Fun and affordable holiday toy gifts

Holiday 2008 top toys tip sheet
From "The Toy Guy"

Small spheres that pop open into powerful Bakugan warrior action figures when rolled onto this game's Gate Cards. Kids have to use strategy to pick the best warriors and Gate Cards to win. Players can pick their favorite characters and trade them, too.

>> SPIN MASTER, $2.99-$29.99, 6+

This is one of most innovative toys we've seen in years--and an extraordinary use of technology that takes the rich virtual world and continues the play in rich and engaging ways for kids offline. Become immersed in the world of Disney Fairies with Clickables. Visit to create a fairy and play online using the Clickables. This starter set includes a jewelry box, charm necklace, and three exclusive Disney Fairies charms powered with Clickables technology. Touch the charm to the center of the jewelry box and it comes alive with lights and music. Each charm then unlocks a unique virtual fairy gift, which will be revealed in the Disney Fairies Pixie Hollow virtual world via a USB connection. Best of all, kids can share their worlds with their friends by simply touching their Clickables together. Everything has been designed to insure a safe, secure online experience for girls.
>> TECHNO SOURCE, $29.99, 7+

Celebrate 10 years of giving everyone a chance to shine with this twist on the original version of Cranium. This family edition offers 16 collaborative, hysterical activities for players of younger ages. Team up to figure out the planets closest to the sun. Use a teammate's hand to draw jellyfish. Stand on one foot while balancing something with the other. This game is designed for four or more Craniacs.
>> HASBRO GAMES, $19.99, 8+

A dark room can be a blank canvas and an inspiration to create with this innovative new drawing set. Turn off the light and hang the poster-sized canvas on the wall or lay it on a flat surface. Gently pass the light wand over the included stencils on the canvas to create a picture or simply choose to draw freehand. The images last less than a minute, which allows kids to draw and draw again. The set includes the canvas, light wand with removable crystal-tip attachment, two stencil sheets, 13 stencil "light resistant" sheets that allow you to black out areas of the drawing surface, two light texture sheets, one blank acetate sheet, one dry erase marker. It requires three AAA batteries, which are not included.
>> CRAYOLA, $29.99, 6+

Here he is, the number one must-have toy of 2008. Never before have technology, character and play come together so effectively and entertainingly. You'll swear he's alive! Elmo Live will have you doing double takes, he's so lifelike and realistic. (Well, realistic as a furry red critter can be.) His mouth is perfectly synchronized with his speech as he tells side-splitting jokes, recounts stories, sings songs, and plays games. His mannerisms are spot-on-his head even bobbles as he speaks. He also waves his arms, sits and crosses his legs, and stands.
>> FISHER-PRICE, $59.99, 18 months+

From the schoolroom to adult parties, cupcakes are the "it" snack of the year. Now girls can make their own homemade cupcakes in 30 seconds. Girl Gourmet is the beginning of a new line of cooking toys that lets kids be creative, trendy and make outstanding, great-tasting cupcakes easily, with little mess and no baking. Just add water to one of the four batter flavors (including red velvet, cinnamon sugar, chocolate, and yellow vanilla), stir, and pour into a cupcake cup. Then place into the cupcake maker and microwave for 30 seconds. The unit is designed so it can't open till the cupcakes are cool enough to handle. But that's when the real fun starts. There's a frosting press that allows you to make the perfect swirled icing and all kinds of amazing decorations. You'll be amazed at how easy it is to make these cupcakes--and astonished at how great they taste.
>> JAKKS PACIFIC, $29.99, 7+

Anyone can be a fashion diva and get an amazing digital makeover using their picture and the included software. Plug the unit into the computer via the USB port. The unit has a digital camera and a touchpad, girls can use effects for hair, make-up, clothing, and accessories, to create their ultimate look. When done, girls can share with friends by printing or emailing the image. This is the next generation of Radica's extremely popular Digi Makeover that plugs into the TV.
>> MATTEL, $59.99, 8+

