HOW TO GET THAT HOT HOL­I­DAY TOY

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Bree Fowler

Does your lit­tle girl have her heart set on find­ing a Hatchi­mal un­der the tree? Good luck — the an­i­ma­tronic bird-like crea­tures that “hatch” from eggs are one of the tough­est toys to find this hol­i­day sea­son.

And it’s not the only hot toy in short sup­ply this year. Nos­tal­gic Gen Xers look­ing to in­tro­duce their own kids to the clas­sic Nin­tendo games of their youth have made find­ing an NES Clas­sic a tough task as well.

But with the help of tech­nol­ogy, along with a few phone calls and a de­cent amount of shoe leather, your quest for a Hatchi­mal, NES, or other tough finds on your lit­tle one’s list, may not be in vain.

Here are some tips to help you along the way.

Be so­cial

Com­pa­nies and re­tail­ers post in­for­ma­tion about what’s newly in stock on their Face­book and Twit­ter feeds. They’re great places to find out about pro­mo­tions and give­aways too, said Jackie Breyer, ed­i­tor in chief of The Toy In­sider.

For in­stance, Tar­get re­cently tweeted that that more Hatchi­mals were on their way to stores. But be wary of tweets and posts that don’t come from well-known re­tail­ers — they could be scams.

Go­ing hy­per­local can pay off too. Neigh­bor­hood Face­book pages and in­ter­net mail­ing lists geared to­ward par­ents can be good sources of in­tel as well, Breyer said.

Burn up the phones

Don’t be afraid to go old school and call the stores. Ask for the man­ager and get him or her to tell you when the next ship­ment is com­ing in.

Back in the 1980s, when par­ents were on the hunt for Cab­bage Patch Kids, this was of­ten how things were done. Par­ents who knew when the trucks were com­ing in some­times bought the dolls straight off the pal­lets, Breyer said.

Toys R Us also will have more Hatchi­mals in stock be­fore Santa’s big day, air freight­ing them in from China, when they nor­mally would bring them in by sea, said Richard Barry, the com­pany’s ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and global chief mer­chan­dis­ing of­fi­cer.

The hype sur­round­ing Hatchi­mals, which started be­fore their fall launch, com­bined with the com­pli­cated man­u­fac­tur­ing process used to pro­duce them, makes it tough to get enough of them into stores fast enough, he said.

Mean­while, high de­mand from adult col­lec­tors has de­pleted NES sup­plies.

“Keep check­ing with us. That’s re­ally the way,” Barry said, adding that any news of new stock quickly re­sults in lines out­side his stores.

Can’t get the in­for­ma­tion you need over the phone? Head to the store and do some schmooz­ing.

What about the web?

There are web­sites that spe­cial­ize in track­ing on­line in­ven­to­ries, such as Stock­In­former.com, but they’re prob­a­bly not go­ing to be much help. Be­cause the avail­able stock is so low, most Hatchi­mals will be skip­ping the web and go­ing straight to stores.

If money is truly no ob­ject, you can al­ways buy from a re­seller, but be­ware. Stick with some­one that’s vet­ted and sell­ing through Ama­zon or Wal­mart re­sale sites. And be pre­pared to pony up: Hatchi­mals and the NES, which both retail for $60, are cur­rently sell­ing on those sites for more than $200.

EBay can be safe, too, so long as you pick a seller with a long his­tory of sales and good re­views, Breyer said.

I give up. Am I a bad par­ent?

No. Re­al­ity check: It’s just a toy. Your kid will get over it — and maybe they’ll learn some­thing, too.

And while Hatchi­mals may be grab­bing head­lines, de­mand for them isn’t nearly the cra­zi­est Barry said he’s seen in his 30 years in the toy busi­ness. “Peo­ple have short mem­o­ries,” he said, not­ing that in the past par­ents also have scram­bled for the orig­i­nal Tickle Me Elmo, Zhu Zhu Pets and Poke­mon toys.

If all else fails, you can give your child an IOU.

Hatchi­mal sup­plies are ex­pected to bounce back in Jan­uary. And SpinMaster, the com­pany that makes Hatchi­mals, has a nifty cer­tifi­cate of own­er­ship you can print off their web­site.

Ei­ther way, it’s best to keep things in per­spec­tive. Af­ter all, the hol­i­days aren’t just about gifts. Right?

Breyer said that while Hatchi­mals may be the “it” toy this hol­i­day sea­son, for most kids they’d just be one of sev­eral they’ll ul­ti­mately re­ceive.

“I think par­ents get wrapped up in a craze and think they have to have it, but the kids may not feel as strongly about it as they do,” she said.

Spin Mas­ter

Your search for a Hatchi­mal doesn’t have to end in dis­ap­point­ment. With the help of tech­nol­ogy, some phone calls and shoe leather, the hard-to-find hol­i­day toy can be un­der your tree this Christ­mas.

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