GeekDad Holiday Gift Guide #4

Gift Guide Hacking the Holidays

Here’s part 4 of our holiday gift guide, the Cyber Monday edition! Don’t forget to check out previous years’ gift guides. Note that the individual entries are by Matt Blum (MB), Kathy Ceceri (KC), Jonathan Liu (JL), Jenny Williams (JW), Curtis Silver (CS), Z (Z), and myself (JB).

You Rock Guitar

Guitar-shaped synth with 25 guitars, 50 drum tracks, and 50 synths — but that’s just the beginning. It’s MIDI compatible, it can be plugged into a regular amp, it can be used as a Guitar Hero controller. Perhaps blissfully — for mom and dad, anyway — it lacks a speaker, forcing users to wear headphones if they don’t have an amp. Buy it from ThinkGeek. (JB)

Battlestar Galactica Top Gun Stein from Quantum Mechanix

So well-made you might not want to risk damaging it by using it, but so awesome you probably won’t be able to resist. Pour yourself a pint and pretend you’re drinking a toast with Starbuck — you know, before the series ended without them explaining what had actually happened to her. Or bring it to work and use it as your coffee mug — imagine the stares you’ll get, from those who are jealous and those who are simply afraid you’re drinking beer at work. This is listed as shipping in December, so it should be good for the holidays. Preorder one now so it arrives as soon as possible. (MB)

Suzie Automatic iDevice Decals

Optimized for Apple laptops, iPhones, and iPads, Suzie Automatic’s intriguing laptop decals customize the smooth steel of your device, either accentuating or playing off of the Apple logo. My favorites are the headless horseman, the sneak eating the apple, and the fixit apple decals. However, they have tons more decals for iDevices as well as some for our friends from the PC world.

J!NX Clothing

For the geeks in your household, there is no better outlet for all the current and uber-geeky fashions than J!NX. Geeks shall never go shirtless again when you check out their full line of hacker, gamer and geek inspired shirts. From World of Warcraft to StarCraft there is plenty of branded clothing to choose from as well. It’s inevitable that a good portion of your holiday swag is going to be clothing, so why not get some that’s in some sort of style? Sadly, J!NX does not make underwear or socks. (CS)

Pelican 1460TOOL Toolbox

The 1460TOOL is a gloriously gigantic toolbox made by Pelican, whose protective cases are legendary in the nerd community. Crush proof, water proof, milspec, and buoyant with up to 82 pounds total weight, it’s huge enough to hold everything from hammers to multimeters in safety and security. Did I mention it packs a lifetime guarantee? (JB)

2012 Photographic Engagement Calendar of The Elements

If you love Theodore Gray’s Periodic Table in all its incarnations – website, 3D wall chart, coffee table book, iPad app, collectible cards – then the 2012 Photographic Engagement Calendar of The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe is for you. With the same gorgeous photographs by Nick Mann and Gray’s layman-friendly text, this week-by-week calendar will enhance your mind as well as your desk. Buy it from Amazon. (KC)

Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Option: Heroes of the Feywild

Sometimes all of D&D’s foe-centric releases get me down… I mean, another evil empire? So this release really made my day. It describes player options relating to the Feywild, which for D&D noobs means the land of faerie. This book details player character options for hamadryad, pixie, and satyr characters, as well as new classes in the berserker (a barbarian variant), skalds (a spinoff of the bard), witches, and druid protectors. There are tons more rules and ideas packed into the book, and they all play into a ranger-druid-bard-centric faerie campaign. Heck yes. Buy it from Amazon. (JB)

Assassin’s Creed: Redemption

Play a master assassin out to save humanity from evil Templars who… oh heck, you just want to sneak around and ambush baddies, don’t you? The game is set in Constantinople in the 16th Century and the beautiful visuals of the legendary city helping set the scene. If you liked the previous editions you’ll like this as well, with all the sneaking around, mysteries, and glorious finishing moves. In addition to all the AC stuff you love, you can try out new tools like ziplines and hookblades, as well as the enhanced bomb-making rules. Buy it from Amazon. (JB)

