Here we are at the heart of the holiday season, and the peak of retailing, and you are probably still shopping for a few things. What if I told you I have five ideas to make you a hero to some little kid? Maybe your own little kid, in fact?
#1: Remote-Control Ferrari Enzo
Let's start with a 1/16-scale Ferrari Enzo. Sure, it’s good-looking. Sure, it’s a remote-control Ferrari. But wait, there’s more. It is remote controlled via iPhone, so it solves the biggest drawback of a remote-controlled toy: those chintzy controllers. I have hated those things all my children's lives. The antenna breaks! You can’t get the weird little batteries out! If you get them out, you can’t locate the right kind to replace them!
Not so with this toy. This one works through an app for iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, and it also takes four garden-variety AA batteries. You can use it inside or out, up to thirty feet away, and you can control steering, accelerating, and braking. Plus, as you go faster, audio sampling puts out actual audio from a real Ferrari’s engine. Turn signals, hazard lights, headlights, and horn all work. But be honest: who is going to use a turn signal with this Enzo? Hammacher Schlemmer $99.95
#2: Lego VW Van
Are you looking for something for the Legomaniac in your family? The classic 1962 Volkswagen T1 Camper Van rides again in a 1,334-piece Lego set, available from various chain stores or direct from Lego.com. The split safari windshield and pop-up roof will make you remember (or wish you remembered) the Summer of Love. The Lego-brick interior is no-frills basic, but then, so was the interior of the real thing.
#3: Hot Wheels' Power Skateboard
Hot Wheels goes life size with an Urban Shredder ride-on toy for older kids (or anybody up to 150 pounds). It’s billed as part motorcycle, part skateboard, and it hits speeds up to 10 mph, so have that safety talk with your child before handing it over. The Urban Shredder operates with a pair of rechargeable 12VDC batteries and comes with a wall charger. There’s a hand brake, a twist-grip electronic throttle control for accelerating, and an adjustable foot/knee deck. In the “mixed messages” department, it comes with both a safety flag and sparking action to make sparks fly under the deck while riding. It’s available from major retailers including Toys R Us. Hot Wheels website or from Toys R Us $349.99
#4: BMWs for All Ages
BMW’s understated yet confident sporting style is available to the youngest members of the family. The preschool-age Junior Bike is a black-and-red tricycle with “noise-canceling rubber wheels” and “optimized ergonomics.” BMW also has a two-wheeler, available in three colors, and a Baby Racer for the toddler at $108. The hot ticket is the Baby Racer II M3 edition, with a rear spoiler, a horn (you may regret that), an M steering wheel, and a full set of gauges, including a tachometer. Considering that the eighteen-month-old recipient of this M3 won’t be able to pronounce “tachometer,” that’s pretty funny, but there’s no doubt this will steal the show under the tree on Christmas morning. Shop BMW USA Baby Racer $108-$121, Junior Bike $123, Kid’s Bike $353
#5: Quattro for the Under-Quattro Age Group
Red or silver? That’s the only choice an Audi fan needs to make when looking at this Audi Mini Quattro for the one-to-three-year-old age group. The Mini Quattro fits the current Audi “design idiom,” the German automaker says, and has 3D headlights and taillights, five-spoke rotor design wheels, and a horn integrated into the steering wheel. The best part: you can attach the cutest little bulbous two-wheeled trailer (sold separately) to bring along dolls, action figures, or a snack. Audi Collection Mini Quattro $139, trailer $79