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The Toy Insider Releases "Hot 20" Picks for 2009 Holiday Season

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Mat­tel Inc.'s $29.99 Elmo hands, which emit sounds and phras­es from the pop­u­lar Sesame Street char­ac­ter, and Has­bro Inc.'s $44.99 Opti­mus Prime from the movie "Trans­form­ers: Revenge of the Fall­en" were among the "Hot 20" cho­sen by the Toy Insid­er, a con­sumer shop­ping guide released recent­ly. Half of the toys retail for $30 or less and all are under $100.  (Toy­mak­ers do not pay for their prod­ucts to appear on the list.) Consumer Spending logo

This year par­ents again will look for bar­gains, and man­u­fac­tur­ers have respond­ed with low­er prices, said Jonathan Samet, the Toy Insider's pub­lish­er.

"Gift givers this year are going to be very sen­si­tive about the mon­ey they allo­cate toward their hol­i­day shop­ping," said Samet, who is based in New York and has worked in the toy indus­try for 26 years. Even if the econ­o­my improves, "I still think that par­ents are going to be more sen­si­tive to what they spend."

Pro­mot­ing Toys

Retail­ers are also look­ing for ways to boost rev­enue.  U.S. toy sales through August dropped 2% to $10.3 bil­lion from $10.4 bil­lion a year ear­li­er, accord­ing to NPD Group.  In 2008, toy sales fell 3% to $21.6 bil­lion, accord­ing to NPD data.

Toy sales are expect­ed to decline about 1% this hol­i­day sea­son, accord­ing toy ana­lysts at BMO Cap­i­tal Mar­kets in New York.  The Nation­al Retail Fed­er­a­tion also pre­dicts a 1% decline in hol­i­day sales for 2009.

"It's still going to be weak, but I would be sur­prised if the decline is big­ger than it was last year," John­son said, cit­ing retail­ers' efforts to boost toy sales.

Hot Toys for 2009

Zhu Zhu Pets, robot­ic ham­sters that sell for as lit­tle at $9.99, may be the hot prod­uct this year.  Zhu Zhu Pets are cur­rent­ly sold out on the Web sites of Wayne, New Jersey- based Toys "R" Us and Ben­tonville, Arkansas-based Wal­mart.

Toys based on movie and tele­vi­sion prop­er­ties will also be pop­u­lar this hol­i­day. In addi­tion to the Opti­mus Prime toy, a "Force Train­er" tied to the Star Wars series, and the "Twi­light Scene It?" DVD game are on the "Hot 20" list.

Toys that con­nect to vir­tu­al worlds on the Inter­net have become more pop­u­lar as chil­dren have been intro­duced to tech­nol­o­gy at an ear­li­er age. Spin Master's "Liv Dolls" and Leapfrog Enter­pris­es Inc.'s "My Pal Scout & My Pal Vio­let," which can be cus­tomized online, are among prod­ucts on the Toy Insider's list.

The Toy Insider's "Hot 20" Toys for the 2009 Hol­i­day Sea­son

0–2 Years

  • Elmo Tick­le Hands — Mattel's Fisher-Price
  • Mega Bloks Play ‘N Go Table — Mega Brands
  • My Pal Scout & My Pal Vio­let — Leapfrog
  • Ton­ka Chuck My Talk­ing Truck — Hasbro's Ton­ka

3–5 Years

  • 1–2‑3 Stomp! — Wild Plan­et
  • Liv Dolls — Spin Mas­ter
  • Rocky the Robot Truck — Match­box
  • Tightrope Ter­ror — Jakks Pacif­ic
  • Trans­form­ers Revenge of the Fall­en Opti­mus Prime — Has­bro
  • Zip­pi­ty Learn­ing Sys­tem — Leapfrog

6–8 Years

  • Air Hogs Zero Grav­i­ty Laser — Spin Mas­ter
  • Baku­gan 7 in 1 Maxus Drag­onoid — Spin Mas­ter
  • Bat­tle Strik­ers Tur­bo Tops Tour­na­ment Set — Mega Brands
  • Girl Gourmet Sweets Can­dy Jew­el Fac­to­ry — Jakks Pacif­ic
  • Mox­ie Girlz — MGA Enter­tain­ment
  • Print­ies Design Stu­dio Kits — Tech­no Source

9+ Years

  • Pow­er Min­ers Tita­ni­um Com­mand Rig — Lego
  • Star Wars The Force Train­er — Uncle Mil­ton
  • Style Six Silk Screen­er — Jakks Pacif­ic
  • Twi­light Scene It? The DVD Game: Deluxe Edi­tion — Screen­life

Schwartz, Alli­son.  "Elmo Tick­le Hands at $30 to Top Hol­i­day Gifts, Toy Insid­er Says," Bloomberg​.com.  Sep­tem­ber 29, 2009.

"Hot 20" Toys for the 2009 Hol­i­day Sea­son, con­duct­ed by The Toy Insid­er.  Web­site: www​.thetoyin​sid​er​.com.