There's no way to leave a toy store without exceeding your credit limit if the kids go along. The best time to do responsible toy shopping is after you've dropped them off at school. Then head on over to the most magical toy palace in the East Bay, Mr. Mopps' in North Berkeley. There are no fancy video games with extreme graphics and blood and guts here. This is an old-fashioned, low-tech toy store with Matchbox cars (from $1.66), PEZ dispensers ($1.19), Lincoln Log sets ($26), Lego sets (96-piece Star Wars set $21), Barbies, puzzles, plastic army figures and mini-dinosaurs, Hello Kitty stuff, Wiffle Ball bats, and all kinds of things that can fit in your pockets. Mr. Mopps' also has a wonderful children's books section with I Spy editions for the wee ones and Judy Blume coming-of-age tales for the young teen. The store also carries many kids' books on audio. Beware: Mr. Mopps' is closed Sundays and Mondays. Open the rest of the week from 9:30 a.m. to 5:25 p.m.
Readers' Pick: Mr. Mopps' Children's Books & Toys