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Toy Companies Already Know What Your Kids Want for Christmas

Shoppers might not know it exists yet, but this year's hot new toy has already been designed, produced, tested, and sold to manufacturers.
The Littlest Pet Shop Shuttle, on display in the Hasbro showroom during the American International Toy Fair on Sunday, Feb. 14, in New York.
Photographer: Charles Sykes/AP Images for Hasbro

“Tastes funny,” Brightlings, an interactive smart doll, declared with a giggle after her digital tongue licked the table. Brightlings, made by Spin Master Corp, was one of the breakout stars at February's New York Toy Fair, and she knew that I had just put her face down on the table. Soon she would woo me into playing with her again by belting out a tune, one of six she knows. “We tested her with girls [ages] four to seven, and their moms. In all my years in the toy industry, it’s the best research I’ve seen,” said Shannon Sackett, director of marketing for girls brands at Spin Master.

Little girls won’t know about Brightlings, or the majority of toys introduced by about 1,200 companies at the fair, until late summer, but that has little effect on product plans for the holiday season.