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Hot Toys for Holiday 2006

Some of the toys expected to be top sellers for the 2006 holiday season, according to Toy Wishes, a trade publication. The list is based on the publication's review of thousands of toys and interviews with parents, children and retailers. In alphabetical order :

- Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses (Mattel Inc.) This playset, which includes a full line of dolls, is inspired by Barbie as star in the latest DVD Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses. Age 3 and up.

- Bratz Forever Diamondz (MGA Entertainment). Each of the Bratz dolls are outfitted with faux diamonds, and each doll comes with a real diamond pendant that girls can wear themselves. Ages 6 and up.

- Butterscotch My Furreal Friends Pony (Hasbro Inc.). Advanced animatronic technology allows the one-metre pony to come to life with realistic movements. When a child climbs on, the pony, which has a thick plush coat, responds with clip-clop and walking sounds. Ages 4 and up.

- Digi Makeover (Radica Games Ltd.). This high-tech makeover system includes a built-in camera and a touch pad. Tweens can just plug the unit into their TV and snap a picture. Children are now ready to experiment with all kinds of new looks. Ages 8 and up.

- Fly Wheels XPV (Jakks-Pacific Inc.). This lightweight radio-controlled vehicle can take off and land from any hard surface and then soar more than 20 stories into the air. Ages 8 and up.

- Kids Tough Digital Camera (Mattel's Fisher-Price). This built-in 1.3 inch LCD screen holds up to 60 pictures (expandable with separate memory card) It includes big buttons and easy controls. The camera can be connected by USB to the computer for downloading photos to a PC or Macintosh computer. Ages 3 and up.

- Lego Mindstorms NXT (Lego Systems Inc.). This robotic kit enables the user to create an even more powerful robot than the original Mindstorms introduced in 1998. Ages 10 and up.

- Magtastik (Mega Brands Inc.). The starter building set, which features big, plastic brightly coloured pieces, can be complemented with different kinds of special sets. Ages 3 and up.

- Monopoly Here & Now (Hasbro Inc.). This limited edition of this classic game reflects today's current real estate prices and features iconic properties like Times Square and Rodeo Drive. The railroads have been replaced with airports. Ages 8 and up.

- Speed Stacks Stackpack (Play Along Toys, a division of Jakks Pacific Inc.). This game challenges kids to stack and restack specially designed cups in precise formations. It comes with competition-ready cups, an official StackMat, timer and instructional DVD. Ages 4 and up.

- T.M.X. Elmo (Mattel's Fisher-Price). In this new version, timed with the 10th anniversary of Tickle Me Elmo, Elmo's squeaky laugh and body movements grow more pronounced with three successive tickles. Ages 18 months and up.

- WII (Nintendo). This game console (pronounced "We") uses a unique TV-style remote controller that can be waved around like a tennis racket to manipulate action on the screen. Ages 6 and up.

Marie Osmond Celebrating 15th Year in Dolls

Marie Osmond's year-long 15th anniversary celebration includes the My Friend doll, Charisma Dolls expanded into several new doll lines including the Lipstik fashion dolls for children, Lulla My Baby huggable baby dolls and the Artista vinyl dolls, sculpted by Donna Rubert and Jane Pinkstaff. Marie's anniversary year will culminate in Utah with a "Friends Like You" reunion where over 500 doll fans are expected to attend the first Marie Osmond Dolls convention.

Cabbage Patch Kids

Color the hair on your Color Silk Cabbage Patch Kids simply by touching their hair. A cooler or warmer touch will change the hair to two different colors. Suggested retail price: $29.99.

Friends 2B Made

Owned by Build-A-Bear Workshop. Located on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, and one of five Friends 2B Made in the United States. At a Friends 2B Made, you select, stuff, customize, and dress your own soft cloth doll - the same basic concept as at Build-A-Bear. The dolls are a cross between a Groovy Girl and a Bratz Doll.

Barbie Speaks ?

Barbie may next year morph into a talking princess doll. The move is part of toy maker Mattel Inc.'s efforts to "bring Barbie to life" and develop the type of dolls that little girls want to play with, said Neil Friedman, president of Mattel Brands.

In its first quarter, Mattel said U.S. Barbie doll sales rose 1 percent, marking the first time in 17 quarters that the toy maker had reported a rise, Friedman said. "We have been lacking in a number of different areas within Barbie, one of which was bringing the toys to life and making her exciting." "We haven't had great product for the girls."

