Santa's elves have been working extra hard this year to provide toys that are weird, wild and world events-appropriate. The holidays are all about ho-ho-ho-ing, so spread some happy cheer with a brand new toy.

Who wants to take a bath with Mae West or the Three Stooges? Who doesn't?! Celebriducks ($9.95, Balloons on Broadway, 617 SW Washington St., 241-3336) are whimsical rubber duckies resembling such icons as Laurel, Hardy and Queen Victoria. The ducks are high-quality, solid rubber that won't wear out or gather mold. And, as always, rubber duckies are good clean fun.


Little girls love dolls, and feminists agree: The Groovy Girls are politically correct dolls that celebrate individuality and diversity. The Limited Edition Deluxe Posh Party Set ($29.95, Treehouse Toys, 4907 SW 76th Ave., Raleigh Hills, 292-4447) is a popular Groovy Girls option this season. Adults may be slightly disturbed to see the doll dressed like a little hooker in pink plastic slutwear, but the kids seem to like it.

In these trying times, many people turn to sports to relieve stress. But some of the best pressure-release valves have been simply too loud and inconvenient to indulge in at a moment's notice--until now. Soft Horseshoes ($22.50, Treehouse Toys, 4907 SW 76th Ave., Raleigh Hills, 292-4447) or Bowl-o-Rama ($10.95, Balloons on Broadway, 617 SW Washington St., 241-3336) bring two action-packed sports right into the home or office. The horseshoes are a kinder, gentler version of the traditional iron-clad game. Bowl-o-Rama is reminiscent of a Magic 8 Ball, with scores that appear in the window.

Dog people usually begin as dog children. Why not start that creepy, obsessive bond as early as possible with a Fun with Your Dog Kit ($19.95, Thinker Toys, 7784 SW Capitol Highway, 245-3936). The kit includes glasses to see like a dog, a special whistle fit only for canine ears, a recipe for scrumptious puppy-pleasing treats, and instructions on how to read Rover's mind.

Play-Doh comes up with some wacky playsets every year, and Dr. Drill 'n' Fill ($9.95, Fred Meyer, 6850 N Lombard St., 286-0629, and other locations) lives up to those expectations. The box includes dental instruments, cool silver-colored Play-Doh and a plastic head full of holey teeth. Dr Drill 'n' Fill fights anti-dentistism.

Thousands of dads, grads and love-to-get-fads received Magz ($14.95-$34.95, Kids at Heart, 3445 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 231-2954) for a gift this year; they're still flying off the shelves. These magnetic construction sets allow fidgety adults and kids to magically build odd sculptures without the restriction of glue, tape, staples or other binding devices.

Legoland is now one of the most popular family vacation destinations in the world. Create your own personal Legoland with one of many Lego or Duplo building systems ($10 on up, Finnegan's, 922 SW Yamhill St., 221-0306), which cover a wide range of interests. Avoid the predictable Harry Potter and Bob the Builder routes; instead, choose the unexpected, such as Life on Mars (isn't that where men are from?) or Adventure Trip--the toddlers can set up their own mini-version of the Survivor show.

Kids of all ages are starstruck once in a while, and celebrity dolls are a great stocking stuffer. There are several choices out there, such as the talking Crocodile Hunter ($28.95, Things from Another World, 4133 NE Sandy Blvd., 284-4693) who spouts such wisdom as "Crikey!" Or please take home James Brown ($30, Walgreens, 2103 W Burnside St., 295-6550, and other locations) for some soul on demand. P.S. Walgreens would love you to get the Godfather out of their store. Word on the aisles is that he's just a tad annoying.

quick gift ideas

Make-your-own kits Your kids will have loads of fun making their own tasty gummy candies and chewing gum while learning about the environment in the process. $10. haggis mcbaggis, 6802 SE Milwaukie Ave., 234-0849.

Fun for All
Spend hours constructing whatever your heart desires with colorful magnetic metal pieces that hold together. Create a sculpture or a model of the Eiffel Tower. Then take 'em apart and start afresh. $35.95, or stocking size, $6.95. Treehouse Toys, 4907 SW 76th Ave., 292-4447.

Intellectual Fun
The whole family will enjoy playing Cranium Primo. Much like the old classic but with a few new questions, an updated game board and four packages of clay in a nifty tin. $49.95. Starbucks Coffee, a street corner near you, 1-800-STARBUC for locations.


Gift Guide Intro

Stocking Stuffers






Cool Stuff




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