Furby — the strange-but-cute fluffy animal with giant eyes from the 90s — is back. In 2012, it joins giant punching gloves, gangly dolls and, of course, the latest gaming stations.
These were just some of the items to pop up at a retail forecasting event at the Glendale Galleria mega mall on Tuesday.
Interactive Furby dolls are expected to make a return this holiday season alongside merchandise from the new hit animated movie “Wreck-It Ralph,” which will likely be in the minds of many children as they fill out their Christmas wish lists.
The new Furby is updated from the version that was popular in the late 1990s. It has a wider range of motion, more expressive LCD eyes and its own iOS app. It also has the ability to adapt its personality by reacting to the behavior of the children — and adults — who play with it.
“Wreck-It Ralph,” a Walt Disney Co. movie about a video game villain who wants to be a hero, has several items associated with it at the Disney store, including two oversized, stuffed fists that kids can put over their own hands and punch walls and other objects like the film’s title character.
With each punch, a catchphrase from the movie can be heard coming from the wrists.
There are also plush and talking versions of a doll of the lead female character from “Wreck-It Ralph” — Vanellope Von Schweetz.
Another popular item this year is the Lalaloopsy doll, known for making her animal patients feel better when they’re under the weather.
“That little doll has helped with a lot of boo-boos in my home,” said Shoshana Puccia, senior marketing manager at the Galleria.
For games, Wendy Jaurigue, senior game advisor from Game Spot, demonstrated the newest versions of Wii and PlayStation 3.
After selling out early, she said she expected to get more inventory in next month.
On the tech side, Douglas Carlson with the Microsoft pop-up store demonstrated the new Surface tablet, which debuted Oct. 26.
The device lets users operate two applications at the same time and comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, Carlson said.
Retails sales are projected to be 3.8% higher compared to last holiday season, said Kimberly Ritter-Martinez, associate economist with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.
While the increase is modest, it still shows the economy is recovering, she said.
“The heart is still beating,” Ritter-Martinez said.
Shoppers will also be able to start their holiday spending shortly after they’ve eaten their Thanksgiving feast, with local stores pushing their opening times earlier and earlier.
Target plans to open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, while several other stores in the Galleria, including Macy’s and the Disney store, plan to open at midnight on Black Friday — or as Disney representatives call it, “Magical Friday.”
The entire mall will open at 5 a.m., Puccia said.
Galleria shoppers will see several major changes underway in the mall this year, including new tile flooring from Target to the JCPenney court. The escalator outside Macy’s now runs in the opposite direction, leading into the wing that will house a new Bloomingdale’s in late 2013.
The mall’s entrance off of Central Avenue, which has been undergoing an extensive overhaul, should be completed in three or four months, Puccia added.
-- Mark Kellam, Times Community News
Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam