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Season’s hottest toys selling out fast this year

Nadia Rosky has been looking for a Candy Craft Chocolate Pen since November.

Her 11-year-old daughter, Isabella, has a holiday hankering for the elusive plastic pen, which lets users draw designs on wax paper with melted chocolate.

“There are only a few things she wants and that darn pen is one of them,” Rosky said.

She has made repeated trips to Target, Walmart, Kmart and Toys “R” Us. She has scoured the Internet. Everwhere she goes, she sees the chocolate refills that go inside the pen, but not the pen itself.

But she’s not about to give up.

“I will still be searching all of Buffalo until Christmas,” Rosky said.

Retailers are facing more out-of-stocks this year than usual – and it is making things very difficult for shoppers trying to wrap up their Christmas lists.

Out-of-stock rates are up by more than 15 percent this year, according to retail data from Adobe software. That means consumers are coming up short on more than one in 10 products they try to purchase. It’s especially difficult in the toy category.

Part of the problem is that toy sales have rebounded this season after a decade-long slump. Sales are expected to increase by as much as 7.3 percent this year, according to market research firm NPD Group – far exceeding retailers’ expectations. That’s great news for retailers, but it also means retailers weren’t prepared with enough supply to meet demand.

Another factor is that retailers are still learning how to adjust their business models to keep up with the shift toward online sales. They’re also still perfecting the popular ship-to-store option, tweaking inventory levels and distribution.

Some of the toys retailers are having a hard time keeping on shelves include:

• Barbie Rock’N Royals Super Star Limo by Mattel, $64.99. A pink-and-silver car that folds out to fit six Barbie dolls.

• Lucky Ducks by Milton Bradley, $19.99. A memory and matching game that features 12 plastic ducks instead of cards.

• Crayola Super Art Coloring Kit, $26.99. A tub filled with more than 100 crayons, markers and art supplies.

• PAW Patrol character figures and vehicles by Spin Master, $14.99. Puppy characters from the Nickelodeon animated series “PAW Patrol.”

• Chocolate Pen by Candy Craft, $29.99. A giant, motorized pen that dispenses melted chocolate.

• Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBo by Fisher-Price, $39.99. An interactive infant and toddler toy that lights up and plays music.

• Pie Face by Hasbro Gaming, $24.99. A game that ends with someone getting whacked in the face with a blob of whipped cream.