THERE are those who believe Santa Claus is an old, fat man who wears a red suit trimmed with white fur and goes around laughing a lot and handing out toys. And then there are those who know Father Christmas is actually Arnold Schwarzenegger. Being a Hollywood superstar is only a cover. Few know the full story behind a disturbance at Toys 'R' Us last week - it was only the latest of many similar occurrences around the world that have ended up as only vague descriptions in the 'X Files'. Each time, vast amounts of toys, games, dolls and bikes disappeared into the ether. There were no clues, no leads. Only one thing was ever left in their place - a business card (there were bells in the corners): 'S. Claus. You ring, I bring.' A practical joke, or grand theft? We know it was neither. This time, a watchman saw everything . . . : There was a blinding flash. Jagged lines of electric blue split the dark. There was a pungent, choking smell. For a split second, the toy store lit up like a Christmas tree. The smoke peeled back, cleared, and revealed a man. Thankfully, he was dressed. He was a human tree - his feet were buttress roots, his thighs trunks and his shoulders broad like the crown of a tropical rain-forest. There was a faint glow of red dust on his shoulders. He looked serious, angry and fearsomely powerful. Almost lazily, he looked around. Then, swiftly and with a lightness of step, he moved along the aisles, snapping his head from left to right almost as if his eyes were bar-code readers and he was taking inventory. Two pinheads of red light shone from behind his Ray-Bans. He spoke into the thin air with a heavily accented voice: 'Dis is great! Ve are here. Ve've mait it - Toys 'R' Us!' It had a familiar Teutonic twang. Again he whispered into the air: 'Patch me in der list for Hong Kong.' Two seconds later, he strode through the aisles again, dragging a huge sack and picking out specific items. His taste was good. His judgment impeccable. His choice showed thought: 'Dis place is great. Dare are tings here for kidts of all ages - from vhen day're born right troo to 12 years of age.' Each movement was fluid - from shelf to sack and back to shelf. Each handful was a treasure for some little boy or girl. With each step, he seemed to share a secret with the thin air: Polly Pocket and all her tiny friends, just the thing for the little girl in Tai Po, and Batman action men - Anti-freeze, Knight Star, Decoy among others - for her brother. Into the sack went Barbie and Astronaut Barbie, (they would be the perfect surprise for the twins on The Peak). Magically, the sack devoured a dream boat, too, with its real working blender so Barbie and her boating buddies would not go dry. The Japanese 'superbeing', Son Goku, and his five Dragon Ball cohorts joined the growing collection in the bag. The red lights grew more intense as the giant stepped up to the armoury. His fingers twitched. Then, he seemed to settle and work swiftly through the row. Among the many weapons glistening in the ambience of the giant man's aura were an Electronic Sword of Power, Machine Laser, Space Fazer, Kryton Intruder and a Cyberblaster. Most of the weapons trilled and scratched out killing sounds. A pair of Talking Handcuffs cried out: 'Book him; 'cuff him.' 'Enough of der violence - vat ve neet now is a few tings for the mind.' He took two long strides to his left. The electronic learning aids beeped and blinked, as if by some power that bled from the man. Not only had technology made toys noisier, faster and fancier, but learning aids were now as good as mini-computers. 'Spell merry . . .,' one mini-laptop squeaked. He stopped. His head snapped back and tilted. He appeared to be listening to an unseen accomplice. He nodded. Time, it seemed, was running short. He was not even near halfway through his task. His movements blurred. The price tags flapped as he swept passed. The rows rattled as his arm shot out and withdrew with its prizes. Lion King, his pride and skipping rope, video games by the dozen - Sega, Nintendo, Atari - board games - Brainquest, Battleship, Junior Dingbats, I Love Lucy, the Hamburger Game and Pictionary were but a few - even the Jurassic period of prehistory disappeared into the voluminous sack. A smile cracked across his rigid features. It shone in the low glow of the red dust. 'Vat's dis? Crocodile Dentist? 'Pull the croc's teeth without getting chomped'? Now who vood like . . .' Suddenly, I felt the red pin lights from behind the Ray-Bans burn into my skin. 'Come out.' The voice was without emotion. 'For years people haf been fooled into believing dat a fat man in a red suit is Farder Keristmahs' - he brandished a soft toy of old Saint Nick - 'but dat guy, he used to be vun of my helpers up in der North Pole. 'One day he gave me some bad directions - and I found myself on Mars. Dat's another story. 'I've been trakking him for yers . . . we need to settle a few things . . .' Suddenly, his hand shot up to his left ear. A tiny cord that draped subtly down to a matt-black box on his broad shoulder quivered. 'It's him. Ve're on his tail. He's close by. I've got to go.' In the same instant, the pre-dawn store lights flickered on and the man pressed a button on his chest. A blaze of pristine light followed. A card fluttered to the floor. It had bells in the corners. What about the toys? Don't worry' - his voice crackled through the dimensions - 'I'll be back.' TOYS 'R' US has four stores in Hong Kong: at the Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui; New Town Plaza III, Sha Tin; Tsuen Wan Plaza, Tsuen Wan; and Windsor House, Causeway Bay. David Silber, general manager of Toys 'R' Us, said shopping hours were usually extended from the last week of November until Christmas. The changes depended on each store's location and the area shopping habits.