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The top-selling toys in Sonoma

Some of the season's hottest toys, games and kits for sale at the Sonoma Toy Shop.

LORNA SHERIDAN,

There’s nothing worse than a toy that a child plays with once and then ignores. We asked around at some of Sonoma’s top spots for children’s toys and games and got the following recommendations for the holiday season.

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Sonoma Toy Shop recommends the Codemaster and Cluemaster Logic Games by Thinkfun. Kids can learn the basics of programming without a computer. In addition to programming, kids also build planning, sequential reasoning and problem-solving skills. The games grows with them as there are dozens of levels from beginner to expert. $10-$20.

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The store also recommends the colorful TileBlox sets. Kids, ages 3 and up, can build an “infinite” number of construction projects from the tiles and the complexity of their creation can evolve as they get older. When playtime is over, the magnetic power makes it easy to stack and store them neatly away. $25-$65.

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One of the most popular picks this winter at the Toy Shop is Color Cube Sudoku for ages 8 and up. This challenging game by ThinkFun is a re-imagining of the classic Sudoku puzzle using colors instead of numbers. Once they have conquered the traditional Sudoku pattern, kids can give their brain a real workout with bonus challenges. $20.

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Craft kits always sell briskly at the Toy Shop and this year, kids are gravitating toward two terrarium options – butterflies and grow and glow. Kids can set them up in as many different ways as their imagination allows and then enjoy their creation as room decorations once they are done. Best for ages 6 and up. $17.

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Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Man’s Putty continues to be popular at McCaulau’s Kids and the store has stocked a wide variety of new options including liquid glass and gold rush magnetics. The putty can stretch like rubber and bounce like a ball, and because it’s silicone-based, it won’t dry out or crumble over time. The inventor bills it as part toy, part stress reliever and part physical therapy. The putties come in two sizes and almost a dozen varieties, ranging from $5 to $15.

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The very portable Plus Plus kits are great for plane rides or small spaces. Kids can build a giraffe, jellyfish, dolphin and more. The tiny bricks allow kids of all ages to create mosaics or 3-D designs. The Toy Shop has these right by the cash register as they are a great add-on gift. $8-10.

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Another terrific entry in the category of portable fun isn’t new but it continues to sell briskly at the Toy Shop. Free Play and ABC Magnatab is stylish, quiet and self-contained. The magnetic stylus is the pen, the bead board is the paper, and tiny fingers the eraser. The stylus brings the beads to the surface with an audible click revealing each new creation. The beads are completely self-contained and don’t come out of the board. It’s a top pick for the preschool set. $25-$30.

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The Corner Store specializes in old-school games that will delight anyone over 40 as much as they do the elementary school crowd. They offer dominoes, marbles, jacks, lotto, pick-up sticks, cat’s cradle and more. $4-$30.

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As for board games, hot this year at the Toy Shop is the Game of Things, for ages 14 and up. Players ask each other, “What are things … people do when no one is looking?” or “What are things… you wouldn’t do for all the money in the world.” The game is sure to be a conversation starter with teens. $40. A travel pack is less than $10.

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K’Nex’s education division continues to produce STEM kits that will keep both kid minds and hands busy. The most popular this year at the Toy Shop is the 131-piece vehicle building set. Kids, ages 8 and up, can build a variety airboats, antique cars, ATVs – whatever their imagination dreams up. $25.

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Also in the STEM category, Spark Lab’s Invest series now includes solar lamps, a motorized robot, flying machines and more. The kits are meant for ages 8 and up and stress problem solving and creativity in a fun open-ended way. The Toy Shop says they continue to sell briskly. $20.

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In the STEAM (the acronym adds “art” to STEM) category, StikBot Studio by Toy Shed is another popular choice at the Toy Shop. Kids download a free app and then build and animate their creations. This set, billed as appropriate for 4 and up but best for slightly older, is excellent for budding filmmakers or any kids who enjoy storytelling. $25-$35.

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Science kits continue to be popular at the Toy Shop and this year’s winners are the Sick! Science kits. Ages 6 and up can perform experiments and watch videos that explain the science behind the fun. $20-$25.

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Finally, it turns out that the allure of dinosaurs is timeless. Wildlife Wow offers a new take on the perennially fascinating creatures thanks to virtual reality videos. A free app features educational content including X-ray vision inside each dino and videos showing the animals in their natural habitats. They are among the most popular new toys at the Toy Shop this season. $10.

Contact Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.