Last week, we published our gift guide for adults, and now we bring you great pop culture gift for kids. We’ve got items for kids from 3 to 12, from a sneakily educational mystery kit to one sure to cause sidewalk mayhem.
Yes, this Landspeeder is just as cool as it looks. It works like a Power Wheels car and is a pretty detailed recreation of the junky Landspeeder Luke cruises around Tatooine. It doesn’t hover, buts its dashboard console’s buttons recreate the engine noises from the film, along with clips of audio from Luke, R2-D2, and C-3PO. It’s definitely made for children (though adults under the weight limit can have a good bit of fun in it). When we were kids we would have literally murdered for it; it’s hard to imagine today’s crop of 4-year-olds getting quite as excited over a prop replication from a 40-year-old movie, but it’s still their own car to give them their first taste of freedom.
Good for ages: 4 and up, with a maximum weight 130 pounds. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]
The best picture-book writer-illustrator working today, Oliver Jeffers has a knack for mixing wit, whimsy, and heart (without treacle) in his delightful books. A new one from him is always an event, and Here We Are marks his most ambitious work since the excellent Once Upon An Alphabet. The book introduces Earth through a series of notes, explaining how life here works to the planet’s newest inhabitants, kids. Like the rest of Jeffers’ work, it’s clever, poignant, and entertaining.
Good for ages: 3 and up. [Kyle Ryan]
Jasper is a dragon head made entirely from paper that’s folded and glued together. Everything you need comes included in the kit, and the edges of the paper are already scored. This is the sort of craft project perfect for the type of kid who likes to build things, and the finished result is a really cool dragon head designed to display on your wall like a friendlier mounted deer head. Resident has a lot of other paper heads to craft and mount, and owner-creator Tristan Sopp says Jasper The Dragon, Vera The Unicorn, Heidi The Raccoon, and Louise The Giraffe are all good options for kids, as they’re easier to accomplish than some of the other, more involved animals.
Good for ages: 10 and up. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]
Much as we try to tell the world that the superlative My Little Pony cartoon is more than a toy commercial, Hasbro unsurprisingly goes ahead and unleashes an onslaught of new toys to support the Ponies’ first major movie release this year, My Little Pony: The Movie. Fortunately, most of these toys align with that movie’s magical underwater scenes, so there’s a Pinkie Pie that can swim in the bath, Rarity’s undersea spa in a conch shell, and a styling kit for Fluttershy’s sea pony. Little kids of a certain age should eat this stuff up, which hopefully will lead them to the cartoon, which is really good, we swear.
Good for ages: 3-8 [Gwen Ihnat]
Sandra Boynton’s new sing-along album and picture book, Hog Wild!
Sandra Boynton has ruled the board-book roost for years: Not just because of her enchantingly charming animal characters, but also her lyrical rhyme schemes. So it’s not surprising that there are several Boynton albums available, but the newly released Hog Wild! Is her first since 2013. And for the first time, this sing-along book includes a vinyl version of the album (with a CD as well). It features artists like Weird Al Yankovic, Queens Of The Stone Age’s Mark Lanegan, Kristen Bell, and Samuel L. Jackson (rapping to a song about the T. Rex). Your kid likely already loves Boynton, but this way you can also get them into vinyl, some consummate performers, and with any luck, Weird Al Yankovic.
Good for ages: 5 and under [Gwen Ihnat]
You want your child to learn stuff—it’s a natural parental instinct—but educational toys, as you’ll likely remember, are not as exciting as a Landspeeder that actually goes. The Top Secret Adventures Book Club manages to be both educational and bring at least a little bit of excitement, because it arrives in the mail—from the people at Highlights magazine, home of Goofus and Gallant—every month. It may also appeal to your child’s base desire to crack codes, offering a sense of accomplishment along with the joy that comes from doing something “secret.” Each mailing focuses on a different country, offering cultural lessons as well as games. It’ll keep the young’ns busy for a reasonable amount of time, too, which is tough to guarantee with any toy. (Like cats, children are sometimes more interested in the packaging than the toy itself.) Those who want to miss the point entirely can also order the entire run of Top Secret Adventures all at once, though that’ll set you back a whopping $350.
Cost: $16 for three weeks of Adventure Kits; $350 for the whole kit and caboodle.
Good for ages: 7-12 [Josh Modell]