Shopping for toys at Christmas made easy

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The sheer number of toys can make it tough to shop for kids at Christmas time. The options can be overwhelming, so what’s the way to figure out what your child wants? Laurie Schacht, the CEO of The Toy Insider, said to base gifts on what the child is passionate about and what is affordable.

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HOT DOLL

Among the hottest toys for Christmas this season are the Monster High Dolls from Mattel. They include individual dolls such as Frankie Stein and Clawdeen Wolf, or a bundle such as the Dawn of the Dance doll bundle.

Jennifer Malta, of Evans, was shopping for her niece at Target and picked up a Monster High doll.

“She has been talking about them constantly,” Malta said.

“Her mom told me which one she had so I grabbed another one. I don’t get this fad, but I guess I don’t have to. As long as she’s happy and I can afford it, works for me.”

HOT GAMES

Angry Birds Knock on Wood game by Mattel is recommended for children 5 and older. The simple game brings the virtual game to life.

“Just like anything else, when kids see a game or movie, they want the toys,” said Jim Silverman, the editor-in-chief of timetoplay.com.

Angry Birds also comes in a stuffed-animal version with sounds, an inexpensive option for ages 1 and up.

The games cost about $10 each.

HOT MONSTER

Elmo is back.

Let’s Rock Elmo from Hasbro is for children 18 months and older.

Priced around $55, Let’s Rock Elmo comes with a set of drums, a tambourine and a microphone.

Elmo recognizes when someone gives him an instrument or when someone else has one.

“It’s an interactive and engaging toy,” Schacht said.
“Kids are jamming with Elmo.”

HOT GADGETS

• LeapPad Explorer has a camera, a video recorder, a microphone, and a library of more than 100 learning game cartridges, books, applications, and videos.

“My daughter is constantly grabbing my phone,” said Jean Lee, of Augusta. “A friend suggested I get her a LeapPad.”

It also features a touch screen and runs about $100.

“Yes, it’s pricey,” Schacht said. “But there’s a lot of value in it. Kids can use it from age 4 until 10 or even older.”

• The UDraw game tablet works with Wii, PS3 and Xbox and features art school, art camp or a free art section. It can download games such as Pictionary and Marvel’s Super Hero Squad Comic Combat.

“It doesn’t matter if you are just tinkering around or if you are a graphic designer,” Schacht said. “There are so many levels and games, everyone can use it.”

It costs $69 to $80, depending on the game console.

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