Now that we’re in the second half of November, I know I’m not the only one starting to really flesh out my holiday shopping lists. Toys are almost always on kids’ wish lists (and many adults’ lists, as well!), so here are some of our favorite toys that we (or our kids) are wanting this year.
Lego Architecture Sets
If your interests in Lego run to buildings specifically, as mine do, you will love the Lego Architecture line of sets. From small sets like Seattle’s Space Needle and the Eiffel Tower, to medium sets like the White House and the United Nations, to intricate and larger sets like Japan’s Imperial Hotel and Pennsylvania’s Fallingwater, Lego is always coming out with new buildings to recreate. And don’t forget the Lego Architecture Studio, with which you can design and build your own houses and buildings!
MEL Chemistry Set
$75 the first month (Starter Kit & 2 Experiments), $36 per month for the subscription (3 Experiment Kits per month)
I’ve noticed over the years that the good old-fashioned chemistry set is tough to come by these days. But MEL Chemistry makes it a reality again with their Chemistry Set subscription boxes. When a customer starts a subscription, he/she will receive a starter kit that includes items such as beakers, goggles, tongs, and accessories to use a smartphone to help learn more. In the first month, the starter kit and two experiment packs will arrive. Customers will then receive three additional experiment packs per month for as long as he/she would like to subscribe. My 13-year-old has really enjoyed the experiments so far, and he can’t put down the smartphone stereoscope that allows him to see 3-D images of molecules through the MEL mobile site. The instructions are clear and the chemicals are clearly labeled. Each experiment kit includes enough supplies to perform the experiment more than once, so my 10-year-old son also has a chance to get in on the action. Subscribers receive support on the MEL Chemistry website. Even though this set is designed for ages 12 and up, children 8 and up could probably be involved with close parental supervision. I’m setting up a couple of my favorite geeky teen and pre-teen relatives with this gift!
LEGO Mindstorms EV3 (31313)
The LEGO Mindstorms are the best robotics toys on the market. If your kid(s) show an interest in robotics or STEM, putting the latest tech in their hands makes for a perfect gift this holiday season. The new-and-improved EV3 features redesigned sensors, over 550 LEGO Technic elements, and internet connectivity. With easy-to-follow directions for building five different robots, kids as young as 10 will be able to dive in to build their own automaton. And don’t forget, your young robotic engineer can see and submit custom builds through the LEGO Mindstorms community.
Nerf Zombie Strike Doominator Blaster and Abolisher Blaster
$29.99 and up
Let your enemies have it with four rotating drums that hold six darts each (for a total of 24 darts without reloading!). If that doesn’t quite fill your arsenal bill, then check out the dual action BioSquad ZR-800 Abolisher Blaster. It holds up to four darts and shoots water or zombie repellent (depending on what the occasion calls for).
The Beatles Yellow Submarine Wooden Magnetic Shapes
Because your fridge needs a Blue Meanie, that’s why. Not to mention John, Paul, George, and Ringo. This set of 35 wooden magnets is meant to entertain your young Beatles fans. There’s a yellow submarine, too, of course–and dozens of other figures from the movie. The magnets are made from 80% recycled wood. We’ll still love playing with them when we’re sixty-four.
Nerf Dart Blasters and Illuminated Flying Discs
Don’t forget Nerf for your holiday needs when shopping for your kids’ BFFs, nieces, nephews, or coworkers. Our family gave high marks to the Mega Big Shock blaster, Zombie Strike Flip Fury blaster, and the FireVision Ignite illuminated flying disc. If you’re worried about those tiny standard darts, the Mega blaster darts are bigger and easier to find. These products range in price from $7.99-$19.99, and can easily be obtained at your local Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, or online at retailers such as Amazon.
Tinker Crate is a monthly subscription box with hands-on activities for 9-14+, but there’s nothing stopping even kindergartners from enjoying the activities with an adult. Past boxes involved building a motor, a trebuchet, a zoetrope, a drawing robot, a biomechanical hand, a drip irrigation system, and the fun keeps on going.
Keith Haring MagnaChalk Wall Decals
Sometimes it IS okay to draw on the walls! These colorful adhesive-backed chalkboard decals stick to your wall and invite young artists to add their own flourishes to Keith Haring’s iconic figures. They’re magnetic, too. The set includes two sheets of large, roomy decals. We like them for family notes and lists–much livelier than a boring old whiteboard. Other MagnaChalk decal sets include Princess Castle and Up in the Air (clouds and stars).
