Dancing Barbie meets Cyberman

Dancing Barbie met Cyberman on Wednesday as British toy retailers listed their top dozen must-have presents for tech-savvy kids this Christmas.

Hollywood also featured prominently with toy spin-offs from the hit movies Cars and Pirates of the Caribbean joining such perennial classics as the Trivial Pursuit board game.

The £2,1-billion ($3.9-billion) British market, the world’s third largest after the United States and Japan, has grown by 6% this year. But Christmas is, as ever, the make or break season.

“We have about 50% of our year’s turnover to do in the next 11 weeks. A small change in the runup to Christmas transforms the year up or down,” said Gary Grant of Britain’s Toy Retailers Association.

“Certainly we are the biggest toy market in Europe,” he added.
“Without doubt the kids are getting more and more sophisticated.”

On show at a London church hall on Wednesday were an intriguing array of toys that retailers forecast would be the best-sellers over the festive season.

Cars has been one of the strongest toy-related film releases I can remember—way way beyond Toy Story. Items from Pirates of the Caribbean are selling particularly well,” Grant told Reuters.

Pressed to choose his top toy for boys and girls he picked a voice-changing Cyberman mask from the BBC’s Doctor Who cult TV series and a new Barbie model which teaches little girls how to dance with interactive wrist and ankle bands.

The new Tickle Me Elmo toy TMX Elmo from Mattel’s Fisher-Price Division, which is already proving wildly popular in the United States, was not included in the British top dozen because it has only just been released.

“It was absolutely top secret. We were buying blind. I think they are only bringing 45 000 into the country so we don’t want to highly publicise a toy parents cannot get,” Grant said.

“It has been a restricted release. They have been changing hands on eBay for £50—for an item that is retailing at £35.That just demonstrates the demand.”

Among the most popular toys on display on Wednesday was Hasbro’s Butterscotch, a life-sized interactive Shetland pony that neighs, swishes its tail and nibbles carrot.

Across the hall Thomas the Tank Engine delighted children road-testing the toys by emitting real steam from its funnel while a Johnny Depp lookalike offered kids a chance to build models of his ship The Black Pearl. - Reuters

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