If your kid isn't prepared for the realities of adulthood, don't blame the toy industry. The Time to Play 2010 Holiday Showcase in New York City on Tuesday featured affordable gifts that mimic the more complicated side of being grown up -- but in a fun way.
Groupies-in-training can get their fix of pop heartthrob Justin Bieber for Christmas two ways. For just $7.99, you can snag a plush beanbag bear wearing a "Team Bieber" hoodie. And along more traditional doll lines, JB Style Collection Figures keeps the teen idol worship at a recession-conscious $17.99. If you want Justin to sing, that'll run you 10 bucks more.
Jay Foreman, president and CEO of the The Bridge Direct, which manufactures the Bieber line, assures us that Bieber and his mother approved the wardrobe. Foreman conceded he might have the easiest gig of any toy executive in the world right now. Bieber is ridiculously popular -- with more than 5 million followers on Twitter alone. The exec told WalletPop that he expects to sell more than a million Bieber dolls. We're guessing more. (Hint for Mom and Dad: Look for pre-sales happening this week and next on the Toys R Us, Wal-Mart and Target websites. There's no exact word on exactly when you can get your hands on them -- a press release said "on or before Dec. 4.")
Your aspiring CIA operative will love Wild Planet's Lie Detector Kit ($14.99). It's portable and I can confirm that the "galvanic skin response sensor" works. When I answered in the affirmative that my name was Santa Claus, a panel of lights flashed wildly, as they're supposed to when the little ones (6 and older) start fibbing. It comes with a booklet about other "tells" to look for when assessing if someone is a big fat liar. Spokeswoman Kim Bratcher told WalletPop that parents could interrogate, er, use it with their kids. Hmm ... pants on fire, indeed. Wild Planet has the surveillance side covered, too, with a Spy Decoy Listener ($9.99). It looks like a cellphone but you're actually listening to a conversation several feet away. All are available Oct. 1.
You're never too young to know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. The Bicycle World Series of Poker Touch Screen Texas Hold 'Em ($15.99) made it into the toy fair with the fine print that it's intended for ages 21 and older. Kind of hard for that to sink in amid the Zoobles ($5.99 apiece), the new Bakugan counterparts for girls, and Disney-ana that included the Tangled Rapunzel Hair Braider Doll ($24.99). But then again, my dad used to take me to the racetrack and let me bet to "learn math." So it's all good.
As for the sandbox set. WalletPop wanted to give you a heads-up on the French export Hide and Seek Jojo that children can play by themselves. No imaginary friend necessary. Young hiders carry a carrot transmitter that Jojo the bunny can track in a room. Jojo lets playmates know that he's close to finding them. He even covers his eyes with his ears when he counts. On the surface, the $39.99 price appears steep. But when you think of the hours you can keep your kid occupied while you devote more hours slaving for The Man, it's a bargain, no?
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