If you're a parent, it's time to think about maxing out those credit cards and sliding deeper into debt as we preview the hot toys for Christmas.
Understand, these toys were not chosen for their educational value or ability to stimulate a child's imagination, whatever that is. Rather, these are toys kids will actually enjoy -- brain-rotting, sexist and violent though they may be.
Topping our list of hot toys for girls is Totally Hair Barbie, from Mattel, which features Barbie flashing the empty smile and trashy, big-hair look of a Vegas showgirl.
As if Barbie's figure weren't surreal enough -- with that scaled-down 38-inch chest and the body-fat content of a whippet -- now she has a mane of blonde hair that extends way past the hemline of that hookerish-looking mini-skirt.
Yeah, that ought to give all those pudgy, second-grade Barbie lovers something to shoot for: a life-long history of eating disorders, dangerous breast enhancement surgery and the obsessive collecting of cheap wigs.
If you find Barbie's act a little unreal (and who doesn't?), you might have similar problems with the new Mommy-to-Be doll from the Judith Corporation.
Gone, apparently, are the days when delivering a baby meant moaning and shrieking in some rumpled hospital bed while throwing ice shavings at the father in a fit of anger.
See, when Mommy-to-Be's ready to deliver, just remove her bulging tummy and lift the baby out! No muss, no fuss, no barking at startled anesthesiologists -- and best of all, no sweaty, tension-wracked 26-hour labors.
But, hey, now that Mommy-to-Be has delivered, how does she get back that body that truck drivers used to whistle at? Without those long hours in the gym, I mean?
Simple. Just snap on the handy plastic flat stomach and Mommy-to-Be's back to a size 6 and ready for the slinkiest of cocktail dresses.
Of course, sometimes the problem is too much realism, which is definitely the case with Tyco's Magic Potty Baby.
I'm not sure I can describe the overall . . . well, OK. It's this doll, see. And you sit her on the Magic Potty. And the Magic Potty fills with this, um, yellow liquid.
Then you flush and a real flushing sound is heard over and over, providing the kind of ambience normally associated with a bus station rest room.
While we're on the subject -- and, believe me, I wish we weren't -- there is now something on the market from Hasbro called the Cabbage Patch Kids Potty Chair.
Apparently, the selling point here is that the doll makes -- this is a quote directly from the box -- "real tinkling sounds."
Ohhhh-kay. And you wonder why Japanese kids can program a Trident submarine by age 11, while our kids are sitting around eating Cheetos and watching Ren and Stimpy.
Nevertheless, if your child has a fixation on bathroom activities, you'll be happy to know that Baby Alive by Kenner is still around, the signature doll of the scatological set.
When you feed Baby Alive her special food, a . . . lump appears in her diaper. And it's not that hairbrush you've been looking for, if you catch my drift.
For boys, a hot toy this Christmas is the Incredible Crash Dummies from Tyco, which you have to see to believe. And if you do see them, make sure you're sitting down.
These are miniature versions of the crash dummies you see in car safety tests on Volvo commercials and so on.
Put the dummies in their little car and send it speeding toward the nearest wall. And if they're not wearing their seat belts - BOOM! Arms go flying one way, legs go flying the other way, the torso ends up somewhere in New Jersey.
Even if they're only little plastic guys, it's a hell of a thing to see, this kind of ritual dismemberment.
Supposedly, the toy is designed to teach kids about the importance of wearing seat belts. Still, the "lesson" learned here seems rather severe. Next thing you know, Tyco will introduce the Incredible Head Injury Victims, which would teach kids about the importance of not having a cinderblock fall on their heads from 20 stories up.
Other hot toys for boys include the Terminator 2 Power Arm, which looks like it has enough firepower to wipe out a city block, the ever-popular Super Soakers and action figures. G.I. Joe is still around, although somehow he seems tired and worn, like some over-the-hill lieutenant colonel who should be behind a desk ordering mess hall supplies instead of in the field.
You wonder if the same thing could happen to that little tart, Barbie.