I got my copy of The Holiday 2006 issue of Toy Wishes Magazine about two weeks ago, and I've been reading it to see which toys the publishers think will be hot this year. The thing that surprised me was how much the toys cost.
Three of the toys on the Hot Dozen cost more than $200. Compare this to last year, where three of the four most expensive toys on the list cost between $75 and $100, with the most expensive came in at only $150. Only one item on this year's list has a suggested retail price of $25 or less.
Let's take a look at the 2006 Hot Dozen:
- Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses: This is series of products based on the Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses DVD released in September 2006. Barbie stars as Princess Genevieve, who is the seventh of 12 daughters of a widower king. There are lots of options and accessories available, including a more sophisticated "interactive" Princess Genevieve, a horse and carriage, and a magical dance castle. Not to mention the dolls representing the other 11 sisters and the love interest, all available separately.
- Bratz Forever Diamondz: The Bratz are back again, as you've never seen them before. Sharidan, Cloe, Jade, Yasmin, and Sasha are expected to be hot with six to nine-year-old girls.
- Butterscotch My Furreal Friends Interactive Pony: The most expensive item on the Hot Dozen this year. This pony stands over three feet tall and weighs 25 pounds. She responds to cues with some elaborate animated action, including moving her eyes, ears, and head, whinnying and snorting, and responding to being fed. Children weighing up to 80-pounds can climb on for a "ride", although the horse stays in place on its stand.
- Digi Makeover: Gives pre-teen girls the opportunity to tryout new hair and makeup styles. The system apparently lacks an easy way to transfer "before" and "after" images to a computer for sharing via email and IM.
- Fly Wheels XPV: a remote controlled vehicle that drives like a car and flies like an airplane. The manufacturer says it can reach speeds of 30 miles an hour and fly higher than 100 feet in the air.
- Kid Tough Digital Camera: A 0.3 megapixel camera with a tough exterior, a 1.3-inch LCD, and a simple user interface that other camera manufacturers might want to study. This camera also has USB connectivity for use with a PC and a memory card slot. Comes in a version for boys (with a blue plastic case) and a version for girls (in pink).
- Lego Mindstorms NXT: The latest enhancement in the Lego Mindstorms robotics line. This is clearly aimed at engineering minded teens and adults. Expensive, but with many more capabilities than previous Mindstorm products I've seen.
- Magtastik: Magnetic construction sets that feature big, brightly colored plastic pieces. These kits look quite different from the Magnetix products featured on last year's Hot Dozen list.
- Monopoly Here & Now Edition: Why this game was included on the list is a real head-scratcher for me. How is this different from the umpteen other Monopoly spin-off attempts that haven't connected with the gaming public?
- Speed Stacks StackPack: A manual dexterity and coordination game that is supposedly used in physical education classes at over 10,000 schools. Comes in blue, red, green, yellow, and pink.
- T.M.X. Elmo: The 10th Anniversary Tickle-Me Elmo doll that was recently released to rave reviews. Already it's very difficult to find in stores and on-line.
- Wii: Nintendo's new game system that emphasizes two-handed, wireless game controllers with motion activation. The controllers should make sports games such as baseball, tennis, and hockey a lot more interesting. This is the first time in recent years that Toy Wishes has included a game system on the Hot Dozen list.
The gifts I see crossing over to teen and adult age groups most easily are the Lego Mindstorms NXT and the Nintendo Wii. I'll probably do follow up articles on these products, because they look like things that I would find interesting.
I wish the editors of Toy Wishes would include a toy or two suitable for small children. With the exception of T.M.X. Elmo, the toys on this list really don't make sense for children before age 4 or so. Since T.M.X. Elmo will be extremely difficult to get, they should have considered adding a second toy for that age group.