Volume 91, Issue 54

Wednesday, December 3, 1997

Jack Frosh


Tickle me toy crazy

By Donna MacMullin
Gazette Staff

A recent Statistics Canada report revealed the average Canadian family spends $1,464 on gifts and contributions per year and this season, shoppers seem to be hitting the toy stores like never before – all in the hope of fulfilling holiday wish lists.

Rosemary Rulton, manager of the toy department at Walmart in London's Argyle Mall, said Sing and Snore Ernie and Tickle Me Elmo dolls definitely top the list of best sellers this year, along with toys which are consistently popular like Barbie, the Easy Bake oven, Playdoh and Crayola products.

Sing and Snore Ernie is priced at $34.97 and is currently selling fast, Rulton said. "We have tried to take measures to ensure there is enough stock, but it's going to be hard – the manufactures can't send them fast enough."

In anticipation of this year's Sing and Snore Ernie craze (analogous to the rush over Tickle Me Elmo last year and Cabbage Patch Kids in the '80s), some have taken measures to cash in on the opportunity, with ads in newspapers and on the Internet, selling these Tyco treats. One Web site posts an ad selling Sing and Snore Ernie dolls for $175 US and there are now over 170 Web sites devoted to that giggling red Sesame Street cutie, Tickle Me Elmo.

Rulton said this year people seem to be buying earlier and buying more. "I'm just hoping there will not be a huge rush at the end but it's already been very busy."

Clyde Walton, co-owner of the Toy Shoppe of London with his wife Rose, said they too have been enjoying a strong season in sales. Among the toys in high demand at their shop are the Tamagotchi virtual pets, which they have already sold out of and Beaniebabies. "The early bird gets the worm," he said.

Walton said sales at the shop so far have been "awesome," adding, "the early snow we had in October brought all the grandmothers out to do their holiday shopping."

Mary Lou Vernon, director of Western's University Preschool, said in terms of child development, toys with interactive qualities are generally worthwhile – especially when they encourage performance and have entertainment value. "But, unfortunately, when they only have that, they are not that good," she said, adding toys offering long-term learning are more beneficial.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997