As a Mum of two boys I’ve had a lot of gift ideas mentioned to me. If you are a last minute shopper I might be able to help you avoid buying the dreaded socks, or worse still, petrol station purchases.
Star Wars Lego.
We were recently sent some Lego by George at Asda* and the lads do rather like it. Dee (age 13) chose the TIE fighter, whilst Jen (age 7) chose a couple of smaller sets. The TIE fighter took a while to build which is great for an older boy, or even a childish adult. With the size of the box and the RRP of £59.99 I was honestly expecting more, something bigger or with a smaller ship or droid in the box. Dee said he likes the set but that he also felt the price was too high, and he’s an avid Lego collector. I’d recommend the TIE fighter set only to big Star Wars fans, as in this case you are paying extra for it being a hot new toy.
Jen’s choices were a Micro-Fighter X-wing and the Resistance battle pack, then he asked us to buy another set in store at Asda after realising Dee had a more expensive set, this was a Senate Commando set. The Micro-Fighters range is great for cheaper presents or younger children as its in a smaller scale that the rest of the Star Wars range, most of this range is only around £10 to £12. Jen is loving these sets, particularly the minifigures that came with them. He’s been running about “shooting” little blue bricks at us and jabbering things I (a non Star Wars fan) do not understand, he’s happy though. You can buy the sets in bigger Asda stores with a toy aisle then nip along a few aisles and grab a gift bag – super for last minuters.
Well I never saw it coming that my youngest would want fake pets but he’s keen on these smart battery powered pets. Jen has the Wild Pets* habitat set which means his spider has a little carry-along vivarium. At first I though this was an over priced gimmick, but the kids did what I didn’t and perused the instructions leaflet. The Wild Pets spiders have 3 modes, creep, attack and explore. Do not use attack mode near an older relative with a dodgy heart, boy it moves fast – I knew it wasn’t real but I flipping jump away from it. Explore more is nice and calm, I don’t mind this one and old aunt Agnes might live to New Year on this setting. The good thing is if your spider is wandering about it will turn itself off after not being played with for several minutes. With the case/vivarium these spiders cost around £20, but I found it at Argos for £15. The spiders without homes are £14 to £10 depending on the shop. You can buy them at various online retailers but as it’s getting late walking into Argos, Toys r us, or the big supermarkets might be a better plan. Jen wants more, and is willing to buy them with his own pocket money, Dee has a sneaky play with it when little brother isn’t looking but is unlikely to spend his own money on it.
Most of Jen’s list was Robo Fish, he honestly wrote the same thing over and over so Santa would know that was the main thing to buy. We bought our from The Entertainer shop in town, Basically they are plastic fish which “swim” in water not just flap about like the wind up bath toys I had as a kid. You can buy Robo Fish as complete sets with a couple of fish, a little fish bowl tank and some fake coral for about £25 to £20 but I bought individual fish at around £4 each (I only bought discounted ones – the perks of starting a collection is you won’t be buying fish he already has so get rummaging the reductions) and a large translucent mixing bowl from Wilko for under £2. Bargain.
The interweb is full of these little electro pets and although I wouldn’t risk internet shopping this late in December it’s your call. Your best bet is supermarkets and the big toy retailers, buying them in person.
Sadly a few games made it on to my lads lists as well. On the plus side we have an Xbox 360 and the games are widely available pre-owned on the high street for good prices. Try independent shops and GAME stores for a few bargains, just keep the receipt if you aren’t sure it’s a title on the wanted list. Remember whether buying new or second hand those age ratings matter, so many kids that my pair know have told me they’ve played 18 games its a bit of a worry. Buy games suitable for age and ability – think does your little boy like platform games, driving or puzzle games? I’m now on the hunt for FIFA 2011 for Jen as he’s been playing it at his cousins house, if I do find it it’s going to be cheap as chips now.
Don’t assume it’s for girls, we know a lot of lads who like making things. Junk modelling and PVA glue fills all the best “wet lunchtimes” when I was at school and mine love it as well. In Wilko you can get a range called Trash to Treasure which is based on good old junk modelling but with ideas and most of the items you’ll need excluding a few recycling items from home like a pop bottle and loo roll tubes. Other craft sets from Wilko I’d recommend are the bean bag monsters, matching monster hand puppets, or for a child that saves up a paint your own money box.
Write a nice card and stick a tenner in it with a promise to take your nephew or little brother to a toy shop! It might be cheating, but it works.
Disclosure : Products marked with an asterisks * are products we’ve been sent for review.