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Best Place To Buy Cool Toys

Yikes! Toys
306 E. Congress St.

READERS' AND STAFF PICK: If you're looking for relief from cartoon- and movie-inspired toy paraphernalia for the kiddies, look no further than this slightly offbeat downtown toy store. Appealing particularly to the 10-year-old in all of us who adores bugs, snakes, unattached body parts and anything else that grownups might find disgusting, Yikes! carries a wide assortment of inexpensive toys and gadgets, as well as more educationally enriching games, puzzles and books. For kids who are keen on natural science, Yikes! has a passel of plastic creatures. If you need a sticky eyeball to throw on the wall the next time you have a new babysitter (or will be meeting the new CEO), you'll find it here. It occurs to us that Yikes! might be the perfect place to purchase stocking stuffers for the holidays. Always open during Downtown Saturday Night events, Yikes! can be used with your children as an effective bargaining chip to gain a few extra minutes strolling through the art galleries. There may be plenty of music, art and fine dining downtown these days, but for the kids it might be only Yikes! that brings the area to life.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: The name of the game at Toys R Us is choice. It's the one-stop, big-crop-under-one-top place in town where you can find, okay, we'll say it, what the kids see on television. Gotta have that Barbie with glow-in-the-dark high heels and innumerable hair extensions and her updated and, we presume, newly evolved non-sexist friend Ken, who now dresses in cool dude surfer gear? Tucson has two locations, at 4525 N. Oracle Road and 5355 E. Broadway. Stacked floor to ceiling with all of the newest games--try Pie Face for the under-10 set--mini cars, videos, dolls, action figures and the latest Koosh-ball incarnations, you'll be lost trying to figure out what to bring to tomorrow's birthday party, but your knowledgeable offspring will be more than happy to help you sort through the dilemma. Scan the book section for what is popular--Goosebumps are a good bet, and always the hardcover Dr. Seuss, good for all ages, and especially adults who need a reality check. When you're into the small gag gifts for your friends who are nearing the 40 mark, this is a great place to get that bubble gum checkbook or candy cell-phone you need, too.

Case History

1998 Winner: Yikes! Toy Store
1997 Winner: Toys-R-Us
1996 Winner: Yikes! Toy Store

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