Parents warned of gulf in toy prices

PARENTS should shop around for children's toys this Christmas and could save pounds by avoiding the top toy store Hamleys, the Consumers' Association said yesterday.

Prices vary greatly, according to a survey in the association's Which? magazine.

Reseachers compared the prices of 12 toys and games - including Scrabble, Meccano, Nintendo Game Boy, a Mini Chef kitchen and a Sindy's make-up counter - in October. The best buys were found at Argos, Children's World, Index, Toys R Us and Woolworths. Hamleys, in central London, came out worst. 'Hamleys was the most expensive for 8 of the 12 toys,' the magazine said. 'In one or two cases the differences were less than a couple of pounds but in many cases you would end up paying much more.'

Which? said a Sindy's make- up counter cost pounds 25.65 in Woolworths and pounds 44.99 in Hamleys. A Fisher Price Mini Chef was pounds 59.97 in Toys R Us and pounds 99 in Hamleys. And Scrabble was pounds 9.24 in Argos against pounds 19.99 in Hamleys.

The magazine said a second spot-check in November showed falling prices in the run-up to Christmas - but there were still big differences.

Hamleys said the Which? report contained a number of inaccuracies - the Fisher Price Mini Chef was pounds 79.99, Scrabble pounds 12.99, and the Sindy's make-up counter pounds 39.99. 'We constantly monitor our pricing to ensure it

adequately reflects the quality of experience we offer' a spokesman said

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