Amazon Kindles, the new XBox Kinect and cute collectible toys like Zoobles are likely to be hot holiday gifts this year, retailers say.
Gearing up for the holiday shopping season, stores expect parents and other gift-givers to snap up trendy collectibles for children aged 4 to 7, including classics like Calico Critters and new toys like Squinkies.
“We’re seeing a lot of excitement behind Squinkies. These are tiny little squishy figures,” said Toys “R” Us spokeswoman Adrienne Giordano, adding the collectibles all come with various gear. “Playsets and accessories are a way of providing gift-givers with more options.”
Other trendy collectible toys this year include:
* Zoobles, colorful cocoon animals that pop open when you attach them to their home; they retail for about $5.
* Sing-A-Ma-Jigs, stuffed animals that sing a song and warble in harmony; $13.
* Zhu Zhu Pets, stuffed hamsters; $10 for the animals and extra for themed playsets.
* Kung Zhu, the warrior version of the Zhu Zhu hamsters; $10, battle armor extra.
* FurReal Friends, stuffed animals that make noise and walk; $20 to $55.
* Paper Jamz, a simulated guitar; $25.
* Hex Bug Nano, little battery-powered robots; $10, more for their habitats.
As usual, there’s also a host of dolls and figurines modeled after popular characters: Olivia toys after the children’s books and TV series, dolls of the “Twilight” vampire series characters and “Toy Story”-themed toys, among others.
Classics still around
For gift-givers who don’t want to get caught up in the latest craze, classics like train sets, board games and LEGOs promise to be big sellers too.
“We’re seeing a huge comeback in the train category,” Giordano said. New Tomica Hypercity train sets sold well in Japan and are popular here since being introduced this season, she said. “This is the type of item you can pass along to generations.”
LEGO has a new strategic board game that allows players to build their own path to the finish and cut off their opponents, Giordano said.
G. Willikers in Saratoga Springs only sells classic toys and games, and owner Linda Ambrosino expects to move a lot of board games and card games this season, including Bananagrams, the Scrabble-like word game that doesn’t require a board.
“That’s the trend I’m seeing at the beginning of November so far,” Ambrosino said. Building materials for children, including blocks and magnetic tiles, promise to be popular sellers too.
Her one “hot toy” that is also sold in mass markets, Calico Critters, is doing especially well this year. The critters are tiny animals that live in a doll house human-style, and retail for about $25 for a one-room set.
“I’m surprised by how hot they are this year,” Ambrosino said.
Another classic gift, the annual Hess Toy Truck, takes a new spin this year as a tractor trailer flatbed hauling a jet. It’s first time ever in 46 years that a jet aircraft has been part of the collection. It retails for $25.99 at Hess stores.
Video game fans of all ages may want Santa to bring them one of the new game consoles that recently were introduced, especially the popular Kinect, Xbox’s answer to Wii. It retails for $300.
“When you stand in front of the little camera, the sensor will scan your body from head to toe, and you will literally be inserted into the game,” Giordano said. Players control the game with their hand and voice.
The new Wii system with Wii Remote Plus controller was released Nov. 7.
Hot picks for gamers of all ages include Call of Duty: Black Ops for XBox or Sony Playstation, which was released in early November and sold 5.6 million copies the first day, the biggest first-day sales for a game ever. Just Dance 2 and Samurai Warriors 3 for Nintendo Wii are expected to be popular for the holidays too.
For environmentally-conscious teens — and teen-like adults — a new solar-powered hydrogen car, the Radio-Controlled H-Racer, sells for about $130. The fueling station uses a solar panel (or two AA batteries) to turn water into fuel for the 6-inch car.
Santa may bring adults hot items like the Amazon Kindle ($140) or Apple iPad ($500).
“IPad is still really popular,” said Target spokeswoman Tara Schlosser.
High-definition TVs and laptops are popular too.
Facebook credit gift cards are a new item this year, Schlosser said.
They are redeemable on the social networking site for games that require payment.
For women, jewelry, handbags and clothing are favorites.
And when in doubt, gift-givers can pick out a gift card, Schlosser said.
“If you’re having trouble deciding what to get for your loved ones, you can always kind of go to the gift card to play it safe.