Toys to spoil toddlers and tycoons

Los Angeles, October 9:

Wondering what to get this holiday season for that someone special who already has it all? Well, whether you’re shopping for a toddler or a tycoon, two famous gift lists should give you plenty of ideas, not to mention a healthy overdraft.

Toy Wishes magazine published its ‘Hot Dozen’ list of must-have holiday toys, which was dominated by playthings incorporating lavish dollops of technology.

Of course, there are the usual dolls like Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses, or if you want a little more attitude, the more streetwise Bratz Forever Diamondz. There’s even an updated monopoly set on the list.

But be honest. If money were no object would you get a plain plastic doll, a classic board game or a high tech horsie like Butterscotch? This $300 marvel is an interactive, life-sized miniature toy pony that uses sensors to respond to touch and sound — moving toward a child when its name is called or going to sleep when the lights are off. If neither of those tickle your fancy, then how about the $40 TMX Elmo? The old Sesame Street favourite has been updated with sensors and motors that make it slap its knee and fall over in a fit of laughter after it is ‘tickled’.

Lego makes the list with a $250 Mindstorms NXT Robotics Toolset that lets children aged 10 and older build and programme robots. But the ultimate toy for the holiday may well be Nintendo’s hotly awaited new video game console, the Wii. This family-friendly machine incorporates new technology that replaces the old to-ggle stick and button controller with an intuitive motion-sensing device. This operates like a television remote control and lets players simulate swinging a bat, sword or tennis racquet.

Nintendo touts the console as the first of its kind aimed at casual gamers of all ages.

But don’t use that as an excuse to avoid getting your special

tycoon something from the

fantasy gift list put together each year by luxury retailer Neiman Marcus.

Its catalogue of extravagance really does prove the saying that the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. For a mere $3.8 million, punters can purchase lifetime membership at Italy’s Castiglion Del Bosco wine estate, which includes unlimited time at Tuscan villas built among Roman ruins and access to swimming pools, vehicles and spas.

If that package seems a little mundane, how about a $1.76 million space trip? For that bargain price six people can blast off on SpaceShipTwo, the commercial passenger craft under construction by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Passengers will then spend four nights with Branson on his private island in the British Virgin Islands. The annual list also resurrects a perennial favourite — the limited edition sports cars. This year’s offering is 50 black 2007 BMW M6 convertibles with V-10 engines, each of which can be had for a mere $139,000.

Other vehicles include the electric-powered, two-seater Twike, a three-wheeled vehicle that resembles a golf cart, and which the manufacturer calls a ‘human-electric hybrid.’ For $40,000 the Twike lets you augment the battery power with good, old-fashioned pedals. Th-en there is the street-legal GG Quad machine, described as the offspring of ‘a muscle car that ran off with a motorcycle’ for $56,465. If you prefer adventure of a different sort you mig-ht prefer a backyard water park for $100,000.

American sports fans can salivate over a package of tickets to six events including the Super Bowl; the Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League All-Star games; the US Open tennis women’s final; and a surprise bonus event. All the events will include meals with sporting superstars and bids for the package at a charity auction start at $250,000. The luxury retailer claims it does not make money on the fantasy gifts, which it uses to promote the more mundane items in its catalogue, like $500 cashmere sweaters.