Retailers place their bets early on which toys will be hits and then spend heavily to market them to spur sales during the holiday season. It's a crucial time because holiday sales can make up to 40 percent of a retailers' annual revenue.
Toy sales have been weak in North America, Europe and Australia, due to a weak video game market, an uncertain economy and continued popularity of electronic gadgets like smartphones and tablets. BMO Capital Markets analyst Gerrick Johnson estimates total toy revenue will be down 2 percent to about $21 billion.
Among the top picks: Sesame Street's Big Hugs Elmo, a mechanical Elmo that gives out hugs and sings songs; Hasbro's Furby Boom, a robotic toy pet; a Target exclusive Mattel Monster High doll called Power Ghouls; and SpinMaster's Flutterbye Flying Fairy, a doll that can flutter on air.
This year, for the first time the retailer is adding electronics, video games and sporting goods to its top toy list. Several are exclusives at Minneapolis-based Target including LeapFrog LeapPad2 Explorer Disney Princess Bundle, a tablet for kids that includes Disney Princess sticker sheets and digital wallpaper, and a Razor Lighted Wheel-A-Scooter.
To promote its "hot toys," Target is featuring Jonna Mendez, a former CIA agent turned toy expert, who is giving tips to parents on how to figure out which toys kids really want at abullseyeview.com in October and November.
For a full list of Target's 33 top toy picks go to Target.com/KidsGifts