Tag Archives: k’nex

Parents@Play 2015 Holiday Gift Guide, Number 1

This week we bring you the first of three holiday gift guides. No sense waiting ‘til the last minute, right?

playmobil advent calendarAdvent Calendar (Playmobil)
What better way to count down the days ‘til Christmas than with this sweet Advent calendar. It comes with parent and child figures, pets, food, and enough surprises for every day from now ‘til the big day—plus a light-up tree (batteries not included). The toughest part will be resisting the temptation to put it all together in one day instead of spreading out the joy. Ages 4-10. Around $25 at retailers or http://www.playmobil.us/.

geeker speakerGeek & Co. Geeker Speaker Lab (Thames & Kosmos)
Open the box and within seconds, you and your kids are ready to learn about the science of sound. There are several different approaches. In the first, you turn just about any object you can think of into a speaker. Plug one end of the Speaker Geeker into your phone or music player (it fits standard headphone jacks) and put the other end, called a pod, on something else. Then turn on the sound and see how well a wood table sounds vs. a box of cereal vs. a tin can. The other experiment is to make invisible sound waves visible. To do that you attach the pod to the underside of a special tray (included) and add various materials—water, sand, yogurt, etc. Then, turn on your player and watch. If you use music, you’ll get a lot of pretty random action, but if you use a signal- or tone generator that produces a single sound at a single frequency, you’ll see some beautiful sound patterns. Ages 8+. Under $20 at many retailers or visit http://thamesandkosmos.com/

k'nex brontoBeasts Alive Bronto Building Set (K’NEX)
For kids and adults who love building, dinos, and robots (and who doesn’t?) this is the trifecta. The pieces go together easily and stay that way even under pretty rough playing conditions. This 213-piece set includes a motor (but not batteries) and instructions for how to build three different dinos. Depending on the age of the child and the amount of adult intervention, it’ll take 30-45 minutes to put together. Then flip the switch and stand back as your dino goes on a rampage.  Just be thankful he’s not a vegetarian. Ages 7+. Under $20 at Amazon or visit http://www.knex.com/

k'nex ferris wheelMighty Makers Fun on the Ferris Wheel Building Set (K’NEX)
Help Emily and her bear Cocoa build a Ferris wheel, ticket both, and snack stand. Along the way you’ll learn about mechanics, speed, engineering, and other STEM concepts. This set is definitely geared more towards girls, but there are instructions on the website for how to use the same 324 pieces to build a pirate ship ride and more. Under $25 at Walmart or visit http://www.knex.com/

skazoomsSkaZooms Battle ‘Boggan Action Pack (SkaZooms)
Meet SkaZooms, the latest (and coolest) collectible figures. These little skateboarders are adorable (in a so-ugly-that-they’re-cute kind of way) and safety conscious (they always wear helmets). The Action Pack includes one battle arena, two SkaZoom characters (with boards and helmets), and two ‘boggans (spinners that the SkaZooms characters sit on when they’re launched into the arena by yanking on a rip cord). The arena itself is outfitted with launch pads, jump ramps, and seating for eight SkaZooms spectators. When you’re ready to go, let ‘em rip and they’ll bounce, crash, smash, and fly. It’s wonderfully easy to set up, requires no batteries (yeah!), and is solidly made—we’ve had other ripcord-launched fighting toys that haven’t lasted a week. Ages 7+. Around $42 a many retailers, or http://www.skazooms.com/

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Have you noticed lately that a lot of your favorite toys from the 80s are making a comeback? Some, of course, never completely left—they just moved to less-prominent shelves and were overshadowed by the latest and greatest. But others seem to have suddenly resurfaced, like zombies returning from the grave (except they don’t bite and we’re generally glad to see them). Either way, despite those promises you made to your parents that you’d never be like them, you may find yourself giving your own children the very same toys you played with back in the day.

Care BearCare Bears (Just Play)
Bringing toys out of retirement can be a risky business. In many cases, the new ones are similar, but they sometimes look as though they’ve been run through a funhouse mirror: legs too long, eyes too wide, head too small, etc. Not so with Care Bears. New-generation ultra-plush Bears look very much like the old ones. And their mission hasn’t changed at all: teach kids about responsibility, caring, sharing, empathy, and being a good friend. That’s a pretty big job for a little bear, so it’s a good thing they still have those magic “belly badges,” just in case they need a little help from Care-a-lot. Care Bears come in a variety of sizes and retail for $3 to $25 at places like Target and Amazon.com

Doodle BearDoodle Bear (Just Play)
Doodle Bears are sweet, cuddly bears that you can create your own artwork on. When you need a new look, just toss Doodle in the wash (in a pillowcase or “delicates” bag), hang him out to dry, and you’ve got a brand new canvas. The original Doodle Bear comes in three colors, or you can get the Glow Doodle Bear, where kids do their doodling with light. Each one comes with special, Doodle-Bear-Only markers (Glow comes with a magic light pen and stamps). Available for $20 and up at your favorite retailer.

k'nexK’nex (K’nex)
K’nex have been around for ages, and are one of America’s top building sets. They have unique shapes and snapping pieces, bricks, struts, and big, flat swatches to hold the pieces together. The old sets were pretty free-form: dump the pieces out on the living room carpet and build whatever you want. Today there are all sorts of targeted sets that are based on old classics like Nitendo’s Mario and today’s sensations like Plants vs. Zombies (in this case, it’s a zombie-fied football helmet). But just as it was when you were a kid, your imagination is your only limit. Most sets work with each other, so the more you collect, the more you can connect. You may even be able to combine your old ones with your child’s new ones and take the building-bonding experience to a whole new level. Prices vary greatly, depending on the size of the kit. Available at retailers everywhere or at http://www.knex.com/

movie viewerFisher-Price Classics Movie Viewer (The Bridge Direct)
While not exactly an 80’s toy—the first Movie Viewers were introduced in 1973—the new versions look just like the ones we played with as kids. And despite being very low-tech, they’re just as much fun. Movie Viewers work exactly the way they did when you had yours: slide a cartridge into a slot, and turn a hand crank to play the “movie.” You can go forwards, backwards, fast, or slow.  Comes with two cartridges (one for learning letters, the other for numbers). If you still have your old Snoopy cartridges, they should work too. No batteries required. Available for about $30 at https://www.fatbraintoys.com or http://www.fisher-price.com/