Retail Therapy: Dinosaurs are go]

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The Independent Online
WHAT is it about dinosaurs that entrances children? They may be long gone but, as every parent knows, they are certainly far from forgotten. They have their own permanent exhibition at the Natural History Museum; they make frequent appearances in the high street toy shops, and they also star in the Spielberg film, Jurassic Park, which opens this summer.

The Early Learning Centre (branches nationwide) has hand- painted plastic dinosaur models (to scale) from pounds 2.49. Each dinosaur has been authenticated from fossil remains and other prehistoric evidence, and comes with a leaflet showing the size and scale of the models. Fuzzy felt dinosaurs ( pounds 2.99) and puppets ( pounds 5.99) are fun for younger children. Dinosaur templates at pounds 2.99 can create brass-rubbing-style pictures, and there are dinosaur jigsaw puzzles at pounds 4.49 that can be transformed into a wall-hanging by glueing the pieces on to a backing board.

Dino-Roars ( pounds 9.99), from Fisher-Price, are soft toys and come in bright colours; they also roar when squeezed ( pounds 9.99). Especially cute are the primary coloured, soft-toy dinosaurs from the Manhattan Toy Company; pounds 6.50 (small) and pounds 14.95 (large).

You do not have to be young to enjoy dinosaurs. The National History Museum's permanent exhibition (more than one million visitors since it opened in 1992) includes moving robotic dinosaurs, skeletons and models. The exhibition has been so popular that half of the museum's shop sales are dinosaur-related. Visit the dino-store for dinosaur biscuits (65p) and a dinosaur teapot at pounds 44.99. Other artefacts include a boxed set of 20 scale-model dinosaurs at pounds 29.50, dinosaur biscuit cutters at pounds 3.99 and felt finger-puppets at pounds 1.75 each. But beware of the queues for the

exhibition.

Entrance to the museum costs pounds 4 per adult, pounds 2 per child and pounds 10.50 for a family ticket - two adults and four children.

A colourful magazine has recently arrived for young fans; it includes fact files, posters and guides for dinosaur spotters and answers to such questions as: How big was a dinosaur egg? Did dinosaurs hibernate? Did did they have ears? Could dinosaurs fly? It is published fortnightly and costs pounds 1.50 from newsagents.

For the more creative, the Dinosaur Craft Book (Letts, pounds 12.95) is full of ideas to make dinosaur accessories such as a Dimetrodon Draught-stop, a diplodocus key holder and a party-time stegosaurus birthday cake. Do not forget the stegosaurus oven gloves to remove it from the oven.

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