Top Toy Trends: Me, I Want A Huuuuulaaaa Hoooop!

There's nothing like a recession to make us get all warm and fuzzy about the past.

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After watching Macy's strike the right cord with shoppers last Christmas when it steeped its marketing in nostalgic Christmas imagery, industry analysts are expecting retailers to steal from this playbook and conjure up a very traditional holiday this year.

Already, there are signs that this is playing out. Retailer Toys 'R Us has identified four toy-buying trends that it sees unfolding in its stores. It calls the first one the "Retro Rewind." This not only refers to the popularity of traditional toys such as hula hoops and games such as Hasbro's Bop It!, but also a renewed interest in characters like Strawberry Shortcake that were popular decades ago.

Toys 'R Us says these items are the "comfort foods" of the toy world. They help return parents to the memories of a simpler time when they were children. But, we observe that as an extra bonus, traditional toys tend to be less expensive than other toys, and this should sit well with frugal shoppers.

Here are the trends, Toys 'R Us has identified:

  • Retro Rewind
  • Designed by Me!
  • Tiny Treasures, Teeny Prices
  • Investing in the Future

Several of these trends will help Santa to be thrifty. They also will lend a hand to parents, who are looking to entertain their children as they spend more time at home.

Arts and crafts items, which fall into the "Designed by Me!" trend, have been selling well all year, said Karen Dodge, chief merchandising officer at Toys 'R Us. In fact, Toys 'R Us has increased the amount of store space it has dedicated to "do-it-yourself" toys this holiday season, she said.

Source: Toys 'R Us

"If there is any benefit to this recession, it is that families are spending more time together," Dodge said.

Toys in this category include Spin Master's Paperoni Deluxe Studio, a paper crafts kit that Toys 'R Us has already identified as a potential hot item for this year. (To which items, Toys 'R Us included in their Hot Holiday Toys list, view our slideshow.)

In the "Tiny Treasures" category are the Zhu Zhu Pets Hamsters from Cepia — which have already made their mark as a hot-selling toy with reports that they are already sold out at some toy retailers — as well as other small toys priced under $12.

This shouldn't be surprising, as we've already heard about Target and Wal-Mart Stores tussling over the prices of toysthey have marked down to $10 or less. (By the way, Toys 'R Us, with its laser-focus on toy retailing, likes to point out its claim that it carries more toys priced under the $10-mark than either of the discounters.)

Still, parents and grandparents are known for splurging on their kids and grandchildren at the holiday, and this year will be no different. However, they may focus their spending on toys that will provide a return on their investment. This would include learning toys such as the Zippity Learning System from Leapfrog and Disney , netbook computers, Lego blocks, and musical instruments.

Speaking of musical instruments, fellas get ready. Let's sing it now! Ready fellas! Alvin? "Hurry Christmas, hurry fast...."