Friedman, who took his position as president of Mattel Brands in October and is in charge of revitalizing Barbie sales, said Mattel is focusing on additions like voice, or lights or sound. "It's the features that you put in the doll that make it exciting and fun to play with," he said. Friedman said Barbie will always be a "cornerstone" of Mattel, but she may become a smaller piece of the toy company's overall business. "As we expand our businesses ... just due to the diversity of the company, she will be a lesser piece of the business."

Bratz Dolls

MGA Entertainment, the maker of Bratz dolls, has a new "Little Mermaid" doll that actually swims under water.

10th anniversary ELMO

Get ready for a "top-secret" 10th anniversary Elmo. Fisher-Price, a division of Mattel, won't reveal what the new Elmo looks like until September but promised that its something thats never been seen before in a plush toy.

Princess Genevieve Barbie

Mattel will unveil the new technology-infused Princess Genevieve Barbie from its new DVD movie "Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses." Using a combination of Infra Red and Radio Frequency technology, the new 15-inch tall doll can dance to music from the doll's base. Mattel said Barbie can show girls new dance moves using both speech and movement cues.

Baby Alive

Hasbro is relaunching the "Baby Alive" doll thirty three years after the company gave birth to the original doll that eats and poops. Like the original, this new version speaks and laughs, but for the first time she also has facial expressions and eye movements, along with other life-like actions.


Trolls are back in the hands of the original Dam family. Licensed to Play Along Toys, the new Trolls have all the appeal of the originals. Basic trolls, good luck trolls, themed trolls, pencil topper trolls and more.

Ken is Back

Ken and Barbie are headed for a romantic reunion according to their maker, Mattel. But Ken is a changed man after a makeover. Consultant Phillip Bloch unveiled the restyled Ken doll Thursday, in advance of the American International Toy Fair in New York.

He's been to the gym and looks buff and stylish, and now Barbie's boy toy Ken wants to win back the doll he split from two years ago. After a two-year separation, Mattel said Thursday, Barbie's longtime suitor wants to rekindle his decades-long romance with his plastic paramour. Mattel is hoping Ken's return to retail stores can also revitalize the company's overall fortunes. In January, the company blamed sagging Barbie sales for sagging profits.

"Ken has revamped his life - mind, body and soul," Hollywood stylist and Mattel consultant Phillip Bloch said. "Everyone knows how difficult it is to change, especially when you've lived your life a certain way for more than four decades."

Mattel said in February 2004 that Barbie and Ken had split after 43 years because they wanted to spend some time apart. Ken, who appears to have spent time in the gym and at the stylist, returns wearing a beach-wear ensemble complete with board shorts and white T-shirt. For her part, Barbie publicist Lauren Dougherty said, Barbie "appreciates the new look Ken is sporting. He really looks great. But we'll have to stay tuned to see whether these two will get back together."

At a press conference unveiling Ken, Bloch said the company was going for a "worldly, European thing," and "definitely wanted to be looking hot."

Mattel's fourth-quarter results showed an 18 percent decline in Barbie's U.S. sales. The company said that in addition to "tweaking" the Barbie line this year, more dramatic changes would be made in 2007.

Bratz Dolls are Turning Back Time with New Kidz Line

Since bursting onto the scene in 2001, Bratz dolls have been stealing market share from Mattel Inc.'s Barbie.

Yasmin, Cloe, Sasha and Jade are taking a trip back in time - back to before the popularity they eventually attained as the original Bratz bunch.

MGA Entertainment, which makes the edgy Bratz fashion dolls, known for their large heads, pouty lips and flashy clothes, is expanding its product line by adding Bratz Kidz, a line that depicts the dolls as 8- to 9-year-olds. "These are the Bratz before they became the real Bratz," said MGA Entertainment Chief Executive Isaac Larian in an interview.

But the Kidz line, which Larian said could ring in retail sales of roughly $150 million this year, is not the only trick MGA has up its sleeve for 2006. Plans also include Bratz Diamondz - dolls that come with a piece of jewelry with a real diamond chip - and talking Bratz dolls. "These are dolls that will talk and interact with you," Larian said. Larian said

MGA, which is unveiling its 2006 line at the upcoming American International Toy Fair in New York, is working hard to innovate the doll and come out with lines that mimic current trends or innovations in technology. "You've got to keep changing," he said. "We always keep pushing here."

MGA, a privately held company based in Van Nuys,CA, reported worldwide retail sales of Bratz products in 2005, including licensed merchandise, of just over $2 billion.

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