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Holidays' 'hot dozen' toys
Barbie, Care Bears, Hokey Pokey Elmo and My Little Pony among this year's 'must-have' playthings.
October 8, 2003: 11:35 AM EDT
By Parija Bhatnagar, CNN/Money Staff Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Parents take note: The "official" list of the hottest toys for the 2003 holiday season was unveiled Wednesday and Barbie in Swan Lake, Hokey Pokey Elmo and My Little Pony all made the cut.

The top picks featured in Toy Wishes magazine's annual round-up of this year's top toys were announced at a joint Toy Industry Association (TIA) and Toy Wishes media-only event in New York City.

For the first time since its debut four years ago, the much-anticipated "Hot Dozen" is in fact a "Baker's Dozen" with 13 winners. Judging by the selection, industry watches say toymakers are betting on a few golden oldies to boost sagging sales.

The business of toys hasn't been all that fun lately, with the $20 billion industry struggling to grow sales for the past three years.

"Toy manufacturers have brought back proven hits this year because it's less risky than betting on something new," said toy consultant Chris Byrne.

Hokey Pokey Elmo  
Hokey Pokey Elmo

For example, last year Mattel (MAT: Research, Estimates)'s Elmo was doing the Chicken Dance. This year it's the Hokey Pokey Elmo. He's red and furry, sings the classic song -- and actually does the dance.

Hasbro (HAS: Research, Estimates) is anticipating a joy ride of profitability all over again with its My Little Pony collection. The company introduced 12 new ponies as part of its 2003 collection. Hasbro had discontinued the toy line in 1992.

Toy Wishes rates the My Little Pony Celebration Castle as a hot item this year.

And remember the Care Bears? The '80s icon is back this year with its BedTime Lullaby Bear among the baker's dozen.

Getting back to the future, critics also like a few technology-based toys such as Thinkway Toys' Neopets line of interactive toys based on the hugely popular Neopets Web site and Leapfrog's (LF: Research, Estimates) LeapPad and Leapster educational game system.

Finally, you just can't ignore Barbie. Mattel's Barbie as Odette in the ballet "Swan Lake" gets the thumbs up for Christmas as does the Barbie "Cook With Me Kitchen" playset.


Toy Wishes co-publisher Jim Silver said he's optimistic toy sales will grow in the crucial fourth quarter, which typically accounts for two-thirds of the year's total.

"Sales in the last eight months were quite weak compared to last year because we didn't have blockbuster movies like 'Spiderman' or 'Star Wars,'" Silver said. "But with the economy improving somewhat, a stronger back-to-school season and strong sales of retro, educational and girls' toys, the fourth quarter could be the best we've had since 2000."  Top of page

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