, already forecasts are not looking too inspiring. The best one can say is that retail analysts suspect there is no where for the industry to go but up from last year.

On Tuesday, consultant and market researcher Retail Forward said this holiday season will be the second-worst in 42 years, with sales growth expected to be flat compared with last year's 4.5 percent decline.

For toymakers, the holiday season is an even more critical time as that is when it makes the bulk of its sales.

So will the hamsters have parents fighting in the aisles?

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