On September 20, Toys R Us released its “2012 Holiday Hot Toy List.” The list contained 50 toys, 15 of which are highlighted as “the Fabulous 15,” that alleged experts across the country predicted to be the products in high demand for kids this Holiday season, including dolls, Legos, furbies and kid-appropriate electronics. Toys R Us also announced that for the first time ever, they would have a hot toy reservation program wherein buyers can reserve any of the items on the list with a 20% deposit.
I don’t really know any young children, especially any that I care to add to my Holiday shopping list. In theory, this announcement is nothing more to me than a pop culture news article. But Toys R Us’s list and the launch of its new program got me thinking about a few things. After all, Toys R Us is nothing short of an American institution, especially around the Holidays. There is a lot you can surmise about people based on the things they buy, the things they want to buy and how they buy it.
Here are a few of my thoughts on the 2012 hot list:
1) On one hand, I feel a little bit weird that we are already talking about Christmas, and not just because it’s still 77 degrees and sunny in Los Angeles. Every year, in a push to boost sales, stores start marketing the Holiday season earlier and earlier. I’m just not ready yet! I haven’t even decided what kind of skank I want to be for Halloween yet and some parents are reserving Christmas gifts? So weird.
Image from Shutterstock
2) Then again, it might be a good idea for people to start saving up for their holiday shopping. Last year, the average American spent over $700 on gifts according to the National Retail Federation. And as we’ve discussed, credit card debt is no bueno. Perhaps giving people the opportunity to pay for part of the toy now and budget for the rest later, or at least begin budgeting for the gifts they have to pay for, is not a bad idea.
3) If One Direction is popular enough to have their own doll, and those dolls are in high enough demand to be among the Fabulous 15, I feel like I should know their names. I imagine they are very Britishy names like Harry, Alistair or Paddington.
In my preteen years I remember thinking, “How do some people not know the Backstreet Boys? Adults are so lame.’” Now I am that lame adult who knows nothing about what the kids are listening to these days. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet.
4) It is a bit strange to me that lists like this even exist. For one, kids are easily entertained. I remember having tons of fun playing with my cousins and siblings with cardboard boxes and pretending they were rowboats. Or we’d climb all over our bunk bed and pretend it was a pirate ship. I don’t think we ever referenced a list of any kind to find out what was the must-have toy that Christmas. Secondly, if a kid does have more discerning taste, parents and relatives would probably know better than unnamed merchants and experts. Parents especially. It’s your kid. What do you think he/she wants?
- This looks like so much fun.
5) On that note, perhaps we are too hard on parents when it comes to Holiday Shopping. Clearly, if you are going to get someone a gift, it should be something they want or need. But I am not in favor of this undue pressure for parents to find their child “the perfect gift” for the Holidays, as if anything less is a shoddy reflection of shabby love. My advice? Get your kids whatever you think is best. If they love it, that’s awesome. If not, they can learn to receive it graciously, appreciate the thought and move on. Consider it character building for the disappointment of losing at kickball or getting second runner up at the 8th grade spelling bee. They’ll live through it, I swear.
6) Maybe the feminist in me is over thinking this, but how awesome is it that neither of the two female dolls listed in the Fabulous 15 are dressed like prostitutes? In fact, one of them is a veterinarian! We’ve come a long way from those Bratz dolls, women of America. The kids are going to be alright.
Image from Toys R Us
7) Furby again? What is this, 1998? Look, if we are going to do retro throwback, I’ve got two words for you. TEDDY. RUXPIN.
Image by Best of the 80′s
It’s funny how the Holidays season can hold so many underlying subplots of materialism, shameless marketing and financial duress, and yet unite people with the spirit of thoughtfulness, love and gratitude. A worse cynic than me might think this toy list is a devious way to play on the pressures of parenthood and Holiday giving and make a ton of money early on under the guise of being helpful, trendy and convenient. And sure, this list is silly and I have a hunch that their bets on Furby’s comeback aren’t going to play out. But once I get past this list, once I stop rolling my eyes at the Holiday decor that will undoubtedly return before candy corn even comes off the shelves, I think that the real joy of the Holidays always surpasses the rampant consumerism. That feeling that you can only get for those few weeks, no matter how early corporations try to sell it to you or how long you naively try to hold on to it, will be far greater than any hot Holiday toy. I think that’s something we can all happily budget for.
Featured Image from the Kitsap Sun