- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The holidays are back - funny how that happens every year. For gift givers perplexed by the wide range of colorful items beckoning from store shelves and Web sites, here’s a sampling of possibilities that could put smiles on the faces of the youngsters on your gift list.

*Interactive technology brings Learning Curve’s smiling Caring Corners Daisy Greenway Interactive Camper, with flashing lights and sides that open into a play set,(ages 3 and older, $34.99) to life. Songs and statements feature environmental messages and cues to explore the outdoors.

Featuring more than 100 songs, words and sounds, Daisy Greenway is a mobile dollhouse that includes bunk beds, a kitchen, bathroom and a slide that can be connected to the bunk ends or cabin’s platform floor.

Surprises hidden inside include a doggie bed and feeding station and fold-down flat-screen TV. Expand the Daisy Greenway environment with doll packs (sold separately) offering dolls, pets and play items, such as a tree swing or bicycle.

*The 10-wheeled Star Wars Clone Turbo Tank Vehicle (ages 4 and older, $79.99) is covered with thick armor and plenty of weapons to defeat the Sith army of droids. A heavy-duty assault vehicle, the Turbo Tank will crush anything in its way while Clone Troopers take aim from rotating laser turrets and missile ports.

This mobile fortress holds up to 20 figures (sold separately) and features a weapon-storage rack and a removable rear bunker. This could be the coolest Star Wars vehicle ever.

*The Fisher-Price Imaginext Dragon World Fortress(ages 3 to 8, $44.99) is the ultimate in cool for fans of all things medieval. The nearly 2-foot-tall castle features plenty of interactive spots with lots of lights and sounds.

Wrapped around the castle is the dragon, which roars before it turns its head, bending down to snap up a knight who is trying to storm the castle gate. The castle comes with three figures that activate lights, movement and sound when they are placed on turntables throughout the castle.

*Encouraging active play through imaginative storytelling and character play, Sprig Toys’ eco-friendly Dino Adventure Rig(ages 3 and older, $29.99) with a truck, two smiling T-rex figures and a Rex Jungle action figure with a hat and backpack accessory will quickly become one of your tot’s favorite toys. The rig is made of Sprigwood, a composite of recycled plastic and reclaimed sawdust that’s lightweight and smooth to the touch. Surfaces are washable, paint-free and rounded, making them child-friendly.

The innovative cardboard packaging is 100 percent recyclable and features plenty of cutouts, such as a compass and campground space, to enhance playtime. Other adventure sets include the Dolphin Explorer Boat ($30), Glider Patrol ($9) and Scuba Search ($9), which comes with Willie Ocean outfitted in dive gear.

Also from Sprig is Princess Penny’s Story Building Palace(ages 3 and older, $29.99), a play set that combines the fun of paper dolls with the sturdiness of Sprig. Sprigwood connectors work with 62 sturdy paperboard cutouts to create walls, turrets and balconies.

A Sprigwood Princess Penny with a removable hat joins cardboard characters, a carriage and a full complement of knights.

*Brickbeard’s Bounty Pirate Ship from Lego (age 6 and older, $99.99) is a 592-piece set for swashbuckling adventures on the open seas. Fierce pirates armed with powerful cannons set sail toward adventure with the admiral’s kidnapped princess, while royal soldiers follow close behind.

Adding to the buildable high-seas action are firing cannons and minifigures of a mermaid, monkey, shark, two soldiers, four pirates and the admiral’s daughter.

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