Darkside Ollie by Sphero
Feed your Star Wars fandom and amaze your friends with the darkest, most diabolical, app-enabled robot around. At speeds up to 14mph, Darkside Ollie will perform amazing tricks. Darkside’s durable shell means you can enjoy flips and spins without worry. With Darkside’s tires, you can even off-road outside. Don’t miss out on the most devious robot around.
Lego Star Wars Millennium Falcon
When we looked at all the new Star Wars: Force Awakens Lego sets for Force Friday, the Millennium Falcon was the one that made our hearts sing. Aside from giving us all of the nostalgia, it comes with the best minifigs of any set, including Rey, Finn, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Tasu Leech, and a Kanjiklub gang member. Plus the coveted BB-8, who only appears in two of the Force Awakens sets.
Star Wars Science – Jedi Holocron
Do you have a burgeoning Star Wars expert in your home? If, like me, your young one wants nothing more than to play Star Wars games, the Jedi Holocron is a great gift. In a 20 Questions style of play, kids can challenge the all-knowing cube to guess their character from Episodes 1-6 and the TV shows! This is a great gift for kids who like to play on their own, or have the habit of talking about Star Wars non-stop. I mean, who can say no to endless play with an autonomous genius that never gets bored of playing with you?
Dinosaur Mega Playset
Dinosaurs that will open any child’s imagination into the world of the prehistoric era. Includes 12 high quality poseable models with textured skin and realistic paint jobs.
Lego Creator: Bike Shop & Cafe and Toy & Grocery Shop
Lego Creator is known for their versatile and change-able sets, which can be rearranged into at least three different things. The 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. Create your own Lego town!
DC Comics Super-Pets Dex-Starr Plush
A plushie recreation of the Red Lantern known informally as Ruffles the Rage Kitty, complete with ring on his tail. Don’t mess with this guy!
LegoClassic Large Creative Brick Box
The new Creative brick boxes have been on our radar since Toy Fair back in February. It’s a collection of Lego bricks that come in every single color and can coordinate with all of your existing sets. We love the inclusion of pink and purple bricks, too. You can add to any of your existing sets with Lego Classic Creative, or you can create open-ended models entirely out of this box. The large box has 790 pieces and includes extras like windows, doors, eyes, and tires.
72+ Amazing Science Workshop
The name says it all. This kit comes ready with 72+ possible experiments on electronics and electricity in a safe environment. Some of the activities include working with an AM/FM radio, LED lights, music, and color filters.
Spangler Science Club
Spangler Science Club subscription kits deliver kid-friendly experiments to your doorstep every month. While the kits aren’t inexpensive, the high-quality tools, detailed instructions, and overall sense of science-y fun are well worth it if you’re looking to foster a love of science. The monthly subscription kit is packed with just about everything kids in grades K-6 need to run a series of experiments.
Revell’s SnapTite Star Wars models
Basic kits start at $19.99
Model making mainstay Revell first introduced four new SnapTite Build & Play plastic model kits on Force Friday, taking Star Wars model building to a new level with action lights and sound. These beginner level models for ages 6 and older are easy to put together and require no glue, tools, or paint. Everyone needs to learn the art of putting together a model from scratch, and these kits have some great details, particularly for a SnapTite set. Perfect products to get kids into the joys of model-building.
DIY Gamer Kit from Technology Will Save Us
With the DIY Gamer Kit, you can build a portable gaming toy that uses an Arduino board. Solder the kit together to build an 8×8 LED matrix screen and then code up an old school video game to test it out. Make use of the extensive resources on the Technology Will Save Us website to get started.
Called “pentominoes” because each piece consists of five square units, these high quality plastic pieces can be combined in a variety of ways. 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.
Professional Quality Rock Tumbler by National Geographic
Your beloved STEM genius will love to add this long-lasting tumbler their collection of useful analog tools. This model isn’t just a tool, though, it is a complete hobby kit. It includes over a pound of un-polished stones to polish, directions for polishing the stones, and jewelry fastenings to use them. With an adjustable speed, rubber barrel, and timed auto-shutoff, National Geographic has created a professional grade tool that runs more quietly than any other model, making it it a great gift for your STEM and Geology hobbyist.