For once I have actually finished the bulk of my holiday shopping. The kids are older and have easier, though more costly, demands. For those of you upholding the time-honored geek tradition of procrastination, there is still time, but you will need to hurry. Shopping locally can be risky as the hottest items will be sold out, but whatever you do find is available now without waiting on shipping. Amazon Prime can help, but this close to Christmas the warehouses and carriers are swamped so you may not get the package until late. Read on for a few suggestions below that might help you out of a last-minute jam.
Any of the Amazon products should have a Prime shipping option, and as long as you order on Monday there is a good chance you’ll have it by the 24th.
Terraria Multi Level Biome Playset
Despite GeekDad’s notable Minecraft slant, mine is a Terraria family, and the new Multi Level Biome from Jazwares has been a big hit in my house. Ably walking the line between playset and showpiece, this massive modular kit includes three fully realized strata straight from the game. Boasting everything from trees and ore blocks to a lavascape with a working minecart and track, this is one requires a little adult help with assembly, but, with its light-up torches and in-game sounds (batteries included!), it’s truly fun for the whole family. An exclusive Molten Armor figure rounds out the offering, and, of course, it plays perfectly with all your other Terraria figures and biome sets. [Review materials provided by: Jazwares]
Super Mario Pipe Amiibo Figure Stand
Not to disparage the mint-in-box collectors out there, but around here we open our amiibo. Unfortunately, the issue becomes what to do with these tiny plastic masterpieces when we’re not actively playing with them. There are a number of storage options out there, but my personal favorite is PDP’s Super Mario Pipe stand. This iconic design (literally) elevates your favorite characters above your more pedestrian amiibo, and you can pick ’em up for a song. PDP also produces a similar Donkey Kong Barrel that, while designed for 3DS cartridge and stylus storage, ostensibly serves as another great amiibo stand–especially for your DK figs! [Review materials provided by: PDP]
I recommended a Next Issue subscription earlier this year in our Father’s Day gift guide. Since then, the “Netflix for magazines” app rebranded and transformed into Texture. Whereas Next Issue offered a relatively straightforward, traditional reading experience, Texture promises to deliver content in a brand-new, personalized way. Still packed into the app are 160 titles; 15,000 back issues; and digital-only multimedia exclusive features. However, unique to Texture are new ways to approach all of that content, including curated thematic collections and a “new and noteworthy” feature that draws together articles relevant to current events and hot topics. The heart of the app – and the reading experience – is still there, though. Subscriptions start at $9.99/month; grant unlimited access to current issues and entire back catalogs; can be shared across 5 devices; and are compatible across Android, Windows, and iOS devices! Longer gift subscriptions are also available at a discount.
Z-Wave Dimmable LED Light Bulb
While the name doesn’t exactly scream “sexy Christmas present,” any gadget geek with a Z-Wave home automation system would surely love this demure, dimmable LED. A full 60-watt equivalent in a 9-watt bulb, it’s compatible with any Z-Wave certified system–like my beloved Piper NV–and can be added in seconds. Just like your other Z-Wave accessories, it can be configured to operate on a timer or triggered by an ambient light level, and, with an estimated lifespan of nearly 23 years, it promises years of loyal service. Best of all, it’s readily available for purchase via the Piper digital storefront, at Amazon, and through reputable retailers nationwide. [Review materials provided by: Piper]
Philips Norelco Shaver 9700
I’ve always used electric shavers, but I have to say the Norelco 9700 solves a bunch of problems I didn’t know I had with shavers, but now can’t imagine doing without. It has a digital display of the remaining battery power, so no more having the thing die on me half way through a shave. It also features variable speed heads to control how fast or slow you want to shave, and comes with a cleaning/charging stand that ensures it never gets clogged. Oh, and it shaves nice and close–much better than my old one. (Note: Philips provided a review unit.)
