The toy market has changed drastically in recent years. Whereas toys were once marketed only to kids, these days toy manufacturers are aware of -- and, more important, cater to -- the older market, whose constituents insist on being called "collectors." Buddy, it doesn't matter if you hang your unopened Django Fett twelve-inch doll (that's right, it's a doll) on the wall and call it an "acquisition" -- everyone knows it's a toy, whether you play with it or not.
Regardless of nomenclature, toy makers now put out lines of toys geared toward the adult market, with one notable exception: Toys generated from popular books are still ghettoized just for the kid market. But why? What grad student wouldn't want a Humbert Humbert and Lolita play set for his office? What cynical hipster could maintain her jaded façade in the presence of an authorized Dr. Benway action figure (with real "Interzone" badge and tape recorder)? Until that happy day when there is a full line of William S. Burroughs toys, you can make do with the Eugene Field House and St. Louis Toy Museum (634 South Broadway, call 314-421-4689 for hours) exhibit of "Toys From the Printed Page," which features all your favorite literary characters modeled in kid-friendly plastic, resin, tin or paper. Admission is 50 cents to $4. -- Paul Friswold
In der Weihnachstrasse
Since medieval times, German entrepreneurs have begun their yearly celebration of Christmas with seasonal marketplaces, offering special holiday foods and merchandise to the faithful throughout Advent. Hermann, Missouri kicks off its celebration with Kristkindl Markt. The town's version of the German Christmas festival commences at 7 p.m. with a children's handmade-lantern parade that begins in front of the Festhalle on First Street and culminates in the lighting of Weihnachstrasse (Christmas Street) in the city park. Dressing as a favorite German storybook character is encouraged, and dressing warmly is a must. The parade ends with refreshments suitable for children of all ages. For more info call 573-486-2024 or visit www.hermannmo.com. -- John Goddard
Do you know what a "first-person shooter" is? If you're a teenage boy, you surely do. The term refers to video games in which the player adopts the perspective of a gun-toting adventurer who has to mow down scores of bad guys to win.
Halo, a first-person shooter for the XBox, is played with religious concentration by gangs of boys at the Game Force (10501 Watson Road, 314-966-3900) at 7:30 p.m. each Wednesday ($5, with gift certificates for the winners). At the Halo tournaments, it's every kid for himself, as fighters try to "kill" each other and emerge the sole survivor. Don't worry -- death only lasts a few seconds, and then the players are resurrected to kill again with shotguns, rifles, automatic weapons and grenade launchers.
Too violent for ya? It's cool -- the Game Force has a much less bloody, old-school arcade favorite in the corner: Moon Patrol. -- Byron Kerman
De Train! De Train!
Whether you obsess over model trains or simply like watching them pop out of those cute fake mountains, you'll want to check out the Great American Train & Hobby Show in Collinsville. The show features toy-train dealers, modeling workshops and an area where you can operate trains until someone slaps off your engineer's cap. (The show's at the Gateway Center, One Gateway Drive, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, November 29 and 30, $7, www.greatamericantrainshow.com.) -- Ben Westhoff