NEW YORK (
TheStreet) -- Toy sales are expected to strengthen in 2011 as toymakers bet on new plush toys, digital updates to old classics and the return of an iconic relationship.
Toymaker Mattel (MAT - Get Report) is banking on the ever-successful Barbie line of dolls and accessories, especially now that Ken is officially back in her life. Digital video recorders were added to Hot Wheels to rev up that line of cars. The release of the Cars 2 movie, complete with twice the number of characters and an international spy theme should also help boost sales.
For Hasbro (HAS - Get Report), the latest movie in the Transformers series is likely to be a boon. Older toy lines like Strawberry Shortcake were reinvigorated by the success of their affiliated television shows on the new kid network, The Hub, and toys, dolls and accessories are expected to benefit from renewed consumer awareness. Many of the hottest toys of the year won't appear on the market till the fall, just in time for the holiday shopping season.