Toy Wishes Magazine has released its ever-popular Hot Dozen Toys for 2005. This list is intended to forecast which toys will be the most popular during the 2005 holidays. We can safely assume that if the magazine is correct, many of them will also become hard to find in stores at some point in the near future.
The Hot Dozen List includes (in alphabetical order):
- Black Belts Karate Home Studio DVD: an inexpensive active play set with a video component.
- Dora's Talking Kitchen; My wife Kathleen says that the kitchen play set at her pediatrics office is the most popular toy in the waiting room.
- Fly Wheels Assortment; Couldn't figure out which toy this was, so I'm recommending the Fly Wheels Rapid Fire Launcher for the moment.
- Furby: an electronic friend that comes in multiple color combinations.
- iDog: an electronic dog that dances to music that's being played in the room. Accessories are also available.
- iZ: an interesting combination of cartoon character, speaker for music playback, and music mixing tool. You change the beat of the music by twisting iZ's ears and pressing on his belly.
- Leapster L-Max Learning System: portable version of Leapster learning system. Requires new games, available separately. Works in conjunction with TV, if connected.
- The Magnetix MagnaWorld Series: lead by Magnetix MagnaWorld City. MagnaWorld Clock Tower, MagnaWorld Magna Central, Rescue Center, and Airport also available.
- Pixel Chix: including Pixel Chix Cottage House, Beverly Hills House, and Miami Loft. Interesting electronic house simulators. Kids interact with a Pixel Chix Pal, paying attention to the Pal in order to keep advancing in the game; Ignore and Pixel Chix Pal moves out.
- Shell Shocker Radio Controlled Toy: a toy with a "bio-mechanical design" that can shift from a rolling bowling-ball type shape to a reptillian-looking robot and back. Requires a Tyco Pro Flexpak Battery and Charger and a 9-volt battery, which adds to the cost.
- VCam Now: digital camera / video camera designed for kids. Holds 480 pictures or 7 minutes of video.
- V-Smile Pocket: portable version of V Smile-- a 2004 favorite. Uses the same cartridges as the bigger unit, potentially a big savings.
If the 2004 Hot Dozen list was heavy with electronics, the list is overloaded in 2005. There are only two toys on this list that don't have a big electronic component: Black Belts Karate Home Studio DVD (also available in VHS) and the Magnetics MagnaWorld Series. I bought a set of Magnetix building toys for my nephew, Ben, a year or two ago, and I really wish they had been around when I was a kid, because they're fun to build with.
Last year, Operation Gadget readers bought a lot of VTech V-Smile, a video game-based learning system for preschoolers. In my opinion, this either means that V-Smile Pocket will be a similar hit, or it will be a dud. VTech has a strong lineup of add-on cartridges compatible with both devices based on Winnie the Pooh, Mickey and Friends, and the Little Mermaid. If these cartridges are entertaining as well as educational, I'm sure parents and grandparents will buy them, and many hours of fun will be had by all.
I'm concerned that the mix of electronic and non-electronic products in the Hot Dozen has tilted too far toward the electronics this year. Will there be hits in the non-electronic genre this year, in spite of the lack of attention? What do you think?