Are you still wrapping presents, or, like me, are you still working yourself up to shopping for them? For all of us who procrastinate, online shopping is one of the twenty-first century’s greatest blessings. Here are five brilliant ideas that are guaranteed to make you a gifting hero this year.
Nano Speed’s Super Vert Crash Set perfects the art of the racetrack that kids love to set up on the living room floor. This set uses pull-back cars that are so tiny, you’d better watch out if small children are around who are likely to pop the cars into their mouths.
For anybody older than that, they are awesome little works of art, available separately in off-road, hot rod, supercar, utility vehicle, and “Nano V8” body styles. The set comes with a triple-loop layout, an inverted corkscrew, and five crash zones. That’s right, enjoy crashing and smashing tiny little hot rods and fire trucks! Merry Christmas one and all. The set is battery powered and comes with a motorized booster. Full disclosure: This set is getting set up to be played with at the Jean Knows Cars/Automobile Magazine holiday party. Nano Speed World or Amazon.com $27.44 (cars $8.99 for four)
#2: Bond. James Bond
Cue the hit theme song by Adele, which will be a welcome change from “The Little Drummer Boy,” and pit a 1/32-scale Range Rover against a 1/32-scale Aston Martin DB5 in a newly released Scalextric set based on the latest James Bond film, Skyfall. There’s a chicane, a “gravity-defying flying leap,” and a set of ramps on the track that comes with the pair of legendary British cars. It’s the fiftieth anniversary of the Bond movie franchise, after all. Scalextric.com or Amazon.com $164.99
#3: Mustang for the Littlest Ones
Build-a-Bear goes slightly afield from its standard teddy bear theme with its plush Bossy, the Mustang Pony. This cuddly toy is a tie-in with Ford. The Mustang Pony gets a snowflake-patterned sweater, a bandana, and a pony logo on its left foot. Undeniably cute—and not necessarily just for little kids, either. The Ford Collection $34.95
#4: Human-Powered Silver Arrow
Mercedes-Benz offers a pedal-car version of the SLK in its racing color, silver, for ages three to about six. A pedal car is so much better than the battery-powered cars made for children. It uses their own foot power and is thus limited in how fast it goes, while the kids use their bodies for exercise! It’s also more attractive, more elegant, and longer lived than those battery-powered pink plastic things you see in every subdivision. (OK, rant finished.)
Mercedes makes a silver 300SL Gullwing for kids as well, although the doors don’t actually open. Mercedes-Benz USA: SLK $315 or Gullwing $370
#5: Stock Cars for Every Kid
For the small-size NASCAR fan in your life, K’Nex makes a Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 car building set, complete with two good old boy figures (one with shades and a three-day growth of beard—nice touch). There’s also a Danica Patrick #7 car with a well-made-up driver figure. It’s on sale for half price right now—all the more reason it’s a gift to consider for kids of both genders. Both sets have 100-plus pieces and are sold by the NASCAR Store online.
If you followed news of President Obama’s visit to the K’Nex factory in Pennsylvania recently, you know that this is one of the rare major toy brands made in the U.S.A. And you also know that, according to the president, certain members of Congress are too naughty to be getting any of these under their trees this year. But maybe your kids will! NASCAR Store: Earnhardt kit $14.99 or Patrick kit $7.49