Strawberry Shortcake? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

Toys from the ’80s and ’90s are making big comebacks this Christmas.

But the must-have toys this year are Hokey Pokey Elmo and Bratz dolls, according to Margaret Atzeni and Alex Mackenzie, toy buyers for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, with headquarters in Dallas.

Atzeni said that the toys were ordered for the shelves in exchanges in Europe, but likely will sell out quickly. And while Hokey Pokey Elmo may be the biggest seller for the preschool age group, Atzeni said Bratz will lead the pack for older girls.

“Anything Bratz is very hot,” she said. The Bratz doll line was first launched by MGA Entertainment in June 2001.

Comebacks to the hot list include a few blasts from the past, such as Strawberry Shortcake, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, My Little Pony and Power Rangers, according to Atzeni and Mackenzie.

“I think the big seller for boys will be Ninja Turtles,” Mackenzie said. “They’ve made a really strong comeback.”

Also hot in exchanges this season are Beyblades, spinning tops that do battle with another. Based on a TV show, the craze has led to Beyblades national tournaments in the United States and Britain.

In smaller post exchanges, like the one in Bamberg, Germany, some of the hot toys haven’t been available.

But the post exchange on Warner Barracks still has hot sellers like the LeapFrog educational computerized toys, according to main store manager Thomas Kuttamperoor.

Big sellers in Bamberg include LeapFrog games, Harley Davidson motorcycle miniatures, family board games and AAFES’ own Soldier Bear line of toys.

Parents stymied by sold-out items, or by the hefty price tags some of the items carry, should be pleased with the Soldier Bear line of bargain-priced toys. The line offers 190 toys which range in price from 69 cents to $29.95.

“Soldier Bear is a very hot seller for us,” Atzeni said. “Of course, stores can’t carry all of the items. What they’ll carry really depends on the store size.”

Soldier Bear items include make-believe kitchens, doll houses, microscopes, building blocks, fire trucks, dolls and action figures.

“Families really like this brand,” said Kuttamperoor. “The toys are good quality, and the price can’t be beat.”

Toys on the Web

AAFES’ online shopping site, EX, also has a large selection of toys and its Centric Mall lists a wide variety of vendors, but Atzeni said the deadline to order for assurance that gifts would arrive by Christmas was Nov. 25.

Many of the hot toys are listed on manufacturer’s Web sites, most of which either sell the toys or have links to online stores that carry them. Web addresses are listed below.

• Bratz, MGA Entertainment,• Hokey Pokey Elmo, Fisher-Price,• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mirage Studios,• Beyblades, Hasbro,• My Little Pony, Hasbro,• LeapFrog educational toys, LeapFrog,• Strawberry Shortcake and Power Rangers, Bandai, (There appeared to be no link to purchase items at the site, however.)— Stars and Stripes

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