From Mr. Potato Head to the Powerpuff Girls, the 2002 American International Toy Fair was chockful of pop-culture playthings. Here, a few things to keep an eye on:
FOR THE FASHIONISTAS Ever the hipster, Hello Kitty takes devotees to the City of Light with her tres mignon springtime-in-Paris line ($.50 to $22). And for stylish toddlers, French schoolgirl Madeline has a clothing collection that would make Catherine Deneuve proud ($7.99 to $29.99).
STAR-STUDDED TOYS The Simpsons has long been a showcase for celebs, so it’s fitting that Playmates Toys’ World of Springfield sets have characters voiced by such real-life stars as Phil Hartman and Danny DeVito, who spews phrases like ”I’m tired of excuses!” ($6.99). Also on the horizon is the new crop of movie tie-ins, with Hasbro’s interactive R2-D2 ($99.99) and Toy Biz’s Spider-Man Web Blaster (a water- and foam-shooting glove) topping the list ($16.99).
RETRO ACTION Tapping into the retro craze, toy makers are reviving ’80s must-haves, like the saccharin-sweet Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears. Expect to find them on everything from stickers to sleepwear ($1.99 to $29.99). Mattel is resurrecting ”I have the power!” He-Man and his Masters of the Universe posse ($7.99 to $49.99). Classic board games also get spruced up: Look for Scooby-Doo Clue and Spider-Man Monopoly (both $34.95, by USAopoly). And, harkening back to the days of Trivial Pursuit, the new Pop Smarts tests just how much time you’ve wasted — uh, spent — in front of the boob tube ($24.99).