Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's never too soon to start your Christmas shopping!

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Santa Baby

by Calista Flockhart (not Britney Spears

TIZZ the Season to be Spending...

As much as we all are in denial about it, Christmas is less than three weeks away. With the Festive Season as those who are politically correct call it, rapidly drawing nigh, panicked thoughts of shopping addle our minds. Buying gifts for the grownups on your list generally isn't a chore  if you've been listening, there have been plenty of hints. 
But what do you buy for the kids? Last year's hot item is now "soooo 2010!" Do you have any clue what your kids really want this Yuletide Season? Not very likely. So today, I'm playing Santa's little helper, giving you a list of the must-have-toys for 2011. Take a deep breath and dig deep into your wallets!

‘Pooping’ plastic dog tops must-have Christmas toy list

By Jordan Chittley
Many children's toys over the years have allowed them to act more like adults by doing chores like vacuuming, mowing the lawn, driving and baking.
But the one that tops this year's must-have list seems to take pretending to be an adult to a whole other level.
The UK Toy Retailers Association has chosen a dachshund that farts and defecates called Doggie Doo by Goliath Games as the top "dream toy" children will want this Christmas. Players win by doing what most dog owners dread 
 picking up poop.
"I like it, it's funny," says Freddie, an 11-year-old who headed straight for it at the official preview, to the Guardian. "I'd like to get it for Christmas."
Freddie and his friend Harry were soon joined by other boys around their ages who were all laughing at the poo sounds. The Guardian reports that Harry's mom was not impressed.
"I think it does appeal to the younger boys because of the fascination with anything poo-related," says Harry's mom to the Guardian. "We certainly won't be buying it for Christmas though."
Two to four players roll dice and feed the dog. Players work the food through the dog with a pump and the object is to be the first to pick up after the dog three times.

See the TV commercial here

It retails for $25 to $30 (R200 — R240) at Wal-Mart and Toys "R" Us and can be purchased online at PetMyWeiner.com.
Doggie Doo beat out 70 other toys including two interactive tablets that resemble Apple's iPad and are aimed at children between four and nine years old.
Also making the list of 12 this year were more familiar toys such as Fireman Sam, Lets Rock Elmo and Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster.
Last year's top dream toy was City Airport by Lego.
While Doggie Doo may seem gross, it is helping to raise a generation of responsible pet owners. Future pet owners who won't take the issue of not picking up after a dog sitting down.

The LeapPad

What’s the best tablet for kids? Apple’s iPad? One of the Android tablets? Er, the HP TouchPad..? Maybe none of these adult-aimed tablets but one specially made for children – Leapfrog’s LeapPad Explorer Tablet for kids is tipped to be one of the most popular toys this Christmas.

Powered by four AA batteries (buy a recharger!) the LeapPad is a tough-looking but still-pretty mini-tablet that boasts a 5-inch screen (400 x 712 pixels), built-in still and video camera, iPad-like accelerometer and its very own app store with around 100 available apps and games.
It’s aimed at kids aged 4-9 – just like the competing VTech InnoTab, reviewed.
Parents with a bit of cash will know that children love the iPad and its hundreds of apps and games for young ones.
The trouble is that the iPad costs from £399 (R5,000, $640 US), and is designed to please responsible adults more than excited kids (apart from the Apple fanboys, of course!).
It’s much larger than the LeapPad, too. Only the smaller-scale Android tablets are as suited to smaller hands. Anyone who’s seen a child shake an iPad will know that it’s rather unwieldy a toy. The LeapPad measures just 2.4 x 13 x 17.9cm – much more child friendly.
The iPad does boast many more kids’ games and educational apps, but don’t forget that you want to use it, too. There’s not much chance of that with the LeapPad Explorer, and it might just keep your children and their greasy paws off your own tablet for a while.

LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Tablet stylus
You can use your finger or the included stylus to control the LeapPad’s touchscreen. And you can twist and shake it just like an iPad.
The stylus isn't strictly necessary but does add a level of precision if the child is a bit of a finger jabber. It can also be used to aid handwriting and drawing in some of the available apps.
The LeapPad is no cheap toy, however. For starters it costs around £80 (R1,000, $180 US). For that it comes well equipped with multimedia features: still and video camera, voice recording via built-in microphone, and motion-based accelerometer.
Many of the 100 or so apps and games use these features, and it’s the interactive nature of the play that makes LeapPad more than a time-wasting toy – not that there’s anything wrong with one of those once in a while.
There are art and animation studios for children to create their masterpieces. The Photo Studio lets them edit pictures taken with the built-in camera. It’s super simple to use. The LeapPad’s Story Studio can be used to create an interactive book "All About Me" for stories about families, friends, etc.

LeapPad Demo 

There are apps to improve school skills such as reading and phonics, maths, art, music, language, geography, health and hygiene. You can set skill levels for each child, based on the age you input in their profile. This is set to year of birth, so should adjust as the child gets older.
My five-year-old daughter, a real pro on the iPad, didn't find it too childish. In fact she probably played on it longer than she would do the iPad in one sitting.
As with any iPad, iPhone or Android kids’ app the cheesy monotonous music will get you in the end. Luckily there’s a headphone jack – what are the best headphones for kids? We recommend Griffin’s volume-limiting MyPhones.
LeapPad works with all Leapster and Leapfrog Explorer cartridge games. Unlike iPad and Android games and apps the Leapfrog apps aren’t priced from 69p or even £2.99. Prices start at £3.50 and many are £5 or £7.50. That’s expensive in terms of mobile apps, so you’re playing a premium even Apple wouldn’t dare charge.
That said, if the £5 app teaches little Johnny to spell better or little Jane to develop her subtraction, or even keeps the child quiet for half an hour while you get on with some housework it could be money well spent.
Of course, even interactive educational apps and games are no substitute for proper parental interaction, books, pencils, pens, crayons, and physical exercise – that’s true whether your child’s tablet is a LeapPad, iPad or Galaxy Tab.
You set up to three users on each LeapPad, and customize profiles by adding your child’s name and photo (via the built-in camera). You can also choose a pet to customize and nurture.
You sync the LeapPad via Leafrog Connect, which crashed a couple of times when I was using it. It could also be a little simpler to log into, as the instructions when trying to login while syncing are rather vague. That said, once you’ve got the hang of it it’s pretty easy to get to grips with.
As with any self-respecting tablet there’s even a protective carrycase for the LeapPad Explorer Tablet, and if it’s a hit there should be plenty more.

LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Tablet reading app
The LeapPad Explorer from Leapfrog Toys is available now. 
Casings come in lime green and a purplish pink.

Story Via PC Advisor

Other MUST-HAVE toys are...

Fijit Friends from Mattel
Fireman Sam - Pontypandy Multi Rescue Set from Character Options
Kidizoom Twist from VTech
Lets Rock Elmo from Hasbro
Milky the Bunny from Flair Leisure Products Plc
Moshling Treehouse from Vivid Imaginations
Ninjago Fire Temple from LEGO Company Ltd

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What lies beneath...

Spooky Reading 
makes a fab Christmas gift!

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