Christmas and the holidays are a special time for everyone but especially for kids! Chris Shulgan is regularly part of our parenting panel, and with help from his son and daughter he tested some of the season's hottest toys. These are a few of his favourites...
Chris' Take: With his wide, expressive eyes, softfur and infantile cooing, this more-interactive update of the late '90s Hasbrofad toy, known as Furby, is cute as hell--and he provides all the pleasure ofpet ownership without any of the pain. However, the manufacturer says he'll quiet down after five minutes of alonetime but ours would come alive at the most inopportune times, and all thatFurbish can drive you crazy.
Chris' Take: Dress-up dolls for the anti-Barbieset. Based on horror-movie archetypes, Monster High dolls like Draculaura andFrankie Stein make it cool to be an outcast! However, sets like the high school areso cheaply made, we had difficulty making them stand up, let alone play withthem.
Chris' Take: After years of selling branded Legosets for stuff like Star Wars to boys, it's great that the Danish companyfinally got around to targeting young girls, who go wild for the pink-brickedFriends building sets--and, hopefully, proceed on to the sort of open-endedproductive play that Lego pioneered. However, while the boys are out saving the world with cool spaceships,Lego Friends limits girls to building bakeries and beauty shops.
Chris' Take: Hand-sewn from materials like mohair,silk and imported cotton, the 15" dolls are tough to get--company founder Christina Mattiello of Vancouver Island makes available only 80 per week, andthey sell out quickly. But if you can get your hands on one, the dolls areexquisite creations that little girls will treasure for decades.
Chris' Take: Step onto the grip tape, give theMadd Gear freestyle scooter a push and you see the appeal--the well-constructedscooter's fun to ride regardless of whether you're a beginner or expert. Thoseinterested in extreme sports like BMX biking and skateboarding will want to trythe Madd Gear on stunt ramps like half-pipes... so long as they're wearing ahelmet.