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Techie toys are toppi ing the bestseller list; Christmas is coming and Fenwick's toy department is busier than ever but just how good are this year's selection of festive toys? LIZ LAMB took Fenwick's top 10 Christmas toys to a Tyneside school to find out.

Byline: LIZ LAMB

IT'S the busiest time of the year for the toy department at Fenwick in Newcastle's Northumberland Street.

With more than 10,000 different toys in stock for Christmas, finding the ones youngsters want falls to toy buyer Matt McWhinnie.

Matt has the job of predicting in January what toys are going to be the big sellers over the festive period. This year interactive toys are proving popular and look set to reign for years to come as toy producers come up with increasingly elaborate designs for tech-savvy youngsters.

Matt says: "There's a continuing trend towards electronic toys. Kids are wanting to interact more and more with toys. You get toys now such as the Cookie My Playful Puppy, which reacts to its bone and touch, that's proving very popular with younger children.

"Fijit Friends interactive figure is for a slightly older age group and the more you play with it, the more is responds. There is also Milky the Bunny emotion pet which is very simple and you can interact with it, interact with the carrot.

"Moshi Monsters is a huge phenomenon this year. It's an interactive website where children can join and look after their own monsters and interact with other kids in a safe environment. There is a lot of monsters so there is a lot of collectability."

Also proving a hit is Let's Rock Elmo, another interactive toy, which shows the Sesame Street character bang the drums and sing into a microphone.

Matt says: "Again it is a toy that has a lot of functions and features and that is the way toys are going. It's interesting with Moshi Monsters someone has been able to make an internet success then gone into toys.

"Kids are becoming more and more tech-savvy and the toy industry has to respond to that. They have to work harder so that kids get more out of the toys. A lot of the toys now have related websites and children are able to interact with them and learn more about the toys through that."

Pre-school hits on the top 10 list include Fireman Sam, which is popular with young boys, and Octonauts, a successful new launch from a popular television series. Star Wars continues to be popular more than three decades since George Lucas made the film.

Matt says: "Star Wars just keeps going on and on. The film was made in 1977 and then there was the cartoon series. These days the dads remember it the first time around and then buy it for their sons.

"Transformers is huge this year and has been popular for a while. It's become a classic toy range."

Thanks to Fenwick in Northumberland Street, Newcastle, who generously agreed to supply the top 10 toys for our road-test. We have donated toys used in this feature to Barnardo's North East to help vulnerable and needy children.

Contact Fenwick toy department on 0191 232 5100 or visit www.fenwick.co.uk Here, children from St Teresa's primary school in Heaton, Newcastle, give their verdicts.

FIREMAN SAM PONTYPANDY RESCUE SET RRP pounds 29.99 Lorcan Samuel is five years old and he tested Fireman Sam, based on the Welsh animated children''s television series.

He said: "I love Sam and his fellow firefighters. This game lets you use the battering ram to knock down the door which is really cool.

"You can also rescue Lion the cat who gets stuck in a tree. The game is just brilliant.

I don't know what Santa is bringing me but I hope it is Sam.'' TRANSFORMER 3 MECHTECH LEADER RRP pounds 44.99 Fenwick price pounds 30 Six-year-old Ryan Crawford set to work putting together the Transformer toy which allows the robot to transform into a vehicle.

He said: "It's hard to build but I would get my dad to help me put it together. The robot transforms into a car.

"I used to play with Pokemon and stuff like that. Sometimes I play with my brother's toys.

"He is eight and we play on the computer. "I haven't yet chosen what toys I want for Christmas but I know what I want for my birthday in January. My aunty is going to buy me Pokemon bedding."

STAR WARS ULTIMATE FX LIGHTSABER RRP pounds 39.99, Fenwick price pounds 34 Joseph Kirkland is in Year 3. The sevenyear-old loved testing out the lightsaber. He said: "I think it's really cool. When you push the buttons down it sounds like a proper lightsaber and the buttons flash. I love Star Wars. I have some Star Wars toys and really like them. I have a Star Wars monster and a lightsaber at home. We always open our Christmas presents in the morning and it's really exciting.

"For Christmas I want a Lego Ninjago fire temple, I have put it on my Christmas list, it's top of my list. It has a fire dragon that shoots fire balls."

TEX NITRON BLASTER RRP wick price pounds 40 bell is in Year 4 and was very impressed toy.

NERF VORT pounds 49.99 Fenw William Camp with the Nerf "I think it is have tried Ner has foam discs won't hurt any "I love goi brilliant that N guns every sin touch and now s amazing," said the eight-year-old. "I rf guns before and I like this because it s, they are different to bullets, and they yone, they are safe.

ng to the see the toys at Fenwick. It's Nerf that can come up with different ngle time. For Christmas I want an iPod w I want this Nerf blaster."

MILY THE BUNNY EMOTION PET RRP pounds 59.99, Fenwick price pounds 55.

Katie Twizell is five years old. She said: "The bunny is lovely. her eyes open and she is so cuddly. She blinks her eyes and wiggles her ears. You can also feed her with a juicy carrot. If you tickle her under the feet they start swinging. I love Christmas and my favourite part of it is decorating the tree and singing Christmas carols at school."

LET'S ROCK ELMO RRP pounds 69.99 Fenwick price pounds 60 Elmo proved popular with all the children during the roadtest who loved watching the Sesame Street character sing and bang the drums. Thomas Campbell was also impressed. The six-year-old said: "I like Elmo, he's funny. He plays the drums and tambourines and he sings but I don't know what he was singing.

"I play with big kids' toys at home. I play on skateboards, bikes, scooters as I like playing outside.

"For Christmas I want a drum kit, a Nerf gun and a lightsaber."

FIJIT FRIENDS INTERACTIVE FIGURE, RRP pounds 49.

Emmy Dobson, four years old, said Fijit was her favourite toy of all. She added: "I really like it and I like that it makes lots of noises and lights up. Its head moves and makes snoring noises. Even if you leave it still makes sounds. I think the Moshi treehouse is a bit boring but I love Fijit. I've been very good this year so I think Santa will bring me lots of toys.'' MOSHI MONSTERS MOSHLING TREEHOUSE, RRP pounds 19.99 Sophia Tickner, who is six years old, said: "The treehouse is pretty cool and everyone loves Moshi Monsters. Lots of people play the game on the computer so I think kids will really like the Moshi Monsters toys. You can hide the figures in the treetops. I'm looking forward to Christmas very much.'' OCTONAUTS OCTOPOD PLAYSET RRP pounds 34.99 Fenwick price pounds 30 Max Wallace is five years old and a Fireman Sam fan but loved playing with the Octonauts set. He said: "I think it's a good toy. It's great because it has got slides and octonauts and you can put them on the slide.

"For Christmas I want a Blackberry so I can talk to everyone. My friend has a Blackberry and her brother has a Blackberry too. I can play on the games as well."

CAPTION(S):

COOKIE MY PLAYFUL PUPPY RRP pounds 74.99 Fenwick pounds 50 Grace Kirkland is five. She said: "The puppy is really good fun. It barks and everything. I have made a long list of presents and I can't wait to open my presents on Christmas Day."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 25, 2011
Words:1387
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