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Finding the hot toy

Persistence and early buying should pay off

Persistence and early buying should pay off

November 16, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

One item that is sure to be hard to track down this holiday season is the Nintendo Wii.

Internet aficionados can scour the Web in search of available Wii video game systems, some of which will have jacked-up prices.

But if your loved one covets a Wii for Christmas, your best strategy is persistence.

Every year there's at least one toy that's so hot it can be hard to find. This year several toys are anticipated to become scarce closer to the holidays, none more so than the Wii.

Stores are getting Wiis in stock, but delivery dates are often unpredictable and when the video game consoles do arrive, they don't sit on shelves long.

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Call, call, call. And just keep calling to see if a shipment of Wiis has arrived, retailers said. If they have, get over there fast.

Wiis sell out as soon as the Target in Halfway gets them, Store Manager Randy Gallun said.

Last Sunday's advertisement listed Wiis, and there were people lined up before the store opened, Gallun said. All 57 Wiis in stock were sold within 45 minutes.

On Wednesday, Game Crazy on Wesel Boulevard received 10 Wiis, which sold within 90 minutes for $250 each, said Steve Stauch, assistant store manager.

Stauch said the store gets a lot of calls from people asking if Wiis are in stock.

While Game Crazy won't compile a waiting list for Wiis, people might be able to call and have a unit held until the end of the day, depending on how many consoles the store received, Stauch said.

Nintendo launched the Wii console almost a year ago, on Nov. 19, 2006, and supply didn't keep up with demand from the start.

According to Nintendo of America, the company increased the expected number of Wiis to be shipped to retailers from 14 million to 17.5 million for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008.

At maximum production now, there will be twice as many Wii systems available this month compared with a year ago, though demand still outpaces supply, according to Nintendo of America.

There now, but going, going, gone

Toy Wishes Magazine has a 96 percent accuracy rating in predicting new toys that will become scarce during the holiday season, Editor-in-Chief Jim Silver said. The list is based on talking with retailers about the approximate number of items shipped in, following the rates of sale and other information.

The Wii was on the "hot dozen" list last year.

This year's list includes "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock," which Game Crazy's Stauch expects to be popular but not that difficult to get.

Game Crazy had 55 copies of "Guitar Hero III" in stock a week ago. They ended up selling out during that weekend, Stauch said.

And there was a stack of "Guitar Hero III" games on Target shelves last weekend, too, though fewer were left Wednesday night.

Stauch said it might be more difficult for shoppers to find the Xbox version of the game, which has users "play" a guitar with the music on the monitor, scoring points as they do so.

Hot items are probably easier to find now, but by the weekend of Dec. 8-9 that might not be the case, Silver said. Last year, six of the 12 toys on Toy Wishes "hot dozen" list couldn't be found in stores or online after Dec. 1, except for late shipments, Silver said.

The hot dozen list includes Fisher-Price's Smart Cycle, which plugs into the TV. Kids pedal the cycle for exercise while playing games that mix entertainment with preschool concepts such as letters and numbers.

"Something like the Smart Cycle you can get now. Come time Dec. 10, I'm going to say, 'Lots of luck,'" Silver said.

What's hot now

According to Toy Wishes, other items expected to be hot this holiday season include:

· American Idol Talent Challenge - A DVD program that can be used for karaoke or competition with "judges" inputting ratings with the DVD remote.

· Barbie Girls MP3 player - player unlocks a virtual world with the user's own avatar and online chat.

· Hannah Montana Singing Dolls and Pop Star Stage - Doll sings Hannah Montana songs. Comes with fold-out Pop Star Stage and can be hooked up to music player.

· Nerf N-Strike Disc Shot - A wireless remote lets you control when to fire foam discs at different heights and angles.

· Rubik's Revolution - Six electronic games based on speed and/or strategy.

· Transformers Arm Blasters and Transformers Movie Ultimate Bumblebee - Bumblebee is half Camaro, half robot. Arm Blasters converts on your arm from Autobot or Decepticon into soft-dart blaster.

Other items Stauch said Game Crazy might sell out of fast are upcoming releases of certain games, including "Rock Band," which is expected at Game Crazy on Nov. 21. Games can be reserved before they are released.

"Rock Band," is similar to the popular "Guitar Hero" series in that it comes with instruments for users to "play." "Rock Band" comes with a guitar, drums and a microphone.

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