Saturday, October 19, 2013

Wish List

My wife and I, we're a little out of the toy market. With our kids in the their twenties, it's been a while since we spent any serious time perusing the latest in games or crafts or things that need "C" or "D" batteries. And since we had boys, we mercifully never got into doll territory: dolls that is, as in babies and Barbies, as opposed to action figures. I'm pretty sure if you root around in our attic, we have at least one complete set of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael, known even to non-parents as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Still, there are no current occupants of our house that clock in under five decades. And so it's hardly surprising that we missed the rollout of the "must have" lists of playthings published by the big retailers for the holiday season. Yes, it seems we just passed "back to school," haven't yet made it to Halloween and Thanksgiving is still a distance mirage. But after Labor Day, all that matters is that the Christmas shopping season is upon us, and so Walmart, Kmart and Toy R Us have already published their "this is what your kids will whine about until you are ready to go out and kill other parents who stand in your way of buying them" manifests for this year.

Described more benignly as "Wish Lists," there are several toys that appear on each, and so would seem as though they will be very much in demand. And while it seems forever from now, the holiday will come sooner than you think. On top of that, if you are of the Jewish persuasion, note that this year your clock is seriously advanced: in this year of 5774, the first candles of the Chanukah will be lit the evening before Thanksgiving. So perhaps it's not too soon to drop a line to Amazon, and get the UPS driver headed your way before he gets too overworked.

What's on the lists? Some new stuff, to be sure, but perhaps more surprising, some variations on oldies that seem to define the term "staying power." For instance, one of the top draws is expected to be the Big Hugs Elmo doll. At 22", he's big indeed, bigger than some of the kids who will get him. He sings 3 different songs, has 50 different sounds and phrases, and encourages kids to make-believe with him in the roll of an astronaut, horse, rabbit or frog. If you hold him up and hug him, he hugs you back. And when done playing with him, just put him on his back: he sings a lullaby and flops his arm as he falls asleep. Personally, I think it looks like he's dying, but hey, I'm not three years old.

Another variation on an old favorite is the latest Furby, called Furby Boom. A cuddly looking egg shaped doll with an outsized personality, it really only comes to life with the associated iPad app. If you put the iPad near the Furby, they pair up, and you can use a virtual shower app to clean it, an x-ray app to diagnose what ails it, and even a toilet app to help it relieve itself, the doll reacting appropriately in each case. Thankfully, you can also virtually flush the loo, and then spray some air freshener. I wish I was kidding; I am not.

Perhaps in the spirit of Obamacare, there's the Doc McStuffins Check-Up Center, encouraging your budding health care worker to operate on and fix up their stuffed animals. There's this year's new Nerf weapon, the Heartbreaker Bow, aimed squarely at girls taken with "The Hunger Games." And the Flutterbye melds a Betty Boop looking elfish creature with a gyro helicopter, resulting in one fairy doll that really does fly.

But proving that there is a toy for everyone, my fav has to the Daft Punk action figures. Even though they're not on the published lists, they are available for pre-order. Each of the two dolls in the "life like" set (sold separately) features the current French darlings of electro-pop in their signature cyber-biker outfits made of black vinyl, topped off by their iconic chrome plated helmets. According to the manufacturer web site, they also come with 7 pairs of interchangeable hands so you can pose them in the manner most likely to help them Get Lucky.

I promise to act surprised when I open it.


Marc Wollin of Bedford really only wants food for presents. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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