As children begin to write their letters to Santa, and parents start to prepare their own plans for holiday shopping, Toys“R”Us today announced the top four toy trends expected to influence kids’ wish lists and gift-givers’ purchasing decisions this season. Representative of the trends are toys that epitomize collectible cuteness, some of the best international playthings making their U.S. debut, the ascent to18-inch dolls and a resurgence in the popularity of trains. This year’s toy trends were identified after year-long observations of the latest innovative toy introductions at the company’s stores in 34 countries and jurisdictions and an extensive review of data gathered by the Toys“R”Us team of global merchants.
Cute, Cool, Collectible
Whether offering an adorable, endearing appeal or a “cool” factor that makes children want to share with friends, collectibles that come in various styles and characters are driving kid crazes and are sure to top holiday wish lists. The buzz surrounding toys that offer a magical combination of cute, cool and collectible and spur a “gotta have ‘em all” excitement kicked off with the popularity of Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters in 2009 and the Silly Bandz craze this summer. The trend has continued, as kids seek toys they can collect and swap with peers. The following toys are some of the best representatives of the Cute, Cool, Collectible trend:
· Squinkies™ from blip® toys: These hugely popular, new squishy mini-figures are available in hundreds of styles, ranging from cats and monkeys to princesses and puppies, and come packaged in tiny plastic bubbles mimicking the vending machine surprises that kids love. Additional accessories and playsets are also available in the expansive Squinkies line, providing children with even more ways to play with their collectible cuties.
· Sing-a-ma-jigs!™ from Mattel®: These irresistible, quirky plush characters are singing their way into the hearts of kids of all ages. With more than six characters to choose from, and several more to be released soon, anyone interested in an offbeat melody can squeeze the bellies on each of these plush creatures to hear its favorite song, including “Where Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone,” “When the Saints Go Marching In” and more.
· Zoobles! from Spin Master™: With hundreds of Zoobles from which to choose, kids are clamoring for their favorite customizable, collectible spheres that come with stickers and playsets for added play value. Curled up in little balls, Zoobles spring to life when placed in their “Happitats,” transforming into cute and vibrantly colorful characters whose eyes blink when their heads are pressed.
· ZhuZhu Pets® Hamsters from Cepia: The Zhu-niverse™ is expanding and now includes five new varieties of robotic hamsters from which to choose. Including ZhuZhu Rock Stars with their Mohawk hairstyles and funky patterns; the ZhuZhu Wild Bunch comprised of a bunny, hedgehog, skunk and more; ZhuZhu Princess™ hamsters that feature rich colors, royal insignia marks and magic keys to unlock sounds and music; and the Kung Zhu™ clan consisting of Ninja Warriors and Special Forces that come with battle armor, there are 50 different characters in all. Each of the more than three-dozen characters has a unique color and special trademark symbol on its back.
· Calico Critters from International Playthings: The bite-size bunnies, chipmunks, kittens and dozens more woodland critters that make up Cloverleaf Corner Community are flying off store shelves. Kids are snapping up their favorite mini figures to construct a town in which all of their Calico Critters are joined together. With elaborate play sets such as a four-room, two-story Luxury Townhouse and more to choose from, the options for creativity are endless.
It’s a Toy, Toy, Toy, Toy World!
No matter where children live, their interests often transcend geography. And through the growth of social media and YouTube, today’s kids are able to share those interests instantaneously with their counterparts on other continents, inspiring global excitement. The Toys“R”Us team of global merchants works year-round to identify products that are most popular among children all over the world. Below are just some of the playthings that have captured kids’ imaginations abroad that are now available in the U.S. at all Toys“R”Us stores nationwide:
Die-Cast Licensed Cars from TOMY® (Japan): For more than eight decades, TOMY has developed and manufactured highly innovative and quality die-cast cars and trains. Kids and collectors of all ages will love the broad selection of 1:64-scale, officially licensed die-cast cars now available at Toys“R”Us, from which they can choose a Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki or Toyota.
Cicciobello Doll from Giochi Preziosi (Italy): After years of success in Italy, this huggable baby doll is debuting in the U.S. for the first time this fall at Toys“R”Us and requests the love and care of nurturing little ones who want to mimic mom and dad.
Ladybug Smart Trike from SmarTrike (Israel): Whether going on a stroll or learning how to ride a tricycle, little ones will love this red and black-themed three-in-one tricycle that first made its mark in Israel before finding a new home at Toys“R”Us stores in the U.S. Featuring a full metal frame, adjustable handle for parents’ convenience and a built-in clutch to switch control of the vehicle between the parent and child, the Smart Trike is the perfect ride-along item for any growing boy or girl.
Dave the Funky Shoulder Monkey from WOW! Stuff™ (UK): This December, stateside kids will have tons of fun with this shoulder-sitting robotic monkey – one of Great Britain’s hottest toys and a YouTube favorite – when it becomes available exclusively at all Toys“R”Us stores in the U.S. This cute and interactive crowd-pleaser has a gesture or sound for every occasion, which can be controlled by a pocket-sized remote.
