Electronic hamsters top gift list this Christmas

Michael Glover

The days leading up to Christmas have been hectic at the Toys R Us store in Independence, Mo.

“Parents are really taking care of their kids this year,” store manager Dave Piziali said.

Here are a few of the top toys for Christmas 2009, according to Piziali.

10. Disney Princess: Just One Kiss Princess Tiana Doll. For girls ages 2 to 4 years and older, Tiana, from the animated movie “The Princess and the Frog,” comes dressed in a tiara, necklace and blue ball gown with firefly lights that sparkle and shine.

9. Tonka Chuck & Friends My Talking Truck. Chuck the truck is a friendly little dump truck with the gift of gab as he can make more than 40 phrases, sounds and actions. Kids can lift his dump bed, press his roof or push his bumper to hear Chuck.

8. Little Mommy Baby Ah-Choo. This Fisher-Price doll is for ages 2 and older. “This doll makes a lot of noises, which kids like,” Piziali said. “We’ve been selling a lot of these dolls.” Squeeze this doll’s tummy to hear her sneeze. She comes with interactive accessories like a spoonful of medicine, a thermometer and a box of tissues.

7. Charge Large. This game is about using credit cards to borrow and win the game. A player can buy properties and gather wealth and manage debt while trying to get from gold to black card status.

6. Scrabble Apple. All board games are popular this year, but Scrabble Apple seems to be leading the pack. Tiles come inside an apple-shaped bag. Players flip tiles until they can spell a word or build upon opponents’ words. Red tiles score double points. For ages 8 and older.

5. Nerf N-Strike Raider Rapid Fire CS-35. Boys and fake guns always sell and this Nurf rifle-like gun can hold up to 35 darts at once and can switch from single to rapid fire mode.

4. Super Mario Bros. The game that put the first Nintendo game console on the map is now available for the Wii system. “Super Mario (a recently released game) in the Wii right now is really smoking hot,” Piziali said.

3. LEGO Creator House set or Star Wars Fan’s Choice Anniversary Edition Home One Mon Calamari Star Cruiser. “All Lego sets have been really hot right now,” Piziali said. “The majority of the sales are coming out of our construction area, which are the Lego sets. All Lego is way up over last year in sales.”

2. Mindflex. “This has been an astronomically asked-for game. We get 20 or 30 people a day asking for it. However, the manufacture cannot produce enough to get to all the stores.” Kids ages 8 and up strap on a headset to levitate a ball and move it through an obstacle by concentrating. Players design the obstacle course from hundreds of interchangeable parts.

1. ZhuZhu Pets. These are furry little hamsters filled with artificial intelligence that makes them interactive as they dart around the house, play in hamster tubes, run on wheels and more. They feature more than 40 sound effects. For ages 4 and up, kids can select five interactive hamsters: Patches, Chunk, Pipsqueak, Mr. Squiggles and Num Nums.

“We are buying everything we can get our hands on,” Piziali said. “We have shipments coming in almost daily.”

Why are they so popular? Heavy advertising, Piziali said. “The kids got to see them. That drove up the demand. Then everybody started jumping on the Internet.”

The Examiner (Independence, Mo.)