Wal-Mart Takes The Toy Gloves Off

Even before most kids have settled on a Halloween costume, Wal-Mart has fired the first shot in the Christmas toy wars, cutting prices on more than 100 holiday toys.

And the cuts will be tough for consumers to ignore.

Wal-Mart, which also matches the advertised toy prices of competitors, lowered the price on Hot Wheels Radar Gun from Mattel down to $20 from $30; Amazing Amanda dolls are $69, down from $99; the Barbie Ride On is $199, from $229; Dora the Explorer Talking Kitchen is $65, from $90; and the Cadillac Escalade Ride On now costs $249, from $280.

Of course, the cheapest toys aren't always the hottest toys, and none of the toys mentioned in Wal-Mart's release are from the Toys R Us hot toy list, released late last month. That "Fabulous 15" list includes such items as Blue Man Group Percussion Tubes, ESPN Fast Action Football, Kid-Tough Digital Camera and T.M.X. Elmo from Fisher-Price, and Wii from Nintendo.

Calls to Toys R Us and KB Toys were not immediately returned. But marketers who are worried about whether price cuts too early might sour fourth-quarter results can head to Kohl's. That retailer, in an exclusive with Mattel, is selling boy's (in black and white) and girl's (in pink and white) Magic 8 Ball branded shoes. Each comes with a digital wristband, which can answer any and all questions--as long as "Ask again later" is an acceptable response.



While Wal-Mart's first cuts may not have been the deepest, they won't be the last either. "Throughout the Christmas shopping season we will offer the best prices and merchandise that provides solutions for time-starved customers," the company said in making the announcement. "There's more to come."

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