The $17.5 billion toy industry anticipates stronger sales than usual, partly because most families are holding back on buying costly videogame hardware systems until the next generation of powerful-and expensive-systems arrives next year.
Meanwhile, analysts expect families will stuff Christmas stockings with basic toys and games under $20, and videogame software titles between $40 and $59; overall the toy industry is expected to grow 10% to 12% this year.
"Basic toys are back, and we're expecting very strong sales with exceptionally high interest in promotional toys under $20," said Gary Serby, public relations director for Hasbro.
Along with other marketers offering action figures tied to popular TV series and films, Hasbro is "extremely optimistic" about its action figures based on the recently released science fiction film "Stargate." Hasbro's Kenner division also reports heavy orders for Batman-theme products and action figures as well as accessories tied to Steven Spielberg's film "Jurassic Park," released this fall on videocassette.
As expected, Bandai America will have runaway sales of action figures based on Saban Entertainment's hit TV series "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers." Mattel already has scored record sales with its lineup of toys tied to the Walt Disney Co. hit "The Lion King."
Other hot-selling Mattel products include the Dr. Barbie, Bicyclin' Barbie, and Jennie Gymnast dolls, along with numerous activity toys.
Tyco Toys boasts an early holiday hit with Dr. Dreadful: a mad scientist lab set allowing kids to mix up gross drinks and snacks, promoted in TV spots via Bozell, New York.
Overall, however, action figures will be the best-selling category of the season, analysts predict.
Playmates' "Star Trek" figures tied to the TV series and the new film "Star Trek: Generations" are expected to score strong sales, and its high-tech Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad action figures are hot, along with a new line called the Skeleton Warriors.
Of course, $59 videogame software titles will ride high on holiday wish lists. Nintendo of America's "Donkey Kong Country" game, to be released today is likely to be the season's top seller.
For those who still want to shell out money for big-ticket videogame equipment, Sega of America will heavily advertise its new $159.99 Genesis 32X videogame upgrade attachment, with advertising from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.
The 3DO Co. is also heavily promoting 32-bit game systems from Panasonic Co., GoldStar Co. and Creative Labs, in advertising created by Butler, Shine & Stern, Sausalito, Calif.