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How to spoil your rich kid rotten
Naughty or nice, will Richie Rich get the $30,000 mini-SUV or his very own ATM?
November 21, 2005: 1:54 PM EST
By Katie Benner, CNN/Money staff writer
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - For kids lucky enough to be on the right side of the wealth gap, there's no reason to settle for a Barbie this holiday season.

Not when you can cruise the manse in your own gasoline-powered pint-sized SUV.

A phone call to a personal shopper at a high-end toy store can take care of the buying conundrum for kids who have it all, perhaps netting a $1,600 life-size stuffed reindeer from FAO Schwarz or a Swarovski Crystal Pez dispenser for just $175.

Upscale retailer Hammacher Schlemmer's $229 backyard ice rink will get junior's blood flowing after a day of holiday feasting.

Hammacher, which dislikes the word "luxury," says its toys are designed to engage minds and activate interests.

Maybe that's why their Children's ATM Bank is such a hit, an electronic teller machine that accepts real coin- and currency-deposits and doles out withdrawals provided Richie Rich can remember his PIN.

And what could be more engaging and active than having a newborn? Over at FAO Schwarz, your baby can adopt the world's most lifelike $80 baby doll, putting a new spin on the phrase, "kids having kids."

"I think that interactivity is one thing that can make a product luxury," said FAO president David Niggli "When a child adopts here, they pick out the baby and then go through the whole adoption process. The child is interviewed and fills out the paperwork before going home with the newborn."

Luxury retailers agree that their clientele are looking for new experiences, as well as unique gifts; and that they're willing to pay the price.

When the truly affluent child and her cashmere-pajama wearing friends want a sleepover, why make more work for the help? Just rent a sleepover at FAO Schwarz, where the tots get the run of the store for 11 hours, and everything from ice cream treats to a scavenger hunt. The fun starts at just $25,000.

But are there enough experience seekers with thick wallets to keep the specialty toy market afloat this year?

"Everyday you are seeing less and less of the unique toy stores that used to be in the marketplace," said Joe Jamrosz, corporate sales manager at Hammacher.

But even as the number of specialty toy stores thins out, it seems that Mommy and Daddy Warbucks are ready to spend more than ever, despite macroeconomic factors that have been pinching many U.S. wallets.

"I would say that years ago, the thought process was [luxury] items were for show," said FAO's Niggli, referring to expensive items like the store's $250,000 Dance-On Piano, made famous in the movie "Big."

"Now we're selling these types of items all over the world, as far away as Moscow," Niggli said. "We're selling [kid-size] Ferraris. It's a terrific over the top kind of gift and there's a market for that."

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Click here for more Holiday Money.

What about Baby Warbucks? See the most extravagant gifts for the tiny consumer.  Top of page

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