Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011 | 2 a.m.
Holiday shoppers, beware: Shopping starts earlier than ever this year, with select stores opening Thanksgiving Day and midnight Black Friday.
Like it or not, the shopping insanity is only a day away. Prepare yourself. Make that dreaded shopping list before you join the masses.
As you ponder what to buy your favorite niece or nephew or your long-lost great-aunt, consider these gift options. Retail industry experts expect these items — many suited for children — to fly off the shelves this holiday season.
Lalaloopsy Silly Hair dolls
Lalaloopsy dolls, characterized by their large eyes and soft bodies, entered the toy world in 2010. Two favorites, Crumbs Sugar Cookie and Jewel Sparkles, are back this year with quirky hairstyles ready for play.
“It’s all about how these dolls have sprung to life when their last stitch was sewn,” said Toys ‘R’ Us spokeswoman Adrienne O’Hara, explaining the premise behind the dolls.
Each silly hair doll comes with a styling brush, four clips, six hair beads and a pet whose tail can be styled. Batteries are not required.
MSRP: $34.99 per doll
Cepia, LLC, the company behind last year’s successful ZhuZhu Pets, introduced a new line of kid-friendly creatures this year: Xia-Xia Pets. The four brightly-colored, plastic hermit crabs dance and play.
Billed as collectibles, the hermit crabs’ shells can be switched.
“The good thing about collectibles is they fit into that affordable price,” said Adrienne Appell, a spokeswoman for the Toy Industry Association.
MSRP: $24.99 per hermit crab. Accessories sold separately.
Air Swimmers eXtreme
These 4-feet long, helium-filled fish swim through the air through radio control. Kids can control the clownfish or shark’s movements with the control up to 50 feet away.
“If you want to scare your brother or sister or wife, you can swim it around the corner,” said Adrienne O’Hara, Toys ‘R’ Us spokeswoman.
The Air Swimmers eXtreme is intended for indoor use only.
Consider the LeapPad Explorer a starter tablet device for children ages 4 to 9. Children can play games, read books and take photos with this touch-screen tablet.
“It’s kind of a kid version of an iPad,” said Adrienne Appell, a spokeswoman for the Toy Industry Association.
The LeapPad Explorer is an educational Toy of the Year Award (http://www.toyawards.org) nominee, a contest administered by the Toy Industry Association.
The Kindle Fire is Amazon’s response to the color tablet craze. The 7-inch, multi-touch display device features a cloud-accelerated Web browser, thousands of apps and a dual-core processor.
“It’s the direct competition for the iPad, but it’s way cheaper,” said Anjala Krishen, assistant professor of marketing at UNLV.
Novelty Kitchen Electronics
Enjoy cupcakes but tired of trekking to the nearest bakery? Craving doughnuts but need a simple way to make your own?
Retail analysts said consumers should expect to see a variety of these novelty kitchen electronics, such as cupcake-, doughnut- and pie-makers, in stores this holiday season.
Made by more than one company, these devices are billed as fun items for the whole family to use.
MSPR: Pricing varies.