Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Favorite Toys and Plush for the Kids

What a fun time I had with this listing for our Holiday Gift Guide--I got to play with toys and hug stuffed animals! Hey, it's a dirty job, but someone has to do it, right? ; ) Here are my favorites (and I think they'll be yours too!) for the Holidays.

Like me, you probably know a little about the Build-A-Bear Workshops in your local mall. Maybe you even know that kids pick out their own bears, take them to the special stuffing station to make their bears soft and cuddly, and "pawsonalize" them with wardrobes (and even sound!) to make memories that will last. You may even know (which I didn't!) that each stuffed friend comes with a red satin heart warmed in the hands of a child and filled with wishes, a pawsonalized adoption certificate, and a code that brings the stuffed animal to life online at

But did you know that all year round, Build-A-Bear Workshop has bears priced as low as $10? And that, especially for the holidays this year, they are offering more $10 bears than ever?

Yeah, that price surprised me, too. Just $10 for some of the cutest critters around! “I have always believed a child should be able to visit our store and make a furry friend with their allowance, and that’s why we have always had a selection of bears starting at just $10,” said Maxine Clark, founder and chief executive bear of Build-A-Bear Workshop. “This year we felt it was more important than ever to give our Guests a holiday gift and begin the season a little early.

Build-A-Bear Workshop also has a special couple visiting this holiday season--Hal and Holly Moose! Pictures just don't do them justice because they are SO darned cute, but here is one anyway. Hal's antlers are adorned with lights that actually light up in sequence when you squeeze his hand! The cute couple have a special Christmas story book all about them available this holiday season for free (while supplies last) when you pick up Hal and Holly Moose for $24 at Build A Bear Workshops all over the country (Hal and Holly Moose also available individually, $18).

Zoobies, like my friend Bobo the Baboon over there, are special to me because I discovered them just recently.

Zoobie pets offer big bang for your buck this holiday season--because they are not one, not two, but three products in one!

Just check out Lencho the Lion (pictured, right) and you'll see what I mean. Each adorable furry Zoobie pet is lovably huggable in its animal form, but tug a little here and there, and Voila!

Now your child has a comfy pillow to sleep on.

But wait, that pillow not enough for sleepy time? No worries! Reach inside, tug some more and your Zoobie pet becomes a soft blankie, too!

Now, little ones will surely enjoy Zoobie pets, and can curl right up with those comfy blankies, but I think older kids will love them, too, because they are cute and comfy for hanging out with, providing a soft pillow when your teen is on the phone or a warm cover-up for their feet when they're working on homework (or, more likely, chatting with their friends online when they are SUPPOSED to be doing their homework). There's also baby Zoobie pets available (Zoobies, at specialty stores or online, range from $25-36).

Now, on to the toys!

If your kids are movie fans (or just like the idea of exploring like a Junior Indiana Jones), these next toys make very cool gifts. The Indiana Jones Lost City Archeology Dig lets your child actually dig up "priceless artifacts and treasure" of their own! Plus, unlocking the Mayan archeological dig site allows them to discover a special secret of their own, as well (no, I'm not giving it away!).

Also available is The Indiana Jones Crystal Skull Image Projector, which not only projects images from the latest movie, but real archeological discoveries, making it both entertaining and educational--but your kids won't know that! (Indiana Jones Lost City Archeology Dig from Uncle Milton, 29.95, and Indiana Jones Crystal Skull Image Projector, 39.99).

But maybe the guy on your gift list sees himself as more of a junior James Bond than Indy--in which case, he'll need the latest in spy gear to keep track of the bad guys.

Enter the SpyVideo ATV-360, the kind of toy that will make Dad want to take over the controls himself and give it a whirl!

This ruggedly built remote-controlled camera/tank combo lets your guys spy from rooms away via a special LCD camera and single earbud headset. Here's what sets it apart: live images AND audio are transmitted to the headset, so your junior spy can see AND hear who's coming in real time!

Even the Engineer found the SpyVideo ATV-360 impressive, and that's saying something! (SpyVideo ATV-360, available through's online specialty store for $129.99, and also at Target and Wal-mart).

Finally, from our old friends at K'Nex come four new offerings to their Thrill Ride series of construction sets, a neat way to get the kids and Dad together for some quality building time.

Designed with older kids in mind (sets are intended for the 9+ crowd), these are challenging sets with hundreds of interlocking parts that will appeal to serious hobby enthusiasts, but they're also a lot of fun to play with once they're put together, since each one is, as the name implies, a Thrill Ride as well!

Pictured, for example, is the biggest of the bunch, the Motorized Madness Ball Machine, which, when assembled, stands over four feet tall. Included is a motorized ball-lifter (kinda like an elevator for marbles), and 3 unique tracks for the five balls to race down. With over 2000 parts, this will keep them busy on Christmas morning! (The four newest offerings in the K'nex Thrill Ride series range in price from 29.99 to 59.99) .
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