2. Lite Brix Building Toys($19.99 - $99.99) - These are light-up translucent model kits called Lite Brix by Cra-Z-Art. Each kit comes with all you need to build a specific model, including decals, plus a battery pack, which requires 3-AA batteries. Included in the instructions for our Lite Brix Space Trooper($24.99), were instructions to rebuild the model into an alien with the same pieces. We used two Space Trooper kits to build the two models pictured above. These building toys are recommended for children ages 6 and up. All Lite Brix pieces from each kit can be used with pieces from other Lite Brix kits. They are also compatible with other popular brands of build bricks. Since each of the parts are unique, it is fun to see what types of things my children can build using these pieces in conjunction with ones from other sets. If you have a child who enjoys building like mine, then Lite Brix will add new life to his or her creations. Visit www.superlitebrix.com to view all the Lite Brix kits available. You can purchase Lite Brix toys nationwide at major toy retailers, such as Toys"R"Us and Amazon.com.
1. Guidecraft 42pc Roadway System($80.00) - This wooden toy by Guidecraft is a system of roads your child can build in various configurations to suit whatever scenarios he or she has thought up. The one-sided pieces interlock much like a jigsaw puzzle. To help you envision the actual size of this large floor toy, the width of each 2-lane road is 5" across. Although my children do enjoy playing with trains, they much prefer playing with cars and trucks. This roadway system is far less limiting than a set of train tracks. Our children can build a whole town to their liking without getting bored like they did with their printed play mats. These roads are the perfect size for 1:64 scale die-cast cars (not included) and would also likely accommodate 1:43 scale toy cars. Use even larger vehicles if you make each road a one way street. This toy is perfect for a child from age 2 until he or she loses interest in play with toy vehicles and action figures.
The Guidecraft Community Buildings($80.00) are also made of wood and are the perfect companion for the roadway system. This set of 6 buildings includes a gas station/car wash, fire station, police station, hospital, school, and a store. This is an extremely sturdy set and having real buildings that your child's own figures can enter and cars can drive through is so much better than buildings printed on a mat or a rug. Each building stands approximately 6-1/2" high.
To learn more about either these wooden toys, visit www.guidecraft.com.
3. Your Santa Story Personalized DVD ($29.95) - This is a DVD of a personalized message recorded to your child or children from Santa Claus. It is meant for the DVD to be discovered and watched on Christmas morning. The personalization includes your children's names, their hometown, names of their pets, special messages or recognition of achievements, a thank you if your child had left goodies for Santa and his reindeer, and where to find an extra surprise gift Santa left somewhere in your house. Although this is the first year Your Santa Story is available to the public, I had the pleasure of testing it out on my 3 children last year. I tied a red ribbon through the DVD and hung it on our Christmas tree for our children to discover on their own on Christmas morning. You should have seen their mouths hanging wide open when they realized Santa was talking directly to them on the DVD. There were huge smiles all around, especially when Santa got to the end of the message and told the children that they each had one more present hidden inside our shoe bench. If you are looking for a new way to help keep the magic of Santa Claus alive, visit www.yoursantastory.com to learn more about this personalized DVD. Since this is the first year Your Santa Story DVDs are available, please know that there are only limited quantities available for 2012.
4. Micro Chargers Loop Track($19.99) - This Micro Chargers racetrack is one of the winners of the Good Housekeeping's 2012 Best Toy Award. It comes with a micro stunt car, a handheld charger (requires 2 AAA batteries, not included), a loop track, and a trading card. The racetrack is easy enough for a child 7 years or older to put together. The exclusive stunt car that comes with this set only takes 8 seconds to charge and could go up to 600mph if it were a full scale car. Of course, the cool thing about this track is the loop, which the stunt car goes through twice, once on the way down the track and a second time when it slingshots back from the end of the track. Last year, Santa brought our son, who was not quite 8 at the time, a slot racing set. It turned out to be too sophisticated for him, but the Micro Chargers toys allows him to have the thrilling speed in a more age-appropriate toy. This track can accommodate two stunt cars at once. You can purchase additional stunt cars separately. Visit www.microchargers.com to learn more about this and other play sets. Micro Chargers toys are available at major toy retailers, such as Target, Toys"R"Us, Kmart, and Amazon.com.
