Get the pigs! Angry Birds game may top holiday toy sales

This may be the hot toy for the holiday season, according to a new list.
Matt Wickenheiser
This may be the hot toy for the holiday season, according to a new list.
Posted Sept. 28, 2011, at 7:54 a.m.
Last modified Sept. 28, 2011, at 8:12 a.m.

NEW YORK — Mattel’s Angry Birds Knock on Wood Game, a $14.99 physical version of the popular smartphone app, and Hasbro’s $24.99 Beyblade Metal Fusion kits may top holiday toy sales this year, TimetoPlayMag.com says.

Also on the magazine’s “Most Wanted” list released Tuesday are Mattel’s Monster High Dead Tired line, which features various deathly pale dolls and accessories, including a pink Monster High Draculaura jewelry box coffin for $19.99, and JAKKS Pacific Inc.’s Spy Net Stealth Video Glasses for $39.99. The entire list is featured below this story.

“Consumers are looking for a lot of play value in a toy,” Jim Silver, editor in chief of the New York-based toy-review site, said in a telephone interview. “They’ll spend $10, they’ll spend $100, but they want to know that this is a toy that is going to be played with.”

To lure consumers that have remained cautious about spending amid the stock-market turbulence and 9.1 percent unemployment rate, many of the toys on this year’s list have lower starting prices with expanded accessories sets available for an extra charge, Silver said.

“You could spend a lot more, but families who can’t spend more can also have a piece of the hottest toy,” Silver said.

Toy sellers typically generate about a third of annual revenue from fourth-quarter holiday sales. Higher prices may help keep revenue during the season unchanged from a year earlier while unit sales decline, said Robert Carroll, an analyst at UBS in New York.

“With the price increases that we’ve seen with the major manufacturers on the dollar basis, you’re likely to see the sales flat,” Carroll said in a telephone interview. “But on a unit basis, units will probably be down slightly.”

The toy industry tends to be resilient to macroeconomic conditions, Carroll said. Industry sales slid 1 percent in 2009 as gross domestic product dropped 3.5 percent, according to a Goldman Sachs report last week.

U.S. toy sales rose to $21.7 billion last year from $21.5 billion in 2009, according to NPD Group Inc., a Port Washington, N.Y.-based researcher.

Mattel and Hasbro, the two largest U.S. toy companies, are focusing innovations on their most popular brands, such as Barbie and Transformers, Carroll said.

“Given the uncertainty that they are facing, you’re likely to see them focus their orders on core brands that tend to perform well regardless of what’s going on,” Carroll said.

Goldman Sachs lowered Hasbro’s and Mattel’s 2012 earnings estimates, citing U.S. economic volatility and the possibility the stronger dollar may hurt the companies’ international sales.

Time to Play 2011 Most Wanted Holiday List

1. Angry Birds Knock on Wood Game — Mattel

2. Beyblade Metal Fusion — Hasbro

3. Big Action Construction Site — Fisher-Price

4. DaGeDar — Cepia

5. FyrFlyz — iStar Entertainment

6. Hot Wheels Wall Tracks — Mattel

7. InnoTab — VTECH

8. Lazer Stunt Chaser — Thinkway Toys

9. The Logo Board Game — Spin Master

10. LeapPad Explorer — LeapFrog

11. LEGO Alien Conquest & Ninjago — LEGO

12. Lite Sprites — WowWee

13. Monster High Dead Tired Line — Mattel

14. NERF Vortex Line — Hasbro

15. Redakai — Spin Master

16. LaLaLoopsy Silly Hair Doll — MGA

17. Spy Net Stealth Video Glasses — JAKKS Pacific

18. 3D Breakthrough Puzzle — MEGA Brands

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