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Toys R (still) you

Just because you're past the age of dolls and Tonka trucks doesn't mean there isn't cool stuff in the toy aisle for you. Here are some gifts you might be interested in.

By PAMELA DAVIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 3, 2001


Just because you're past the age of dolls and Tonka trucks doesn't mean there isn't cool stuff in the toy aisle for you. Here are some gifts you might be interested in.

You may have visions of singing your heart out with e-kara, but your parents may be thinking about buying you a boring, itchy red sweater instead.

When will moms and dads learn that little kids aren't the only ones who want toys as holiday gifts? Older kids and teenagers like playthings, too.

You just have to tell them. They can't read your minds, you know.

Toywise, things are good for your age group these days. In the past, toymakers ignored the 'tween and teen market, but now they realize how valuable you are (actually how valuable your allowance is) and have been creating toys aimed at you.

Knowing you're too old to play with action figures (though you may still collect them), Barbie dolls and the like, toy companies have come out with a solid offering of games, activity sets and electronic gadgets that are better suited to your lifestyle.

Here are a few new toys you may be interested in receiving this holiday season (stock up on batteries):

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Nemesis Factor (Hasbro, $19.99): This electronic game delivers 100 puzzles that require players to use logic, guessing and persistence. Once all the puzzles have been solved, a light at the top of the pinnacle will shine, indicating your victory over the game.

* * *

e-kara (Hasbro, $60): Put down that hairbrush you've been using as a microphone. Plug the portable e-kara karaoke microphone into any standard TV or VCR and perform. Each unit comes with a music cartridge featuring five songs. The words to the songs appear on the TV screen. Duet microphones, which allow you to hook up as many as 10 singers at once, are sold separately.

* * *

Tony Hawk Skateboard (Tyco, $59.99): Using a specially designed transmitter, you control the direction and speed of this 131/2-inch tall remote-controlled toy. A microprocessor allows the figure and the board to work together to perform stunts.

* * *

Incredible Shrinky Dinks Maker (Spin Master Toys, $29.99): Take things down a size or two with this little machine. It turns doodles, drawings and designs into real jewelry and decorations. It has a four-step process: trace, color, cut and shrink.

* * *

e-Brain (DSI Toy, $29.99): Get lonely working on the computer by yourself? Here's your electronic talking "personal companion." A special CD-ROM gives the e-Brain programming options such as storing and dialing phone numbers, tracking your schedule and playing games. There are no wires to plug in.

* * *

DJ Mixer (MGA Entertainment, $49.99): You can be the one to get the party started with the One Man Jam DJ Mixer. It includes two turntables, a built-in microphone, a cassette deck and speakers. You can create your own combination of music and add scratches and riffs, and broadcast through your radio on an AM frequency.

* * *

DJ Johnny Bot (Trendmasters, $59.99): You do the singing, the robot helps out with the music. The toy can be hooked up to a portable CD player, and you can sing along using its portable microphone. It's equipped with a DJ scratch disc and sound effects buttons.

* * *

Magnetic Poetry: The Game (Magnetic Poetry, $29.95): The game is packed in a refrigerator-shaped tin and features those little word tiles found on fridges everywhere. Players select subject cards, race against a timer to create poems on the metal playing board and earn points for each tile used.

* * *

e.chat (Tiger, $29.99): Designed like a personal data assistant, e.chat is really a secret messenger. Each e.chat comes with a stylus that allows you to tap out your message on the touch pad and send it to a friend's e.chat unit. It also features a phone book, note pad, calculator and clock.

* * *

Screamin Serpent Roller Coaster (K'Nex, $89.99): Build a huge replica of a steel-style roller coaster complete with twists, turns and loops. It is more than 61/2 feet long, 21/2 feet wide and 31/2 feet tall. The battery-powered motor pulls the coaster up the incline. A sound module creates real coaster sounds and screams.

* * *

Password Journal 2 (Girl Tech, $24.99): Others may try to open it, but only the owner's voice can access it with the spoken password. Features an intruder alert, a calendar and a light.

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