Star Wars: Epic Yarns series and Darth Vader and Friends
Get ’em started on the Star Wars universe early. These books for young kids bring humor, art (in the form of fantastic needle felting), and plenty of Star Wars characters into your kids’ lives. You’ll enjoy them, too. The Epic Yarns series is by Jack Wang and Holman Wang, and Darth Vader and Friends is one of many fun Star Wars-oriented books by Jeffrey Brown. Note: If your kids are spoiler-sensitive, be sure to check them out in advance, though the spoilers contained therein are hardly secrets anymore.
Made by: Chronicle Books
Available at: Star Wars: Epic Yarns series and Darth Vader and Friends
Submitted by: Jenny Bristol
ARCKIT Architectural Building Kit
If you or anyone in your family is an aspiring architect, or who just likes designing buildings and houses, check out the ARCKIT Architectural Building Kits. Made in Ireland, they come in four different sizes, all with a 1.2m/4ft grid to scale 1:48. ARCKIT GO, the starter kit, has 160+ components. They also have the ARCKIT A60, A120, and A240 which contain 220, 385, and 620 pieces, respectively. Let your imagination go wild as you design and redesign your dream house, buildings, or cottages. Originally designed for professional architects to easily model their ideas, they are now available for anyone to use. You can combine kits to expand your ideas. Use the included handbook for inspiration as well. For anyone age 12 and up. The sets also come with printable adhesive sheets. You can download textures from the ARCHITEXTURE portion of their website, and then cut and fit the sheets to the ARCKIT pieces, customizing your design further.
Amazon Gift Cards
A well thought out gift can have real meaning, but sometimes we just don’t know what to get a person. Gift cards can be a near perfect gift in these cases, just be sure to get one they will use. If you’re buying for a geek, then Amazon, Gamestop, or Steam are all good choices. I really like the Amazon cards, as a last minute gift as they allow access to a lot of different products and services, and can be purchased literally at the last minute for electronic delivery.
Cards Against Humanity: Sixth Expansion
Cards Against Humanity is an adults-only party game that cannot be beat. Wil Wheaton called it the “Best. Game. EVER.”, and nobody can blame him. Cards Against Humanity has a simple premise: One player reads a question card, and the other players vie to provide the funniest, most appropriate, or most horrible answer they can. Answers are shuffled and given to the player, who reads them out, and selects their favorite answer. There is no standard to judge by. The player just picks their favorite. Most questions and answers are too adult to feature here, but Gabe from Penny Arcade also touts it as “An incredible game”, and we must say it’s a great gift for any adult. I like to give a copy to the annual sucker who hosts our New Year’s party, as a thank-you for putting up with You might not want to play with your mother, but ymmv.
The Dark Tower Boxed Set
There is no book series that has had more impact on my life than Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, and the Volume one through four boxed set is the perfect starting place for anybody who may want to get onboard (the mono) before the new film and tv series starts. The Dark Tower series is King’s epic that is impossible to pin down to a single genre. It is fantasy, western, sci-fi, and more all rolled in to one. It is also quite unlike any of his other work, so it even appeals to readers who aren’t normal fans of King’s horror writing. Do yourself a favor and pick up one of the greatest modern fiction series of all time.
Fire HD 6 Kids Edition
Amazon has created the perfect tech gift for kids. The Kindle Fire HD Kids’ Edition is a fully functional tablet designed specifically for kids. Not only will Amazon replace the tablet (100% no questions asked) if it breaks, it includes content specifically curated for kids. Parents can create up to four childrens’ profiles, each with their own restrictions, permissions, and content. But don’t worry that this tablet is too simple; parents can log in to experience the full Amazon Fire HD experience. The Fire also includes a year of FreeTime access. FreeTime has restrictions designed to give parents full control of their kids’ experience. Parents can build in a requirement of reading for 30 minutes before getting access to other apps, or generally restrict screen time overall, or per app. The Fire is the perfect gift for kids who are new to personal devices, and is a risk-free opportunity to give kids computing independence. Amazon can still have it to you before Christmas with Prime, or two-day shipping!