With the re-release of the famous science fiction movies planned and the beginning of the next chapters of the Star Wars story also planned to start next year, action figures of Hans Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia are beating GI Joes and even the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, experts said.
Star Wars figures sell for about $5 while vehicles for them sell from $9 to $29 depending on their size, according to Jodi Levin, spokeswoman for the Toy Manufacturers Association, a trade group in New York.
Brian Grady, associate director at Toys R Us, 17301 Valley Mall Road, said it is often hard to predict what the "hot" toy for Christmas will be.
He said he does not see a rush for one toy like two years ago when the Power Rangers were the craze.
Across the country at toy stores, fights broke out among parents attempting to get them for their children. A tractor trailer was stopped on a highway and the Power Rangers were stolen from the back of the rig.
To business, of course, toys are not just fun and games. The U.S. toy industry earned an estimated $20 billion in retail sales in 1995, Levin said.
Levin said 65 percent of the sales are made in the fourth quarter of the year - as shoppers buy Christmas presents.
Grady said the Star Wars toys are selling quickly and the "Holiday Barbie," a red-costumed Barbie doll ($35), is also a popular item.
The Holiday Barbie has been moved back to a secure area as a precaution, Grady said.
The long-awaited Nintendo 64, the newest generation of video gaming systems, has been released in time for Christmas, but the manufacturer is not able to keep up with the demand, Grady said.
He said he has a waiting list of customers who put a deposit down to get the next shipment of Nintendo 64s.
The Nintendo 64 sells for $199. Game cartridges for it sell in the range of $60 to $80.
Vaneta Rogers, Sears spokeswoman, said Toastie Kidz Doll is becoming a popular toy.
The doll is unusual in that parents can stick it in the microwave to heat it up and then put it in bed with their children to help keep them warm in winter, Rogers said. In the summer, the doll can be frozen in the freezer, and it will help keep the children cool on hot nights. It sells for about $15.
Rogers and Grady also said any toys that have to do with the movie "Space Jam," starring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny, or the live-action Disney movie "101 Dalmations," are popular.
Other "hot toys" for the holidays, according to the Toy Manufacturers of America:
- Baby Go Bye Bye ($23, Hasbro).
- Baby Wiggles `n Giggles ($19, Tyco).
- Barbie dolls in Twirling Ballerina, Pet Doctor, and other versions ($12, Mattel).
- Batman action figures ($6, Bandai America).
- Bettleborgs ($6, Hasbro).
- Fort Legoredo Wild West Set ($76, LEGO).
- Goosebumps Games ($15, Milton Bradley).
- Micro Machines Star Wars Action Fleet ($9.50, Lewis Galoob Toys.)
- Primal Rage Dinosaurs ($7, Playmates).
- Singing Bananas in Pajamas ($20, Tomy).
Staff Writer Franca Lewis contributed to this article.