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Previous Christmases have had parents scrambling for Pokemon, Beanie Babies and Furby. This season, the hottest thing in toy marketing is the HitClip.

A postage-stamp-sized microchip of silicon, the HitClip contains 60-second excerpts from pop songs by the likes of 'N Sync (Bye, Bye, Bye), Britney Spears (Oops, I Did It Again), Destiny's Child (Survivor), Backstreet Boys (The Call), as well as Faith Hill, Smash Mouth and Aaron Carter.

Aimed at children five to 10 years old, each $5 clip can be inserted and played on a variety of miniature devices, including a boom box, an alarm clock (it plays as many as six tunelets at programmable times), a matchbook-sized Personal Player, a wristwatch, a telephone (for sharing HitClips with friends) and a karaoke machine (called the Groove Machine), complete with a retractable mini-microphone for sing-alongs.

All are manufactured by Chicago-based Tiger Electronics, a division of Hasbro Inc., and none sells for more than $20 (U.S.).

According to HitClip brand manager Jennifer Bova, about 12 million units have sold in the United States since the product made its debut in McDonald's restaurants 14 months ago.

Now it is being sold in major department and toy stores, and Ms. Bova said the sales "have totally exceeded our expectations. Kids collect them. It's a fun way to sample the music."

"It's definitely one of our most popular items," said Sylvie Lavoie, public-relations co-ordinator of Hasbro Canada in Montreal.

Tiger's toy inventor Dave Capper, who created the HitClip with partner Andy Filo, was looking for something that would excite people in the 5-10 age bracket.

"They're losing interest in Barbie dolls and other traditional toys," Mr. Capper said.

"But they do like music, and we thought we could combine that with the new chip technology."

Hasbro executives "got the concept immediately," he recalled.

The harder part was convincing music publishers and recording artists to cede licensing rights.

"Now they're coming to us," Mr. Capper said. "We did not foresee this level of interest."

So far, about 80 separate clips are available, representing work by more than 40 artists.

Next year, a new line of songs and accessories will appear, including a sleeker look for the boom box and Personal Player, and songs from the archives of classic rock 'n' roll, such as I'm a Believer, Shout and My Boyfriend's Back.

"We're careful not to choose songs that might contain innuendoes not suitable for children," said Patti Williams, Tiger's manager of public relations. "There's no rap or heavy metal."

New devices on which to play HitClips will include a ballpoint pen and a necklace (both with connectible earbuds) as well as the BeatBot 6000, a robot that dances to the different rhythms of each song.

But if they can tease and prime the under-10 market for pop music with the likes of Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, why not introduce them to Beethoven and Bach, Mozart and Mahler?

"We're working our way toward that," Mr. Capper said.

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