- The Washington Times - Monday, December 23, 2002

All over the region, the answer is the same: "No, sorry, we're all out."
This simple phrase, uttered by managers and employees of area toy stores, could spell disappointment for many children hoping to get what they consider the most wicked, cool toy of the holiday season: the Spider-Man Dual Action Web Blaster.
Not even Santa Claus may be able to locate the toy, which retails for $15.99 and allows kids (or adults with childlike fantasies) to shoot water or sticky "web fluid" from their wrists, just like the popular Marvel Comics superhero.
The toy has emerged as one of most coveted of the holiday season, riding the wave of popularity attached to this summer's "Spider-Man" movie and the recently released DVD. The Web Blaster, along with Spider-Man action figures, was among KB Toys list of "hot holidays toys."
At KB Toys in Pentagon City, piles of random action figures were strewn about an otherwise empty shelf where a stack of Web Blasters once rested. A few of the toys were in stock as recently as Thursday, KB employees said. A shipment of toys is due at the store today, but whether it includes any Web Blasters is anyone's guess.
Parents looking to save gas and time by calling area stores could find themselves out of luck, at the rate the Web Blasters are selling.
Consider: There were 88 of them Saturday at the Toys R Us in Lanham; there were none yesterday.
"We get a million calls a day about those," said a toy-department manager at the Wal-Mart on Fairlakes Road in Fairfax.
For the desperate Christmas shopper with deep pockets, Ebay could be the answer. Hundreds of the Web Blasters are being sold on the online auction site, and are available immediately starting at $40. Some sellers, including one dubbed "spiderman4christmas," guaranteed delivery by Dec. 25 if orders were placed before midnight last night.
It remains to be seen whether the clamor for the Web Blaster or any other toy will help the retail industry end the holiday season on a high note. Store owners are said to be looking at these last few days before Christmas with desperate hope.
"We are happy that we are holding ground, but we were really hoping for a higher increase" during the weekend, said KB Toys spokesman John Reilly.
Last week, several retailers, including Electronics Boutique, Best Buy Co. Inc. and Barnes & Noble Inc., reduced earnings forecasts.
Overall sales could be tempered by the deep discounts many retailers were offering. Because of the late Thanksgiving that shortened the holiday shopping season by about a week, many retailers have been slashing prices to move products, the National Retail Federation said.
"You're seeing a heavy promotional holiday season," group spokesman Scott Krugman said.

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