Preschoolers to the rescue! Slip on the realistic-looking helmet, which features lights and sounds and use the attached microphone for the ultimate in realism. Playskool's Helmet Heroes Policeman set comes with a handheld motorcycle "driving" device to simulate going on patrol. The Helmet Heroes Racecar Driver set features a "steering wheel" to win the big race. Three AAA batteries are included in the helmet. Two AA batteries are needed for the steering device. Each set is sold separately.
>> HASBRO, $29.99, 3+

Virtual pets, friends, etc. are a relatively new but widely popular category in the toy business. Sophisticated electronics allow them to have personalities, distinctive play features and even interact with kids and one another. Huru Humi is being marketed as a "virtual best friend." The toys have a small screen with a face that has a wide range of expressions. They have voice recognition so they can interact with kids, and they can interact with one another when placed closely. Like today's tweens, these digital companions posses distinct identities, voices, interests, styles, and facial expressions. One of the key elements of this kind of play is the social interaction between girls that these can inspire, adding a dimension of play to the collectibility.
>> SENARIO, $29.99, 10+

This contemporary twist on the classic games of Pictionary and Charades is perfect for family fun time. Pictionary Man is a 3-D figure that displays game clues digitally on the bottom of his foot. Players are challenged to bring the clues to life by drawing on the dry-erase Man and his accessories as well as acting out the phrases. It's a fast-paced adaptation of the classic Pictionary game play.
>> MATTEL, $29.99, 14+

Spike the Ultra Dinosaur brings prehistoric adventures right into the living room! This life-like, remote controlled Dinosaur is the "ultimate" must-have dinosaur for kids. It comes to life as it walks forward, turns left or right, opens its mouth, blinks its eyes, stands up on its hind legs and even throws a boulder.
>> FISHER-PRICE, $129.99, 3-8 years old

Innovative technology powers an engaging, entertaining and intuitive learn-to-read experience for kids. The Tag reader is a handheld unit with an infrared camera that "reads" books on special dot-patterned paper. Parents can load up to 5 books into the reader, and store more through the web. Kids move easily through books just by touching the reader to the page. Games, stories and much more make learning to read fun and bring it to life in a whole new way. Works with PC and Mac. More than 20 titles are currently available with additional favorites added all the time.
>> LEAP FROG, $49.99, 4-8 years old

About Chris Byrne, "The Toy Guy":

As director of content for Time To Play, Chris brings 29 years of industry experience in the toy industry to his role. During his career, he has held a variety of positions with toy companies covering marketing, media, operations, product development and creative. In 1988, he formed New York-based Byrne Communications and is a researcher, analyst, and consultant who has worked with a variety of Fortune 100 companies tracking kid trends, product development, and strategic marketing campaigns. He is regularly sourced by the investment community for insights into all aspects of the toy industry. Chris is widely published on the topic of toys and family life and in addition to his work with Time to Play he is editor-at-large for the trade publications Toys & Family Entertainment and Royalties.

Chris is widely quoted in the media and appears regularly on local and national television commenting on toys and demonstrating new products. His media appearances reached more than 120 million consumers in 2007 in just a three-month period (October through December). He has appeared on "Live! With Regis and Kelly" (2008 Relly Award winner), "Oprah," "LIVE," "Soap Talk," "The Today Show," "Good Morning America," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," "ABC Nightly News," "Fox & Friends," "CBS This Morning," "Good Day New York," CNBC, CNNfn, MSNBC, ABC, "The Motley Fool," National Public Radio, Bloomberg Television and Radio, and on countless other national and local market business and consumer programs around the country and internationally.

In addition to his work in the toy industry, Chris is involved in several non-profit organizations benefiting children and literacy and sits on the board of America Scores: New York, the nation's largest after school program that combines soccer and poetry in a unique mix that fosters literacy, fitness, teamwork and personal growth.

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