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Local

Morris mom says Shopkins, Calico Critters popular Christmas gifts for girls

Video games, gaming merchandise remain hot items

MORRIS – There are two things businesses can be sure of in regard to what most children want for Christmas.

First, they are convinced they can’t live without whatever is on their wish list. Second, the things they want change – often multiple times.

After Thanksgiving is a prime time for many to start their holiday shopping, and Americans are expected to spend more during the holidays. The median amount they expect to spend is $529 a person, up from $437 in the past year, according to Consumer Reports.

Hot gifts this year for kids include anything “Star Wars,” according to Hot Gift lists from Consumer Reports and Toys “R” Us and others, and the list also includes Barbies, LeapFrog items and Legos.

“Determining our annual Hot Toy List is a yearlong selection process we take very seriously. It is our mission to identify the very best playthings, giving parents and gift-givers the inside scoop straight from the toy experts on coveted items sure to leave kids smiling on Christmas morning,” Richard Barry, executive vice president and global chief merchandising officer for Toys “R” Us, said in a news release announcing its list.

A toy line called Shopkins is all the rage in the world of 6-year-old, Abby, the daughter of Morris resident Megan Borchers. Apparently it is for others too: A Shopkins toy is among the items on the “Fabulous 15! Toy List” from Toys “R” Us.

Although Borchers admitted she hasn’t figured out the appeal of the line, she’ll likely be shopping for it.

“Shopkins are very strange little figurines,” Borchers said. “They have different items, like a toaster, with this thing on the bottom that looks like a plug. But I’m still not sure what they plug into.”

Borchers said she made a Facebook post recently
confirming that other girls about Abby’s age are into Shopkins – and just like Borchers, other parents can’t figure it out.

“Other moms replied saying, ‘We don’t get it either,’” Borchers said. “It seems like young girls are just over the moon with these things.”

She hopes to find some in downtown Morris to help keep money local.

Abby also is into Calico Critters, which Borchers is a fan of. The toy line features different dolls that make a contribution to a community and remind Borchers of Maple Town, a popular toy company from her childhood.

But classics still appear to get the job done. Abby enjoys Barbies, while Borchers’ 2-year-old son, Jaxson, loves Thomas & Friends trains.

“We’re having a battle in the house right now about whose train it is,” Borchers said. “Jaxson says ‘My Thomas.’”

For the middle school- and high school-aged kids, video games often are a sought-after gift. But there aren’t any big releases scheduled in the next month, according to GameStop’s Andrew Hochstatter. He expects that most purchases will be made on games already for sale.

“The hottest games right now are probably Star Wars Battlefront, Halo 5, Call of Duty, Fallout 4 – which is not for little kids,” he said. “And Minecraft, because it sells every year.”

Each game except for Minecraft was released between Oct. 27 and Nov. 17, in time for the holiday rush.

One aspect of gaming that has become more popular, Hochstatter said, are toys and collectibles. Last year, GameStop had a collectibles bin. But now it has a whole section that includes Star Wars, Legos, Skylanders and more to help meet the demand for merchandise associated with the video games.

“Collectibles could be anything from a toy, a figure, a T-shirt, to a bookbag,” he said.

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HOT GIFT ITEMS FOR 2015

• Star Wars Millennium Falcon Lego set

• Hello Barbie

• Nikon DSLR cameras

• Sony’s 42-megapixel Alpha 7RII mirrorless camera

• Gameband Minecraft

• LeapFrog Imagicard PAW Patrol

Source: Consumer Reports

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2015 HOT TOYS LIST

• Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBo from Fisher-Price

• Doc McStuffins Take Care of Me Lambie from Just Play

• Imaginext Ultra T-Rex from Fisher-Price

• PAW Patrol PAW Patroller from Spin Master

• Barbie Saddle ‘N Ride Horse from Mattel

• Little Live Pets Clever Keet from Moose Toys

• Journey Girls 2015 Italy Holiday Doll from Toys“R”Us

• Lego Dimensions Starter Pack from Warner Brothers

• Shopkins Fashion Boutique Playset from Moose Toys

• Smart Toy Bear from Fisher-Price

• Star Wars BladeBuilders Jedi Master Lightsaber from Hasbro

• NERF N-Strike Modulus ECS-10 Blaster from Hasbro

• Star Wars R2-D2 Interactive Robotic Droid from Thinkway Toys

• Guitar Hero Live from Activision

• Meccanoid G15 from Spin Master

Source: Toys”R”Us

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