11/30/08 — Toys: What's hot this year from tots to teens

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Toys: What's hot this year from tots to teens

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 30, 2008 2:00 AM

If you talk to those stocking store shelves this holiday season, you might gain some perspective.

They know what toys are in high demand.

They see children stop and stare.

At least that is the case at the local Target, where manager Katherine Saunders mentioned a few items sure to be enjoyed by gift recipients this year.

"Gaming systems are always really popular," she said, adding the system of choice this year seems to be the Nintendo Wii.

And then there is Elmo -- yes, Elmo -- back again with a whole host of new tricks up his sleeve.

But if you really want to know which particular gifts and gadgets are "must-haves," you might talk to those who would be on the receiving end.

The following list represents a combination of the two -- those selling, and those desperately awaiting this year's hot toys.

1. The Nintendo Wii. Popular games include Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour and Mario Kart.

From a playroom floor, Simon Curtis experienced the one thing he likes better than bowling with his friends.

"Wii bowling," the 8-year-old said, flashing a smile.

So this year, he is hoping the Nintendo gaming system is one of the items marked with his name under the family Christmas tree.

"It's so cool," Simon said. "It would be so cool to have a Wii."

His mother, Rebecca, agrees.

"I actually really wouldn't mind having one of those in the house," she said. "If he is going to be playing video games, I would rather he get physically into it. It's better for him than laying around on the couch. And I hear you can use it to do Internet stuff on the TV screen."

The system does, in fact, allow users to surf the Internet.

And some games, like Wii Fit, are being produced with adults in mind.

Some retirement homes and hospitals have even purchased the system for use in therapy.

So make sure Santa gets the memo.

The Wii is "in."

2. Fisher-Price Elmo Live.

Valencia Rosario stops mid-step when she sees a familiar face.

"Mama," the 4-year-old said. "Look."

Her mother, Tina, can't believe it.

"We got her the new one last year," she said. "She definitely wants that one."




You guessed it.

Just when it seemed like the lovable Sesame Street character might take a holiday off, Elmo is back -- and a lot more lifelike.

Fisher-Price's newest edition, "Elmo Live," is more interactive and human-like -- waving, talking in a more engaging way and, of course, laughing.

So expect to see Elmo on a Christmas list near you.

Tina expects to.

"OK, say bye-bye to Elmo," she said to Valencia, still enchanted by his every word and move. "We'll see him another day."

3. Apple iTouch, iPhone and iPod. Gift cards for downloadable music called "iTunes" can be purchased.

Sherry Thomas was feeling particularly old as she walked through the Rosewood Wal-Mart music section.

And she is only 35.

"My 10-year-old hates these," Mrs. Thomas said, picking up a compact disc. "All he wants is an iPod."

Tough economic times have not eliminated the desire for expensive electronics.

Especially among the younger crowd, which has become increasingly dependent on Apple products -- the iPhone, iTouch and iPod.

Mrs. Thomas doesn't see an end in sight.

"It's like when cassettes faded away," she said. "Now, everybody wants an iPod. Every has those headphone wires hanging out of their ears."

Even the parents, she said.

"After looking at them, I have half the mind to go buy myself one," she said. "They really are easy to use and they are easy to carry. And they hold a bunch of music, which beats what I grew up with."

Barbie also is still queen, but Hannah Montana and High School Musical dolls are becoming increasingly popular. Among boys, Batman and Star Wars action figures are back in demand.