Toys R Us, which made a good call last year by stocking up on Zhu Zhu Pets, on Tuesday released its annual list forecasting the toys that children will crave most during the winter holidays.
"We see a lot of exciting and innovative toys this year," says Lisa Harnisch, Toys R Us vice president and divisional merchandise manager. Some standouts include the Disney Princess & Me line from Jakks Pacific, which comprise 18-inch dolls of characters in famous animated movies; the Tomica Hypercity Mega Station Set, a model railway set of a city with automatic train crossings where cars stop to let the train through, from Tomy, the top toy train line in Japan; and the Squinkies Cupcake Surprise Bake Shop by blip toys, a playset for the squishy collectible pencil toppers.
Hot Toys 2010
Click through the gallery for a look at Toys R Us' "Fabulous 15": items that may very well end up on your child's wish list.
Toys R Us
Scrabble Gets a Timer
In good news for your wallet, not all toys on the list are big-ticket playthings. Toys R Us is promoting gifts with prices starting at $12.99 for Sing-a-ma-jigs!, a Mattel line of six animal plush toys that play songs when squeezed. The retailer also is promoting the Pillow Pets line of convertible plush toys, which sell for less than $20 each, and Lalaloopsy, a line of rag dolls priced at $24.99.
The 36 hot toys on the list include a number of familiar names, such as Scrabble, which Hasbro has reinterpreted as Scrabble Flash, a timed version of the word game; and Minotaurus, a board game from Lego Systems using its famous building blocks. The list also features several tie-ins with the Disney-Pixar movie Toy Story 3, including a U-Command Buzz Lightyear action figure from Thinkway and Tri-County Landfill playset from Fisher-Price.
Toys R Us, which recently unveiled plans for an initial public offering, is planning an aggressive slate of store openings and exclusive products for the fourth quarter, which is typically the most profitable period of its fiscal year. Last week, the retailer said it would open FAO Schwarz pop-up stores in malls, along with the 600 Toys R Us Express pop-ups it had previously announced. It has also introduced a Christmas Club savings program and layaway service to attract budget-conscious parents (and it's gearing up for a big hiring spree this holiday season).
Continued Economic Concerns
Those could turn out to be wise moves considering that shoppers still appear to be wary of spending. Back-to-school sales in August were mildly disappointing, hinting that parents remain cash strapped two years into the economic downturn. And observers have noted that economic indicators that directly affect shopping, such as employment and housing, remain depressed, along with consumer sentiment.
Harnisch acknowledges the continued concerns about the economy, but she says toys for kids are a relatively secure holiday purchase. For "parents and gift-givers," she says, "that's the last thing they will cut from their budgets."