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This year's must-have toy hasn’t emerged yet

Nov 15, 2010 8:33:00 PM - thestate.com
For parents, finding the right holiday toy isn’t all fun and games.

After a robotic hamster became the breakout hit last Christmas, the race is on to snag this year’s hot toy. But what is it?

No front runner has emerged yet, but parents and kids have been buzzing about squishy pencil toppers, a Barbie equipped with a real video camera and toy musical instruments that can be played by lightly touching the paper surface.

“Part of what makes a toy the must-have toy is the scarcity in finding it,” said Sean McGowan, a toy analyst at Needham & Co. “There’s social currency attached to being the parent who can deliver it and the kid who gets it.”

Toys may be a bright spot during what is predicted to be another tough holiday season for consumer spending. Compared with other retail categories such as luxury and electronics, toys weren’t hit as hard during the economic downturn for one major reason: Many parents will cut back everywhere else before they deprive their children of that Buzz Lightyear action figure or the latest Bratz doll. Plus, toys are relatively cheap.

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