From Furbys to robotic puppies, there are lots of fun, innovative and educational toys in the shops this year. Kate Hilpern picks the ones the kids (and big kids) will love

Return of the gun on wish list for Santa

In these recession-hit times, parents may be relieved to hear that the "Dream Dozen" Christmas toys all cost less than £100 this year. However, eyebrows in some households may shoot skywards at the news that one of the toys bears more than a passing resemblance to an AK-47 assault rifle.

The Bargain Hunter


Lego loses trademark battle

The Lego brick, one of the most instantly recognised toys in the world, cannot be trademarked, European judges have ruled.

Business Diary: A crack in Lego's brick wall

Bad news for Lego, the Danish toy manufacturer with which the world has grown up. Its bricks – specifically the most basic 4x2 block – have long been protected by European trademark law, preventing rivals from offering similar products. Now the European Court of Justice has upheld a complaint from Canada's Mega Brands, the maker of Mega Bloks, that trademark protection can't be extended to a shape in this way. There's no room for sentimentality in the courtroom.

EU judges rule out Lego trademark

The Lego brick, one of the most instantly recognised toys in the world, cannot be trademarked, European judges ruled today.

Leading article: Viking explorer

The Danish pastry, when you come to think about it, is really just a croissant with a bit of icing on top. There is something of similar delightful simplicity about the rocket which, if the wind is in the right direction, could soon make Denmark only the fourth nation in the world to send a man into space.

Dad's Diary: 'A festival's a perfect place for a child when the weather's fine'

By the time you read this, I'll be sat in a field with my partner and son, Krishan, celebrating his third birthday in Cornwall. We decided to head to the coast for a bit of rest and relaxation after our second festival of 2010.

Malcolm Gladwell: I wanted to be an academic but then I realised that academics are hedgehogs and I am a fox

Malcolm Gladwell is the New Yorker essayist who has also published three best-selling, non-fiction books: The Tipping Point, Blink and The Outliers, but not Jamie Does, which is by Jamie Oliver and is a celebration of food from six different countries. Wake up!

Outside Edge (18/04/10)

What is it about IT workers? One of them, Steve Edwards of Bourton on the Water in Gloucestershire, ran his first marathon in 1981 after a bet over a few pints. He vowed never to do another but last weekend he completed his 500th race in Connemara. Then there's Roberto Enrieu, an IT consultant from Coventry who lost 25 stone in order to take part in next Sunday's London Marathon. He slimmed down from 42 stone and a whopping 66-inch waistband. And a third computer nerd, Paul Scrivener of Writtle, Essex, veteran of 120 marathons, was bemused to be hurting so badly after finishing a race in Newmarket until he was told he had been running with a broken leg. Software and tear.

Manhood for Amateurs, By Michael Chabon Fourth

These essays about modern parenting and childhood sparkle with wit and insight

The Icelandic toy story

Gudjon Reynisson has stayed on at Hamleys despite the collapse of its parent. James Thompson meets him

Still building after all these years: sales of Lego soar

Star Wars sets boost turnover but traditional Lego sells well too

Lisa Markwell: When there are streets to roam...

What children get up to after school plagues parents' imaginations
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears