It's an all-out consumer throw-down this month, as parents scramble to get the best and most-hyped items to toss under the tree for their children. Like every Christmas, there are some toys that are "hot" and others that are just OK. Here are the top picks for those that kids are clamoring for, as well as expert predictions on what may sell out.

TUTORIAL: Demand and Supply

Classic Is "In" Again
While the store ads and commercials are full of noise promoting toys like Elefun, Lalaloopsy dolls and Pillow Pets, these might not be the items that sell the best. In fact, Josh Green, CEO of the global trade intelligence company Panjiva, is betting on classic toys in the 2011 market.

"Looking at shipments from August through October, when most holiday shipments arrive, timeless toys such as Barbie, Lego and Hot Wheels far outnumber shipments of many items on this year's hot toy lists," said Green. These toys are at their highest shipment levels since Panjiva started tracking the information in 2007. (For related reading, see 5 Most Profitable Toys Of Past Christmases.)

Hot Trends Won't Stick Around
Retailers are hoping to avoid holiday "leftovers" and are placing fewer orders for those seasonal hits that come one year and go the next. Items like the newest video games and kids' technology platforms - such as the Leapster line - won't stay in stock for long, says Green. As a result, parents who hope to grab these "hot" items for a child's very specific wish list should buy early.

Licensed Characters Always Win
With certain franchise-based toys winning out year after year, it can be assumed that kids will be clamoring for these perennials again in 2011. Elmo and "Toy Story"-inspired toys, for example, are already placing high. Green has reported an uptick in shipments of these toys leading up to the holiday season. While the specifics of the toys change every year (Tickle Me Elmo has now morphed into Let's Rock Elmo), the familiarity of these products will likely continue to lure newer and younger consumers each season.

"Just Like Mommy and Daddy" Creates Demand
In addition to using the number of product shipments to determine what toys will win the sales wars this year, there is always the sentiment of the parents who are taking "standing orders" from tiny wish list requesters. Small children across the U.S. are already grabbing for the iPad, motivating Mom and Dad to purchase a more suitable "child-appropriate" substitution. This, in turn, has created a high demand for products like the Leapfrog LeapPad, a kiddie version of the most popular tablets that is already creating a stir on parenting forums and shopping sites. (For related reading, see 5 Digital Gift Ideas For The Holiday Season.)

Strange Fads Are Among Us
While there is quite a bit of logic involved in pinpointing the perfect toy gift, some of the best-loved items come from the most whimsical of places. As a result, you will find toys inspired by the highly-addictive "Angry Birds" app to be high on the hot list, as well as several other unlikely themes. Toys that Jennifer Jolly, the Tech Lifestyle Editor for, thinks may do well this season are those inspired by bacon or mustache trends. Who knew?

The Bottom Line
Regardless of what the experts think, the fate of 2011's toys will lie in the hands of the smallest consumer. Whether or not kids actually go for the heavy hitters like Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, items from the Monster High line or Air Swimmers eXtreme, parents will try again this year to buy a little holiday cheer through toys. (To learn more holiday gift options, read 7 Unique And Inexpensive Gifts For The Holidays.)

Related Articles
  1. Stock Analysis

    The Biggest Risks of Investing in Amazon Stock

    Find out which risks are most important to Amazon's shareholders. Learn which operational risks impact share prices and which financial risks affect investors.
  2. Stock Analysis

    How Does Work and Make Money?

    Learn how is taking on retail giants Amazon, Walmart and Costco by promising to save customers an average of 10 to 15% on over 10 million items.
  3. Stock Analysis

    Top 3 Stocks for the Coming Holiday Season

    If you want to buck the bear market trend by going long on consumer stocks, these three might be your best bets.
  4. Investing News

    This is the Fastest-Growing Consumer Complaint

    There’s no way to guarantee that your Social Security number won’t fall into the wrong hands. Here are some ways to make yourself less of a target.
  5. Stock Analysis

    How Does Casper Work and Make Money?

    Learn how the startup Casper is delivering a good night's sleep directly to customers' homes for a fraction of the cost of the competition.
  6. Stock Analysis

    4 Catalysts That Could Propel Best Buy's Stock Forward

    Understand the current Best Buy model and why it has been failing lately. Learn about the top potential catalysts that could increase Best Buy's stock price.
  7. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: iShares Globl Consumer Discretionary

    Explore analysis of the iShares Global Consumer Discretionary ETF, and learn about the suitability of this fund that tracks the consumer discretionary sector.
  8. Investing Basics

    A Gluten-Free Makeover For A Supermarket Near You

    The gluten-free diet is changing the food choices of a large number of consumers, and the food industry is taking note and making the needed adjustments.
  9. Stock Analysis

    These Are the Benefits of Investing in Wal-Mart

    Understand how Wal-Mart operates and what makes it a good company despite current stock performance. Learn the top four benefits of investing in Wal-Mart.
  10. Personal Finance

    Why Traditional Retailers Keep Struggling

    Here are some core reasons that the traditional retail industry is struggling today
  1. How can I invest in electronic retailing (e-tailing)?

    Electronic retail is one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. Every year, more people are choosing to purchase ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the difference between JIT (just in time) and CMI (customer managed inventory)?

    Just-in-time (JIT) inventory management focuses solely on the need to replenish inventory only when it is required, reducing ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are some common ways product differentiation is achieved?

    There are many ways to achieve product differentiation, some more common than others. Horizontal Differentiation Horizontal ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What economic indicators are important to consider when investing in the retail sector?

    The unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rank as two of the most important economic indicators to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What factors make it difficult to compare performance ratios between retail stocks?

    Companies that operate in the retail sector significantly differ in terms of their profitability and efficiency, making stock ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Which socially responsible retailers appeal most to ethical investors?

    Ethical investors have many reasons to consider companies in the retail sector. The sector is broad and features an abundance ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  2. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  3. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
  4. Normal Profit

    An economic condition occurring when the difference between a firm’s total revenue and total cost is equal to zero.
  5. Operating Cost

    Expenses associated with the maintenance and administration of a business on a day-to-day basis.
  6. Cost Of Funds

    The interest rate paid by financial institutions for the funds that they deploy in their business. The cost of funds is one ...
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!