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Back to the future with toys

Johannesburg - When it comes to young children, there’s no use reinventing the wheel, which is why dolls, cars and action men – though they are able to do a lot more or dress more fashionably – will always remain firm favourites on the little person’s Christmas wish list.

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 ’80’s, as well as Star Wars figurines.

The good witch cousins of Bratz, Bratzillaz have special powers such as talking to animals and mending broken hearts, R229.99. For girls aged six and up. Picture: Paballo ThekisoThe Bratz Chic Mystique dolls dress magically transforms. Includes glittering mask. For girls aged six and up. For R299.99. Picture: Paballo ThekisoRoxx is a new collectible, tradeable game of skill that features game pieces that appeal to boys aged 7 years and up. The Roxx Skullz game is R159.99, while a display case is R129.99. Like all toys here, its available at all leading toy retailers. Picture: Paballo Theki ...The Thundercats range of toys features figurines and role-playing accessories, for boys aged four and up. From R199.99. Picture: Paballo ThekisoThe 3D Twister, R499.99, is a remote-controlled vehicle that is an absolute blast to drive  for boys and men. It comes with stunt ramps. For ages eight and up. Picture: Paballo ThekisoLifelike Baby Born, R499.99, which comes with various accessories, now also has has an interactive kitchen, R529.99. For ages three and up. Picture: Paballo Thekiso

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.

“Kalahari.com is excepting Lego to be one of the 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 kalahari.com.

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

Barbie is another old mainstay, and last year got her own dedicated store in Toys R Us in Sandton City. 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.

Kalahari.com 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’’ - The Star

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