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Buyers Have an Early Adventure in Toyland : Industry Show Previews Talking Teddy Bears, Cuddly Dolls, More Rambos

February 21, 1986|JOHN DREYFUSS | Times Staff Writer

Sylvester Stallone-related action figures that buyers give a good chance for success are Lewco Corp.'s six Over the Top arm wrestlers. They are based on a Stallone arm wrestling movie due for release before Christmas. Modeled on Stallone and five professional arm wrestlers, the 7-inch figures will sell for less than $10 each. Their right hands will interlock, and children can operate knobs on the dolls' backs to "arm wrestle" with their friends.

Animated dolls, such as teddy bears that move and talk, were cited among this year's hot toy categories by Leslie Mendelsohn, vice president and buyer for Federal Wholesale Toy Co. in La Mirada, one of the nation's biggest toy wholesalers.

Talked-About Talker

Perhaps the most talked about computerized doll at the Toy Fair was Baby Talk, the 18-inch plastic doll that won't close her eyes until it's quiet. When it is quiet, Baby Talk declares, "I'm tired." Then she blinks her eyes, murmurs "Night-night," and closes her eyes. The $65 to $85 toy made by Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc. of South San Francisco, responds to a human voice by moving her mouth and uttering any of her 16 phrases, such as "I like to be picked up," which she says when she is picked up, "Let's play," and "I love you," a sentence Baby Talk accentuates by batting her eyes.

Galoob has another animated toy that buyers look upon as a possible winner: Smarty Bear, a cuddly $60 to $75 fellow who responds to spoken questions with positive answers and comes with a video cartoon to which he reacts verbally and physically.

Other new bears seem sure to be Christmas hits too, notably those from the den of Axlon, a 5-year-old Sunnyvale company.

Axlon's Grandpaw A.G. and Grandmaw A.G. respond to questions and comments with unintelligible "bear talk" that varies according to the tone the bear "hears"; ask a question in a gruff tone and it results in gruff bear talk, a gentle tone gets a gentle answer. Plug the bespectacled bears into cassette players, and their mouths move in synchronization to any tapes. The toys will sell for about $60.

Axlon also will feature PetSters: $40 fluffy animals that come to you, back away, and turn depending on how many times you clap your hands, and a fuzzy little $25 hamster who lives in a clear plastic ball that rolls around a room bouncing off walls.

Worlds of New Characters

Worlds of Wonder Inc., the company that started the computerized, animated toy craze last year with its Teddy Ruxpin bear, will have a variety of new animated characters ready for Christmas, including Pamela, a $49.95 sound-activated doll with a 64K memory. Pamela will combine about 40 words to create 60 random responses like, "Do you want to go for a ride with me?" and "Will you give me a hug?" The doll will have a series of $12.95 "voice cards" to slip in a slot in her back and give her special vocabularies about specific subjects, such as going to the zoo, the beach or a birthday party.

Worlds of Wonder also will introduce a $59.95 fluffy white goose whose mouth and eyes move as she tells taped Mother Goose stories, and a similar $79.95 Snoopy who, for another $49.95 will acquire a Charlie Brown friend and a wire to join the two so they can have taped, animated conversations.

A child's answer to the adult fashion watch market is a Watchimal, a new Hasbro, Inc. item that straps to the wrist of a child--or an adult who doesn't take life too seriously--and looks like a brightly colored plush fantasy animal. Lift the Velcro closure on a Watchimal's face and a digital watch is revealed. The timepiece costs about $10, and is available in six varieties: toucan, teddy bear, butterfly, elephant, mouse, peacock.

Even in 1986, toys don't need computer chips and motors to be successful.

Softness Counts

Buyer Armen Bahadurian, vice president of King Norman's Toy Stores, a six-store Northern California chain, observed that buyers are "going for the soft feeling" dolls.

Pound Puppies, the soft cloth dolls that were a big success last year, soon will have litters of Newborns, which will be under-$10 miniature versions of the original canines. Super Pound Puppies, for about $35, will be larger than last year's pups. For cat lovers, next Christmas and less than $20 will bring feline versions of Pound Puppies dubbed Pound Pur-r-ies.

Mattel Inc.'s Popples created a lot of Toy Fair excitement. The furry fantasy dolls can disappear into their own pouches and become little fur balls, or a child can partially hide them in the pouches so they seem to peek out or wave their stubby arms. Popples come in three sizes--6, 11 and 15 inches--and cost from $12 to $24.

Another good bet for Christmas is Wrinkles, Coleco's hand puppet dolls that look a lot like Shar-Pei dogs. Their faces and legs are possessed of more wrinkles than a box of prunes. A 28-inch Wrinkle will run abut $60, or you'll be able to get one 11 inches shorter for $30 to $35. Wrinkles were invented in Canada, where last year the Canadian Toy Testing Council named them "Doll of the Year."

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