alternatives to a bunny for an easter giftHere comes Peter Cottontail ... and he isn't real after all. The annual warning against giving kids live rabbits for Easter got WalletPop hopping on the bunny trail to find low-cost alternatives.

The Mechanical Rabbit from Tamiya ($18) has plenty of bounce in its step, and its transparency lets young builders watch their mechanical handiwork in motion. The contraption resembles what a Transformer rabbit could look like, without the evil alien baggage. Eight-year-olds can tackle the screwdriver assembly. Smaller kids can play with it as long as a guardian is supervising.

It fits in your Easter basket, too. "Basically it's intended to showcase how to put a basic item together and show basic motion of a little motor," Tamiya spokesman Fred Medel told WalletPop. On the downside, the company Web site says the robot's running time is a mere 40 minutes per alkaline battery.

Mr. Potato Head Spud BunnyGo retro with Mr. Potato Head Spud Bunny ($5.99 at Target and other venues). This doesn't have to be a seasonal one-off. The ears, feet, eyes, teeth and darn cute shoes are interchangeable with other Mr. Potato Head gear. The parts are big enough for ages 2 and up. We always liked using the real Russets, then making hash browns out of 'em if they got out of line.

Sneaky Bunnies ($12-$15) combines roll-of-the-dice luck and memory, as the critters bounce on a path to collect carrots in this preschooler-on-up board game. The first to gather three carrots while escaping the farmer wins. Sounds pretty "Peter Rabbit"-ish to me.

Fur Real Friends Newborn Grey and White Bunny ($13.99) Hasbro gives nurturing 4 year olds and up their own helpless, adorable thing to take care of. The cuddly critter lifts its head and sniffs, thanks to three AAA batteries. It also has a bottle.

Act out your own "Night of the Lepus" fantasy or, better yet, entertain your children during the egg hunt in this bunny costume available at the Oriental Trading Company ($39.99). Or, for a mere $2.49, you can buy a Plush Bunny Set with ears, bow tie and cottontail. Silly rabbit.

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