Halloween is over, and it is once again time to turn our full attention to that which we call the Holiday Season! Don’t fret, we’re not going to blast you with Christmas carols or Yuletide imagery, but, if you’re so inclined to be gifting to others in the last few months of this year, we’ve got lists of awesome and geeky items for you to consider.
First up is a list of toys that we’ve played with, geeked out on, and raved about to our friends. Read on to see what we liked, why we liked it, and where you can pick one up!
Miles From Tomorrowland Stellosphere
Growing up, nearly all of my toys and playsets relied on imagination over technology to “bring them to life,” so I’m always thrilled when my kids have the same opportunity, which is–alas–becoming harder to find in the toy aisle. This playset, from the incredible Miles From Tomorrowland on Disney Junior, brings the Callisto family’s home base into your living room. It also happens to be a 3-in-1 playset that includes two smaller ships. Also included is a “cross vehicle rocket system” that attaches to and adds light and sound effects to all three ships. Plus, it’s compatible with all of the Miles From Tomorrowland toys in this line. Our only complaint is that it comes with just one character, but it’s Miles, so my kids don’t complain too much.
LEGO Creator Fierce Flyer 31004
The LEGO Creator Fierce Flyer is a three-in-one kit that builds an eagle, a beaver, and a scorpion. It’s great for (almost) all ages, because there are instructions, but there are also many unusual pieces in it, allowing the builder to create their own little beasts! The Flyer makes a great gift, and is a world-wide favorite.
Scrabble Twist Game
As a child, the highlight of any dining experience was the paper placemat full of puzzles. One of my favorites was the “How many words can you make from the letters in H-A-M-B-U-R-G-E-R (or W-A-F-F-L-E-H-O-U-S-E, B-O-B-E-V-A-N-S, etc., though, oddly enough, Fuddruckers never got in on this).” Hasbro, the makers of Scrabble, have taken this idea and turned it into a fun handheld electronic game that can be played in solo mode or with up to 8 players in party mode.
FPS Freek Galaxy
Whether you’re outfitting a new holiday game system or simply supplementing last year’s big gift, nothing complements a console quite like KontrolFreek products. From the minimalist Alpha to the taller, hyper-responsive CQC Signature Series, KontrolFreek Thumbsticks enhance range of motion and add some much-needed comfort to controllers. You can mix and match sets for your preferred configuration, or you can just grab my new favorite, the FPS Freek Galaxy, which combines a short, grippy left stick for enhanced movement with a taller right stick for more sensitive aiming. [Review materials provided by: KontrolFreek]
LEGO Star Wars TIE Advanced Prototype
The TIE Advanced Prototype is a great toy for anyone who likes Star Wars, sci-fi, and/or vehicles. It features an iconic design, three minifigs, and two functioning blasters, which shoot plastic missiles at their target! Oh, and I can’t forget my favorite feature. The wings fold in for landing mode, which means the ship isn’t resting on thin wing points, and isn’t likely to fall over!
Sky Viper Video Drone (V950HD)
Of all the inexpensive drones, including the less expensive models from Sky Viper, this has been the easiest to fly. Once I figured out the trim controls it became intuitive to fly, and I captured some amazing video at 720p. The camera does not do too well with low light, but it performs well enough during daylight hours to get some aerial photos of the house and video of the dogs playing catch. It has enough power to overcome a moderate breeze, but I’d advise against flying it on windy days.
Playskool Heroes Star Wars Galactic Heroes Millennium Falcon and Figures
Playskool’s line of Star Wars Galactic Heroes are really fun and awesome for little kids. They are a great way to introduce small children to Star Wars while letting you relive your own childhood. The Millenium Falcon is our favorite as it’s also a playset and a carrying case. You can even listen to my son and I talk about, and play with it, on our podcast.
Made by: Playskool
Available at: Playskool Heroes Star Wars Galactic Heroes Millennium Falcon and Figures
Submitted by: Will James
The Flipsies remind me a little of my old M.A.S.K. toys because the characters (and playsets) have double lives. But in this case, instead of masked heroes fighting crime, they’re young girls who have dream jobs. Eva’s treehouse turns into a vet center, Jazz’s vanity turns into a piano, and Sandy’s house turns into an ocean cruiser (as seen in this Stack Overflow post). The characters talk when placed onto special MagicPoint locations, and they’ll even have conversations with each other in certain playsets. Each one has her own punny quips that she’ll say when she visits another character’s sets.
