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Toys so cool they'll be hot
Toy Wishes magazine's 'Hot Dozen' -- American Idol Barbie, Sony PSP, Star Wars light game and more.
March 21, 2005: 6:26 AM EST
By Parija Bhatnagar, CNN/Money staff writer
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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Come summer, kids will trick out their bikes, duke it out using the new Star Wars light saber battle game, and gather around to vote which doll has the chutzpah to become the first-ever American Idol Barbie.

Those are just a few of the toys picked by Toy Wishes magazine for its annual "Hot Dozen" toys for summer.

Whether kids want to get wet, be a superstar, bring the hottest movies of the summer to life, or get their hands on the latest handheld, industry watchers say this year will be the summer of entertainment and interactive toys.

"Toy manufacturers are redefining themselves as family entertainment companies rather than just toymakers," said Jim Silver, toy analyst and editor-in-chief of Toy Wishes, who attributes the strategy shift to the growing appeal among kids of gadgets and gizmos versus the "traditional" toy.

He gave an example, "The best-selling entertainment product last year with tweens wasn't a toy, it was the iPod," he said. "This year Hasbro is really taking the lead with its innovative I-Dog. That's the type of product that both kids and adults would like to buy."

And, be on the look-out for a slew of movie-themed toys to flood the market, with the releases this summer of the new Batman, Star Wars and "Fantastic Four" movies, he said.

"This summer could easily spur over $500 million in sales from movie-themed toys and games," he said. "Movie-themed toys typically tend to be introduced in the fourth quarter. It's unusual to see toymakers debut so many new products in this category so early in the year. We definitely did not see such a diverse spread of electronics and entertainment toys last summer."

Three of his featured picks are the new deluxe Batmobile, Fantastic Four play hands and feet, and the new Star Wars Trivial Pursuit and light saber battle game.

Other trends that Silver highlights are electronic toys, especially the plug-and-play games, and gaming units. "Sony PSP is hitting stores this week. I expect it to be sold out in a single day," Silver said.

Added Silver "Even though holiday sales account for 65 percent of the industry's overall sales, the first nine months of the year can determine whether the Christmas season will be good or bad for retailers. I'm very excited about the new products for the summer."

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