JUST when it seemed safe to return to the playgrounds, many schools are preparing for another invasion of the battling tops.
With names such as Dranzer and Trygle, low-tech Beyblades are the latest craze from Japan. The traditional string-whipped tops mutate into warrior machines that can be customised to beat opponents in the Bey stadium. They are also pocket-sized which means, as many schools discovered last term, they make the perfect playground accessory.
Despite the bad press such crazes often generate, one headteacher can not wait to get back to school. For Michael Randall, head of Lytchett Matravers primary school, in Dorset, is hoping that Beyblades will finally wipe out his ignominious conker defeat.
"As soon as I get my Beyblade I will dip it in vinegar and put it in the oven for days. I will not be beaten again," he said.
His 430 pupils know that as long as Mr Randall is allowed to keep winning they can keep their playground toys.
"We have a firm no swapping, no selling and no stealing rule. And if the toys are not a danger to anyone, then I'm happy as I enjoy playing with the children. I only had to ban Pokemon cards when I lost my last one," he said.
Mr Randall is unlikely to lack opposition, according to Marcello Rossi, the owner of the Toymaster shop in Poole. He cannot order in enough Beyblades to keep up with demand. "I sold 1,000 in two days, it is just phenomenal."
The British Association of Toy Retailers said the other Christmas stocking toppers were the Annabel doll, Barbie Rapunzel, Harry Potter and Spider-man merchandise plus the mini-cooks range such as pop corn and ice-cream makers. Fortunately, most of them will be too big to bring into school.
But Mr Rossi has another prediction: when Beyblades have had their day watch out for the next craze - Astrojacks. The traditional jacks and ball game updated for the 21st century is expected to reach all playgrounds by half-term. You have been warned.