Jewish World Review March 21, 2005 / 10 Adar II, 5765

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Nothing like the classics — toys, that is | Some sage at the annual Toy Fair in New York City predicted that board games are becoming a thing of the past.

Right. And the X tile in Scrabble is only worth one point. Then again, a bride doll used to be a classic toy for girls and it has all but become a thing of the past, so who knows. (Rumor is bride dolls will soon be replaced by living together dolls.)

Still, some toys are classics, and board games are among them. Visiting the Sugar Plum Fairy in Candyland and short-changing the banker at Monopoly are virtual rites of passage.

One thing that has not faded into the past is the Toy Fair tradition of nominating the best new toys in different categories.

This year, a Fridge Phonics Magnet set is among nominees for preschoolers. For girls, there is a Bella Dancerella Home Ballet set, which according to the picture, consists of leotards, tutus and a lavender mat — dancers not included. And for boys, a Darth Vader Voice Changer machine.

There was nothing that really made you want to phone a friend and set up a play date. If you want to know what toys really fire a child's imagination, watch kids in action.

What does a one-year-old do at his first birthday party? He opens the age-appropriate toy, demonstrates that he can indeed jam a square peg into a square hole, and then tossing the toy aside, he turns to the box and wrapping it came in. He punches the box, bats the tissue paper into the air, gums the ribbon and screams with delight.

If the screams could be interpreted, we would find the baby is saying "More! More of this! Enough with little plastic people without arms and legs, I want boxes! Empty boxes! Hallmark gift wrap and the cardboard tube it came on!"

Best toy for a toddler: empty refrigerator box and stack of grocery bags

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And what is it that makes your little boy plaster his face against the car window like a friendly black lab? Construction crews riding giant yellow Caterpillars digging caverns in the earth are what capture their imaginations. Little boys love to build and watch others build. By the way, you new mothers should know that old Legos never disappear, they just bury deeper into the carpet.

Best toys for little boys: blocks, blocks and more blocks, a sturdy shovel and designated patch of backyard in which to dig. Oh, come on, you can reseed the lawn anytime, but how many times is your boy going to dig to China?

Girls? In most cases, they like to imitate mom. They want to play house, play shopping and play like they have their own little brood. From an early age, girls also acquire a taste for control and power.

Best toys for little girls: in addition to the aforementioned paraphernalia, a sturdy table and chairs. This is the command center from which girls can play school, do crafts, direct dramas, host high teas, publish newspapers and hold executive board meetings discussing what to do with the boys.

That does it for my list of nominees for best toys. Well, maybe one more: every kid can use a reliable red wagon.

Once again proving an adage that applies to both fashion and toys: You can never go wrong with the classics.

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of , most recently, "Pass the Faith, Please" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.


© 2005, Lori Borgman