The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Please -- the picture alone for the Mattel Harry Potter Nimbus 2000 Broom from Mattel should say "have no imagination of your own -- buy it from us for $20 plus tax.." Please put this down on the list of toys to avoid.
The forth-coming Micro Quidditch Playset I'll reserve judgment on until I've played with it.
The Harry Potter Quidditch Board Game. In the world of Harry Potter, this is the dowager empress. In comparison to the Trivia games, I didn't enjoy this as much initially (The Trivia games tends for longer play and more enjoyment), but in comparison to the next entry this shines like a beacon. Amazon has it for $24.99. Until recently you could have built your own board game based on a design out of Mexico by a guy named Pepe -- but his site has recently gone off line and is terribly missed.
The Harry Potter Electric Race Set???? People, in my life I've gone through so many slot car race sets I don't like to think about it. Some of them have been fun. One or two of them lasted longer than a week. None of them looked as undeniably goofy as this thing does. You want to race? Stick the action figure below on some Hot Wheels (same manufacturer) and make your own race set. We used to call it "Kit Bashing," not it's "creative use of found commercial materials." Kids -- don't ask for this for Christmas. At $70.00 you could buy enough books to keep you reading for a year or some real sporting goods to keep you active.
Snitch-chasing Harry (in)action figure. If you're going to have one of these things do something creative with -- make it a hood ornament or put t on a Hot Wheels track. It conveys Harry in motion better than the movie does, but it's a shame to let imagination go to waste.
Forget the cheap trinkets that are for saps and suckers. Check out these creative toys catalogued by the Lion and Lamb project. Downside: No Harry stuff. Upside: Your siblings will learn something. I applaud this group for taking a stand against senseless violence in toys. Question: Is there such a thing as sensible violence in toys?
Titles are really important. Take the videogame versions Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. They tell you the story is about Harry Potter. They are not called Harry Potter's Fantastic Quidditch Match or Quidditch for the Harry Potter Fan. There is a very good reason for this. The Quidditch in both the PC version and the Playstation version is similar in scope to the Quidditch at the WB site -- underwhelming. While some of the screen shots might give you the impression you're going to be playing Quidditch in a fully-realized 3D environment, please allow me to disillusion you (in the formal sense of the word). The Quidditch here has you chasing the Snitch along a trail while avoiding obstacles (sound like the WB version?). That's it. The voice-over commentary gets repetitive really quickly and was obviously written by a Pottermaniac (it consists of cheers for Harry and an apologia of partisanship). Keeping in mind the name of the site to which you have paid a visit, and the obvious preoccupations of your humble webmaster, the fact that that is all there is to the Quidditch treatment in these games would sound like a good reason for cutting short this review and sending you along to something else -- like 43 Man Squamish (you know there's something about "qu" in fictitious games -- might be some English grad student's PhD thesis in that). Both games are really about learning spells and following through the actions of the book. If you've read the books there will be no surprises -- but the essence of videogaming is in the surprises. In the end I was left with the eye candy of the animated sequences which are pretty good throughout. But like the movie I was left with an empty feeling of technical deja voodoo: I could have been reading instead.