Look out for the "Eye-Popping Portable Picture Puzzle", one of the developments from the "Where's Wally" books in which part of the puzzle is to find the single image, withing a hugely complex scene, of a single Wally figure. This circular puzzle with originally shaped pieces is good value at pounds 9.99 and makes a change from conventional jigsaws. There's also a Magical Wally Wand for pounds 4.99 a splendidly time-wasting plastic stick with myriad shapes glugging around in a viscous liquid, but only one with a picture of Wally on it. Find it, shake it up, and lose it again.
For conventional jigsaws, Ravensburger offer everything Disney's Lion King in 40-piece to Bruegel's Tower of Babel in 9000.
Two-player strategy games:
There is a trend away from complex strategy games - which never quite seem to establish themselves well enough to challenge chess, bridge and backgammon - towards small-scale games that are over in a few minutes. David Westnedge Ltd offer an interesting range of well-produced games, including Quixo - a noughts-and-crosses game with a difference, Quarto, an infuriating strategy game on a 4-by-4 board, Quads, a perplexing pattern- making game and Pylos a game of pyramid-building with black and white spheres (All these are produced by the French company Gigamic.)
All these games seem to be at just that level of difficulty at which the human kind cannot quite cope.
The new range of tricks from Marvin's Magic proudly claim to be the "first and only sets ever to be officially recommended by the world famous Magic Circle". And you have to promise, when buying them, that you'll never, under pain of excommunication from the Magic Circle, reveal to anyone how the tricks are done. From simple packs of doctored playing cards to huge compendiums of 250 tricks, the range offers something for all levels of expertise and expenditure. Look out for "Marvin's Magic Shop" a box of tricks in which the packaging itself transforms into a Magic Cabinet. A word of caution, however, before you decide to bemuse your family: some of the tricks need hours of practice for a really slick performance.
Since the highly success of "Articulate" a few years ago, we have seen several games that seemed designed for hyperactive and generally inebriated PR people to shout words at each other and score points. If you like that sort of think, you'll enjoy "Thlink" ("The game of thinking by linking by lateral thinking") from Really Useful Games, where you have to form concepts such as film or song titles from a set of cards with pictures on them that really have nothing to do with the concept at all. A good game if you like shouting and arguing about the rules. "Of course a picture of a lion is `Brief Encounter' - how long do you think an encounter with a lion would last?" Personally, I think I'll stick to Scrabble.