TOYS IN BABELAND

WHAT’S TOPPING THE WISH LISTS IN 1985

SOFT, CUDDLY, CUTE. Sharp, calculating, robotic. Separately, these adjectives are polar opposites; together, they describe toyland’s rank and file, a band of sleek and lovable warriors that are invading toy stores – and parents’ pocketbooks -this Christmas.

Two years ago, Cabbage Patch Kids overwhelmed the country. Last year, the homely adoptables were still tugging at the nation’s heartstring, but a new breed of toy hit town.

Today, there’s no doubt that Transformers, Go-Bots and their warring cousins are heading the pack, but the squadrons of Autobots, Decepticons and Insecticons should keep their transformable eyes peeled: The descendants of Cabbage Patch (such as the lumpy and lovable Furskins) and softies of all shapes and sizes are headed for Santa’s bag.

Here’s a look at what will be under Christmas trees this year.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same -at least in toy land. Children may be learning their ABCs on computer terminals and carrying around double-digit allowances but some toys just never go out of style.

MAMA’S GIRL



The good old-fashioned baby doll is making a comeback (if we can say she was ever really out of style among the mob of dolls that did everything but send themselves to college). This new doll doesn’t cry, burp or wet. But just ask any little girl and you’ll find out what the news is. She’s “A Real Baby” and she doesn’t do anything but lie there and look like it. Real Baby is either white or black and comes wide-eyed or sleeping, with vinyl legs, arms and face, wigged hair and a weighted body to make her feel like a real baby. Each doll comes with a baby bottle, disposable diaper, five birth announcements and a booklet of names. ($29.97). Provided by Toys R Us.

newly introduced Huggy Bean doll by Golden Ribbon Playthings -the first black character doll ever mass produced. She’s 18 inches tall with a soft, vinyl head, arms and legs and a plush body. Designed for children three and up, she comes with her own fantasy story and is the central character of the Huggy Bean collection. (The manufacturer will donate $1 to UNICEF and Catholic Relief Services for African Relief from the sale of each doll.) ($29.95). Provided by Sanger Harris.



A PAL FOR BOYS



But don’t say “doll” to My Buddy. He’s a white or black pal for boys who like to have a friend around, maybe up in the treehouse or out in the back yard. My Buddy knows what life for little boys is like, so he’s tough – and ready for a few tumbles. My Buddy and the folks at Hasbro want the world to know that dolls -er, pals -aren’t just for little girls. ($24.97). Provided by Toys R Us.

Who can resist this mutt? Pound Puppy is ready to find a loving home for just $24.95. PP comes with care and feeding instructions, and little owners can send away for personalized dog tags. Provided by Sanger Harris.



WORLDLY MASTERS



Unless you’ve been living in Outer Mongolia, you already know all about the world of transformers, the “living” robots from a far-away planet who must search for life-giving fuel and energy on Earth. In the Hasbro Transformer legend, Evil Decepticons battle heroic Autobots for control of earth, and both sides can transform their bodies into vehicles, creatures and weapons. This is just a small part of the story of the phenomenal toys that have almost single-handedly transformed the toy -and Saturday morning cartoon -industry.

In Japan, transformable robots have been mounting their own takeover for several years – now they’ve invaded U.S. toy stores. Modern Toys at 4524 Cole specializes in Japanese space toys and robots, including Go-Bots, Zoids and other Japanese TV characters. (Change-robo is shown above; the Byclosser robot and Space Sheriff Juspion below).

Matchbox, the toy car company, is also jumping into the robot arena with their formidable entry, Voltron.

Transformable robots range in price from $3.95 to $200.

These invincible warriors come in various shapes and sizes, many of them among the Lilliputians. But they need not be scattered all over the house – the battery-operated Power Driver 4X4 Robot Rider from Buddy L. (about $11) can transport them to their battle grounds.

The adventures of Wonder Woman prove it. Little girls have always had a secret desire to be just as powerful as their male counterparts. Ruffles and frills are okay -up to a point. That’s where She-Ra and Catra take over. Princess Adora and the Jealous Beauty – the latest (and first female) entries into the “Masters of the Universe” by Mattel -are archenemies, but they don’t do their fighting like Krystal and Alexis. They slug it out, He Man-style.

And to help the expanding “Masters of the Universe” crew get around this year, there’s a fleet of new vehicles waiting. The action figures, fortresses and vehicles range from $2.95 to $49.95. Provided by Sanger Harris and Toys R Us.



LADY OF THE ’80S



Originally Mattel’s Barbie was kind of a stick-in-the-mud. She only bent at the waist and had a limited wardrobe. But she was generous and shared her clothes with her pal Midge (remember her?). Over the years, Barbie and the gang loosened up, and before long, she was into aerobics and California tans. Her every joint moved, affording her infinite entanglements with her surf buddy Ken. Barbie’s wardrobe also took a turn for the better. The wardrobe underwent a metamorphosis to include designer gowns with matching shoes and purses. And at the ripe old age of 26, Barbie has blossomed into the thoroughly modern working woman. She’s got it all: a personal computer, a coordinated business wardrobe, an hour-glass figure and an understanding man. Her “Home In Office” is $29.95 at Sanger Harris.



FAST CASH



Toys reflect more about our society than we’d like to think. The real world doesn’t stop at the door of the playroom and neither does the new Buddy L. Credit Card Bank. Kids learn early the value their parents place on a fast-cash credit card. Now they can live on the financial edge too, making deposits to and withdrawals from a very modern piggy bank. The Credit Card Bank even comes equipped with a calculator so big spenders can keep track of their moolah. The Credit Card Bank retails for about $16. Also new from Buddy L. this year is the Electronic Cash Register, with a real calculator and seven functions. Provided by Buddy L.

BRAIN TWISTERS



You knew it would happen: Stage II, the next step in trivia games. First, answer a series of trivia questions and then discover what the answers have in common. The fewer guesses, the more points.

You hoped it wouldn’t happen: The Duran Duran Game, a board game that details the rock band’s adventures.

It happened: Mr. No Respect is still fighting for a little decency -this time in a nerve-wracking number-stacking game that involves four players and a lot of little black tiles.

But how did it happen? Scotland Yard, a detective game for mystery buffs. One player is Mr. X who is trying to evade the other players who work together as a detective team. Players move on a map of London, using tickets to travel by bus, taxi or subway. Games, priced from $10.97 to $26.97, are available at Toys R Us.

JUNGLE MENAGERIE



Little girls and boys may abandon their baby dolls and dump trucks along the road to adulthood but, for many, a fascination with stuffed animals will follow them through life. And we’re not just talking Snoopies and teddy bears.

The pink elephant aficionados are making room for the “serious” connoisseur and the ranks of stuffed animaldom are overflowing. Witness the proliferation of the furry creatures, from dimestore shelves to specialty shops like Kingdom of Kamar at Meadow Central.

This year, the manufacturers of many stuffed animals have taken on several animal preservation causes by donating percentages of their proceeds to various animal funds. Determined Productions of California has come out with a line of 11 stuffed animals depicting several endangered species. A portion of the proceeds from the purchase of a Bengal tiger, snow leopard, orangutan, panda or polar bear, goes to the World Wildlife Fund to aid in their efforts to preserve these species for future generations.

The animals from the Endangered Wildlife collection, available at Sanger Harris, range in price from $12 to $70.

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