Moody toy dinosaur is favourite to devour wallets at Christmas

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The Independent Online

A mood-swinging robotic dinosaur is being tipped as one of this year's must-have Christmas toys.

Roboraptor, which will be sold for £89.99, senses when a hand comes close to it and can pick up objects with its jaws. Like many of the children who will own it, it has "distinct moods" - hunting, cautious and playful.

Roboraptor's promoters, Character Options, from Oldham, estimate that up to 100,000 models will be sold this Christmas - which is now a mere 80 shopping days' away.

It is the most expensive of the "Dream Dozen" toys which the Toy Retailers Association hopes will create the pandemonium seen with crazes of previous years such as Cabbage Patch Dolls, Furbys and Beyblades.

Boys scanning this year's list - expanded to 12 for the first time - might fancy a Star Wars Darth Vader voice-changer helmet or a remote-controlled "cyber-ball" resembling a competitor on the BBC's Robot Wars. The Tyco Cyber Shocker (price £79.99) flips up, swirls round and threatens to knock over anything in its path.

Girls have a choice between traditional or modern dolls - the fairytale Barbie Pegasus Princess Annika comes with a magical light-up wand, while the more streetwise dolls, Bratz Rock Angelz, are long-haired escapees from the 1970s "rocking the UK with their own unique style". Worryingly for parents, the Crazy Frog has spawned a fluffy singing incarnation of the manic ringtone.

Some of the toys are a modern twist on an old favourite. A Thomas the Tank Engine train puffs child-friendly cold smoke from its funnel while Tumble Time Tigger, a battery-operated tiger that A A Milne would dimly recognise, break-dances to a hit by MC Hammer.

Playthings based on children's characters and stories are much in evidence, with variants from Bob the Builder, The Simpsons and Peppa Pig from television and Batman, Willy Wonka, and Harry Potter from the world of Hollywood.

Perhaps inevitably, Sudoku is pitching for the Christmas market with a computerised handset endorsed by Carol Vorderman. For toymakers, the use of new technology is an excellent reason to charge premium prices.

The Roboraptor, for example, can be controlled by another, even more expensive robot - the Robosapien V2, an updated version of last year's best-selling toy.

At two feet tall, Robosapien V2 (which costs £199.99) can pick up cans, responds to hand movements and even distinguishes between primary colours. It also burps, farts, does high-fives, begs for money, and asks for beer. Its expressions include: "Bite my geoplastic exoskeleton".

When Robosapien V2 comes across the path of Roboraptor, its green-eyed visage exclaims: "Wow, look at the size of that thing" or "Run for your life."

Roboraptor, which wasdeveloped in Hong Kong by a former Nasa scientist, Mark Tilden, sometimes startles children, according to John Hench, a demonstrator for his makers. He said: "You must never touch him under his chin - he doesn't like it. Never pull his tail - he doesn't like it.

"Kids get quite a jump if the heads swings in their direction and starts growling."

So, what's the verdict on Roboraptor from a 12-year-old? "I think it's amazing the way it moves," said Joe Cooper. "If you go near its tail, its tail moves. If you are walking it follows you.

"It's really strong and it's not flimsy. It's like a proper dinosaur. Its teeth are really strong."