LEGO Creator Bike Shop & Cafe
LEGO Creator is known for their versatile and changeable sets, which can be rearranged into at least three different things. This Bike Shop & Cafe set comes with minifigs, enough pieces for a car, a bicycle, as well as all the pieces to build two buildings that open up for play. Arrange and rearrange your sets as much as you like. A related set, the LEGO Creator Toy & Grocery Shop, is smaller and more affordable, but has the same kind of play value.
Learning Resources Rainbow Premier Pentominoes
Called “pentominoes” because each piece consists of five square units, these high quality plastic pieces can be combined in a variety of ways. (See the full-length review previously run on GeekDad.) Each piece organizes the five square units in a different way, making it a puzzle to fit them together into shapes. For kids (or adults) who like to fiddle, make patterns, or solve puzzles, these are a perfect gift. For an added challenge, add on a pentomino puzzle book.
Another beloved toy from our collective childhood has returned, but it’s not exactly as we remembered. Whereas we were treated to the stereoscopic 3D of the systems of old, this generation can instead use Mattel’s new View-Master to experience the wonders of the natural world via virtual and augmented reality. The familiar red eyepiece now serves as a casing for you smartphone and, when the partner app is paired with Experience Reels, viewers can tour famous landmarks or even explore the solar system. You can expand this offering with additional Experience Packs, and there’s even Google Cardboard support. [Review materials provided by: Mattel]
Star Wars Remote Control Ultimate Millennium Falcon Quad
This quad lets you fly the YT-1300 around your own living room galaxy. Made from foam, but with embedded lights at its mandibles and drive units, this is no ordinary freighter. The remote unit plays realistic sounds to help get Han & Chewie to hyperspace (as long as the destination is within the 200 foot 2.4 Ghz range–What is that in parsecs?!).
Made by: Air Hogs
Available at: Star Wars Remote Control Ultimate Millennium Falcon Quad
Submitted by: Dave Banks
Sphero BB-8 App-Enabled Droid
The hottest toy of the season from the hottest movie of the season. This app-controlled BB-8 is so adorable it makes K-9 look like a T-800. The perfect gift for any Star Wars fan.
Dinotrux Mega Chompin’ Ty Rux
If your kids are anything like mine, there’s probably more than one Dinotrux or Reptool on this year’s holiday wishlist. Mashing together construction vehicles and dinosaurs was a spark of genius (thanks Chris Gall), but bringing them to life on Netflix (thanks Dreamworks Animation) was a masterstroke. And if your kids are anything like mine, this oversized Mega Chompin’ Ty Rux (thanks Mattel) will be more than welcome at your home. Lift the handle on his back, and his eyes light up and mouth opens wide to emit a wide variety of sound effects and dialogue play. Position the included Revvit figure on his neck, rotate him back and forth, and different sound effects and dialogue play. Kids can even open up the wrecking ball to store Revvit and other Reptools (sold separately).
Brackitz Creator 50 Piece Set
Brackitz Creator 50 Piece Set is a great building toy to teach architectural and engineering principals to small kids. Brackitz are composed of wooden planks and three different kinds of plastic angled connectors that allow limitless construction. There are also 100 and 200 piece sets for even more building fun. Check out my full review of Brackitz for more details.
This is an incredible piece of animatronics. Yoda moves, talks, listens, and interacts with young padawans as they seek counsel with the grand master. Yoda speaks 115 phrases and whirls about, wielding his weapon with deadly precision. In his demonstrations, he will teach you how to use a light saber. Swap out his saber with his cane and Yoda changes into wisdom mode, educating on how to become a Jedi. Leave Yoda bare handed and he will school you on the ways of the Force. It’s an amazing toy and lots of kids are going to want Yoda this year. (Probably a few adults too.)
Transformers Combiner Wars Optimus Prime
Back when Transformers came out in the ’80s, Hasbro did some crazy things to keep their fans coming back for more transforming, diecast crack once the novelty of cars and planes turning into robots faded. The most successful of these gambits were the Combiners. These teams of bots weren’t just vehicles that transformed into robots; they were robots that came together to form an even bigger robot! They were amazing, so much so that you started to look at your old ’84 bots, wishing they could combine too. Well, Hasbro has heard 12-year-old you’s wish and created Combiner Wars. Previous waves have focused on highly detailed versions of old teams, such as the Arielbots and Stunticons. The latest wave takes inspiration from the IDW comics and has the OG team of Battle Core Optimus Prime, Sunstreaker, Mirage, Ironhide, and Ratchet combining into a brand new mega-bot, Optimus Maximus. The toys are ridiculously detailed. The play factor is off the charts since they’re awesome Transformers individually even before you combine them. It’s total nostalgia-bait and I absolutely love it.