Generation games

24th December 2004 at 00:00
Good news for younger teachers who are already dreading returning to school in January to face pupils coming down from the sugar highs, late nights and toy orgies that characterise Christmas. Dealings with those grumpy, sleep-starved children could be sweetened by a nostalgic trip back to your own childhood.

Many presents expected to be in Santa's sack will be more than 20 years old with 1980s hits such as the Cabbage Patch Kids and Power Rangers joining the even older family games of Cluedo, Buckaroo and Twister.

This Christmas' top 10 best-sellers produced by the Toy Retailers'

Association has the crumbled-faced Cabbage Patch dolls taking on the streetwise, sassy and grunge-glamorous Bratz. Meanwhile the avenging low-tech Power Rangers tackle the micro-tech of the Robosapiens robot.

Also in the running are Tamagotchi, the new interactive generation of the virtual pets; singing, dancing Dora the Explorer; early-years consoles V-Smile and Leapster Leapfrog and the trampoline.

Ben Green, chairman of the TRA, said that the top 10 toys were so varied that children would be able to spend the holiday interacting with all of the family, getting fit, exploring their emotions and learning to read and write.

He believes that toys such as Power Rangers can help boys try out or relive emotions, as girls more often do through dolls.

But Anne Watts, head of Newchurch primary school, Sandown, the Isle of Wight, disagrees. "I am so glad I've been warned that Power Rangers are back. It will be horrendous in the playground. The boys see all that violence on TV and don't really relate it to real human beings. They put on the gloves and the hats and they are Power Rangers," she said. "Even if they use the play figure, it is still all about violence and getting hurt."

She also has doubts about the "educational" content of the early-years consoles. "They are solitary activities, which create solitary people. Children may learn how to read a word, but have no idea how to use it properly.

"Children need to make up their own games and to interact in groups to learn about negotiating with others," she said.

And Mrs Watts' advice on the best Christmas presents: "Lots of books and people to talk to."

THE TOP 10

Bratz (RRP pound;19.99)

1960s,70s and 80s fashions are revamped for 2005 as fashion dolls Bratz strut their stuff with retro accessories and mix-and- match outfits. Each themed doll has her own CD of tunes from the era.

Cabbage Patch Kids (RRP pound;19.99) The 1980s phenomenon is back. Dolls come with adoption certificates, unique character details and personality.

Classic games such as Buckaroo, Twister and Cluedo (RRP pound;9.99 to Pounds 14.99)

Revamped versions of those old family favourites.

Dora the Explorer (We did it, Dancing Dora) (RRP pound;29.99)

Toddlers' TV Dora comes to life when you put one of her four magical friends in her hand. She even sings her own special "happy song".

Leapster Leapfrog (RRP pound;64.99)

Animated learning games on a handheld multimedia learning system. The colour LCD screen is touch activated and also has a collection of familiar game controls.

Power Rangers (RRP pound;6.99)

These figures have three play modes, each comes with adaptable body armour that can be worn or transform into a vehicle and mega vehicle.

Robosapiens (RRP pound;79.99)

Designed by a NASA scientist, he can be made to walk, strike, throw, grab, dance and speak fluent "caveman" via remote control.

Trampolines (RRP pound;149 - pound;299.95)

Circular trampolines. Can be used inside or outdoors.

V-Smile (RRP pound;49.99)

An early-years play system which connects directly to the TV, offering puzzles and mini games.

Tamagotchi (Connexion) - Bandai (RRP pound;12.99)

The latest generation of the virtual pet concept which can now make friends with other Tamagotchi through an infra-red connection. Swap gifts, illnesses and toothache and listen out for the patter of tamababy feet.

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