Holiday Gift Guide #1: Toys

Gift Guide Toys

So, it’s once again that time of year. The time where we at GeekDad scour our reviews and products for the best gifts any geek would love. I know that Halloween has just barely passed, but with only six weeks left to Christmas, and barely four left to Hanukkah, it’s probably time to start some shopping.

This week we turn our eyes toward toys. Read on to see the favorite picks from Jenny Williams, Nathan Barry, Z, Corrina Lawson, Jonathan Liu, Dave Banks, Brad Moon, Michael Harrison, and me.

Big Hero 6: Deluxe Flying Baymax

This was the coolest of the toys sent to me this year by Marvel. Baymax is giant, at 11 inches tall with a wingspan that extends to 18 inches. He has numerous sounds triggered by a button in his belly. More sounds are accessible after attaching the 4.5 inch Hiro Hamada figure to his back. The sounds of his rockets change with Baymax’s angle to simulate climbing or diving. With numerous lights, and plenty of “not too obnoxious” sounds, this should keep a young Big Hero 6 fan entertained.

Buy it at Amazon.

Groot Bobble Head

A friend of mine recently gave me a Baby Groot by Funko, and it never fails to cheer me up. If your die-hard fan wants a Groot for the holidays, this is probably your only choice. There are rumors of a licensed electronic dancing version, but I haven’t yet seen a product page, or release date. Funko also has a Dancing Groot Bobble planned; it is slated to release at the end of the year, and, while it won’t dance on its own, it wouldn’t be hard to DIY it to do so.

Buy it at Amazon. (AO)

Image from: Tegu Toys
Tegu Toys

Sustainably sourced and made from FSC-certified Honduran hardwoods, these magnetic wooden blocks will delight your teen and your baby alike. With magnets completely encased in the wood, stick these babies together in any combination to make your own delightful sculptures. Ranging from very simple sets to more complex systems, there’s something for every taste and price range.

Buy them at Amazon. (JW)

Lego Advent Calendars

They’re back again this year, and follow the same pattern as previous years. Friends once again wins the prize for actually being the most Christmassy ,with the girls enjoying the holidays in a cosy log cabin, complete with a warm fire, a tree, a deer and lots of cake. The Star Wars one features Darth Vader donning the red suit this year, a Snowtrooper (finally!), lightsabres hanging over the fireplace and a great microscale version of Luke’s speeder. Finally, the City set is better this year with much more Christmas (including a whole turkey!) and slightly less cops and robbers. (NB)

Image by Gamewright
Rory’s Story Cubes MAX

If you enjoy regular Rory’s Story Cubes, check out the MAX version. These larger cubes are great for large groups or for those with poor eyesight or coordination. Roll the Cubes and begin your story, working each image into the tale. Or use them for brainstorming, creative writing, problem solving, or foreign language learning. The uses are limitless.

Buy them at Amazon. (JW)

InnoTab Max

With a dual-core processor and a 7″ multi-touch screen, VTech’s InnoTab Max is kid-friendly Android tablet that actually works. Boasting 8GB of storage (expandable to 40GB) and an HDMI output as well as a web browser that only enables navigation to sites that you approve, it’s a safe and functional way to reclaim your cell phone. The Max supports both VTech cartridges and a library of educational apps from makers like Toca Boca via the Learning Lodge marketplace. Its Kid Connect system even allows for messaging between the tablet and your smartphone, not to mention viewing your child’s wish list.
[Review materials provided by: VTech] (Z.)

Kidizoom Smartwatch

I, like so many other nerds, helped Kickstart the original Pebble smartwatch, and my daughter became instantly obsessed with said accoutrement. While her VTech Kidizoom doesn’t allow for Bluetooth syncing and lacks the handy gyroscopic activity tracker of my Pebble, it does feature a rechargeable battery, touchscreen navigation, alarm and stopwatch functionality and more than 50 different digital and analog-style displays. It comes with a handful of onboard games and a suite of audio, video and still image capture capabilities, complete with distortion, filters and frame effects. Also it has a 1.4″ color screen – so she definitely wins there.
[Review materials provided by: VTech] (Z.)

