* Tonka’s Ricochet R/C ($69.99, age 4 and older) combines the toughness of Tonka with the excitement of a high-performance stunt vehicle. This remote is more than one vehicle as it bounces, flips over and keeps on going. Monster life suspension lets the driver change it from a low rider that can fit under obstacles to a monster truck that can crush them beneath heavy-tread tires. The Tonka Ricochet comes with all necessary batteries and is charged to start playing as quickly as possible.
* Mega Bloks’ Dragon Universe Ultimate Dragon Destroyer Alliance Warbyrd ($49.99, ages 6 to 8) opens a new universe of imaginative and active play. The 215-piece buildable set creates two attack dragons with laser blaster cannons on their backs and the Alliance Warbyrd ship outfitted with blast cannons. Included are three figures, General Maximus Agustus, who pilots the ship, and troopers Aquila and Pontius, who man the multiple-firing missile launchers as the Alliance Warbyrd battles the deadly Bloodclaw and Deadeye dragons.
The Alliance Warbyrd is the largest attack vessel in the fleet and is fitted with multiple power cores. Adding flashing lights and electronic battle sounds, the Dragon Blaster slips onto the back of the ship, offering authentic battle sounds and dragon screeches. Features of the ship include light-up power cores, figures with orange energy shields and weapons and multiple special-effect lights and sounds.
* It’s Matchbox’s newest Big Rig Buddy, Stinky the Garbage Truck ($59.99, age 3 and older) an interactive, working garbage truck with personality. Like the other Big Rig Buddies, this truck is articulated, allowing the “head” and front half of the truck to move. Stinky has more than 90 phrases and sounds to keep your youngster laughing and playing along.
Play modes for Stinky have him singing, exercising or encouraging his playmates to “high-five tire” him. Push and pull Stinky, and he turns his head from side to side and blinks his headlight. Drop items into his grill/mouth when he is hungry, and just like a real garbage truck, he drops it out the rear door.
Included with Stinky is a two-episode DVD featuring Stinky, a young boy named Felix and their adventures, which include lessons in friendship, teamwork and finding the hero within you.
* Enter a universe of dragons and knightly bravery with Playmobil’s Dragon’s Land Set/Dragon’s Dungeon play set ($74.99, age 5 and older), the Great Dragon Castle ($154.99) and the Giant Dragon with LED Fire ($29.99). The 19-inch Dragon’s Dungeon stands by itself as an imaginative universe where knights fight fire-breathing dragons and kings reward bravery. Catapults at the top of the tower shoot missiles while the dragon light illuminates the structure’s interior.
A working drawbridge, three knight figures with sword and shield accessories and a mystical ruin for the dragon keeper mean this set only needs your child’s imagination.
* This year’s surprise hot building toy is Jakks Pacific’s Real Construction Deluxe Workshop ($22.95, $44.99 for the Super Deluxe Workshop Mega Set, age 6 and older). Little hands can safely create what they imagine using special “kid wood,” a foamlike material that has been created to look, saw and nail just like real wood. The construction kit comes with a variety of kid-wood shapes and sizes as well as kid-safe tools, including a hammer, handsaw and detail saw, along with hinges, screws and nails, to create anything they can imagine. Additional wood is available in expansion packs available separately ($4.99 to $12.99).
* Totally cool for spying around the corner or on the other side of the house is Wild Planet’s Spy Gear Spy Video TRAKR programmable R/C vehicle ($129.99, age 8 and older). A remote-controlled vehicle, the TRAKR has color video capabilities that enable you to move the vehicle — on its whisper-quiet stealth wheels — around the corner not only to see, but also hear and record exactly what is going on in the other room.
The TRAKR connects to your computer through a USB port, enabling you to manipulate videos with downloadable and custom applications, such as night and cyborg vision, or the path mapper, which enables you to create an online mission layout map for your TRAKR to follow. Spies also can join the spytrakr.com community to share tales of their latest missions.
Tops for girls
*Spin Masters’ LivWorld’s Katie ($13 to $35, depending on doll and accessories, age 4 and older) is a fashion doll for the active girl who likes to be outdoors swimming, skateboarding and biking. Katie is one of five BFFs from LivWorld, and she and her friends Sophie, Hayden, Alexis and Daniela love to play, dance and talk fashion.
Katie comes with a fashion outfit, action skateboard with knee and elbow pads, hairbrush and earrings. Additional interchangeable fashion outfits are available separately. Katie also can come packaged with her adorable collie, SK8, so when filling a wish list, make sure you know which Katie, Sophie, Hayden, Alexis or Daniela you need to find.
* Let your little ones’ imaginations fly away with Jakks Pacific’s Disney Fairies Tinker Bell Tink’s Transforming Balloon Playset ($24.99, age 4 and older) which features the flying craft that Terence and Tink fly away in to find the lost treasure. Once treasure-hunting is finished, the balloon transforms from a vehicle into a tea-party setting with two seats and cups, a telescope, a pixie-dust pouch, and a spool of rope as seen in the movie “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure.” Four-inch-tall Terence has glittering wings. Close the tea-party setting back into a balloon, and it doubles as a storage vessel for the accessories. Additional fairy dolls are sold separately.