Unleash Your Inner Animal

What is it about kids and animals? Doesn’t matter whether they’re made of flesh and blood or artificial materials, kids love ‘em—and so do we. Here are some of our current favorites.

Q*bert Buildable Figure (Arcade Classics/The Bridge Direct)

QbertIf you’ve got young kids, there’s a good chance that Q*bert, who was born in 1982, is older than you. But he (or is it she?) has held up pretty well. The classic arcade game has been rebooted several times, most recently in the film, “Pixels.” Now, this loveable, armless, orange creature with the big nose is available as a buildable figure, using 117 LEGO-type pieces. And if you need more early video game throwbacks, you can get Centipede and Frogger figures as well. These kits are for kids 10+, but we think younger ones can handle it too. Prices vary. http://www.basicfun.com

Hamsters Ham’s Burger Diner (Zuru)

Hamsters in a houseAs real-live pets, hamsters eat a pretty good amount. But as toys, they’re insatiable. Start them off with lunch at the Burger Diner, then let them burn off a few calories by scooting around the track. Next stop, the bakery for a cupcake. This kit includes one hamster, various track pieces, a table, chairs, a menu, and plenty of food. If you need more food—or more hamsters—additional kits, like the Snack Shack and Picnic Basket Buggie, are sold separately. For Ages 4+. Burger Diner retails for under $28. http://zuru.com

Calico Critters Cozy Cottage Starter Home (International Playthings)

calico critters cozy cottageThese tiny, fuzzy creatures are absolutely adorable, which is probably why they’ve been so popular with so many generations of kids. The Cozy Cottage comes fully assembled and is ready to play with right out of the box. But it’s also very modifiable. Comes with one rabbit (Bell Hopscotch), a bed, table, chairs, food, and a lot more. Don’t have enough critters and accessories? No problem. Many, many separate kits are available, including Baby Tree House, Baby Choo-Choo Train, and Baby Castle Playground. For ages 3+. Under $30. http://calicocritters.com

My Little Pony 35th Anniversary Butterscotch (Hasbro/The Bridge Direct)

my little pony - butterscotchQ*bert and My Little Pony were born roughly the same time. And their life stories—births, rebirths, reboots, TV shows, and more—have been remarkably similar. To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the original 1983 collection, Hasbro is reissuing some of the ponies that today’s moms may have brushed, braided, combed, and hugged when they were little. Each classic pony comes with that trademarked long, shiny tail, a comb, a ribbon, and even a poster. For ages 3+. Under $20. http://www.basicfun.com

Doc McStuffins On The Go Pet Carrier (Just Play)

Doc McStuffins pet carrierJust like humans, animals sometimes need medical attention. And with this pet carrier, your little four-legged friend can travel to the vet in style and comfort. In case Doc McStuffins isn’t available, the carrier comes with everything you need to perform a thorough checkup, including a stethoscope, brush, bottle, and otoscope. Also comes with a plush Fetchin’ Findo, but you can also use the carrier to transport your Hamsters or Calico Critters and their families. Ages 3+. Under $20. https://justplayproducts.com

Family Fun Aquarium (Playmobil)

playmobil aquariumOf course, not all animals have four legs (or any legs at all). This 112-piece aquarium set will provide hours of fun for anyone who’s interested in those delightful creatures that live in and around the water. It comes with several seals, a variety of fish, underwater plants, hoops and balls (those seals love to perform), and much more. There’s also an underwater viewing area. And, of course, this kit is compatible with most other Playmobil figures and kits. Ages 4+. About $60. http://www.playmobil.us