Ninja Turtles to make Christmas comeback in Eighties toy revival

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The Independent Online

Equipped with bulging muscles, mobile phones and an optional rocket launcher, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle is tipped to lead an Eighties revival in toy stores this Christmas.

The amphibian posse of Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo and Raphael are among the favourites to become the season's bestselling toy, thanks to a makeover and a 26-episode cartoon series running on ITV.

The British Association of Toy Retailers (Batr), which made its predictions yesterday for the top 10 toys, said it expected to see some of the greatest gains this year from makers who had decided to go back to the future.

Apart from the turtles, who first rose from the sewers of New York in 1989, revival from that decade is expected in the cuddly section from My Little Pony and Care Bears. And manufacturers of an updated version of the seminal Atari games console hope they will appeal to both children and 30-something parents who remember the monochrome monotony of TV tennis.

Val Stedham, the Batr chairman, said: "Like fashion, the popularity of toys goes in cycles. Brands are important, but the success of a toy relies on its 'playability'. It's not surprising that those toys that thrilled children 20 years ago can still appeal to kids today. While the brand itself might remain the same, the toys don't, and are redesigned to appeal to this generation of media-savvy kids."

The battle for supremacy among doll manufacturers will be no less intense this year: Barbie, with a 60 per cent share of the market, is gearing up to fend off competition from the upstart range of Bratz.

Aimed at girls aged between eight and 10, the Bratz range has had its first makeover since the products were launched last year. The Winter Collection girls, Yasmin, Jade and Cloe, wear worn denim jeans with diamante belts and T-shirts with brazen logos.

No strangers to reinvention, the makers of Barbie have risen to the challenge with the My Scene range of girls, into music and fashion. Their elder sisters in the new Flavas range have limbs articulated for tough poses and threaten to knock you out with their "bling" attitude. The more sedate Barbie Swan Lake replaces last year's Rapunzel Barbie and is tipped to be in the 10 bestsellers.

Batr, whose retailers account for 75 per cent of Britain's £2bn toy industry, last year correctly predicted six of the 10 bestsellers, in what some observers believe is an exercise in self-fulfilling prophecies. Most Christmas toys left factories in the Far East10 weeks ago and are currently stored around the country.

Ben Green, the Batr vice- chairman, said: "There is a certain amount you can't predict. When Beyblades [the spinning top] came in last February they did not sell, but in May they suddenly became a hit in the playgrounds and the kids caught us all off guard."


* Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - dolls

* Boohbah - soft toy

* Barbie Swan Lake - dolls

* Yu-Gi-Oh! - trading card game

* Bionicles - action figures from Lego

* Beyblades Radio Control - programmable spinning tops

* Cranium - board game

* LeapPad Learning System - educational toy

* Bratz Winter Collection - dolls

* Badge It - badge maker