Gifts for the budding auto enthusiast
Whether for long road trips or around the house, these toys will keep your kids entertained
There are two things about kids and cars. One, the kids need to be entertained on a long drive and, two, as car fanatics, we hope they like what we like. So, we've come up with a combo list of Christmas gifts to keep everyone happy.
In the stocking
Crayola Color Wonder
Toys "R" Us, $5.99
This tidy little pack comes with three markers and 15 pages to colour. The beauty of this product is that it's the paper that holds the magic – not the markers. The paper reacts to the colourless and odourless ink, which will not stain clothes or car seats if the marker is dropped. The pages have hidden scenes only to be discovered as the artist paints.
PlayTape by InRoadToys.com
Going to grandma's house but can't pack the entire box of Hot Wheels track? Take the cars and a pocket-sized roll of road and create your own. PlayTape is simply a roll of lightly adhesive tape with a selection of road motifs, but give the kids some jars for jumps and books for buildings and they'll be building roadways all day long. Although the nine-metre-long tape is only good for one use, at this low price you can buy two.
Under the Tree
Music & Lights Comfy Car
The average five-month-old child might be too young to fully appreciate this toy, but all the noises, the mirror and spinning gauges will immediately have him or her captive. The seat is comfy and as the child grows, their feet will fit through the grill. Spare toys can be stowed in a netted trunk. The dash is easily detached and can be used on the stroller to make you go faster. BEEP! BEEP!
Hot Wheels Track Builder
Toys "R" Us, $24.47
You didn't think we would forget Hot Wheels? There is always room for more Hot Wheels, and the latest incarnation is the Track Builder series. This kit puts the driver in the builder's seat, or possibly the other way around, and comes with a starter car, bricks (like Lego), track, launcher, loops and building suggestions to rev up imagination. Within minutes, our builder was off to the races.
Volkswagen T1 Camper Van by Lego
Lego Store, $129.99
This beauty will keep the teens engaged for hours. It's an authentic replica of the 1962 VW camper van that has to be built from the ground up. Everything from the wheels to the foldout bench has to be assembled. You may want to help build the air-cooled flat-four-cylinder boxer engine, but you'll probably get your hands slapped by the budding mechanic. With more than 1300 pieces, this project will take a bit of effort (best for ages 16 and up).
Myla the Monkey Portable Soother by Vtech
Toys "R" Us, $39.99
Our tester and her mom instantly fell in love with Myla the Monkey. The music is soft and non-irritating, the light-up cheeks are mesmerizing and the soothing sounds, including rushing water and white noise, are perfect for long drives. As a bonus, it's also rechargeable. The tail hooks on the car-seat handle or hangs from the headrest on the back seat of the car.
Imaginarium Magnetic Drawing Board
Toys "R" Us, $19.99
Except for the soft tap, tap, tap of magnets touching the "canvas," there was silence in the back seat when the young ones took out this magnetic drawing board. The preschooler in particular loved drawing and erasing his creations. Kids can make their own art, play tic-tac-toe with a sibling or learn to spell. There's plenty of options for this toy.
Take 'N' Play Anywhere magnetic games
Walmart, $6.93 each
With no batteries required and minimal noise, these games are perfect for long car rides. The magnetic pieces stick to the box while the kids play a wide assortment of games. The hangman set was the biggest hit with our testers, who were just learning to spell. And if you fold the lid, the game is instantly self-contained.
Kwizniac 2 Card Game
Recommended by teachers, this trivia game can engage the entire family. In each round, the 10 time-limited clues get easier as you go through the list – but the points you score decrease, too. Example: "He has a keen intellect and super fighting skills." Know who it is? Next clue: "He has no superhuman powers." Need more? "He lives in Gotham City." Of course, it's Batman. The questions range from naming comic-book heroes to knowing facts in science and the world today. Best for ages 12 and up.