- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The holidays are a time filled with warmth, good cheer and blah, blah, blah. Let’s get down to the serious portion of the show - gifts for those good little girls and boys. No, not socks, not that annoying light-up sweater vest or sacks of roasted chestnuts. Let’s talk toys.

* Fisher-Price’s Imaginext Spike, the Ultra Dinosaur (ages 3 to 7 years, $129.88) is a 27-inch-tall remote-controlled brontosaurus with bright green textured skin and yellow underbelly. This little guy can walk forward, turn left or right, blink his eyes and open his mouth to show his gnarly teeth and let out a roar. He even can stand on his hind legs; his neck rotates, and the spikes on his back light up. The remote features oversized buttons with pictures to keep down frustration levels. Spike works with a rechargeable battery system, which can take four hours to charge fully.

* The VTech Kidizoom Camera(ages 3 and older, $59.99) enables young photographers to take pictures and video that can be edited, enhanced with clip art and silly frames and then downloaded to the computer or television for easy viewing and printing. An added bonus to the Kidizoom camera is three onboard video games and changeable faceplates to change the camera’s look. The camera features a 1.8-inch color LCD preview screen.

* The whole family will have fun shaking hips and clapping hands as toddlers shimmy to the Playskool Dance Cam (ages 3 to 6, $49.99). Easy to plug into the TV, the very sturdy camera console sits on the floor or a table, projecting your child’s image onto the screen. Children interact with fun on-screen cartoon characters as they learn a new dance (four dances total) or dance freestyle to their own inner beat with 20 popular and playful preschool tunes. The only drawback is that the product works best on 27-inch or smaller screens, and images may be distorted on larger flat-screen televisions.

* Silver Dolphin Books entertains and educates with old-fashioned interactivity with the Model Master Dragons Book (ages 8 and older, $19.95). The kit features a 32-page softcover illustrated book tucked inside a 2-inch-thick hardcover that houses four buildable dragon models, miniature pots of paint, glaze and a paintbrush. Learn dragon lore and create some cool objects for the bedroom shelf.

* Parker Bros.’Trivial Pursuit Digital Choice (for teen and older, $39.99) puts the power of play in users’ hands. Instead of cards, this Trivial Pursuit has a digital unit preloaded with 600 questions. Want more? Visit the mytpchoice.com Web site and download up to 1,800 more, choosing from a variety of categories. Each Trivial Pursuit Digital Choice game comes with everything needed to play, including tokens, wedges, game board, die and instructions.

* How fast can you respond when Wild Planet’s Hyper Jump(ages 6 and older, $19.99) calls out a command? With four brightly colored targets attached to the command center, up to eight children put their speed and agility to the test. With multiple difficulty levels and three game versions, players must precisely follow Hyper Jump’s commands to win.

* The Fuzion NX Performance Scooter(ages 8 and older, $89) takes boarding to a new level. This ruggedly designed scooter boasts pivot-steering technology. Watching the videos of advanced boarders, you can see the extreme handling and durability of the Fuzion NX as they take to the air, spinning the board and the front fork column, adding flair to their amazing tricks. The Fuzion NX has 360-degree front hanger rotation, a strong aircraft-grade aluminum frame, forged-aluminum front fork and cast-polyurethane wheels with precision bearings.

* Find fun for the whole family in Out of the Box Games’ Backseat Drawing (ages 12 and older, two to four players, $24.99). In this sketch game, teams race against each other as one team member describes an object - without naming it - while the other team member draws.

* Encourage your young animator with Delta Children’s Products’ Cars Art Desk & Accessories (ages 3 and older, $69.99). This art table comes with 100 art supplies - crayons, markers, watercolor paints and stamps - all featuring images from the hit Disney Pixar film. The desk is Lightning McQueen red, and the seat and table feature pictures of McQueen and Mater, while the speedy little Porsche Sally and McQueen are featured on the attached bench. The table has an adjustable tilt feature and storage wells for supplies. Paper can be stored in the side leg basket.

* Thinkway Toys’ U-Command Wall-E (ages 6 and older, $74.99) brings the loveable, expressive robot from his eponymous hit Disney- Pixar film into your home. This bot works with an infrared controller, bringing Wall-E to life with more than 1,000 actions. He rolls, dances and has voice, sound and light effects. Giving him the same expressiveness we moviegoers fell in love with, the eyes have realistic motions and light effects.

* Mighty Muggs (ages 6 and older, $12.99) by Hasbro give your favorite Marvel, Indiana Jones and Star Wars figure a whole new mighty cute design. At 6 1/2 inches tall, they have a their own colorful style. You know who you are looking at, whether it be Anakin Skywalker or the Hulk. Their heads are oversized, but don’t bobble. And they are sort of ovoid - not really round, but they have no square edges. Hard to describe, but these little guys, made of vinyl, have a unique, chunky style that makes them infinitely cute and collectible.

* The Playmobil Dolphin Basin(ages 4 and older, $49.99) adds onto the Playmobil Zoo universe with one of the more memorable moments at an animal water park. Fill the basin with water as Playmobil-sized people watch the dolphin trainers put these wonderful mammals through their paces. The set comes with a working crane for lofting the dolphin’s touch ball high over the water, gulls, food fish, three people and one wet-suited trainer.

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