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The LA Times looks at the battle for the top boy toy among all the licensed items this summer. :

Toy industry analysts expect this year to be strong in action figure sales because of the number of summer movies featuring swashbuckling heroes or crime fighting characters including “Spider-Man 3,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” and “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.” The biggest seller of the season, however, could be Transformers, the popular toy series that will be brought to life by Michael Bay’s upcoming action film. “Transformers,” which features the heroic robot Optimus Prime and the villainous Megatron, will be released July 3 by Paramount Pictures. The toys have been out since early June.

Sheliah Gilliland of the Internet toy retailer EToys.com is betting on Transformers.

“Transformers will be the biggest seller—it’s a movie based on a line of toys that has been popular since the ’80s,” she said. “They have always been strong sellers but, because of the movie, they are coming back in a huge way.”

Although last year’s box office attendance was up by about 5%, action figure sales fell by 9% in 2006, generating close to $1.25 billion of the $22.6 billion in overall toy revenue, according to NPD Group, a consumer and retail information company. Action figure sales fell partly because of a robust 2005, which benefited from the release of “Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith” and its related toys.

Die-cast die-hards will be amused by the following typo, however:

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Transformers are considered the ultimate boy toys that could also be a hit with dads who played with them when they were young. Hasbro has come out with an updated line, including the Optimist Prime 18-wheel truck that transforms into a blaster with one pull of a handle.