Mondo Bloxx

Before my kids fell in love with Lego bricks or even Duplo bricks, there were our cardboard blocks. They’re lightweight, stackable, and can create kid-size houses, bridges and walls. An absolutely perfect first building toy. Bonus: you can’t swallow them, and they won’t hurt if you step on them.

Buy them at Amazon.

Modarri CarsModarri Cars

I first backed the Modarri cars during their Kickstarter campaign, and they’re now available in stores. The cars have real suspensions and steering systems, and each car comes apart into 12 different pieces that can be swapped between cars to mix and match styles. One bonus feature: the hex screws stay attached to the parts, so you don’t have to worry about losing them.

The S1 Street Car and X1 Dirt Car are available from Amazon. More styles and the 3-pack are available directly from Modarri.

Street Hawk Remote Control Flying Car

I’ve spent my whole life waiting for car companies to make good on the idea of a flying car. While I believe I’m in for a lifetime of disappointment on that one, it’s now possible to drive and fly vicariously with the Hot Wheels Street Hawk Remote Control Flying Car. The vehicle, powered by propellers, is fun to drive around the driveway and — with a flip of a switch on the remote control — the car launches into the sky. It’s a blast to play with and works surprisingly well. It’s a toy you’ll play with until the batteries drain… and then run in to charge it back up so you can play some more.

Buy it from Amazon. (DB)

littleBits Electronics Synth Kit

To be honest, this is a toy that dad might end up playing with more than the kids. littleBits are easy snap-together electronics and half the fun of playing with them is trying different combinations and learning what works and what doesn’t. But this kit, made in partnership with Korg (maker of keyboards, synthesizers, and other musical instruments), allows you to put together your own analog synthesizer to make music. There are a lot of tools in this small box and the kit also includes directions for 10 projects — including a keytar! Make music, learn electronics, and have a lot of fun… this might be the best Christmas present ever!

Buy it from Amazon. (DB)

Zoomer Dino
Zoomer Dino

During various Spin Master events, I’ve had the opportunity to see Zoomer Dino develop from prototype to production. The dinosaur that balances on two wheels is always a riot to watch and something that kids are immediately drawn to. The toy is USB rechargeable, although the remote — if you choose to use it — requires 3 AAA batteries. The autonomous dinosaur will scoot through your house exploring and learning as it reacts to objects and people. Pull the tail for an angry roaring/eyes flashing warning. And yes, Zoomer Dino occasionally burps and farts. Kids love that part.

Buy it from Amazon (BM)

Zero Gravity Laser racer
Air Hogs Zero Gravity Laser Racer

There are R/C cars and there are cars that do gravity-defying loops on plastic race tracks. Then there’s the Air Hogs Zero Gravity Laser Racer. No track required. No floor, either. Use the controller to paint a path with a laser beam and the Air Hogs racer chases it — across the floor, up the wall and even across the ceiling. The car uses “Wall Climber Technology” to pull off the stunt. For a light show, race the Laser Racer in the dark with its color-changing LEDs turned on.

Buy it from Amazon (BM)

Lego Minecraft

Minecraft is digital Lego, more or less, and a few years back, we got a taste of how awesome it would be to combine the two together with the Micro World sets. We’ve had to wait until now for the full Lego treatment, though: minifigures, specialized blocks, accessories, and exploding TNT! More sets are slated for release, but for now, budding explorers can explore The Mine, which includes a minifig version of Steve, a Creeper, a zombie, a skeleton, a spider, and a working Minecraft track.

Buy it from Amazon. (MH)

Maisto Rock Crawler Extreme

The only way we can get our son to go on walks with us is to let him take his remote control car along. He gets to have fun, we get exercise. Everyone wins. He puts it through the paces, though, so it’s gotta be durable. The Rock Crawler has big tires, full suspension, and four-wheel drive, so it fits the bill. It’s got a selectable frequency, so you can buy a couple to race together. At $40, that’s not such a huge hit on the budget, either. Requires six AA batteries for the car and 3 AAA for the remote. Eneloop rechargeables work perfectly.

Buy it from Amazon. (MH)

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