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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Favorite Christmas Toys – The Joy Playing on Days after Christmas

First appeared on Blogcritics.

Christmas is over and presumably Santa Claus has removed his boots, has his red stocking feet up by the fire, is drinking some hot cocoa, and allowing the elves some time off. In these days after Christmas, the toys are the story as new ones encroach on old favorites. Since I am off for the holidays, there is no better time for my son and I to have playtime with all the new things while still incorporating some of the old ones in the mix.

I remember those glorious days after Christmas as a kid. I recall my Lost in Space robot terrorizing my sister’s Barbie dolls, the G.I. Joes punching out Ken’s lights, and my trains circling the lighted village under the tree for hours at a time. Those were exciting days of no school and playing and letting my imagination run wild. Thankfully, I am getting to do that again with my son (though his sister has wisely protected her dolls by hiding them in her room).

The best toys are not necessarily those that are most popular with other kids, but rather the ones that stoke the fires of my son’s imagination. Usually, they are connected to things he loves – in this case the safest bets are usually SpongeBob and Mickey Mouse, which my six-year-old still enjoys the most on TV and in toys. In a strange twist, after watching Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame he’s become obsessed with getting those toys (trying to get them from an almost twenty-year-old film wasn’t easy). So here is one kid’s list of top five favorite gifts from Santa this year. The list is purely subjective, of course.  

toys 3  5. Happily, this is not a toy but a book! We have had to read this at least a dozen times over the last two days. He is really very interested in the story of “Scrooge” as portrayed by Professor Von Drake (Donald is his nephew Fred). Mickey is Bob Cratchit and all the assorted ghosts and characters are there in this Dickens tale in the Disney universe. The basic story is the same anyway (Scrooge's chance for redemption), and the fact that my son likes Mickey’s Christmas Carol so much (especially the part about Scrooge finally becoming good) means he gets what Dickens was trying to do in the first place. I can't think of any better excuse for picking a man's pocket on the 25th of December than this beautifully illustrated Disney book.      





toys 6  4. Hunchback of Notre Dame toys have taken center stage, especially the main villain Frollo from the first animated Disney film. In fact, Frollo has now become the “bad guy” in just about every game we play. Fortunately, as you can see, the protagonist is our favorite Disney duck who just happens to defeat Frollo every time. I just found out this morning that it is indeed possible for Frollo to time travel (in our cowboy town), breathe under water (in SpongeBob’s world), and go into space with Mickey on his rocket ship. He’s one resilient bad guy toy.  



toys 53. SpongeBob SquarePants Glove World! is one of those toys that keeps him playing for hours. Any fan of the show will know that Glove World! is the amusement park where our titular Sponge and his goofy friend Patrick can go to let off some steam after a hard day in Bikini Bottom. The two figures in the picture are included with the set, and since he has all the other characters from other sets, Mr. Krabbs, Sandy Cheeks, Gary, and the whole gang have climbed aboard the rides to have a good time. This is a keeper!



toys 22. Disney’s Planes Charge and Fly Dusty is a real hit. When we went to Disney World earlier this year, we stayed in a Cars themed room, and while he really liked that very much, I think that Planes may have eclipsed that in popularity now. This is a really cool toy that charges on the base. You pull the trigger and Dusty goes over the TV, through the dining room, and crashes into the Christmas tree. Oh, yes, the box tells us that we should play with this toy outside, but we couldn’t resist testing it out anyway. A few broken ornaments later, we have learned a lesson and played with it only in the backyard.    







toys 11. The number one most favorite gift of all is (imagine drumroll now) Disney Railroad Train Set. With a locomotive that lights up, blows a whistle and a bell, this set reminds me of the old ones I had as a boy (which I sadly gave away as a teenager). The coal car features a distinctive coal bin and Donald with a shovel. Goofy is the conductor, and Minnie Mouse comes on board as a passenger. Of course, Mickey’s the driver and the tracks are wide and rugged. I’m not surprised that this is the favorite toy (Daddy loves to play with it as well), which my son originally saw in Disney World. The size of the box alone caused me to have it shipped, which the nice people in the store there took care of in order to get it on Santa’s sleigh. When he tore the paper off the box he yelled, “Yes!” That Santa does good work.



So these are the gifts that are most popular now. Runners up include a Nerf target set, a radio controlled Camaro, and a new baseball glove. He did get clothing and pajamas, but as those things were opened he rolled his eyes and tossed them aside, almost as if he wanted to say, “What was Santa thinking?” I must admit that I too did that kind of thing as a kid. Alas, now all I get is clothing. Santa, if you’re reading this, I want one 50th anniversary G.I. Joe next year if I’m a good boy. Please!!  

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