Old School, Inexpensive Toys to Steal the Show This Christmas

Robot hamsters and fashionable Barbies are expected to be hot items this season.

ByABC News
October 1, 2009, 5:54 PM

Oct. 2, 2009— -- New twists on classic toys sold at reasonable prices are expected to be the rage this Christmas season, according to industry experts at Timetoplaymag.com.

The annual list of the toys predicted to be the breakout hits of the holiday season, include a fashion-conscious Barbie, a battery-operated hamster, a "Star Wars" spacecraft from Lego, a robotic riff on the old yellow dump truck and a video game that lets you pretend to be the Beatles.

Consumer spending is expected to be flat this season, economists say, and in response, prices for this year's toys will be the lowest they have been in years in an effort to get shoppers out of their homes and into the mall.

"[Consumers] need to see the price-value relationship. You don't have a lot of toys over $200. There were a couple last year," said Jim Silver, who, with partner Christopher Byrne, have compiled the list for the past ten years.

At the bargain price of $8, motorized hamsters – or Zhu Zhu Pets -- that can be set to two modes: "nurturing mode where the hamsters coo and purr and adventure mode where the hamsters explore their habitat" are expected to be the runaway hit of the season.

"This is probably the big one for the holiday. This right now is the toughest to find and it's not going to be easier to find over the next three months," Silver told ABC News.

Another predicted big seller is the latest Barbie incarnation, Barbie Fashionistas, $12 dolls, which allow kids to pose them in 100 ways and style them in countless permutations.

Timetoplaymag says the dolls play to young girls' "increasingly sophisticated fashion sense and look as if they just stepped off the runway."

The magazine lists three robot-themed toys this year -- a spinoff of the popular "Transformers" movies called Construction Devastator ($100) that shapeshifts into five different vehicles; the similarly morphing Bakugan Maxus Dragonoid ($40); and Rocky the Robot Truck ($60) a kind of "Transformers" for the toddler set.

Transformers Construction Devastator

"It's not all about tech toys… it's about creativity," Silver said.

Other riffs on old school favorites include Candy Land Sweet Celebrations ($40), which allows players to create their own routes to Candy Land and the entire line of "Star Wars" LEGO ($25), a series of sets that lets kids build "Star Wars"-style spaceships.

Parents ready to pick out a game for themselves, might very well choose "The Beatles: Rock Band" ($60 - $250). "Rock Band," an already popular video game system that allows users to play instrument-shaped game consoles, has just released a new version that allows players to strum and drum along to Beatles hits.

The magazine calls it a game the whole family can enjoy. "The 'Rock Band' phenomenon just keeps on going, but what is most impressive about this is how it's a game the whole family can play -- and will enjoy playing -- together. As the gaming system becomes part of the entertainment center, this outstanding game will create new, shared family experiences that are redefining family game play."