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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Halloween's almost over; better buy hottest toys now

By Dina ElBoghdady
Washington Post

Julia Paganucci, 6, of New York City, plays with Mattel's Rapunzel Barbie.

Associated Press

Those who know the toy industry offer a gentle reminder to parents in no rush to shop for the holidays: It's never too early to spring for a hot toy.

Barbie as Rapunzel, the doll with "more than a foot of luxurious locks," already is a tough find in some stores, toy industry watchers say.

So is Chicken Dance Elmo. Fisher-Price has the furry "Sesame Street" creature dressed like a chicken, flapping his wings and moving his legs as he does that dance we all try to avoid at weddings.

Harry Potter's Chamber of Secrets Lego set is already gone from some stores, one toy expert said after visiting a few last week. Don't panic. The operative word is "some."

For most retailers, the holiday shopping season begins the day after Thanksgiving and peaks the weekend before Christmas. But the most popular toys start flying off the shelves in October.

Halloween plays a part in that phenomenon. It lures parents into the toy stores early, often with their kids, to buy costumes, candy or decorative trinkets.

More often than not, kids will latch onto a toy along the way.

Some parents succumb, and if that toy is a hit with little Johnny, he most likely will share it with (or show it off to) his peers, creating the kind of buzz every toymaker craves.

So begins the toy-selling season.

"As soon as one child in the peer group learns a specific item they want is available, they share that intelligence with every other child," said David Leibowitz, an analyst with Burnham Securities. "If you replicate that experience in enough peer groups nationwide, you'll have a hot product."