From Power Wheels to Bratz, these toys are flying off shelves

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2006

If you haven&8217;t begun thinking about Christmas presents before now, you probably won&8217;t be able to find a Power Wheels Escalade with FM radio for the kids.

&8220;I can&8217;t keep those (in stock),&8221; Wal-Mart Toy department manager Toni Robinson said.

That might not be such a bad thing.

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The two-seater goes for $269.98 &8212; $319.98 with a 12-volt battery &8212; and looks like it could do a number on a garden, living room or any pet smaller than a St. Bernard.

If that sounds like a bit more power than you&8217;d like to see your five-year-old on, then the Plasma Car might be more your speed.

The $69.95 vehicle uses a radical arm-propulsion system to achieve its 3.1 yard-per-second top speed.

Growing Pains on Main Street sells the cars, which go backwards as well and are a huge hit with the kids, according to staff.

A test-drive confirms not only the enjoyment, but also the 220-pound maximum weight limit, making it parent-safe as well.

Other hot items for younger kids are the Fisher-Price Star Entertainment System. Think children&8217;s music karaoke on closed circuit television &8212; don&8217;t worry, it hooks up to the television you already own. It comes with one tape to sing along with, but there are more available, for when you get to know the first tape a little too well.

No matter what you thought about the new episodes of Star Wars, George Lucas has another generation of young boys drooling over light sabers, speeders and Chewbacca action figures. The legend continues.

Hasbro has also kept its Nerf brand in the consciousness of boys everywhere. This year, its multi-player Nerf Dart Tag game looks like a winner, like laser tag but with darts, Nerf darts no less.

Once known for its dining room table-friendly ping pong and closet door basketball hoops &8212; and footballs, of course &8212; Nerf has now stepped into the digital age with it&8217;s new N-Strike action series. While it boasts a very large gun with all sorts of foamy projectiles, there is also an interactive DVD game so he can hone his marksmanship on something other than his family in between battles with friends.

As for the little girls, there are a number of things that will be keeping them up late Dec. 24.

Amazing Amanda, Furbies, Bratz and &8220;anything Dora the Explorer,&8221; Wal-Mart&8217;s Robinson said.

Cabbage Patch Kids are also making a comeback and the ageless Barbie continues to top wish lists everywhere.

The Tumble Time Tigger doll is a hit for its dance moves, but don&8217;t forget about Elmo.

For the culinary-inclined, Dream Street Toys has a pint-sized kitchen that fits the bill.

It comes in two color schemes to fit the taste of most any discriminating future chef.

Wooden train sets and other hands-on, learn-while-they-play toys are all over Dream Street.

A survey of the teenage crowd confirms that video games are decidedly &8220;out&8221; this year.

As if.

Gamers have a big decision to make this Christmas: take the Xbox 360 now or wait until January for the Playstation 3?

The stakes are too high in this matter &8212; for Microsoft and Sony as well as for your kid &8212; and there is a lot to consider, and this newspaper is not qualified to help you do it.

Remember this, though; you can always stall for time by talking up the wonders of the new Nintendo Revolution, due out in mid-2006.

There you have it, an overview of what&8217;s hot on the toy scene this season. Good luck out there and remember

to have fun shopping.