5. World Vision Plush Farm Animals ($25.00) - World Vision sells gifts that give to benefit children and families around the world. One of the ways World Vision helps families is by providing them with farm animals that produce eggs or dairy products. These adorable and cuddly plush animals measure approximately 5" tall and are safe for children as young as newborns. Currently we have Pallu the Pig, Chuma the Chick, and Gertie the Goat. Each plush animal is sold separately. You also have the option of purchasing Chuma the Plush Chick plus 2 chickens to donate for $50 or a Gertie the Plush Goat plus a goat to donate for $100. Such gifts mean so much more and would be a wonderful way to teach a child about helping those who are less fortunate. To learn more, visit the World Vision Gift Catalog.
6. Chipmunks Christmas CD($9.99) - One of our children's favorite Christmas songs is "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)". That is why I knew that the Chipmunks Christmas CD, which is new for 2012, would be a huge hit with them. This CD includes Holiday favorites, such as "Here Comes Santa Claus", "Up On the House-Top", "All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)", "The Twelve Days of Christmas", and 14 more popular Christmas songs. This would be the perfect first Christmas CD for a child because it is fun, endearing, and upbeat. It would make a very nice stocking stuffer or an wonderfully affordable gift. Chipmunks Christmas on CD is currently selling on Amazon for $9.99 with Free Super Saver Shipping or on MP3 for $5.99.
7. The Trash Pack Collectible Trashies ($6.99 - $11.99) - Whether your child is a long time Trash Pack toys collector or wants to start a new collection, The 5-pack and 12-pack sets of Trashies would be a great way to add to or begin a collection. Most of the Trashies in each multi-pack are hidden, so it is always a fun surprise to open each trash can to see what is inside. Series 3 in the blue trash cans were only recently introduced and my children are so excited to see what new Trashies Moose Toys has dreamed up. Leave it to them to turn trash into something adorable and collectible. These Trash Pack multi-packs would make an affordable gift, plus you can always open the packages to use the individual trash cans as stocking stuffers for multiple children. To learn more about the current series of Trash Pack toys, visit www.trashpack.com.
8. RoseArt Art Supplies ($1.29 and up) - For any child that considers himself or herself an artist like our daughter does, a basket full of art supplies would make a delightful gift. RoseArt does make all the basic supplies a child may need to create a masterpiece, such as crayons, markers, colored pencils, and watercolor paints, but they also offer so much more. RoseArt makes fun and unique products, like Color Blanks, Swirl Pencils, Neon Metallic Crayons, Glitter Magic Markers, and more. If you remember to include a sketch pad in your child's RoseArt gift basket, it will surely keep him or her busy for many hours on Christmas day and during Christmas vacation. Visit www.RoseArt.com to view their full selection of art supplies and craft kits. You can find RoseArt products at most major craft and office supply retailers.
9. The Amazing Spider-Man Hero FX Glove ($14.99) - If your little Spider-Man fan likes to play pretend, then this realistic glove will provide many hours of fun. It would make a great addition (or alternative) to a Spider-Man costume for playing dress-up. The various sound effects can be activated by motion or by pushing the button. Our 8 year old son has so much fun with this glove, mimicking Spider-Man's movements, and pretending to be fighting evil villains. This glove requires 2 AAA batteries, which are included and is recommended for ages 4 and up. You can purchase the FX glove from most major toy retailers. To learn more, visit the Hasbro Toy Shop.
3.75" Marvel Avengers Figures and Spider-Man Figures ($9.99) - Also from Hasbro, are a wide assortment of 3.75" super hero figures from the Avengers series and the Spider-Man series. My children want to collect them all, so I know first-hand that gifting one of these figures to a child who wants to complete a collection would be a much-appreciated gift. Each figure comes with a fun weapon or accessory to make it unique from other versions of the same super hero. These would make affordable gifts for children 4 years old or older and would also make very nice stocking stuffers. You can find these figures at most major toy retailers nationwide.
Although complimentary product samples were sent to facilitate this gift guide, with the exception of one company who paid small fee instead, all opinions expressed are my own.
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