11/27/06 — Let the annual toy hunt begin

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Let the annual toy hunt begin

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on November 27, 2006 1:45 PM

It's official. The Christmas shopping season has begun.

And if you have a child or teenager on your holiday list, there are a few names you need to know as you head out to find the perfect present to put under the tree this holiday season.

No 1: Playstation 3 is king

Weeks before the Nov. 17 release of Sony's Playstation 3 gaming console, lines were forming outside stores across the country.

Then, when the item finally became available for purchase, hordes of people rushed inside to find only a limited number of them on the shelves.

Tempers flared and, in some cases, fights broke out.

But those lucky enough to walk away with one under their arm that Friday said Sony's product, with enhanced graphics, improved sound quality, new games and capabilities, was worth every bit of the drama. It's just that good.

Gamers said they feel like they are "in" the popular games, which include Madden NFL '07 and Sonic the Hedgehog -- both sure to be headliners on thousands of Christmas lists worldwide.

But despite the heavy demand, Sony officials said production problems would translate into only 1 million Playstation 3 sales before the New Year.

That's the bad news.

But the good news is that there is still a glimmer of hope for children who want nothing else come Christmas morning -- if their parents don't mind sleeping at area stores until the next delivery.

Ultimately, there's no telling when or where new consoles will arrive. The only guarantee is that the only other way to get one is to fork over thousands of dollars at an online auction site, like eBay.

There's still hope, just not that much. But who knows, maybe an I.O.U. in a nicely wrapped box will suffice.

No. 2: Elmo's Cracking Up

It's Christmas Day and the floor is covered in a sea of wrapping paper, tape and ribbon. Everybody is in their Sunday best, sitting with bowed heads at the dinner table before the feast begins.

But the room is far from silent -- Elmo won't stop laughing for anything.

It's another holiday season and that means the lovable red monster from Sesame Street and Fisher Price is sweeping the nation again -- another year, another hot product.

But the latest model isn't teaching children how to use the potty. And Elmo's not just giggling either. This year, he's cracking up.

The Elmo TMX (Tickle Me Extreme) hit stores in September, but the toys didn't stay long. People either bought -- or tickled -- them off the shelves.

The new doll is similar to its predecessor, the Tickle Me Elmo, in principle, but nothing else. As soon as the toy is turned on, he reacts to being tickled -- but not just with a laugh or simple vibration. He throws his arms around, falls to the floor, rolls around and simply can't stop.

The revamped Elmo has three tickle spots. When his chin, stomach or foot is touched, he slaps his leg, falls down and gets back up, laughing all the while.

But if Elmo is tickled again and again, he will go nuts -- rolling over on his stomach, slapping his hand on the floor over and over again.

Whether for a child with a great sense of humor or for someone else who enjoys a good laugh, retailers say the Elmo TMX will sell off of the shelves. Just hope Elmo hasn't laughed his way to someone else's home already.

No. 3: Barbie's Dancing

Children have driven her on dates with Ken, taken her to the beach for a long weekend and guided her through a vast mansion every day for decades.

Wherever a child goes, Barbie is sure to follow. But this year, she's in charge.

Mattel's Dance With Me Barbie promises to be a "must have" on many daughters' lists this year. The doll, Princess Genevieve, is a tribute to the character's upcoming DVD release, "Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses."

Instead of simply sitting around, waiting to be played with, this particular Barbie is interactive.

Imagine watching Barbie dance to music in her pink gown and gold crown and then watching as your daughter sits attentively as voice prompts followed by individual steps teaching her how to dance like a princess.

It will be an amateur's Dancing With the Stars every day after Christmas for just under $50.