GeekDad Holiday Gift Guide #1 — Toys

Geek Culture Gift Guide

With feet of snow covering the Appalachians, early darkness upon us again, and cold, cold floors greeting our toes each early morning, that can only mean one thing — winter is almost here. Will it be Hoth-like in its intensity or will we be treated to another mild winter like last year? No one is certain, but one thing’s for sure, GeekDad’s annual Gift Guide is back.

Once again, our seven weekly guides will help you navigate the advertising onslaught and provide you with some excellent geeky present ideas. Each week will be a different theme, like books, games, or gadgets; this week, we’re showing you the best toys. And as always, if you don’t see anything you like, be sure to peruse previous years’ gift guides. Note that suggestions have been chosen by Nathan Barry (NB), Jonathan Liu (JL), Brad Moon (BM), James Floyd Kelly (JFK), and me (DB).


Lego Advent Calendars

Last year’s Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar was a massive hit in our house – my daughter and I took turns opening a door each day and building the little models over breakfast. So it comes as no surprise that it’s back again this year. 24 more little ships and figures, with a definite slant towards the prequels this time, but on the plus side there is a Gonk Droid and a snow R2 unit! And we won’t have to share this year either as there’s also a calendar for the Friends line too. If you can’t handle all the gender segregation, you could always go for the slightly more neutral City one, which this features Firefighters to go with last year Police theme. Because nothing says Christmas like saving Santa from a burning house! (NB)

Hobbit figuresHobbit figures

The Hobbit figures

Your kids will be able to re-enact their favorite scenes from The Hobbit with these figures, complete with accessories like swords that actually come out of their sheaths. (Hmm, those might be easy for your kids to lose. On second thought, you’d better keep these for yourself.) Not all the dwarves are available, but you can get Kili, Fili, Dwalin, Balin, and Thorin, as well as an orc, a goblin, and of course Gollum. Some characters come in a more detailed 6″ size, but most are in a 3.75″ scale. Here’s the whole line-up at Amazon. (JL)

Glo Glo InkoosGlo Glo Inkoos

Glo Glo Inkoos

Glo Glo Inkoos are plush creatures that can be decorated with washable markers and then thrown in the wash for a reboot. But what’s really cool about them is decorating them with the included light pen. The green belly patch and the patterns on the surface glow in the dark, so your kids can hide in the closet and doodle glowing designs on the Inkoos. Non-glowing versions and miniature versions are also available. For more info, visit or buy them from Amazon. (JL)



Meet the Clump-o-Lumps: plush animals with chunky zippers. Each animal comes in three parts that can be mixed and matched with the others, creating bizarre shark-squid-bird or bee-tiger-frog creatures. Just a single Clump-o-Lump is a lot of fun, but having several allows for maximum chaos (plus you can use them to teach your toddler combinatorics). Check out the GeekDad review here, or buy them from Amazon. (JL)

Papo Tyrannosaurus Rex

I have a sizable collection of — well — collectibles adoring my office. Action figures, models, figurines and the like. I received this Papo Tyrannosaurus Rex as a gift and it is simply awesome: 1:20 scale replica (6.5-inches tall), extremely detailed, nicely hand-painted and a hinged jaw so you can choose between “contemplative T-Rex” and “terrifying T-Rex” poses. Not recommended for kids under 3 years old, but you won’t go wrong with this one for dino fans, especially when you can get it for under twenty bucks at Amazon. (BM)

Spider-Man Stunt City

It’s never too early to get kids excited about superheroes and this set from Hasbro allows toddlers to save the day with Peter Parker’s alter ego. Kids will be wowed by the wall climb where lights and sound are activated as Spider-Man crawls skyward before flipping from the roof! Then, Spider-Man can dodges his foe, Lizard, by clinging to a ledge, before driving down Lizard’s tail ramp on his motorcycle to escape! The playset can be folded for easy transportation and storage. Playset includes a Spider-Man figure, Spider-Man motorbike, and “Lizard’s Lost Treasure” storybook. Buy it from Amazon. (DB)

Scuttle Bug Scooter

The Scuttle Bug is the absolutely coolest little scooter for toddlers that you’ll ever see. And the fact that it collapses easily and without danger to little fingers is amazing. When it’s collapsed, it’s about the size of an adult shoebox, and when it’s opened completely, there is no rattling or wobbliness to it — toddlers will fee quite secure riding around on it. You can read the review of the Scuttle Bug and see a video showing how easy it collapses. Available in three color choices. Buy it at Amazon. (JFK)


Brush up on your Furbish, the Furby is back! The robotic creature that was banned from the NSA due to concerns the toy might be able to repeat conversations and spurred a cottage industry of Furby hackers returns, new and improved, for 2012. With animated and expressive LCD eyes, the more kids play with Furby, the more Furby changes. The more kids speak to Furby, the more English it will reply with. Each Furby can also recognize another Furby — place two side-by-side and they will interact, dancing together or having a conversation. Download the free Furby App for iOS devices and kids can virtually feed their Furby, access a Furbish-to-English dictionary, and translator. Buy it at Amazon. (DB)

Nerf N-Strike Elite Hail-Fire Blaster

Want the biggest, baddest Nerf gun on the block? With capacity for 144 darts, (are you kidding me?) the N-Strike Elite Hail-Fire blaster unleashes an unforgiving stream of foamy munition, traveling up to 75 feet. The blaster features a revolving clip carousel, with slots for up to eight clips of any size, taking Nerf combat to a whole new level. The Hail-Fire features semi-automatic motorized fire power and includes four six-dart clips and 24 N-darts. Additional darts and clips sold separately. Buy it at Amazon. (DB)

Micro Chargers Time Track

These tiny cars, which kids can quickly charge before racing along a track, jumping and performing stunts, and traveling at scale speeds of up to 600 mph. There are 30 cars to choose from, each charging in about 8 seconds, and lots of different tracks to choose from. Tracks can be combined to create a super course of loops, curves, and straightaways. What a blast! Buy it at Amazon. (DB)

LeapPad2 and Leapster GS

LeapPad2 and LeapsterGS are two of the newest educational toy releases from LeapFrog. They both can access the LeapFrog App Store as well as use a shared cartridge system so friends can swap and share games. The LeapPad2 and LeapsterGS can be connected to the LeapFrog Connect online system, allowing parents to get detailed information related to their child’s progress in a variety of subjects. Both devices also have rechargeable battery systems available (sold separately). For parents not wanting to purchase a full-fledged tablet for their toddler or young child, these are affordable options and come with up-to-date game titles (such as Phineas and Ferb) that kids will recognize and enjoy. You can read the full review here or buy them at Amazon: LeapPad2 or LeapsterGS. (JFK)

Lego Hobbit/Lord of the Ring Sets

We are very close to the release of the first Hobbit movie and, with it, some excellent Lego Hobbit sets. I’m especially looking forward to 79003, An Unexpected Gathering – while it’s not out yet, it will likely be released before the end of the year. In the meantime, consider one of the other fantastic sets of Tolkien sets recreated in plastic bricks, including my favorite, the Mines of Moria. (DB)

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