Toy gifts: It’s back to the future

When it comes to young children, there’s no use reinventing the wheel, which is why dolls, cars and action men will always remain firm favourites on any child’s Christmas wishlist.

Baby Born, now 20 years old, and retro toys like Cabbage Patch dolls, are perennially popular, for instance. This year, older parents will be warmed too by the return of historic action characters in the form of Thundercats, harking back to the 1980s, as well as “Star Wars” figurines.

Furby 2012 is an interactive toy that behaves according to how you treat it. Watch Furby respond to your voice and music, even feed Furby with your finger. Furby speaks Furbish and English, and a free optional app is available for the iPod Touch, iPad, and iPhone with iOS 4.2 or later, which will help you translate Furbish. For ages six and up. R799.90. Credit: BLOOMBERG/Newscom

And whether you like it or not, the furry gremlin Furby is back, only this time around, it has LED eyes and a lot more to say.

“Parents will certainly remember these toys with a sense of nostalgia, and they are expected to be our best sellers,” says Wanda Ambrosini, MD of leading toy distributor Prima Toys, which distributes toys to Toys R Us, Reggies, CNA, Makro and Pick n Pay, among others.

Retro toys like Cabbage Patch dolls, Twister, and the ever-popular Lego are also enjoying a revival. is expecting Lego to be one of its best sellers in the toys category this Christmas.

“Our festive shopping survey revealed that 25 percent of toy shoppers would opt for Lego for their children,” says Liz Hillock, head of marketing at

Kids will have to wait until later in the new year, however, for the Lego Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles range, inspired by the TV series airing on Nickelodeon channel.

Barbie is another old mainstay. For little girls who are fashion conscious, though, she’s likely to be eclipsed by Bratz dolls, who are much edgier, some even sporting tattoos.

“Bratz are always top of the toy charts as they’re trendy, hip and right on target when it comes to fashion dolls,” says Ambrosini.

Toys that ape adult gadgets like cellphones, tablets and readers are fast movers too.

“Kids are in a tablet frenzy. They want to copy their parents. This resulted in the launch of the Leapfrog LeapPad2, following on the success of the LeapPad launched in 2011,” says Ambrosini. is also expecting the LeapPad2 to prove popular.

Boys’ toys are dynamic this year, with the super fast 3D Twister expected to top the sales lists.

But for those who like more sedate, cerebral pursuits, there are plenty of board games, with Monopoly still leading the pack. Only, in keeping with the times, it’s been revised to “Monopoly Millionaire’’.