Here’s the straight dope.
My ALL THINGS GEEK BEST OF 2017 gift recommendations will be listed in no particular order. Basically, I’m swamped this time of year, so whenever I get to take a product for a spin, (I NEVER recommend something me or mine haven’t tested) from the manufacturers, it’s an enthusiastic yay or, I don’t list it.
My four criteria for any editorial review toys & products are:
“Is it FUN?” “Is it COOL?” “Is it a good VALUE?” “Do my kids LOVE it?”
These products below and others to come make the grade!
When available, I’ve added a handy AMAZON PRIME link for discounts (FREE SHIPPING!). The manufacturers links to glean more info for you kind reader, to make informed decisions in spending your hard-earned and make shopping easy!
As always Geek Nation, I appreciate your continued readership & support!
And now, the first of several carefully curated Best Of Gift Guides!
PLAYMOBIL / GHOSTBUSTERS FIREHOUSE:
I first wrote about The iconic toy maker launching a new line inspired by the 1984 classic movie GHOSTBUSTERS in time for National Ghostbusters Day on June 8th this summer. You can read my announcement & review of the iconic Ecto-1 here.
I’ve gotten to build & tryout a PLAYMOBIL GHOSTBUSTERS FIREHOUSE and it blew me and my Ghostbusting daughter away!
The PLAYMOBIL GHOSTBUSTERS FIREHOUSE at a very doable 228 pieces is well made, sturdy and really sensational for play with it’s open concept, the outside is on one side and the inside on the other. There are three floors with the bottom floor able to house the Ecto-1 (9220 – sold separately) The garage door works well and was a piece of cake to assemble as a matter of fact, every non-staircase piece (staircases were kind of a pain) of the set were simple and painless to put together. It only took a bit over an hour for my daughter and I to assemble.
I geeked out over the TONS of loving details of the accessories like PKE meters, proton packs, lasers, and ghost traps silicone slime splashes of ectoplasm which are a nice touch. A lot of thought went into the decal designs even lamps & pizza in boxes! The figures include Egon Spengler, Ray Stantz, Janine in her regular clothes (It’s cool that Janine’s skirt moves to enable her to sit.) Tully & the ghost librarian from the film! Winston Zeddemore and Janine Melnitz in their official uniforms from Ecto-1 we already own so we just need Venkman! The figures all have swivel heads, swinging arms, can all bend to sit and stand on their own.
You also get FOUR FREE EPISODES of The Real Ghostbusters with any PLAYMOBIL Ghostbusters purchase! Visit ghostbusterscode.playmobil.com to redeem. Limited Time Only – While supplies last
Recommended for ages 6 and up. Warning. Choking Hazard. Small parts. Not for children under 3.
$69.99 – $55.99 on Amazon Prime
This set at 229 pieces at $69.00 is already a value. $55.99 on Amazon Prime opposed to the other guys building set with over 4,600 pieces at over $300 with no garage for Ecto-1? A no brainer for Ghostbusters fans young & young at heart!
LittleBits / Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit:
THIS IS THE DROID YOU’RE LOOKING FOR! The Little Bits STAR WARS Droid Inventior Kit encourages creativity. This award winning STEM toy was a hit with both my padwans 8-10 right out of the box. It comes with everything you need to create your own R2 Unit from scratch, including electronic blocks, plastic Droid parts, and stickers.! And yes, batteries ARE included! Your kids can create their own custom Droid to solve problems, face challenges and deliver secret plans vital to the rebellion!
Using littleBits electronic blocks and the free Droid Inventor app our personal R2 Unit gained new abilities using littleBits modules we already owned! You can integrate any of the other kits (70 unique Bits littleBits makes) Each modular electronic block has a different function (motor, proximity sensor, speaker, etc.), enabling kids to endlessly reconfigure and customize their Droid however they choose.
The building instructions for the Droid and the controllers for the missions are found in the free Droid Inventor app. Littlebits can always be assembled and used without the app but for this particular product the app is the guide. Once the app was installed on their smartphones they didn’t need me at all! Step-by-step, in-app instructions helped them build a basic R2 unit then once they hit the basics challenged them to make new custom Droids! With the Droid Inventor app (iPhone & Android), kids can teach their Droid new skills like head spins and self navigation, and send it on 16+ special Star Wars missions. The app requires iOS 10 or later or Android 4.4 or later. The list of devices that can run the app is here. Available at The Disney Store or shop.littlebits.cc
8 – 80
“This isn’t just a pre-made toy you play with. Kids get to use their brains and their hands and create their own Droid from scratch. They experience what it’s like to be in the Star Wars world and be a Droid Inventor, so they form an emotional bond with the Droid – it’s the fruit of their labor and their sidekick. I’ve never seen so many kids hug a littleBits invention before.” – Droid Inventor Kit creator
I couldn’t say it any better.
SPHERO / Spider-Man:
SPHERO should be given credit for coming up with such a bold departure from its other licensed hit toys like DISNEYS STAR WARS BB-88 & PIXARS CARS Lightning McQueen because unlike those remote controlled mobile wonders, SPHERO SPIDER-MAN doesn’t move a muscle! His stubby legs should give that away & his arms are the only element that are posable – None the less, he’s THE interactive playmate for younger Spidey fans this Holiday season!
