Zhu Zhus still difficult to find in Augusta

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Does your child want a Zhu Zhu for Christmas? Good luck.

The toy hamsters are hot items this Christmas, but they're not in stock at Augusta Toys "R" Us, Target or Walmart stores.

Your best bet for the elusive Zhu Zhu pet, said Toys "R" Us spokeswoman Adrienne Giordano, is to "check early and often." Retailers on Monday said that they expect more shipments before the holidays, but none knew when they would receive the popular toy.

Zhu Zhus seem to be the most elusive toys to find this Christmas.

Another popular item this year is Princess Tiana dolls from the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog , which will be out Friday.

Ms. Giordano said the popular pick this year for older boys is the Transformers Constructicon Devastator.

On Monday, Martinez resident Sandra Huckaby was looking at Transformers for her 6-year-old grandson, Drew Huckaby.

North Augusta resident Pat Slusher was at Toys "R" Us looking for presents for her 13 grandchildren. She picked up the new Disney movie Princess and the Frog toy set, but said she wants to get digital cameras for her 4- to 8-year-old grandchildren, educational toys for -younger tykes and clothing and computer accessories for older children.

She's looking for value. She looked at a Lego brand digital camera, but said she's seen cheaper digital cameras elsewhere.

Affordability is Walmart's focus this year: It has expanded its 10 toys at a $10 price point to 100 toys, spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman said.

Popular online items, according to Grace Chung with Amazon.com public relations, are the Kindle e-book reader, the Apple iPod touch, New Super Mario Bros. Wii , Scene it? Twilight Deluxe Edition , Scrabble Slam Cards, the album I Dreamed a Dream by Susan Boyle, Invicta Women's II Limited Edition Diamond Chronograph Watch, The Beatles stereo boxed CD set, Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook by Julia Child and the Razor A Kick Scooter.

Reach Sarah Day Owen at (706) 823-3223 or sarah.owen@augustachronicle.com.

WHERE TO BUY

Much like the Tickle Me Elmo and Cabbage Patch dolls, the hot toys of Christmases past, Zhu Zhu Pets that retail for $9.99 are being sold on online auction site eBay for $40 or more, with the availability listing as "impossible to find."

Target, Toys "R" Us and Walmart no longer have individual Zhu Zhu Pets available online.

The toy's creator, Cepia LLC, has been increasing production, wrote Natalie Hornsby, the director of marketing and brand strategy, in a recent e-mail.

"Millions are guaranteed to hit shelves before the holidays," Ms. Hornsby said.

She recommends visiting the company's Web site, zhuzhupets.com, for approved retailers.

TOYMAKER RELEASES SAFETY TESTING

ST. LOUIS --- A consumer watchdog group is backpedaling on its claims that Zhu Zhu Pets contain dangerous levels of metals. The federal government is also stepping in to conduct its own tests on the must-have toys.

"We will complete our review swiftly," the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Monday.

Watchdog group GoodGuide issued clarifications Monday on its testing methods, stating that it uses a different methodology than what is incorporated into federal standards set for the toy industry.

Toymaker Cepia LLC presented findings from a leading independent quality assurance agency, Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services, that shows levels of the compounds are safe.

-- McClatchy Newspapers


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