Originally created 12/02/99

Top toys for the holidays



Decades of loyalty to Barbie are continuing through the end of the century. Area holiday shoppers snapped up the doll and her accessories over the Thanksgiving weekend, making Barbie one of the top five selling toys.

Not that you needed any help guessing what's No. 1.

Pokemon trading cards and videogames were the hottest toys on the shelves, but Easy-Bake ovens, karaoke machines, keyboards and electronic drum machines made their way to the top of the list as well.

And though shoppers didn't embrace many items priced at more than $100, Bill Bonsor, manager of Kmart in North Augusta, said that the V-tech computer toys, which range from $30 to $140, are going fast.

Worried about the availability of items on your little one's wish list? According to area toy store managers, there are no guarantees at this time of year.

John Schofield, manager of Kay-bee Toys & Hobby Shop, said that the stock is supposed to be reordered through the computer as it is sold -- in theory.

"That's the way it is supposed to work, but at this time of year you are at the mercy of the supplier," Kmart's Mr. Bonsor said. "If the toy is hot it's hot. You have to scramble, make calls to the suppliers and beg for the merchandise."

Here's a list of toys expected to be the best sellers nationwide plus and a look at how fast they are selling in stores here. The list is based on recommendations from [as]Parents [xs]and [as]Family Fun [xs]magazines, the latest best-seller lists from eToys.com and Amazon.com., and the market research firm NPD Group of Port Washington, N.Y.

THE TOP 10 TOYS

1. POKE-EVERYTHING

2. FURBY BABIES

Price: $30 (Tiger Electronics).

Ages: 6 and older.

Batteries: 4 AA.

Smaller, chattier versions of last year's hot gift. The gizmos jabber away in a made-up language but appear to pick up English. In reality, the things are programmed at the factory to speak English.

In Augusta, the Santa and reindeer-antler-wearing Furbys sold better than the Furby Babies, Mr. Schofield said.

"They aren't the phenomena that they were last year," Mr. Bonsor said. " We still sell a few. We didn't sell out of them."

3. MILLENNIUM PRINCESS BARBIE

Price: $30 (Mattel).

Ages: 6 and older.

Batteries: None required.

Barbie -- looking good at 40 -- is all dolled up for New Year's Eve in a velvety blue gown that's trimmed in silver. And she's decked out in a matching tiara.

"We've been out of the Millennium Princess Barbie. We are in one day and out the next. We can't keep it in," Mr. Bonsor said.

4. STAR WARS ACTION FIGURES

Price: $7 (Hasbro).

Ages: 4 and older.

Batteries: None required.

This summer's prequel didn't live up to parents' memories of the 1977 original, but kids ate it up. Beware: The figures come with computer chips embedded with dialogue and sound effects from the movie that can be heard only with a $13 Electronic Commtech Reader.

"There was very little movement on that," Mr. Schofield said. "I've got plenty."

As far as action figures go, a kiddie flick that's way less spacey took over the action figure action. "The Toy Story II movie merchandise has nearly sold out," Mr. Bonsor said. "Customers grabbed up the Woody and Buzz Lightyear dolls."

5. LEGO MINDSTORMS

Price: $100-$200 (Lego).

Ages: 9 and older.

Batteries: A bunch, depending on the version.

Lets you -- uh, your child -- create robots that can scurry across the floor and terrorize the cat.

The Star Wars-theme Droid Developer Kit ($100) and Robotics Invention System ($200) require a Windows PC. The Robotics Discovery Kit ($150) doesn't require a computer. Area toy store managers said that these Lego toys may cost more this year than customers want to pay."We sold a few but wouldn't call it a top 10," Mr. Schofield said.

6. ROCK & ROLL ELMO and ERNIE

Price: $30 (Fisher-Price).

Ages: 2 and older.

Batteries: 3 AA.

Clad in faux-leather jackets, the furry [as]Sesame Street [xs]regulars convulse and sing when you press a button on their guitars. The swinging, grooving Elmo was the shining star this weekend with North Augusta Kmart shoppers. The store sold 30 or 40 over Thanksgiving weekend, Mr. Bonsor said.

7. AMAZING ALLY

Price: $60 (Playmates).

Ages: 5 and older.

Batteries: 3 AAA and 3 AA.

Ally is a new doll who has a good memory. Girls use Ally's keypad to tell the doll all about themselves. That means Ally's games and stories are personalized. And when the doll talks, her mouth is synchronized with her voice. Augusta Kay-bee Toys sold out of Amazing Ally. Mr. Schofield said the toy is definitely in the stores' top five sellers.

8. BOP IT EXTREME

Price: $25 (Parker Bros.).

Ages: 7 and older.

Batteries: 3 AA.

A new version of the musical memory game. Kids win by bopping buttons and flipping switches in the right sequence. Mr. Schofield said that his store sold 144 of the toys over the weekend.

9. INTEL PLAY QX-3 COMPUTER MICROSCOPE

Price: $100 (Mattel).

Ages: 6 and older.

Batteries: None required.

No more squinting into tiny eyepieces. This toy microscope plugs into a Windows PC. Kids can store pictures on their hard drives. "It's a bit on the pricey side," Mr. Schofield said, adding that the item wasn't a big seller Thanksgiving weekend.

"It's been real hard to get. It is not one of our hottest-selling toys here," Mr. Bonsor said.

10. BLUE'S CLUES: SINGING STEVE AND BLUE

Price: $35 (Eden).

Ages: 2 and older.

Batteries: 3 AAA.

Blue's Clues is the Pokemon of the preschool set. The Nickelodeon TV show is about a guy named Steve and a dog named Blue who solve mysteries. Squeeze Steve's hand: He sings! Squeeze Blue's ears: She barks!

"That sold very well, yes," Mr. Schofield said. "Right now, I only have a few of the Goodnight Blue and the Bath-time Blue left."

"It's been a steady seller," Mr. Bonsor said of the toy's movement in the North Augusta Kmart store. "It's not nearly has hot as it was last year."

Reports from The Orlando Sentinel were used in this article.