Don’t get it twisted, He’s MUCH, much more than an “ECHO in a Spidey suit!” He’s finished with a durable, basketball like textured silicone. My kids play with demo toys all the time and aren’t gentle at all, they threw him around on thier adventures to no harm. The recessed, remarkably expressive LCD eyes are surprisingly scratch resistant. His “Chibi” over-sized head and big, expressive LCD-screen eyes are remarkably cute. Those eyes, like in the Spider Man Homecoming movie are one of Spidey’s best features: they move, squint, and wink as the toy listens and talks, and flash when his Spider-Sense kicks in. He’s remarkably clever. In one of my kids favorite games Spider-Man asks you to describe an object, step by step, to draw. At the end, you have to guess what it was. Spider-Man cracks jokes, or tells stories of his awesome escapades his origin story like in the video and runs kids through increasingly complex games and adventures! The combat training mini-game Spider Man orders kids to reply ‘deflect’, ‘block’, or ‘dodge’ in response to specific sound cues, building up to more complex combos.
Once sufficently trained, Kids get assigned superpowers to go on crimefighting adventures! One is you must stop a gang robbing a pizza store, with Spider-Man describing what was happening, giving them the choice to set a trap or intervene, then asking them to use thier superpower at the climactic moment. Spider-Man then REMEMBERS your decisions! He drops details from your past adventures into future stories! AMAZING! It interprets kids yammering well, even with both my kids excitedly yacking at him in unison and if Spidey got stumped (rarely) he’d just carry on regardless or ask a question to keep the mind on task. Like we all do barraged by kids! He runs about two hours on a charge or just run him off his web base.
Spider-Man can even be an alarm that keeps a daily track of snoopers. It has motion sensors telling intruders to get lost. Spidey responds to being held upside-down or thrown around, (not a fan) and has tons of smart-aleck remarks about other heroes. SHPERO will provide periodic smart app downloads so Spidey’s schitck will continue to be fresh and he learns & grows. Parents needn’t worry about hackers, he’s Bluetooth enabled & his data is stored locally so no huge remote servers so nobody can listen in remotely.
Price: $149 – $131.99 on AMAZON PRIME
Sphero Spider-Man as a great surprise! Incredibly smart, interactive toy that was a fun & durable sidekick that younger Spidey fans will absolutely adore and it’s future expansions make it well worth the investment! Get it at a discount on AMAZON PRIME while you can!
jay@play / FlipZee Girls , Flip a Zoo, Playbrites:
jay@play has a terrific trio of transfomable friends for younger kids to play nap and sleep comfortably!
The original Flip-a-Zoo friends are plush hypoallergenic stuffed animals that fold out to make pillows and turn inside out to change into a totally new friend! Frog to Ladybug or Monkey to unicorn! Available at www.flipazoo.com
These charming Flip-a-Zoo 2.0 stuffed animals are like getting two friend for the price of one!
Flip Zee Girls are stylish, plush dolls that transform from cute little anime inspired swaddling babies to big girls with pretty dresses and colorful wacky hairstyles in an instant! They come in six styles! Available at www.flipzeegirls.com & Walmart
A fashionable step up from the old rag doll! This has become my daughters favorite because of the baby-big girl flexibility for play!
Playbrites are animal inspired long lasting LED powered nightlights with accessories & faces that are interchangeable with any other Playbrtie model. They can comfort little ones who might need a friendly face at night to settle down! They entertain with a magical light show on the celing that automatically shuts off after 20 minuets and you can store Playbrites detachable faces inside the body. Each has a carrying handle to take anywhere! Available at www.playbrites.com & Toys “R” Us.
A very unique take on a nightlight that’s durable, fun and affordable!
(ALL) MSRP $19.99 each!
McFarlane Toys / STEVEN UNIVERSE CONSTRUCTION SETS:
I wrote about this amazing line not long ago. Cartoon Network’s Emmy-nominated Steven Universe revolves around Steven, the “little brother” to a team of magical aliens—the Crystal Gems—who defend the planet Earth. Steven is the son of the Crystal Gems’ late leader Rose Quartz and aging aspiring rockstar Mr. Universe. Steven belongs everywhere and nowhere: he has inherited his mother’s Gem and her magical powers, but also his father’s humanity and charm. The show is a slice-of-life action comedy that follows Steven as he attempts to bridge the gap between the sci-fi fantasy world of Gems and the cozy, funny, simple-yet-extraordinarily-complicated world of human beings. Steven Universe is created by Emmy and Annie Award-nominated writer and New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Sugar, and produced by Cartoon Network Studios.
You can read the announcement here. I also interviewed Todd McFarlane about his philosophy in recreating high quality toys that in his words are “dioramas of cool moments you can relive from a show.” You can see that NYCC Exclusive interview here. So after spending some time with my children buliding the STEVEN UNIVERSE Constrction Sets I can wholeheartedly recommend them! A Walmart exclusive until 2018! www.walmart.com
age: 4 & up small pieces.
price: $8.99 – $34.99
Bottom Line: If you or your little ones are fans of STEVEN UNIVERSE these are obvious choices for holiday gifts!
Stay tuned as I will be posting supplemental Holiday gift guides in the coming weeks featuring theses and other exemplary companies creating Toys, Media & Tech fueling the imaginations of geeks young and old!
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Art Credit – Manufactures listed