11/24/05 — This season's hottest toys

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This season's hottest toys

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 24, 2005 1:47 PM

X-Box 360 is No. 1

Monday, hours before midnight, children and parents of all ages lined up at local stores to buy an item that was not on the shelf yet.

When the clock struck 12, and Monday became Tuesday, these consumers rushed through doors and toward the hottest gift item available this year.

X-Box 360, the newest gaming console from Microsoft, was released Tuesday at electronics stores across the country.

Better graphics, improved sound quality, new games and hours of entertainment were just a drive home away for those lucky enough to grab one off the shelf before sold out signs were posted.

Many, said they pre-ordered the system to be sure they would get the first crack at winning new games.

Some will wait for Christmas. By then, a number of games will be available for purchase.

For the sports nuts in your family, pick up a copy of Tiger Woods 2006 and on Christmas morning, by the time the floor is covered in wrapping paper, they could be taking on the number one player in the world on the course of their choice.

Others can play in the Super Bowl without waiting until the end of January. They can Madden 06, and simply pick a team and guide them to season's end.

Other favorites include Call of Duty 2, a game that puts you on the front line in key military battles, Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, where skate boarding is not a crime, and Need for Speed Most Wanted, a game that lets you drive recklessly without facing tickets, license revocation or worse.

With a price tag of $399, the new X-Box 360 offers a high-definition gaming experience, plays DVDs and CDs and is compatible with existing X-Box games.

Microsoft officials said they expect to sell at least 3 million units within 90 days of its debut.

No. 2: Elmo -- He's Back

It's Christmas morning and you just noticed a wet spot under the tree. Before you blame the family dog, check your toddler's wish list twice for the biggest, most accident-prone name in holiday shopping this year -- Elmo.

Sesame Street's lovable red monster is back in the spotlight, just in time for the holidays. This year, Fisher-Price offers toddlers a fun way to potty train with one of their favorite friends.

Potty Elmo is equipped with a sippy cup, soft book and toilet and teaches young children how to use the bathroom. For $19.99, this product should be a hit with parents and children alike.

Just remember, tickling this Elmo could lead to a mess.

No. 3: I-Pod fever

Sleek, white headphone cords trailing down faces into blue jean pockets should be a popular fashion statement after Christmas this year.

Apple's line of iPod products are giving people something to smile about while riding the bus to school, sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office, making dinner, doing laundry and even getting a cavity filled.

This year, the iShuffle, iPod mini and iPod should be at the top of most lists, as they offer the latest in MP3 technology. Each of the products stores at least 100 songs, which can be uploaded from CDs and the Internet.

Price will vary based on memory space, with the $100 iShuffle capable of holding roughly 100 songs, and the iPod, the most expensive Apple MP3 player out this year, priced at $400 with the capability of holding thousands of songs.

So make sure to let Santa place the presents under the tree after the children are snug in their beds. If not, there promises to be a few dozen hips and heads swaying during Christmas Eve services.

No. 4: Barbie is still hot

Only one woman knows the secret.

She has lasted decades, surviving numerous wars, recessions, hurricanes and earthquakes. Years go by and she doesn't age. Her lipstick never fades.

You've seen her sport a bikini in the winter, a formal gown at a sleep-over with friends and a preppy school outfit at piano lessons.

Her bright red convertible works in the rain and snow, top down, music blaring. She has a mansion, beach house, condo and a castle.

She's been a teacher, model, doctor, princess and an Olympic athlete.

And she's still at the top of many Christmas lists.

Kelley Castle's 7-year-old daughter, Samantha, wrote Santa a letter the other day. Her list was dominated by one name -- Barbie.

Ms. Castle said you can't go wrong with this timeless gift.

"Barbie is going to be a good old-fashioned standard," she said.

No. 5: Collectibles

Witches, wizards, a few Jedi and a talking sponge.

Box office blockbusters "Star Wars, Episode 3" and "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" have started a craze. Books, trading cards, figurines and costumes will likely appear on Christmas lists nationwide, as children look to live out more adventures with characters from their favorite films.

Harry Potter collectibles include figurines, costumes and trading cards. You can even buy candy featured in the movies.

Light-sabers, masks and a life-sized Darth Vader are among hundreds of Star Wars products on shelves this winter. And, for the first time, all six movies will be available for the holidays on DVD and VHS.

Another collectible favorite includes SpongeBob SquarePants, with clothing, jewelry and figurines available for purchase at many stores.

Just make sure no spells are cast inside the house and that light-saber battles don't turn your children towards the dark side.

- News-Argus Staff Writers Bonnie Edwards and Andrew Bell contributed to this story.