Hype Machines

The holidays aren't just for kids—and these playthings aren't, either.


The stampede is now a holiday-shopping tradition as parents rush stores for the season's hot toys even before Black Friday (November 23). And what's most prized can have as much to do with how popular a toy is with adults as with kids. These possible successors to Tickle Me Elmo might appeal to your inner child.

  1. Air Hogs Battling Havoc R/C Helicopters
    Last year, miniature helicopters were one of the best-selling toys in the remote-control category. This year should be no different, since Spin Master has added a new twist with its dueling copters ($85.94). As the name implies, kids (or adults) can go head-to-head with each other; an infrared light "fired" from one chopper will cause the other to spin out of control momentarily. We recommend them for any high-ceilinged office.

  2. Sakura Best Friend Robot
    "Girls are just as interested as boys their age in being on top of tech," says Toy Industry Association analyst Reyne Rice. "When the products also tie to a social component, you have a winning combination." Which is why the Sakura Best Friend Robot ($59.99) may be a hit. The doll looks like a cross between a Japanese anime character and Spaceballs' Dot Matrix, and has motion detectors to sense when people are near. She responds as any slightly addled teenage girl might—with jokes and fashion tips. She can also stay hush-hush; her owner—uh, we mean friend—can record a secret, then lock it up with a special key. She won't tell a soul unless unlocked.

  3. Rock Band
    Seeking to counter the release of the third iteration of Activision's hit Guitar Hero, Electronic Arts is releasing Rock Band for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. "I'm tired of repeating myself," says David Riley, a video-games analyst with NPD Group, "but retail sales of these types of simulator games just don't seem to stop." This $199 band-in-a-box comes with a guitar, a drum set, and a microphone.

  4. Pleo
    Furby creator Caleb Chung is back with a robotic dinosaur—the Pleo's marketers prefer to call it a "life form"—that's stirring some of the year's biggest buzz. Modeled on a juvenile camarasaur, the Pleo has two microprocessors and nearly 40 sensors. All that wiring means the creature can develop its own personality based on its experiences and respond to stimuli—speech, touch, screaming—from people as well as other Pleos. Artificial "life forms" don't come cheap; the Pleo costs $349.

  5. Wii Zapper
    It's a testament to the Wii's popularity that Nintendo will probably sell thousands of Zappers for $19.99. The Zapper, little more than a piece of molded plastic that recalls the light gun used for the classic game Duck Hunt, is the Wii accessory of the season. It comes bundled with one game, a spin-off from The Legend of Zelda. Think of it as an amuse-bouche for Nintendo's next peripheral, the much cooler Balance Board—for use with soccer and skiing games—which will debut in early '08 for about $100.

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