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TOYS’ COST COULD TURN HAIR WHITE

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Raising kids these days is getting mighty expensive.

Forget the minor expenses like food, clothing and college. Have you checked out the price of toys lately? The world of kid's playthings is no longer the plastic, relatively cheap world we knew as children.There are porcelain Barbie Dolls out there that cost $150. Computer games that cost $100. And - best yet - a battery-operated Hovercraft that sells for $150. For that price, you'd think the batteries would be included. But no. The battery for the Hovercraft costs an additional $50. Yes, Christmas shoppers, $50.

"The battery is rechargeable," explained the manager of one toy store. Small comfort.

On the bright side, a few of these toys have a better return than blue-chip stocks. Take this year's limited edition holiday Barbie. It originally retailed for $35. But the demand is so high, some stores have more than doubled the asking price.

Hammond Toys in the Crossroads Mall raised the price of the doll to $80 and even at that price, sold out. "I've been sold out for a week," said Bruce Hammond, store manager.

"We received 60 holiday Barbies for our store," said Cindy Tate, store director of the West Jordan Fred Meyer. "We sold out of them in four hours. Customers were buying three and four of them."

The Deseret News couldn't find a store that still has any of the dolls left. But Mattel has put out porcelain Barbies, which are going for $150 and $200.

Many of this season's most populartoys can be identified only by the empty shelves in the store. The Little Miss Make-up doll? "We are totally out of them. I think we are completely out for the season," Tate said.

The pricey Hovercraft at Hammonds? Gone.

Hot toys sell out so fast these days even the retailers have trouble getting them in. "Little Miss Make-up has a new friend this year called Little Miss Dress-up," Hammond said. "But we never got it in. It was sold out before we could get it."

Here's a list of this year's most popular toys according to officials from Fred Meyer, K-Mart, Hammond Toys and ZCMI: -Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and accessories. "Ninja Turtles are taking over the entire industry," Tate said.

"They are the No. 1 selling toy across the country," said Hammond.

Nintendo has even come out with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game. Not surprisingly, it is their hottest-selling game this year.

The turtles themselves are gone. "Most stores are sold out until spring," said Bob Chamberlain, toy buyer for the ZCMI stores.

But the "bad guys" of the set - ducks, bugs and rats - can still be found as well as the accessories like the party wagon. They, too, are going fast.

-All Barbies. The doll's 30th birthday is her biggest year yet.

-Girl Talk. A new board game for adolescents that is a distant cousin to "truth or dare."

-Crossfire. An action board game targeted at boys. "It's extremely hot," Tate said.

-The Fischer Price kitchen. "Sales have been unbelievable," Tate said. The toy kitchen even comes with a bottle washer.

-Batman action figures, Batmobile and Batwing. Other figures, like the Joker and his cohorts, are not selling as well.

-Baby dolls, particularly Betsy Wetsy, Oopsy Daisy and Baby Bubbles.

-Micro Machines, particularly trains.

-Legos. The Lego world tour in the ZCMI Center has driven Lego sales through the roof. "We are having a difficult time keeping enough Legos in," Chamberlain said.

-Train sets and road race sets.