Kiddie Lie Detector & Other Strange New Toys

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• "Have you ever knocked over a store display and casually walked away?" • "Have you ever urinated in the shower? • "Have you ever gone through someone's medicine cabinet while visiting? • "Are you ashamed of your relatives?"

Is sitting on the polygraph hot seat a positive experience for a child? Tibbs says it can be. He and his partner consulted with psychologists, teachers and other child-care professionals — to make sure the game is used correctly.

Just as the mere presence of a lie detector in a police station sometimes gets an accused criminal to confess, Liar Liar Pants on Fire is intended to spark parent-child conversations. The instructional manual shows parents how to use the game to raise questions about drug use and other difficult subjects.

"Hopefully it gets them laughing, too," Tibbs says.

Both games sell for about $40 and are available on the company Web site —

The use of polygraph testing in law enforcement is controversial. Of course, just being strapped to electronic gizmo to my hand can cause a pretty big response to an "emotionally responsive" guy like me — no matter what the question. Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Trouble in Toyland

Toymakers from around the world gathered in New York this week for the 100th American International Toy Fair. Small manufacturers, like Tibbs, join toy giants like Hasbro and Mattel, hoping to hit on the next Tickle Me Elmo.

Easter is still two months away, but Santa's helpers have to start shopping in February to have their stores stocked for the December rush. One wrong move and your sold out of Furbies and stuck with a warehouse full of Hello Kitty calculators.

To top it off, there's trouble in Toyland — retail sales fell to $20.3 billion last year, down from $20.5. Major buyers Kmart Corp. and FAO Inc. have been hit hard by the economy, closing hundreds of stores and reducing orders.

Still, some 1,500 toymakers gathered with increasingly complicated products and new twists on old favorites.