In the movie "Big," in which Tom Hanks, a...


January 27, 1995

THERE'S A SCENE in the movie "Big," in which Tom Hanks, a kid magically turned into an adult, dances on a huge keyboard. At the new FAO Schwarz store in Towson Town Center, you can see the same scene repeated -- by adults transformed into children. Invariably, adults can't help but take turns with the kids in stepping on the keyboard platform and making music.

The store, which opened threemonths ago, is a spectacle, even for parents who feel they already spend too much of their lives inside toy stores.

There's a "living friendship tree" that opens its eyes and talks to kids -- sort of a happy cousin of the gnarled apple trees that threw fruit at the scarecrow and Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz." There's a brontosaur craning its neck at you, cases full of exotic dolls, a 12-foot teddy bear sculpture and a whole section devoted to the most youthful 35-year-old we know of: Barbie. At the Barbie entrance are a pair of water-filled, Lucite pillars with a beautiful rainbow of flowers tumbling around inside. Then you realize, those aren't petals, they're pedals -- that is, scores of miniature Barbie-sized high heels churning around.

Even for parents bored by Barney, perturbed by Power Rangers and dyspeptic over Disney, FAO Schwarz is worth seeing.

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