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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tips on Tuesday: Popular Christmas Toys Part 2

In last week's Tips on Tuesday posting, I shared my thoughts on some of this year's "hottest" toys. I've looked through a lot of lists showing what are supposed to be the hottest toys of this year's Christmas season. I've picked some of the highest ranked toys and I'm giving you my mom thoughts and letting you know what I'm hearing from the kids about each toy.

I think it's important that you know my measuring stick goes beyond popularity to longevity. Is this a toy that will be played with past Christmas break? If not, I won't purchase it for my own kids--no matter how cool it is.

This week, I'm looking at:
Paper Jamz
Loopz and/or Kaponk (two games but they both slide in and out of top toy lists)
Lego Games and Toys
Toy Story 3 toys

PAPER JAMZ: Here's a toy that took my by surprise. I had never heard of it until I started researching this article. The same day I learned of this toy, the boys in the carpools started talking about it. It's going to be a hot toy!

First thing you need to know is that (contrary to the name) it is NOT made of paper. It's a plastic toy that is very thin. There are guitars and drums and accessories and amps. The instruments have some songs loaded in that you can play with. There's also a freestyle where you do your own song and a karaoke mode as well.

I think girls who want to drum or play guitar will love this, but it is aimed at the boy market. It's my thinking that the Paper Jamz company thinks this toy will be popular in a wider market than I think it will be.

MY AGE RECOMMENDATIONS: Elementary school children. I think it would be best to wait until you have a second grader (age 7) or higher. Younger than that and it's hard to get enough fine motor coordination to do well with this toy. I don't think a middle school child would really love this gift. It would be a short play item. There's not enough variety for an older child to enjoy--they would rather have the real deal instead.

LOOPZ: The next generation of the game Simon. Remember how we had four colors and a monotone beep? Well, say hello to the next generation of memory games. It's Loopz. It has 7 different games for 1-4 players. You have to copy the patterns of light and music as it increases speed. Three misses and you're out.

I haven't heard this one requested yet by my tweens and teens, but I think it would be something they would play with for quite a while with their friends.

MY RECOMMENDED AGES: Here's one for the tween/teen crowd! I wouldn't recommend this for the younger children as it gets moving too fast and becomes too frustrating for them.

CUPONK:  This one really peaked in popularity this summer. My teen was begging for one. His best friend got one and they have spent hours upon hours making up crazy courses. The object of the game is to get the ping pong ball into the cup. (Yes, this could be done with a plastic cup from a fast food restaurant and a ping pong ball---but the kids won't use that...they have to have the expensive one. Sigh!) It does come with idea cards and you can try to recreate the course shown on the card and try to get a Cuponk. When you do get the ball into the cup, it cheers for you.

MY AGE RECOMMENDATIONS:  Middle school and possibly a fourth and fifth grader. I also think this would be very attractive to high schoolers as well.

LEGO GAMES AND TOYS: This year Lego is really coming out with some interesting new toys and games. They have moved beyond the original building blocks to video games and board games. I would still recommend legos (the original building blocks) for elementary and middle school. Beyond that, any Wii game or Playstation or Xbox game with the Lego brand will certainly be a hit. The Star Wars Lego video games are still popular four years later. I'm interested in checking out the board games. I think some of them look like it would make a terrific family game night.

MY AGE RECOMMENDATIONS:  Elementary and middle school. Both boys and girls love these things, but they are geared towards boys more than girls.

TOY STORY 3 TOYS AND GAMES:  There are Toy Story toys of every shape and size. Depending on the item, you can find something for every age on your list. The characters have dolls and action figures. There are talking toys, silent toys and toys with remotes (like the RC Car). There are Potato Heads and Barbies (and Kens) and plush toys and more. And for the older ones, there are video games--and don't forget the actual video!

I think the Toy Story phenomena is happening for the third time. It will be the hottest thing until Cars 2 comes out. If you have a Toy Story fan in your house, you can find a gift that they will like.

MY AGE RECOMMENDATIONS: There's something for every age! From plush toys for the littlest ones all the way through the video games for the oldest ones--including some adults (such as yours truly).

A few final thoughts on the tough to buy for teen/tween crowd. Let's face it, they all want money. Whether it's cash or a gift card, they are happy to have it. I am a firm believer in books so I do try to add books under the tree. I try to find books in topics they are very interested in. I'd highly recommend the "Landon Snow" series of books for the tweens and the "Knights of Arrethtrae" series for the teens. I've read both series and loved them. Girls who enjoy fantasy as well as most boys will love both series of books.

Never underestimate the power of family time. I know things are lean for a lot of folks this year. Consider a membership to a place where the whole family can go. We love museums and have two museum passes right now. We will most likely add a third pass in time for Christmas. Then we can go over Christmas break and still have an entire year to go and enjoy the museum again and again. For our family of five, it only takes about 2.5 visits for us to start 'making' money on a membership. We love to drop in for short visits and leave when we get hungry or tired.

Whatever you end up purchasing, I hope you and your family will have a blessed Christmas and that you'll remember the reason for the season.

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