Dreaming of a bling Christmas: this year's must-haves

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The Independent Online

During the World Cup this summer, footballers' wives tottered around the German spa town of Baden Baden. This Christmas they will be coming to a toy shop near you.

New dolls dripping with the sparkly jewellery favoured by the England wives and girlfriends are among the toys tipped to dazzle children in coming weeks and months.

The dolls in the Bratz Forever Diamondz range come with diamante-studded jeans, crop tops, belts, bracelets and earrings. They come with a tiny, genuine diamond, encased in a necklace, accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

The figures, named by the Toy Retailer Association yesterday as one of the "cool dozen toys for this Christmas", are aimed at children between six and 12 and marketed with the slogan: "Diamondz are a Bratz Girl's Best Friend". They are the latest salvo in the battle between Bratz and Barbie for supremacy in the competitive girl's doll market.

Last year, UK sales of the Rock Angelz incarnation of the five-year-old streetwise Bratz overtook the 47-year-old American favourite. Barbie's owners, Mattel, struck back with a Bling Barbie with big earrings, necklaces, bracelets and short skirts.

Mattel is no longer making its Bling Barbie this year. Instead its Christmas blockbuster for girls - also in the Cool Dozen - is the radio-controlled Let's Dance Barbie, which acts as a dance tutor to its young owner.

Mattel is targeting older girls with a range of Fab Faces fashion dolls, which, although trendily dressed, are not as glitzy as Bling Barbie. By contrast, the new Bratz, which have four incarnations with varying hair colours, Cloe, Yasmin, Jade and Sharidan - scream bling from head to high heels.

A spokeswoman for Vivid Imaginations, which makes the Bratz range, explained: "The thing with Bratz is that they always emulate the style of fashions on the moment. And at the moment diamonds and Swarovski, the whole crystally, sparkly look, is very in fashion."

Mattel, however, thinks that the footballer's-wife look is passé. Its spokeswoman, Sarah Allen, said: "In September we had one of our best months and Bratz lost share and you wonder whether it has plateaued out. Our dancing Barbie has interaction with the child and allows more play with the doll. The popularity of Strictly Come Dancing has revitalised dancing."

Both dolls were put on display at a church in west London by the toy industry yesterday at a showcase event aimed at capturing a large share of the £1bn Christmas gift market.

For boys, the toy industry is tipping plenty of action products including the Dr Who Cyberman Mask, which blurts out 10 phrases such as "Resistance is illogical" and "You will be taken for Analysis".

Character Options, which has licensed the Dr Who franchise from the BBC, is selling 50,000 dolls of The Doctor, his female assistant Rose and other characters every week. Another boy's plaything, the Fast Talkin' McQueen from the animated film Cars, performs 15 manoeuvres and tricks.

For the family the board game Trivial Pursuit has a new version with questions on the 1990s and the Deal or No Deal game based on the Noel Edmonds' television game show.

Parents looking for traditional handicrafts could buy the Paper FX loom that turns old newspapers and magazines into woven bags, coasters and boxes.

The Toy Retailers Association draws up its Cool Dozen based on retailers' opinions, items requested by shoppers and the latest trends in new products.

Top 10 toys this year

Baby Born With Magic Eyes Zapf (RRP £39.99)

New version of the babies' doll which moves its eyes when a dummy is put into its mouth in addition to simulating wee and poo.

Bratz Forever Diamondz Assortment Vivid (£24.99)

Glam incarnation of the fashion doll with lashings of fake gems and one tiny real diamond with a certificate of authenticity.

Cars Fast Talkin' McQueen Mattel (RRP £39.99)

Stunt car based on Pixar's Cars film that does 15 tricks and has 30 "fun phrases" in the voice of the actor Owen Wilson.

Deal Or No Deal Electronic Board Game Drumond Park (RRP £29.99)

Battery-operated offshoot of the television quiz show with an inordinate number of card boxes to test contestants.

Let's Dance Barbie Doll Mattel (RRP £39.99)

Radio-controlled princess that teaches girls to dance, follows their dancing or dances itself to music.

Dr Who Cyberman Mask Character Options (RRP £29.99)

Mask that turns the user into Dr Who's metallic foe, screaming such statements as "Delete, delete, delete" and "You will be upgraded".

Paper FX Flair (RRP £19.99)

Back to the future with this old-style loom for turning papers and magazine into woven bags and other handicrafts.

Pixel Chix Mall Mattel (RRP £29.99)

Virtual shopping characters for girls that burble away and "visit malls", spending as much money as possible.

Tamagotchi Connexion V3 Bandai (RRP £12.99)

Handheld computer pet that evolves depending on level of care by owner and which occasionally falls ill.

Thomas Aquadraw Tomy (RRP £29.99)

Special mat that allows children to make pictures with a water-filled pen and with any paint, brushes or mess.

Trivial Pursuit 90S Hasbro (RRP £29.99)

Questions such as "Which brothers toured Canada in disguise with a pair of pretend parents?" (A: Prince William and Harry)

V Smile Baby VTech (RRP £39.99)

An "infant development system" that plugs into the TV.

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