Recon 6.0 Programmable Rover

Robot-building kits are fun. But you don’t have to assemble your own robot to learn how to program one! You can tell the Recon 6.0 Programmable Rover from Smart Labs to navigate a course you choose, store and play recordings, and even dance! Comes with an Owner’s Manual to teach you programming as you work through the guided projects showing off its many functions. Takes C batteries. Buy it from Amazon. (KC)

Lego Life of George Building Game

Life of George is an intriguing experiment which challenges builders to create models, them shoot them using a free mobile phone app, thereby getting a rating on construction speed and accuracy. The package comes with a couple bags of elements — classic System bricks, nothing weird — and a gray board that serves as the background when shooting the model. You simply build what the app tells you to as a timer ticks down, then place the model on the board and shoot it, earning your rating. Note that the app only works with iPhone 3GS and later, as well as 4th generation iPod touches. An Android app is supposedly in the works. (JB)

Origin Eon17-S 3D Gaming Laptop

The Eon17-S Laptop is a beast. It comes from a company that believes that building PC’s is more than some sort of assembly line process, which is why they broke off from Dell after the acquisition of Alienware. This particular laptop is a killer 3D gaming rig. Sure, it’s going to be a bit more expensive than your normal run of the mill laptop, but if you have the budget and your family really loves you, you’ll add this to your holiday shopping list. Says Origin CEO Kevin Wasielewski, “3D gaming is a great way to get immersed into your games and it provides an incredible experience depending on the game/movie,” says Kevin. “Just like 3D movies, not every 3D game is great, however, when you do play a game that takes advantage of all the 3D effects then it is truly an awesome experience. It’s just super bad ass watching Batman’s cape fly out of the screen as you run down the bad guys.” Check out Origin PC’s website for all their awesome gaming rigs. (CS)

Empire State

While the format of Jason Shiga’s Empire State isn’t quite as mind-blowing as his earlier choose-your-own-adventure Meanwhile, it’s still a very geeky, very funny book. It’s a spin on the classic boy-pursues-girl story, but oddly enough this graphic novel is more realistic than most Hollywood movies. Or maybe that’s not odd. At any rate, it’s sure to be a hit for the favorite comic-book-loving dad in your life. Check out the full review or buy it from Amazon. (JL)

Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster

Though it does little to change the perception that the Xbox 360 Kinect peripheral provides nothing save distinctly casual gaming experiences, Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster is an amazingly competent title for beginning gamers. Explore the possibilities of controller free gameplay as you and your kids visit an interactive storybook with Cookie Monster and Elmo. Part mini-game collection and part pre-school fitness title, it boasts a level of whimsy that you’d associate with the Sesame Street property coupled with the kind of stellar production values you’d expect from developer Double Fine Productions. With forgiving controls, flexible multiplayer support and a host of new monsters (Marco and Seamus being my kids’ favorites), it’s the rare children’s video game that actually displays both quality and care on the part of its creators. (Z)

Eaten by Zombies: a deck-building game from Mayday Games

Zombies and deck-building: two great tastes that taste great together. Mayday Games did a fantastic job of capturing the dread of facing the zombie hordes in this deck-building game. It’s a great setup, where you get to choose each turn whether to fight or flee … but defeat is inevitable, because the horde gets bigger and bigger. Although the Kickstarter campaign ended already, the game is now available from Amazon and other stores. Check out the full review or buy it from Amazon. (JL)


Lego Architecture Robie House

This year’s incredibly detailed and ambitious Lego Architecture kit is the Robie House, complete with 2,276 pieces. Easier to build than the Lego Volkswagen T1 Camper Van because of its many identical pieces, this is a great activity to do with your kids, with a friend, or alone. You’ll end up with a fantastic model of a large, iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house that will look great on your bookshelf. Also check out the new Lego Architecture Farnsworth House and the Lego Architecture Brandenburg Gate. There are plenty of other Lego Architecture kits in a variety of sizes and prices as well. (JW)

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