Zhu Zhu pets for boys, Barbie gets a video camera, Mattel’s computer for tots

By Mae Anderson, AP
Monday, February 15, 2010

Toy fair highlights: Zhu Zhu pets get macho

NEW YORK — Toy makers exhibited their top 2010 toys at the American International Toy Fair on Monday. Here is a sampling of some of the highlights.

ZHU ZHU PETS GET MACHO: Zhu Zhu pets, last year’s runaway holiday hit, are back, and this year, they are getting a makeover for boys. Although the original line was popular with girls and boys, Bruce Katz, vice president at Cepia, said that at about age 6 boys began to lose some interest. So Cepia LLC has developed two new “Kung Zhu” lines for boys set to rectify that: Ninja Warriors and military themed Special Forces. Hamsters in the new line wear battle armor and battle each other in an arena and in vehicles. They also make different noises than the original hamsters. The hamsters are similar to the original Zhu Zhus, but “the play is completely different,” said Katz. The new toys will ship in May and should be on store shelves by July 1. The hamsters will still retail for under $10. Accessories are $10 to $15 and playsets will be priced at $29.99.

SPY KIDS: Kids who have leanings toward the covert have lots of options this year. Jakks Pacific Inc. is offering a video watch that can record 10 minutes of video or five minutes of audio for $54.99 and a Pen Audio Bug for $24.99. It is also offering a snake cam and night vision binoculars in the line. Wild Planet has its own spy line called Spy Gear, that includes a Trakr remote control vehicle with a video camera, for $120, a $14.99 lie detector, electronic handcuffs, a scanner that detects metal and a cell phone decoy that amplifies surrounding conversations. But the most unique offering is Mattel Inc.’s Barbie Video Girl, a Barbie with a built in video camera and LCD screen on her back. The video camera shoots from Barbie’s point of view and can be connected by a USB camera to a TV or monitor. The doll retails at $49.99 and will be available in July.

MATTEL CEO’S TOP PICK: Mattel’s CEO Bob Eckert said his personal favorite toy of the year is a computer for tots, the Fisher-Price iXL. The device, which opens like a book, has a stylus and offers kids aged 3 to 6 the chance to read along with an animated story, play an arcade-style game, play music, trace letters and upload and draw on photos, among other activities.

“We have invested more research and development dollars into iXL than any other product in our 2010 Fisher-Price product line and it definitely shows,” Eckert said. The iXL is $79.99 and will be available in July.

(This version corrects spelling of Eckert in final graf.)

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