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Toying with the holidays

September may seem a bit early to put out a holiday toy list, considering most consumers just finished spending for back-to-school and still have Halloween to think about, but garnering media attention is important. Many retailers who have a hand in toy retailing will put out some sort of toy list, and Walmart is among them. However if it continues the trend of last year, Walmart won't release its list until early November, which is more in line with when consumers begin thinking about holiday shopping.

Two companies that aren't waiting to get the word out are Toys"R"Us and Kmart, who earlier this week both revealed their top toy lists for holiday 2011. Their picks are listed below:

Toys"R"Us

  1. Air Hogs Hyper Actives from Spin Master

  2. Air Swimmers eXtreme from Animal Planet

  3. Lalaloopsy Silly Hair dolls from MGA Entertainment

  4. LeapPad Explorer from LeapFrog

  5. Monster High Fearleading 3-Pack from Mattel

  6. Moshi Monsters Moshling 3-Pack Mini-Figures from Spin Master

  7. My Keepon from Wow! Stuff

  8. Nerf Vortex Vigilon from Hasbro

  9. Ninjago Lightning Dragon Battle from Lego Systems Inc. 

  10. Poppin’ Park Elefun Busy Ball Popper from Playskool

  11. Power Wheels Dune Racer from Fisher-Price

  12. Radica Fijit Friends from Mattel 

  13. Sesame Street Let’s Rock! Elmo from Hasbro

  14. Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure from Activision

Kmart

  1. Let's Rock! Elmo 

  2. Fijit 

  3. I am T-Pain Microphone 

  4. Barbie Designable Hair Extensions and Doll 

  5. Lite Sprites Lite Wand, Prisma and Pod 

  6. Redakai Championship Battle Tin 

  7. FurReal Friends Cookie My Playful Pup 

  8. Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster 

  9. Mini Lalaloopsy Treehouse Playset 

  10. WWE Colossal Crashdown Arena 

  11. Transformers Mechtech Ultimate Optimus Prime 

  12. LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet 

  13. Lazer Stunt Chaser R/C Vehicle 

  14. Simon Flash 

Consumers looking to comparison shop will notice that both companies have the LeapPad, Nerf Vortex, Fijit and Let's! Rock Elmo on their top toy lists. This could be a concern for Toys"R"Us as Kmart's more aggressive pricing strategy may lure cost-conscious consumers into its stores, especially if they know they can get at least a few of this year's hot toys for less. Where Toys"R"Us can thrive is in the area of exclusives, several of which appear on its top toy list. 

“There are so many really terrific new toys available this year, so narrowing down the list of top toys was fun, but challenging,” said Karen Dodge, SVP, chief merchandising officer for Toys“R”Us, U.S. “The Toys“R”Us 2011 Holiday Hot Toy List highlights what we expect will be the most sought-after items this holiday season and the ones that will yield squeals of delight when kids tear off the wrapping paper on Christmas morning.”

Toys"R"Us may be the leading toy retailer, but mass-merchandisers like Kmart continue to gain market share.

“Brands have told us that being chosen for our (toy list) creates an increased demand for the toys on the list,” said Hugo Malan, SVP and president, fitness, sporting goods and toys. “And customers are thrilled that we’re helping them identify the toys that will be the next holiday craze.” 

Walmart's strategy in waiting to release its own toy list makes sense as it gives the retailer time to see which toys are generating real interest with consumers and plan its assortment accordingly.

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