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Elmo and Harry Potter among top 20 holiday toys

Rio Nguyen, 8, poses for photographers at Hamleys toy store with a Sesame Street Elmo doll in London
Rio Nguyen, 8, poses for photographers at Hamleys toy store with a Sesame Street Elmo doll in London

By Paula Rogo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A dancing and singing Sesame Street character and a Harry Potter-based DVD game could be the top toys during the 2011 holiday season, according to an industry guide released on Monday.

Let's Rock Elmo and Scene it? Harry Potter: The Complete Cinematic Journey are two of the favorites that have made the list of the 20 hottest toys compiled by the Toy Insider to help shoppers find the perfect present for children.

"The list tries to take some of the stress out of shopping," said Laurie Schacht, co-publisher of the Toy Insider. "We don't want the toys to end up at the bottom of the closet. We look for toys that engage the children fully."

Industry insiders and experts spent almost a year sorting through the thousands of choices to compile the list. All 20 toys were released within the last year.

Schacht said the biggest toy trend this year is social games that promote face-to-face interaction between children and their parents such as the Redakai Championship Tin, which is recommended for six to eight-year-old children and uses trading cards with 3-D and animation features.

"It's about getting people together," Schacht said. "We are also looking at social networks, apps and video games."

Angry Birds Plush toys, which are expected to be a hit for children six to eight years old, are based on the popular cell phone app Angry Birds.

Educational learning is another big trend with Leapfrog's Leappad, a learning tablet designed specifically for children aged three to five, among the favorite toys for that age group. olds. It includes a built-in camera and video recorder.

"This is learning where they have so much fun, they don't even notice it," Schacht explained.

Pop culture references also found their way onto the list with a toy called Justin Bieber Rockin' Tour Bus and Concert Stage, which enables young girls, aged six to eight, to pretend they are on tour with the popular teen idol.

Scene it? Harry Potter: The Complete Cinematic Journey, which is suggested for children nine years and older allows fans of the J.K. Rowling series to test their knowledge of the eight movies.

Another favorite for that age group is uDraw Game Tablet that lets users paint, draw and color and comes with an art-based video game.

For younger children Pocoyo Swiggletracks, which enables toddlers to create their own car tracks, is another predicted favorite.

Plasmabike, which does not need training wheels, and Chuggington Interactive Railways are predicted hits for the three to five year olds.

The full edition of the guide includes 110 toys recommendations from 80 different manufacturers.

"Money is hard for everyone these days and for whatever parents are willing to spend, we want to give them options."

(Editing by Patricia Reaney)

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