His eyes move and his nose twitches. And he does a perfect lip-sync to the bedtime story tapes stuffed in his back.

He's Teddy Ruxpin, the talking bear who's perhaps the hottest new toy this year, knocking the Cabbage Patch kids from the top of Christmas lists, toy experts say.

But the price you pay for him at some stores can be as much as 51 percent more than at others because of divergent prices among merchants in the Washington area. In some instances, the price spread on a toy can be as much as 100 percent. It all depends on where you shop.

Those facts are among findings of a survey of toy prices conducted last month and released this week by the Consumer Committee of Americans for Democratic Action.

In its 14th annual toy price survey, the group also found that in the District toy prices continue to be higher than in the suburbs, where stores generally have a better selection of products.

New catalogue showrooms, discount stores and membership warehouses in particular offer some of the area's lowest toy prices, the group found, while specialty stores generally have higher prices.

"The prices can vary greatly," said Pat Roth, who headed the survey. "It pays to shop around."

For example, the group found that Teddy Ruxpin can be had at F.A.O. Schwarz for $89.95 or for $30 less at Consumers Catalogue Showroom at $59.72.

Wuzzles, another popular animal toy, sold for $29 at Woodward & Lothrop but was $14.99 at Bradlees.

Douglas Thomson, president of the industry group Toy Manufacturers of America, says toy prices vary because of services available, the sales volume of individual stores, and "the same reason prices vary for every other thing. It's very competitive."

In conducting the survey, the ADA looked at highly advertised toys that industry experts predicted as big sellers in the Washington area. A total of 4,352 items were surveyed during a one-week period ending Nov. 15. Irene Rosenbloom and Roth headed the pricing group.

The lowest toy prices in the area were found at catalogue showrooms, such as the new Consumers Catalogue Showroom in Prince George's County.

Toy Wizard, in Montgomery County, had the lowest prices of the discount stores surveyed. But its prices were up to 8 percent higher than the catalogue showrooms'.

The survey also found that some stores had different prices at different locations.

In a market basket test, the same items sold for a total of $15.40 more at the Kay-Bee store in Lakeforest Mall than a Kay-Bee store in Fair Oaks Mall.

The same nine items cost $17 more when purchased from G.C. Murphy at 12th and G Streets NW than if bought at the Murphy's on Wisconsin Avenue.

Downtown stores that carry toys were not well stocked when the survey was conducted. For example, the new G Street Hecht's had only one of the 32 toys surveyed, a sign of its plans to carry only plush toys and collectible dolls in the future, the ADA said.

The story-telling Teddy Ruxpin, based on the Walt Disney concept of "animagic," was not available at any of the District stores surveyed.

This week, however, merchants throughout the area were reporting shortages of such toys as Ruxpin and Pound Puppies.

"It might be wise if you're looking for a particular toy to call the store first," suggested Roth.

The ADA announced earlier this week that Coleco's Koosa Bear, part of the Cabbage Patch Doll collection, poses a safety risk because of a removable collar that can fit tightly around a child's neck.

It also singled out portable, hook-on infant seats, some baby gates and infant walkers as hazardous.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it is studying the problems and will issue voluntary safety standards if necessary.