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Hottest toys are heavy on technology

NEW YORK — The most popular toys this holiday season will include high-tech updates of such classics as Barbie, Nerf and Rubik's Cube, as well as a giant magnifying eyeball and a singing Hannah Montana doll, according to Toy Wishes magazine's "Hot Dozen" list, released this week.

Each holiday season, the magazine tests thousands of toys and predicts which will be the most popular during the crucial holiday season.

"Involvement of the monitor is a huge trend this year," said Jim Silver, editor in chief of Toy Wishes magazine. "Kids are always on TV and on the computer; high-tech toys really grab the consumer's eye."

The release of popular toy lists in many ways kicks off the holiday season for the toy industry, which is in need of a strong finish to 2007, having suffered through a string of recalls in the past few months.

Toy sales through August inched down 1 percent, but the bulk of toy sales are still to be realized, according to market researcher NPD Group. About 50 percent of total sales for the year are generated in the fourth quarter.

The 2007 Hot Dozen, in alphabetical order:

American Idol Talent Challenge: A DVD karaoke machine based on the popular television show. The unit connects to a television, comes with a working microphone and mixer and 12 songs to test your talent. Compete with friends, who rate you using the DVD remote. You'll hear reactions to your performance from "American Idol" judges Randy, Paula and Simon. Retail price: $49.99. By Tech2Go.

Aqua Dots Super Studio: Use the translucent, multicolored beads to create designs. Follow the included templates, or create your own. When you're finished, spray with water, and the dots adhere. Can be used to make decorations, light catchers and other crafts. Retail price $24.99. By Spin Master.

Barbie Girls: A Barbie toy that interacts with online worlds. The Barbie Girls unit is an MP3 player that connects to a computer and unlocks a virtual world where girls create an avatar — or virtual character — and design their own "room," shop at a mall, go to the salon, play games, hang out and chat live with other girls. Add-on packs unlock more content. Retail price: Device: $59.99. Fashion Pack: $9.99. Deco Pack: $9.99. By Mattel Inc.

Eye-Clops: An electronic magnifier shaped like a giant eyeball that plugs into a television and gives an up-close and personal perspective on everyday items. Retail price: $49.99. By Jakks Pacific Inc.

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. The latest in the series of hard-rocking video games that were among the first to use established video-game platforms in a new way. It hooks up the guitar peripheral to a PlayStation, Xbox or Wii. The new version includes tracks from Alice Cooper, Beastie Boys, Smashing Pumpkins, Heart, Kiss and many more. Retail price: $99.99. By Red Octane.

Hannah Montana Singing Dolls and Pop Star Stage: The Hannah doll, based on the popular television series, sings songs from the teen sensation. The fold-out Pop Star Stage is the setting for a concert. Hooks up to any music player. Retail price: Doll: $19.99. Pop Star Stage: $59.99. By Play Along, a unit of Jakks Pacific.

Nerf N-Strike Disk Shot: A target game that builds on the classic Nerf brand. Load the foam disks into the disc launcher, and load your blaster foam darts. A wireless remote that attaches to your blaster lets you control when to send the disks sailing at different heights and angles to create all kinds of challenges. Test your speed, distance and accuracy. Retail price: $49.99. By Hasbro Inc.

Rubik's Revolution: Six addictive electronic games. The games get tougher as each level completed unlocks a new one. Retail price: $19.99. By Techno Source.

Smart Cycle. An exercise bicycle that powers games on your television. There are different levels of games, developed around preschool concepts like letters and numbers. It comes with one software package, and others are sold separately. Retail price: Unit: $99.99. Additional Programs: $19.99. By Mattel unit Fisher-Price.

Spotz: An activity toy geared for "tween" girls using the Internet as a source of creativity. Pick a picture, put it in the Spotz Maker, and you'll get a cool collectible to show and share your style. Refills and accessory kits are also available. Retail price: $29.99. By Zizzle.

Swypeout Online Battle Racing: Connect the USB scanner, go to the secure Web site and swipe your collectible trading cards to power up for all kinds of races. Play with friends around the corner or around the country. Retail price: $19.99. By Spin Master.

Transformers Arm Blasters & Transformers Movie Ultimate Bumblebee: The Transformers Movie Ultimate Bumblebee is half-Camaro, half-robot. The Transformers Arm Blasters convert right on your arm from Autobot or Decepticon into full-force, soft-dart blaster. Retail price: Bumblebee: $89.99. Blasters: $29.99. By Hasbro.

The 2007 Hot Dozen in alphabetical order:

American Idol Talent Challenge, $49.99, Tech2Go.

Aqua Dots Super Studio, $24.99, Spin Master.

Barbie Girls, $59.99 (device), $9.99 (fashion or deco pack), Mattel Inc.

Eye-Clops, $49.99, Jakks Pacific Inc.

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, $99.99, Red Octane.

Hannah Montana Singing Dolls and Pop Star Stage, $19.99 (doll), $59.99 (stage), Play Along, a unit of Jakks Pacific.

Nerf N-Strike Disk Shot, $49.99, Hasbro Inc.

Rubik's Revolution, $19.99, Techno Source.

Smart Cycle, $99.99 (unit), $19.99 (programs), Mattel unit Fisher-Price.

Spotz, $29.99, Zizzle.

Swypeout Online Battle Racing, $19.99, Spin Master.

Transformers Arm Blasters & Transformers Movie Ultimate Bumblebee, $89.99 (bumblebee), $29.99 (blasters), Hasbro. Mark Lenninhan, Associated Press