Right on the heels of hits like Addams Family Values and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, toymakers are flooding the holiday toy market with yet another batch of movie — and TV — related goods. But will the kids’ favorite characters be as lovable in the living room as they are on screen? Entertainment Weekly — aided by young experts Torie, 7, and Jake, 10 — rates this year’s playthings based on what parents really want to know.
ALADDIN MAGIC FLYING CARPET (JusToys, $14.99 to $19.99, ages 5 and up)
*What Does It Do? Aladdin flies — actually, glides — across hard surfaces on an air-filled cushion.
*Number of Days Before Kids Say, ”I Have Nothing to Play With”: About two — the first few hours will be cool, but what good is a whole new world without Princess Jasmine?
*Number of Pieces It Can Be Broken Into by New Year’s Eve: Four; tassels may unravel, the cushion can easily be pulled , off or torn, and one magical flight down the stairs could pull the rug right out from under Aladdin’s feet.
*Expert Evaluation: ”But why doesn’t it move on the carpet, if he’s riding on a carpet?”
BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES ACTION FIGURES (Kenner, $7.99 each, ages 4 and up)
*What Do They Do? Each of the 13 figures has its own trick; for example, Batman wields a firing grappling hook and cuffs.
*Number of Days Before Kids Say, ”I Have Nothing to Play With”: Weeks, maybe months. Vivid imaginations can make up endless Gotham City scenarios.
*Number of Pieces They Can Be Broken Into by New Year’s Eve: It would take a bit of muscle to break these figures, but most come with easy-to-lose detachable parts.
*Expert Evaluation: ”They have a cartoony feeling…that’s much better than when they try to make ’em look like real humans.”
BEETHOVEN’S 2ND PLUSH TOY (Kenner, $19.99, all ages)
*What Does It Do? One dog trick sit! *Number of Days Before Kids Say, ”I Have Nothing to Play With”: About a week. Unfortunately, the rest of the big guy’s family is sold separately, and kids who lapped up the films may not love an inanimate pooch.
*Number of Pieces It Can Be Broken Into by New Year’s Eve: None.
*Expert Evaluation: ”He would be good in my collection.”
FREE WILLY, ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES, LAST ACTION HERO STORYTELLER SERIES (Sony Wonder, $8.98 each, all ages)
*What Do They Do? Child stars Jason James Richter, Christina Ricci, and Austin O’Brien give dramatic taped readings of their films while listeners follow along in storybooks.
*Number of Days Before Kids Say, ”I Have Nothing to Play With”: One, though this is a gift they may come back to. While 15 to 20 minutes per tape is just the right amount of storytelling for older kids, younger, nonreading children won’t last that long.
*Number of Pieces They Can Be Broken Into by New Year’s Eve: None, but the small paperback books may get lost in the holiday shuffle.
*Expert Evaluation: ”Could be good as a going-to-bed thing….I notice they only put in the nice scenes.”
MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS (Bandai America, $39.95 each, ages 4 and up)
*What Do They Do? The most coveted toys this season, these space-age action figures (based on the Fox TV children’s show of the same name) interlock and transform. The five Dinozords make up one giant Megazord; the Megazord latches onto the Dragonzord and Titanus to create the Ultrazord.
*Number of Days Before Kids Say, ”I Have Nothing to Play With”: Months. This is the kind of system that will keep fans coming back each time they collect a new figure.
*Number of Pieces They Can Be Broken Into by New Year’s Eve: More than the original five. This plastic isn’t flexible enough to withstand too many transformations.
*Expert Evaluation: ”Would be better if they came with this-goes-here-that-goes-there instructions.”