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Online help for toys, games

Is your unscrupulous cousin bending the Monopoly rules? Are you afraid you threw the directions for your kids' new toys out with the wrapping paper? Don't fear, there are places you can turn to for help.

Whether you're trying to assemble the vintage Lite Brite or would like to avoid a family argument over whether that three-letter French word will really score you double-word points, you're likely to find the answers you seek in a toymaker's self-serve online database.

Hasbro, a heavy-hitter in board game offerings, owns titles from Milton Bradley, Parker Brothers and Cranium, among others. Answers on its website include: where to find discontinued products, what to do about missing puzzle pieces, and instructions for more than 7,200 games and toys.

Mattel offers a similar database for its brands, including Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels, Barbie and American Girl.

A number of other websites offer board game advice, including how to cheat at popular games such as Scrabble. On, one article shows common two-letter words, including one that begins with the hard-to-use Q. And tips off the secrets to winning at Clue.

But there's one thing even the experts can't help you avoid: getting caught while cheating.