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Many toy hunters start early this year By JAIME NORTH Staff writer Public Opinion November 11, 2002

Many toy hunters start early this year
By JAIME NORTH Staff writer Public Opinion
November 11, 2002
Item# mantoyhunsta

Product Description

Many toy hunters start early this year
YOUR MONEY: HOLIDAY SHOPPING


Staff writer
Monday, November 11, 2002

Talking SpongeBob Squarepants, Bob the Builder and Barbie as Rapunzel top the wish lists of toys area children want this Christmas season.

And their parents are getting an early start to beat the post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping crowd.

According to managers at Wal-Mart, Kmart and Value City, any product associated with SpongeBob, Bob the Builder or Barbie has sold out very quickly.

The Barbie as Rapunzel doll, from Mattel, has been the most difficult toy to find in local stores, according to several mothers out shopping on Saturday.

"I haven't seen it yet," Chris Wyrick, 33, Shippensburg, said. "I've been out shopping for about a month, and I haven't come across the any of the Rapunzel dolls."

"We sold out on all the Barbie Rapunzel series within weeks after we put them on the shelves," Kmart store manager Rich Hunsinger said.

Kmart restocked shelves Saturday with Barbie, Ken and Kelly as Rapunzel, Penelope doll, Botticelli and Carriage, a styling head and My Size Rapunzel life size costume.

Within 20 minutes after the stockperson left Saturday afternoon, less than 10 items remained on the shelf.

Wal-Mart has seen a similar effect.

"The Barbie as Rapunzel has been our No. 1 girls toy," assistant store manager Tim Larson said. "We're in good shape, because we're well stocked up now."

Larson added that the Talking SpongeBob item has sold out twice this season.

"I'm not talking 10-15 items," Larson said. "I'm saying 100 at a time."

Wyrick, shopping with her two children Hannah, 5, and Hunter, 8, at Value City in Chambersburg Mall, said that it's never too early to start Christmas shopping.

"If you want to get something that the children want, you have to get out before October," Wyrick said. "I've been out since the beginning of October, and I'm having trouble finding things now."

Tracey Fennel, 41, Chambersburg, agreed that preparation is key for a successful toy hunt.

"You have to develop a plan," Fennel said while shopping with daughter Kylee, 4, at Value City. "Try to start before October, because that's when everybody else begins their trips."

According store managers, one of the surprising hot items this season has been the electronic teaching toys, most notably LeapFrog and V-Tech brands.

"I believe our biggest seller has been the V-Tech learning toys that teach the alphabet and numbers," Brown said.

Larson said Wal-Mart's biggest seller for the 5-and-younger crowd has been the LeapFrog Imagination Desk and LeapPad Learning System from LeapFrog.

"They're just about the best thing out there for parents," Larson said. "They're fun for the kids, and they teach them so many things."

"LeapPad came out with a lot of games for a wide range of ages; that's why it's caught on," said Jenny Barry, 37, Chambersburg.

Larson and Hunsinger added that the Bratz Dolls collection and traditional popular toys such as Legos and well-known board games have remained strong sellers.

Tracy Johns, 31, Spring Run, said her two children Madison, 3, and Kaitlin, 2, are big on building blocks, Winnie the Pooh, Dora the Explora from Mattel's Fisher Price and For Real Kitty.

Wyrick said For Real Kitty is on Hannah's top wish list; she saw it on television.

"So much of these trends we see come from television marketing and how children influence parents," Larson said.

Hunsinger said the Nickelodeon network has played a major part in what items are popular.

"You can see in the check-out lines," Hunsinger said. "Many carts have items of characters from their shows."

Managers agreed that each year a hit movie can spur popular demand.

Larson and Hunsinger said Harry Potter has continued to reap success from last year's movie and its upcoming sequel.

They added that Spider-man action figures are in demand.

"You can see our Spider-man section is already thin," Larson said.

Video games are another big item on children's wish lists, and this year won't be any different, according Babbage's assistant manager Wes Cummings.

Cummings said that the store has taken reservations on two games: Mortal Combat: Deadly Alliance from Playstation 2, due Nov. 23, and Metroid Prime from Nintendo Game Cube, due Nov. 19.

Cummings added that Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for PS2 has been a big seller already.

Another hot item in the near future may be the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game.

Barry's son, Greg, 8, is big on Yu-Gi-Oh! from Upper Deck. It is a Japanese card game with similarities to Pokemon.

"It's really big at school," Barry said. "Kids come up with different rules and play each other. He really likes it."

Barry confessed that Christmas shopping for her children has become a year-round endeavor.

"There's so much out there for the kids to like," Barry said. "It's hard to keep track of it all. I try to pick up stuff whenever I can throughout the year."

Originally published Monday, November 11, 2002






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