Mentioning that the Nintendo control deck is wildly popular this Christmas is an understatement. For parents who think it's too late to get one, it would seem cruel to even bring the subject up.

But, behold, we bring you good tidings of great joy. A few local stores that were sold out of Nintendo last week are announcing that they are getting shipments in this week. Most of the shipments, however, are control decks without guns. Check back with your store. If it isn't expecting a shipment, check the Deseret News ads. Many stores expecting shipments have taken out ads announcing their arrival.Youngsters who already have the deck are clamoring for more Nintendo cartridges. Those, too, have been snatched off the shelves, and stores across the nation are reporting shortages. But in this, too, there is hope. Atari has just dashed into the breach (stopping long enough to file a $100 million suit against Nintendo for monopolizing the computer games market) with its own cartridges that can be used on the Nintendo system.

The games should be in the stores this week. Selling for under $50, the games are Pac-Man, Gauntlet and RBI Baseball. Four more games will be introduced next month.

For the most part, Little Miss Make-up dolls are also too hot to find. A few stores still have a couple left, but they are going fast.

Despite the popularity of those items, stores across the nation and many in Utah are calling this the year of the classic toy, such as blocks, train sets and Barbie dolls.

"The Barbie category is up nationwide 25 percent over last year," said Jack Seal, director of merchandizing for ZCMI. "There is a real return to collector, traditional dolls as opposed to the Cabbage Patch type, funkie doll."

"It's a real good game year," said Bruce Hammond, general manager of the Hammond chain of stores. Traditional games - Monopoly, Clue, Master -lue - are doing well. Pictionary, and Dungeons and Dragons are still strong.

"Radio-control cars are doing well," Hammond said. Seal concurred but noted, "radio-control toys are counting for large sales, but the sales aren't what they were last year."> So, you are saying to yourself, what do all the other stores have to say. We don't know. Kaybee stores has a national policy that does not allow them to comment on the sales of their toys. Shopko has a similar policy. The manager of one local Lionel's Playworld would not return phone calls. The manager of the other could not be reached.

However, the move back to basics is being reflected nationally, suggesting it is also being seen in other Utah toy stores.> "There is no runaway best seller this year, like the Cabbage Patch doll or the Teddy Ruxpin seen in prior years," said Brooke Adkins, public relations director for the 17 FAO Schwarz toy stores nationwide.

Adkins said there seems to be a "return to classic traditional toys - collector dolls, teddy bears, electric trains, wood blocks - all the real classics. Leggo is selling very well. Lincoln Logs and Howdy Doody are back this year. There seems to be a return to a '50s conservatism."

Spiegel Inc., the nation's third-largest catalog merchandiser, also is seeing a traditional Christmas trend, with the exception of Nintendo and the Roger Rabbit talking stuffed animal.

"Perhaps the novelty of the do-everything doll has worn off and there's a return to tradition," said Spiegel's public relations manager Rob Longendyke.

"This is not a year overall for spectacular items. It is a traditional, basic year," Seal said.