Hot Holiday Toys

FRESNO, Calif. Holidays drive you crazy? Feel like you're spinning out of control? Well, just try being on the hunt for this season's must-have toys.

"They're all excited; they're all looking where to find this popular toy," said Mike Jones with Toys R Us.

Remember the Tickle-Me-Elmo craze from a few years ago? Well, move over Elmo, there's a new furry friend in town, that's scurrying off store shelves as fast as stores can stock them.

Zhu Zhu Pets are toy hamsters that act a little like real pets because they have some built-in artificial intelligence they zip up tubes and ramps and run in their hamster wheels. The hamsters are $9.99 and the accessories are sold separately.

"Call us daily, we're getting shipments daily. Soon as we get them, they'll be out," said Jones.

While you're waiting, there are plenty of other toys on Toys R Us' 2009 hot toy list. Most are interactive or high-tech including anything video-game-related, like the new D.J. Hero for $119.99. Players can spin and scratch like a real D.J.

There's a blackberry-style leapfrog learning toy with a QWERTY keyboard for $16.99, so your little one can practice their texting skills early.

Little ones can play doctor on Baby Ah-Choo. The doll sneezes and coughs and says over 30 phrases.

But there's still some good old fashion fun. Board games are making a big comeback in this recession. It's a low-cost way for the whole family to have fun together. And movie-tie-ins like Transformers, Star wars, and Twilight: New Moon are selling strong.

New this year at Toys R Us, layaway plans for shoppers on a budget and the gift receipt as well for the recipient. When it comes to hot holiday toys, the sooner you start shopping, the better.

Toys R Us store managers say if you're looking for a hard-to-find toy like a Zhu-Zhu Pet, be persistent and check in daily. They're always getting shipments. If you're desperate, there's always e-bay or craigslist, but be prepared to spend four to ten times the retail price.

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