Children nudged down the latest toy rankings by the 40-something blonde

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

Santa seems pretty confused by the lists children sent him this year.

Toy Zone managing director Michel Aronoff said this is his first Christmas where girls and boys have shown no clear frontrunner.

"We underestimated the popularity of games themed on Disney's High School Musical. The board game is totally sold out, and we're running low on its computer games."

But other than this Disney made-for-TV movie, marketers seem to be battling to find recent blockbusters to peg their toys on this year.

"Lego's Star Wars range is the top seller at the moment. Toys themed on Thomas The Tank Engine are also selling well," Aronoff said.

But considering Star Wars was released in 1976 and Reverend WV Audrey published Thomas The Tank Engine in 1940, these seem pitched more at parents and grand-parents than kids.

Perhaps because higher interest rates and petrol prices have made Santa less generous, there seems to be a return to traditional toys which fell out of fashion a few years ago.

Barbie, for instance, is back. Two years ago, seven-year-old girls dumped the 40-something blonde for the more racially representative Bratz range of fashion dolls.

But Thanks to Barbie's latest face-lift, the top-selling dolls this Christmas are her Island Princess range, specifically Princess Rosella and Princess Luciana.

Barbie reappears as fifth best-selling doll in her "My Scene - Icy Bling" incarnation.

For the past few years, girls have preferred computer game consoles to dolls. Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 2 are top sellers.

But Aronoff said board games and construction sets are back in fashion.

The old warhorse Monopoly has been revamped for the credit card generation in a new version subtitled "Here & Now".

He said: "The new Monopoly board game is another thing we underestimated. It's sold out."