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Gift Guide ’09: Kids


Zhu Zhu Pets


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Available At: Toys R Us

Small furry creatures of any kind are hard to resist. Ones that don’t make a mess or require feeding are darn near impossible. That could be the secret behind the sudden success of Zhu Zhu Pets, the adorable animatronic hamsters that squeal, sleep and ride their own tiny hamster cars. These pint-sized companions have become the mission impossible holiday toys, as parents fiercely compete to attain superhero status in their kids’ eyes by snagging one, much like the Tickle Me Elmos and Cabbage Patch Kids of holidays past. The shelves of most retailers housing these robo-pets went bare weeks ago, and the toys, which are typically sold for about $8, are making their way onto auction sites such as Amazon.com and eBay, asking upwards of $70 apiece. With names like Mr. Squiggles, Num Nums and Chunk, not only do they tip the painfully cute scale, but they free you from the dreaded phrase parents fear most: “Mommy, why isn’t Fluffy waking up?”

Scene It? Twilight

Available At: Amazon.com

Between the books, movies, board games, themed parties, clothing, fan clubs and more, it’s nearly impossible to go anywhere these days and not see something about the Twilight saga. Robert Pattinson’s eyes, Kristen Stewart’s gaze, Taylor Lautner abs—maybe it’s not so bad that it can’t be avoided. If you’ve got a Nintendo Wii, you can bring the Twilight universe to your console, too. Scene It? Twilight merges the vampire and werewolf story with the famous trivia game. It has more than 500 trivia questions to test your knowledge of the series and its characters. The Wii remote controls the gameplay and is used for some types of questions, like Alice’s Vision, where players have to guess what scene is being drawn.

Step2 Action Train Table

Available At: Wal-Mart

It’s no secret that trains are one of the best childrens toys. Whether they be wooden, plastic or even life-size and functioning. The Step2 Action Train Table comes with all the necessary components to bring your child’s imagination to life! They include a train engine, two cars, railroad signs and plenty of accessories to decorate the railroad environment. There are moving parts that let kids change tracks, a working stoplight and fits with other train sets.

Chrissa Doll & Paperback Book

Available At: American Girl

Every year, American Girl crowns a Girl of the Year.  The doll runs in a limited edition and gets its own storybook and accessory line. The Girl of the Year for 2009 is Chrissa Maxwell. She comes with a flower-print dress with matching bracelet and purple shoes. Her accompanying storybook talks about peer bullying, something girls hopefully won’t encounter in their childhood but is presented here to educate them.

Create Your Own Pop-Up Books

Available at: Fun Stuff Toys, 3639 Merrick Rd., Seaford.

What’s better than reading a book? Creating one. But this kit doesn’t just let kids create their own books, it lets them create stories that pop right off the pages. The kit features two hardcover blank pop-up books, eight colored markers, fun stickers and illustrated instructions with step-by-step pop-up ideas. No batteries required, just imaginations.

Radio Flyer Ultimate Comforter Wagon

Available At: Online Retailers

The classic little red wagon is getting an update. Parents spoke, and Radio Flyer listened. This heavy-duty wagon has enough space to hold not one, but two passengers and even has spare room for storing snacks and toys. The Flyer also comes with a canopy that can be clipped on and shield your little one from powerful rays or little showers. Non-tip turning axles and expandable rear storage compartments make the ride both safe and practical. Extra large, quiet-ride tires make for a comfortable journey.

Liv Dolls

Available At: LivWorld.com

With Barbie and Bratz Dolls securing Mattel’s iron-clad grip on the doll industry for the better half of a century, it’s refreshing to see another girl alternative—the Liv Doll. Not just playthings, these dolls (four in total, all best friends who go to the same high school) come complete with their own interactive world, where girls can read their doll’s blog, follow detailed backstories and change up their looks. Membership to the LivWorld website comes free for a year with the purchase of each doll. Think of the line as a hipper, modern alternative to the American Girl franchise, a perennial favorite among the female elementary school crowd. Also similar to the American Girls, you can personalize your doll by choosing from of funky clothes and accessories, and even switch your doll’s wig. At under $20, these four friends cost a fraction of what parents shell out for most dolls.

Barbie Party Cruise Ship

Available At: Wal-Mart

Barbie has her dream house, but now she’s getting wanderlust. She wants to hit the high seas and she’s doing it the only way she knows how—in impeccable style. Girls of all ages can play captain on this fun ship, which is loaded with features like a moveable buffet with built-in aquarium and a waterslide which slides over to transform into a dance floor, complete with a disco ball, music and party lights. When she’s partied out, Barbie has her own luxurious suite where she can kick back and relax. Sounds include two disco songs with lights activation, a cruise ship horn and water and dolphin noises. The cruise ship is so huge, Ken might even be able to tag along. Maybe. When play time is over, the ship folds up for easy on-the-go transport and storage.

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