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Hot Toys Run the Tech Gamut By Elizabeth Sanger Newsday Staff Writer October 23, 2002

Hot Toys Run the Tech Gamut
By Elizabeth Sanger Newsday Staff Writer
October 23, 2002
Item# hottoyruntec

Product Description

As Key Selling Season Arrives, Hot Toys Run the Tech Gamut

By Elizabeth Sanger
STAFF WRITER

October 23, 2002


Barbie as Rapunzel, a variation on the wholesome, classic doll, and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, a violent video game for PlayStation2, straddle the toy spectrum. Both are expected to be hot this year.

That dichotomy - no tech and high tech, old-fashioned playthings and futuristic fun - sum up the state of the $25 billion toy industry as it enters the key selling season, when more than half of sales occur.

There's another contradiction: Although observers insist more families are staying home spending time strategizing their next chess move, sales of traditional toys are expected to be flat.

Sales of video games have climbed 25 percent through August, according to market researcher NPD Funworld. Video games aren't counted in traditional toy sales but are one bright spot for children's entertainment dollars.

"It's not just plastic anymore," said Chris Byrne, an independent toy consultant.

That was the message after visiting PlayDate Inc. yesterday, an independent marketing firm that invites the media to look at kids products expected to be popular for the holiday season.

"Barbie as Rapunzel will be bigger than every new product," said Sean McGowan, co-founder of PlayDate and an analyst with Gerard Klauer Mattison, who predicts the little doll with long hair will ring up $100 million in sales this year. Vice City, which targets a vastly different audience and is rated M, meaning the content is considered suitable for ages 17 and up, can expect similar revenue, he said.

Sophisticated technology is being used in other games. VTech's Smarty's Workshop talks to preschoolers as they are instructed to perform plastic carpentry tasks.

The price range of wished-for playthings ranges from $3.99 from Yu-Gi-Oh trading cards imported from Japan to the $199 PlayStation2 system.

Some toys are updated versions of old models. Huffy Bicycle Co. is featuring the $59 Spin Move, an oversized steel tricycle geared to 8- to 14-year-olds that is reminiscent of the plastic Big Wheel.

Sababa Toys has licensed modern-day examples of the card game Uno, which come emblazoned with Spider-Man, SpongeBob SquarePants and national parks, and the Magic 8 Ball, which has been modernized to give beauty and fashion tips. "We're taking old classic toys and making them new again by making them edgier and more popular for this generation," said spokeswoman Linsey Ostroff.




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