20081219 toys 18
Santa students stop by Toys R US to learn about the popular toys for the Holiday Season during the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School workshop on October 17, 2008 in Midland, Michigan. - 


Scott Jagow: Polariod has filed Chapter 11. And KB Toys has been given permission to start its going-out-of-business sale. On the note of toys, have you noticed that this holiday season there seems to be something missing? Maybe the hot toy that parents just have to buy. Rico Gagliano has more on that.

Rico Gagliano: The hit of Christmas 2006? The giggling TMX Elmo doll. Sales of which made the toy industry shout:

Elmo: Again! Again!

But an Elmo-sized hit is actually rare, says industry analyst Richard Gottlieb.

Richard Gottlieb: It's not as bad as Haley's Comet, but it's close.

And in a recession year like this one, Gottlieb says, it's pretty apparent why the Hit Toy Comet hasn't come around.

Gottlieb: When you're thinking about how to spend your money, you're really far less vulnerable to fads and excitement.

Bad news for the industry, Gottlieb says, since in his experience one hit toy can drive up sales for everyone. On the other hand, affordable, long-lasting classics like Play-doh are doing well this year. And according to Reyne Rice, of the Toy Industry Association, sales are still strong compared to . . . oh, almost any other industry.

Reyne Rice: Even in a poor economy, even in past recessions, toys have always been a category that have held their own.

And if parents have to put up with a little less of this? Well, is that really so bad?

I'm Rico Gagliano for Marketplace.