Christmas cheat sheet for last-minute shoppers

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Christmas cheat sheet for last-minute shoppers

T’was a few nights before Christmas when all through the city, not a creature was stirring except for a mob of last-minute Christmas shoppers stampeding towards department stores and retailers.
Even before noon, parents rushed down the aisles of the toy sections swirling their carts with desperation, trying to beat the clock as it ticked towards Christmas. At the discount store GS Mart in Songpa district southeastern Seoul on Wednesday, the biggest question was, “What should I get my kids for Christmas?”
A mother of two, Kim Young-sook, 43, was comparing toy sets, one with Harry Potter on the cover and the other a play machine gun. She furrowed her brow at the choice of what would make her boys happy.
“When they were little, it wasn’t difficult to pick a Christmas gift,” Ms. Kim said. “Now, it is mind boggling just thinking what to pick. There are so many to choose from.”
Yes indeed, Christmas gifts are no longer as simple as they once were. Not only are there more toys available these days, but they can be more sophisticated and complex. Which makes Christmas a little more complicated for parent shoppers.
The holly jolly merry spirit could run dry after trying to select a gift from the overflowing shelves of toys. There are pink fairy outfits for little girls, furry puppy dolls and toy mobile phones. Retailers also have row upon row of brand name toys such as Hello Kitty dolls and Disney character toys. LEGOs aren’t even simple anymore, with themed sets from Star Wars to Harry Potter to a pirate ship.
If it’s any consolation, at least there are some great choices for adult gifts. To send a little Christmas humor to single friends, consider the pillow with an a stuffed arm attached ― so they won’t feel lonely during the holidays. A popular gift this year is Sony’s PSP ― a portable multipurpose digital game set for playing games, music and videos on the road
“One fifth of the toy sales occur during the Christmas season,” said Park Chan-yong at E-Mart. “With consumer sentiment recovering this year, sales have increased 15 percent from last year.”
In the spirit of Christmas, The JoongAng Daily has decided to give a little helping hand to our readers who are still searching for the perfect gift for their kids.
Below, we highlight the four biggest selling toys this Christmas season at E-Mart, Korea’s largest retailer. Luckily, the top selling toys are not particularly expensive for parents. Given their ties with super-popular cartoons and movies, the kids should like them too.

G Blade EX sets
(23,000 won)
Incredibly, the most popular Christmas gift this year at E-Mart is a set of spinning tops. Yes, spinning tops are back in style. The only difference with old-style tops is that these are not cheap and are not made out of wood. These spinning tops have some cool features that can nurture competitiveness (and boys can knock down each other’s tops while playing). The G Blade DX set is a slight upgrade of the earlier EX set. G Blade is a Japanese cartoon that is currently on Korean T.V. and it’s a favorite among young boys.

Magic Yoyo Special Package
(38,000 won)
First spinning tops, second place a yoyo? But this is not the ordinary yoyo that you once played with as a child. This yoyo has an attitude. It roars with sound, flashes red lights and spits flat plastic disks that are meant to be ninja weapons. If that weren’t enough, the yoyo also transforms into a tiger. This is a must-have magical item for fans of the children’s hit television series “Magic Fighter Mir and Gaon.” Accessories are available for this toy including a magic sword and brooch.

Angel Phone Special Package
(39,900 won)
In a tech crazy nation, even young children crave mobile phones ―this toy targets girls aged six and older. Angel Phone, thankfully, is simply a toy and parents do not have to worry about adding to their already burdensome phone bills. Little girls can use the device to exchange text messages with other Angel Phone users. It is also a portable video game device. The toy was developed by the children’s toy maker Mimi World, and is clearly meant for young girls, as one can tell from the pink color scheme.

LEGO Harry Potter: Hogwarts Express
(59,000 won)
The Harry Potter franchise is chugging along at the box office and at the big box stores. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” has sold 3 million tickets in Korea in three weeks, and the LEGO set titled “Harry Potter: Hogwarts Express” is number four on E-Mart’s list of bestselling toys. Other LEGO Harry Potter sets include the Hungarian horntail set, the graveyard duel set and even the Mer people set. But “Hogwarts Express” is tops in Korea. It is also probably the most gender-neutral toy among the top toys on this year’s Christmas list.

by Lee Ho-jeong
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