Dolls Ascending to New Heights
Dolls featuring 18-inch frames, and with captivating stories to tell, have been earning the affection of little girls seeking to bring home a new “friend.” Much of the appeal behind these larger-scale dolls can be attributed to the way children are able to relate to the backgrounds and characteristics each of them possesses. From dolls that are royal and regal, to others that travel the world, each represents a type of young lady that little girls “dream” to become, and with whom they can create and share adventures of their own. Following are just a few of the doll collections that are ascending to new heights this season:
· Disney® Princess & Me™ dolls from JAKKS Pacific®: Disney Princess fans can now share royal adventures with these five 18-inch dolls, selecting the princess with whom they identify most – choosing from Ariel, Tiana, Belle, Cinderella and Aurora. Introduced earlier this month, these dolls feature sweet faces, silky hair, tiaras and detailed, signature gowns. Girls can even purchase replicas of each ball gown to match their favorite Princess.
· Journey Girls from Toys“R”Us®: Featuring fresh faces, stylish apparel and trendy accessories, these four 18-inch soft-bodied dolls offer kids a “friend” to bring home that they can relate to. Little girls can select the doll that most inspires them, choosing from Alana who has traveled to Rome to explore the arts; Meredith who is always looking for exciting new places to ski and hopes to vacation in the Alps; Callie whose dream is a shopping spree in London’s West End; and Taryn who aspires to someday perform at the New Orleans Jazz Festival.
· Best Friends Club, Ink. Dolls from MGA Entertainment®: Kids can join the Best Friends Club Ink. to share secrets, fun and friendship. Each of the five 18-inch dolls features cool outfits and highly detailed characteristics that will have little girls intrigued by their unique personalities. Selecting from Addison, the sporty and bubbly BFC, Ink. event coordinator; Calista, the math wiz and club treasurer who gives great advice; Kaitlin, the club’s earth-friendly, artsy designer and newest member; Aliesha, the club chair person and confident, natural leader; and Noelle, Aliesha’s shy, sweet twin sister who dreams of becoming a veterinarian, kids can explore each of the dolls’ backgrounds by logging online to BFCInk.com. The dolls come complete with a fashion-forward wardrobe, BFC Membership Card, BFC, Ink. Journal Book and more.
· Classic Doll Collection from FAO Schwarz: Boasting exquisite craftsmanship, each of the four 18-inch dolls in this collection represent the characteristics of unique young ladies – Tess, a ballerina; Nina, a pop star; Avery, an equestrian; and Claudia, a school girl. Whether girls choose Tess with her detailed white swan lake dress with headpiece and bouquet, Nina who dons a fashionable sparkly top, leggings, flats, sunglasses and microphone, Avery with her horse-riding outfit (jeans and plaid top), boots and helmet, or Claudia who is dressed in a plaid skirt, sweater, knee-socks, Mary Jane shoes and backpack, they’re sure to enjoy hours of role play.
Trains on Track to Make a Comeback
Trains have been a mainstay plaything for generations of kids and kids at heart, but this year, they’re experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Spanning various levels of intricacy, many of the train sets available for the 2010 holiday season are already chugging off store shelves. Even Warren Buffett bought himself a brand-new train set – actually, three. The industrialist investor recently snapped up multiple U.S. rail systems for $4 billion. For young train enthusiasts, below is a selection of train sets that can be found at Toys“R”Us for a much more affordable price tag:
· Road and Rails Train Set from TOMY®: The trains in the Tomica line that are making their U.S. debut this fall at Toys“R”Us are direct decedents of TOMY’s iconic Pla-Rail toy train system, which was introduced in Japan in 1959. This particular Road and Rails set is sure to get kids started on their very own train conductor adventures.
· Chuggington™ Roundhouse Playset from Learning Curve®: Based on the fun, animated television series for preschoolers, this lights and sounds playset is the perfect Chuggington trainees’ “home.” Featuring four engine bays and a rotating launcher with turntable, kids can rotate the launcher and eject the die-cast train engines – including everyone’s favorite character, Koko – onto the circle of track when adventure calls.
· Geotrax™ Transportation System Christmas in Toy Town RC Set from Fisher-Price®: All aboard for a Christmas of WOWs with this Toys“R”Us exclusive radio-controlled train set, designed for the smallest engineers. Featuring more than 20 pieces of interchangeable Snap-Lock™ track, children can create a traditional cityscape or add holiday cheer to Toy Town by making the train travel around the Christmas tree. Kids can even display miniature wreaths and trees around town while Christmas music plays from both the train and controller.
· Thomas & Friends® Thomas’ Mountain Adventure by MEGA Bloks®: Even the tiniest engineers can join Thomas and Percy on an adventure on the Island of Sodor with this 160-piece, Toys“R”Us exclusive construction set. Kids can build Sodor Island to their liking while Thomas and Percy carry passengers and supplies, traveling through tunnels, passing by the water tower and going over the bridge. Children can even use an elevator to bring Thomas to new heights or hit the track switch to move Thomas or Percy into Tidmouth Shed for a relaxing break. All of the pieces can fit into the included storage table.
· Tomica Hypercity Mega Station Set from TOMY®: Kids can ride the rails around Hypercity with this fully automated, Toys“R”Us exclusive train set that mimics the action of a bustling station, as they outfit their city with paved roads, trees, parking spaces and lampposts, as well as a convenience store, or the Tomikid figure, all included. As the train pulls into the terminal, cars yield at the railroad crossing to wait for the train to stop. Once the train resumes speed, traffic automatically begins to move again. Children can even switch the station into manual mode to control the action.