Interactive dog, magic cauldron are hard-to-find toys amid supply crisis

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An interactive plush Labradoodle puppy with a smart collar and a “magical cauldron” that allows children to brew up furry pets from a mixture of ingredients are among this season’s most-sought-after toys amid global supply chain shortages.

Crates of the Moji the Lovable Labradoodle and the Magic Mixies Magical Misting Cauldron are sitting in ports due to a national shortage of truck drivers to pick them up for delivery, says Adrienne Appell, senior vice president for marketing and communications with the nonprofit Toy Association.

“It’s a perfect storm,” Ms. Appell told The Washington Times. “We’ve been advising consumers to shop as early as possible to avoid supply chain issues.”

Skyrocket’s Moji is a lifelike puppy that responds to voice commands stored on cards and has a smart collar allowing it to perform tricks like jumping rope. With a suggested retail price of $99.99 for ages 4 and up, it is listed as “out of stock” on retail giant Target’s website.

“That one is pretty hard to find in the stores,” Ms. Appell said. “We have one at home, and my kids have been loving it.”

The toy cauldron, with a suggested retail price of $69.99, also is in short supply, she said.

Both toys are among the 114 finalists for the Toy Association’s 2022 “Toy of the Year Awards,” in which consumers may vote online through Jan. 4 for the best toys in 16 different categories and a top toy overall.

Winners will be announced Feb. 18 in the annual contest, which Hasbro won last year for its Star Wars: The Child Animatronic Edition Toy, known more popularly as the “Baby Yoda” doll.

Other finalists this year include Mattel’s Jurassic World Ocean Protector Mosasaurus, the Crayola Light-Up activity board, Super Mario Deluxe Bowser Ship Playset, Bill Nye’s Space Lab and a VW camping bus.

Parents are more likely to find those toys than a Moji or a misting cauldron, industry insiders say.

Toy scalpers already are hawking Moji for as much as $144 through resale websites, and Amazon’s earliest delivery date for the robotic puppy is well after New Year’s Day.

Nelo Lucich, CEO of the California-based Skyrocket Toys that specializes in tech entertainment, said toy scalpers use “gray market bots” to automatically buy up stock as soon as items appear online and then resell them at higher prices.

“The scalpers with the bots get them before parents can,” Mr. Lucich told The Times, adding that Skyrocket’s Moji has been out of stock at most retailers “since the third week it hit shelves.”

Designed in California, Moji is assembled in Hong Kong and shipped back to U.S. retailers, a time-consuming process that perhaps is helping make it this year’s rarest hot toy.

“We sold every piece we were able to make and get shipped to the U.S., so it’s pretty much sold out everywhere,” said Mr. Lucich, who cofounded Skyrocket in 2010.

Meanwhile, the maker of the Magic Mixies Magical Misting Cauldron says that more inventory supplies are scheduled to arrive at U.S. retailers this week.

“Additional stock will flow through over the next one to two weeks,” Belinda Gruebner, chief marketing officer for the Australia-based Moose Toys, said in an email. “So if shoppers haven’t been able to find Magic Mixies yet, they should frequently check online and in-store at their favorite national retailer.”

The Magic Mixies Magical Cauldron was the third-best seller in the total toy industry for October, according to market research firm The NPD Group.

Ms. Appell of the Toy Association says parents shouldn’t stress too much about getting the hottest toy for their children, citing her experience with her 6-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter.

“The hottest toy is always whatever your kid is going to play with,” she said. “For me, it was Cabbage Patch dolls in the 1980s, but it varies by age and by kid.”





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