ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.7 - OCTOBER 1999

The "Hot Dozen" for Holiday '99

Do you remember the lines and fever last holiday season to get ahold of a Furby? The season before that it was Sesame Street's giggling Elmo who was all the rage. It never fails. Every year one toy is in top demand, driving parents to amazing lengths to obtain one in the nick of time.

In plenty of time for strategic shopping, Toy Wishes: The Ultimate Toy Buying Guide has announced what co-publishers Jim Silver and Gareb Shamus are calling the "Hot Dozen," or the twelve toys they predict will be the blockbusters of 1999. Start taking notes now, so you won't be caught in that last minute rush.

The selection of these toys began as early as a year ago when members of the Toy Wishes editorial board took a 'first look' at more than 150,000 toys, games and related products. The final selection was made mid-year when the editorial board pooled their personal lists, gleaned from their more than 75 years of combined experience with toys, children's entertainment, technology and product trends.

Joining Silver and Shamus on the selection committee were Douglas Goldstein, editor of Toy Wishes, Christopher Byrne, nationally known toy expert who is also known as The Toy Guy and Nancy Lombardi, editor of The Toy Book, the toy industry's leading trade publication.

The Hot Dozen (in alphabetical order):

Amazing Ally (Playmates Toys/$69.99)
Amazing Ally uses revolutionary technology that allows her to interact with a virtually unlimited vocabulary and realistic, synchronized animatronic movements. Kids can tell Ally personal information -- their favorite colors, their nickname, their birthday...and Ally will not only remember them, but recall them during play.

Furby Babies (Tiger Electronics/$29.99)
Who can forget the Furby craze of '98? Well, last year's hottest toy is getting an update -- this time as cute Li'l Furby Babies. And like their bigger counterparts, they'll pick up English as it's spoken around them.

Intel Play QX3 Computer Microscope (Mattel/$99.99)
Thanks to the Intel Play QX3 Computer Microscope, kids can magnify any object, display it on their home computer and use the included software to creatively manipulate the image -- including creating animation.

Interactive Yoda (Tiger Electronics/TBA)
From the makers of Furby comes this interactive plush Yoda, the sage advisor of the Star Wars universe. Just like Furby, Yoda is voice-activated and responds to his surroundings with unique, ever-changing responses, all in his distinct voice.

Pokémon Fossil Cards (Wizards of the Coast/$3.29)
Not since 'Go Fish' has any card game been so popular. The Pokémon collectible card game has been a phenomenal success, both in its native Japan and in the United States. This expansion set features all new cards and characters.

Pokémon Pikachu Plush (Hasbro/$9.99)
Hot property plus flagship character equals super-hot toy! Pikachu's at the top of the Pokémon heap, with millions clamoring for anything and everything adorned with his tiny yellow visage. This plush doll perfectly captures his super-high cute quotient.

Rock & Roll Elmo (Fisher-Price/$29.99)
In 1997, there was no toy hotter than Tickle Me Elmo and, in 1999, it looks like Elmo's staging a big-time comeback. Duded up in a cool leather jacket and strumming a light-up guitar, Elmo can sing and jam on two classic rock songs.

12-Inch Talking Darth Maul (Hasbro/$29.99)
This 12-inch figure captures the Sith bad-boy in an imposing stance, with his double-bladed lightsaber in hand. He also waxes poetic, with a voice chip that includes three lines from the film.

Flight Control Buzz Lightyear (Mattel/$39.99)
Standing 12-inches tall, Smart Flying Buzz contains a two-minute sound chip that allows him to talk to kids based on his position and the direction he's facing. He's also got retractable wings that pop out at the touch of a button.

Working Woman Barbie (Mattel/$29.99)
Timeless and enduring, yet always hip, Barbie's reinvented herself yet again. This year, Barbie is a snazzy working gal. Working Woman Barbie is all decked out in a smart suit and packaged with a briefcase, cell phone and a laptop computer.

WCW Tough Talkin' Wrestlers (Toy Biz/$39.99)
Are you ready to rumble? Goldberg and friends are, in a line-up of talking figures that actually recognize and interact with one another. Thanks to infrared sensors, each of the first four figures -- Goldberg, Sting, Diamond Dallas Page and Kevin Nash -- will address one another by name as they hurl their trademark taunts.

WWF Net Wired Stone Cold Steve Austin (Jakks Pacific/$49.99)
No wrestler's more popular than Stone Cold Steve Austin. So what could be better than a toy that delivers his brash ringside soliloquies in his own voice? The 12-inch Net Wired Austin allows fans to download snippets of real life Stone Cold dialogue directly from a special Web site into the figure. New sound bites are available every day.

All of these toys are scheduled to be available at toy retailers and through many online e-commerce sites this holiday season. However, if none of the above toys, tickle your kiddy's fancy then you can again turn to the Guide for other ideas. In addition to the Hot Dozen, each of the 25 different toy categories reviewed in Toy Wishes has its own 'hot pick' for the holidays. Each category also has helpful hints so that parents, aunts and uncles can select the most appropriate toy and understand its appeal. There are also special notes on the season's 'sleeper' hits, and other toys have been cited as the 'coolest, new innovation' of their particular category.

While toys may be child's play, obtaining that hard to find holiday gift for a loved one, big or small, is a science. As the days dwindle and toy deliveries to vendors become a precious few...here's hoping you are one of the prepared ones, warm at home and not lining up at 5:00 am for a chance at this year's hottest commodity.

Toy Wishes will retail for US $4.99 and be available on US newsstands on October 5, 1999. It will be featured in special displays at Barnes and Noble, Border's Bookstores, Waldenbooks and Blockbuster. It will also be available at the places people shop for toys, including Toys R Us, Wal-Mart and Kmart. Toys R Us' website will also sell the guide.


Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an e-mail to editor@awn.com.


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