Robots, reptiles ready to invade

By Lauren Bartlett

Robotic reptiles will battle Lego robots this December as merchants stock their Christmas shelves.

Toy retailers are noticing these new-tech, savvy toys rocketing up wish-lists in New Zealand's $47 million toy market.

The Warehouse lists its top toys for boys as Roboreptile, an electronic dinosaur that has three emotions, attacks and whips itself into frenzy. Its predecessors, Roboraptor and Robosapien, have been top favourites for the past two years.

The managing director of Toy Planet, Kevin Mains, expects Lego Mindstorms, an electronic Lego robot that can feel and see, to be a top seller.

However, these electronic playthings come at a price - around $150 for a Roboreptile and $379 for Lego Mindstorms.

For girls, the trend is also tech-smart - The Warehouse predicts Password Journal 4, a diary that is opened by voice recognition, to be a bestseller.

Toy Planet believes the National Geographic Underwater Aquarium will be popular.

"Electronic toys are where the excitement is," says the New Zealand Retailers Association CEO, John Albertson

"But every year something traditional always makes a comeback."

The Warehouse still expects Barbie to be a favourite, and Mains says trikes always "fly out the door", as well as little animal figurines.

Toy buyer Matthew Davies chose The Warehouse's top 10 by watching overseas trends, particularly in Britain and the US.

"We also pay attention to TV programmes, as these toys are always popular. We take this information and translate it into what Kiwi kids want, because not everything that works overseas works here. It's a lot of research and a bit of gut feel."

Last year New Zealanders spent $4.67 billion in December alone. Large retail chains such as Farmers and The Warehouse took $560 million, compared to other months when average takings were $280 million.

The Retail Association predicts spending of $4.9 billion this December.


STOCKING FILLERS

Boys
Roboreptile under $150
Hot Wheels Radar Gun under $50
WWE figurines under $20
WWE belts under $35
B-Daman toys various prices

Girls
Password Journal 4 under $32
Bratz Doll Forever Diamondz
under $70
Dancing Princess Barbie Doll
under $60
Littlest Pet Shop Digital Pets
under $30
Tamagotchi V4 under $20

Little Ones
TJ Bearytales Storytell Bear under $130
Doodle bear under $40
Baby Alive Doll under $100

Source: The Warehouse

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