By Mae Anderson
Many retailers have “hot toy” lists every holiday season, but this year Walmart decided to try something different: let kids rate toys.
About 1,000 boys and girls aged 18 months to 10 years spent a three-day weekend in August in Dallas playing with 50 toys and choosing their favorites. The result is a top 20 list of kid- approved toys, released Thursday, that includes a new robotic pet Furby, a hugging Elmo and a Barbie dream house.
Retailers guess which toys will be popular and then spend heavily to market them to spur sales. Holiday sales can make up to 40 percent of a retailers’ annual revenue.
During planning for the holidays back in the spring, one toy buyer came up with the idea to let kids be part of the process, said Scott McCall, senior vice president of toys and seasonal at Walmart.
“It validated our assortment and caused us to think differently about this holiday,” he said. Some of their toy choices were affirmed while others weren’t as popular as expected, McCall said, although he declined to give specific examples.
Making the list? Lots of classic toys, McCall said, such as a new robotic pet Furby and a new Barbie Dreamhouse playset.
TV show-related toys were also popular, including a Sofia the First talking doll, and a Doc McStuffins Get Better Check Up Center, both Disney properties. Another was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Secret Sewer Lair Playset based on the Nickelodeon show.
Cuddly interactive toys are also on the list, including an Elmo doll based on the Sesame Street character that gives out hugs and FurReal Friends Cuddles My Giggly Monkey.
It is too soon to tell which toys will actually become the must-have toys of the season. But Walmart plans to promote the top 20 toys with dedicated shelf space proclaiming the toys “Chosen by Kids,” and with prominent positions on its website and in circulars, beginning later this month.
“We’re going to make sure to showcase our top toys in a different way,” McCall said.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer is also offering a layaway program with no opening fees for the holidays. A minimum down payment of 10 percent or $10, and a minimum purchase of $15 per item or $50 total, is required.
Information is online at www.walmart.com/chosenbykids.