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TDmonthly's Top 10 Most Wanted Toys for Boys: Infant to Preschool

The research for this article was compiled by November 19, 2004.

High-tech gadgets and retro favorites are hot commodities for little boys. Electronic gaming has reached the preschool set, with companies like VTech, Leap Frog and Fisher-Price hoping to corner the market with educational game systems. Meanwhile, Learning Curve and Radio Flyer bank on the classics by updating old-time toys.

V.Smile TV Learning System ($59.99, 3 to 7 years) by VTech
This preschool video game system teaches language, math, phonics and problem solving.

• "The V.Smile is very appealing to little boys," states Sheilah
Gilliland, marketing representative for KBToys/
• NPD expects V.Smile to become one of the few must-have toys for the season.
• The unit has earned a 2004 Parents´ Choice Recommendation and has been cited by many major retailers.

InteracTV ($39.99, 3 years and up) by Fisher-Price
Combining DVD technology with an easy-to-use wireless tablet, InteracTV makes watching TV educational.

• DVDs feature popular titles like SpongeBob Squarepants and Blue´s Clues that appeal to young boys.
• NPD expects InteracTV to do well, riding the strong electronics and video game markets.
• Retailers Wal-Mart, Toys R´ Us, Target, and KB Toys/ all list InteracTV as a hot holiday pick.

Leapster™ Multimedia Learning System ($79.99, 4 to 10 years) by LeapFrog
This multi-functional handheld lets children play games, read books, create artwork and watch interactive videos.

• Titles are available for pre-K through 2nd grade, ensuring long-term use.
• "The Leapster and the new software now coming out, like Spider Man, are great for boys," says Jennifer Laughridge for LeapFrog.
• The system is listed as a top pick by KBToys/ and "In the Spotlight" on

Laugh & Learn Learning Home (Approx. $60.00, 6 to 36 months) by Fisher-Price
The brightly-colored Learning Home teaches educational concepts using lights, music and texture.

• A wide variety of stimulating activities are packed in this compact unit.
• It was featured in NBC´s "Toy Test 2004" as one of the best toys for toddlers, in Parents´ "Best Toys of the Year" and in Parenting´s "Toys of the Year."
• Both Wal-Mart and Toys R’ Us consider the Learning Home a best pick.

Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway Sights and Sounds Deluxe Set ($599,
2 ½ and up) by Learning Curve
Based on the popular “Thomas & Friends” television series, these train sets offer a wide variety of vehicles and accessories.

• Compatible with the high-tech Thomas & Friends Interactive Learning
Railway, as well as other Wooden Railway Sets.
• "These sets give little boys a lot of different options for creative play," says Sheilah Gilliland, for KBToys/
• The set was awarded a 2005 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.

Retro Rocket (approx. $65, 10 months to 3 years) by Radio Flyer
Merging old-fashioned styling with high-tech features, this ride-on packs lighted buttons, space sounds, and rumbling vibrations in a shiny shell.

• Low to the ground, with four sturdy wheels and a narrow body, the
Rocket is safe and easy for toddlers to use.
• "Ride-ons are always popular at the holidays," Sheilah Gilliland for KBToys/
• The Rocket has been recognized with an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award for 2005.

E-L-M-O ($29.99, 18 months and up) by Fisher-Price
Elmo returns this year with a new song and dance routine based on The
Village People´s “Y.M.C.A.”

• The “Y.M.C.A.” cover has retro appeal with parents.
• The product line has been steadily popular since 1996´s Tickle Me Elmo.
• The doll is listed as a top pick by major retailers Wal-Mart, Toys R’ Us, and
KB Toys/

Musical Stack and Play ($19.99, 6 months and over) by Tiny Love (ToyDirectory)
This well-designed soft-stacker offers more than its competition by including music, lights and a ball-drop activity.

• Safe, cloth-covered rings are good for teething infants. The on/off switch allows for parental control and the balls store conveniently in the base.
• The stacker was featured in Parents´ "Best Toys of the Year" and in
Parenting´s "Toys of the Year."
• The toy was awarded a 2005 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.

Peek-a-Blocks Gobble & Go Hippo (Approx. $25, 6 to 24 months) by Fisher-Price
The friendly blue hippo gobbles up Peek-a-Blocks as it bobs along, helping the toddler clean up.

• Works as both a walker and a ride-on.
• "All Peek-a-Block products are selling very well, especially this holiday season," says Sheilah Gilliland for KBToys/
• The toy was featured in Parents´ "Best Toys of the Year."

Recommendation: Other Peek-a-Blocks toys likely to be popular with young boys this season include the IntelliBlock, the 2-in-1 Wagon, the Press & Go Train and the Rollin´ Rumblin´ Dump Truck.

Letter Factory Game ($24.99, 3 to 5 years) by Leap Frog
This educational board game transitions from a letter and color matching game for youngsters to a pursuit game for older children.

• "It is a very hot seller right now and winning many awards," says
Jennifer Laughridge for LeapFrog.
• Featured in Parenting´s "Toys of the Year."
• The game was awarded a 2005 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.

Additional Entry:
Little People Discovery Village (Approx. $40.00, 2 to 5 years) by Fisher-Price
Little People are a perennial favorite, and the Discovery Village offers a lot of bells and whistles to attract children and parents.

I spoke with several large retailers, manufacturers, consumer groups/award programs, industry specialists and individual consumers. I viewed listings of several consumer-based bulletin boards, the top picks both generally and for specific categories from major retailers and discounters as well as smaller/specialty retailers. I also researched holiday themed "Best of" lists.



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