Christmas 2010 came and went a month ago, and the newness is starting to wear off the plethora of toys under the tree. Jake is our only child (as well as the only grandchild for my mom), and we tend to go overboard, but I’m a very good bargain shopper, so I think it’s okay. I waited at least a month to do this post because on Christmas day, every toy is a favorite. The ones that have true staying power, the ones he’s still playing with, are the ones that I can really call his favorites. While he plays with almost everything he received from time to time, a few toys call to him nearly every day.
The Main Contenders:
We are huge fans of the Imaginext line of toys. In fact, Jake has just about everything that came out in the last two years. He doesn’t have some of the older toys because he wasn’t into them when they came out and they are either no longer available or sold for insane prices. But he does have a fairly massive collection. The Toy Story 3 Landfill was near the top of his list this year, and the one thing I knew for sure I had to get. It retails for $50 but I managed to get it on sale for $30. Considering the amount of time he spends playing with all his Imaginext stuff, it was worth the price. Along with the landfill, he also got the garbage truck, the Evil Dr. Porkchop’s Spaceship and several figures to go along with it. As is usually the case with Fisher Price toys, the landfill is very durable and relatively easy to assemble. The only part we have difficulties with is the orange elevator. I can’t figure out how to get it on right and it keeps falling off. Overall though, it’s a great toy and a big hit with Jake.
Fisher-Price Imaginext BIGFOOT the Monster
Although the Landfill was the first toy I knew I was going to buy, Big Foot was the first one Jake asked for. I tried to dissuade him, this sucker costs a whopping $84, and that was on sale! I told him sometimes Santa couldn’t bring everything he asked for, and maybe he wouldn’t get Big Foot. I didn’t think he was all that serious about this toy, because he’s had “animated” toys before and gets bored with them very quickly. However, at the last minute, after Jake asked the Aeropostale Santa in NYC to bring him Big Foot, I caved. I grabbed him three days before Christmas. My mom split the cost with me, so it wasn’t quite so painful.
Big Foot is an ugly guy. So ugly that he’s cute. And while we find him amusing when he sings his songs, goes to sleep, and rolls around, I still don’t think the appeal matches the price tag. Jake plays with him often enough I suppose, but not as often as I’d like for as much as he cost. When he does play, he spends about a half hour making Big Foot do various tricks. The battery doesn’t last very long, but at least he’s polite enough to roar “low battery” in his growling voice. The rechargeable battery that comes with him takes hours to fully charge. Bottom Line- while he’s cute in his own way, he’s not worth close to $100. Although, like I suspected, he’s now on sale on Amazon for around $70. Figures!! I should have waited until Valentines Day or Easter.
Creepy Crawlers Bug Maker Creation Station and the Smasher kit
Another highly anticipated toy that almost didn’t happen. He requested this one weeks before Christmas, with plenty of time to spare. The local TRU Express had several in stock, so I figured I’d run back and grab it when he wasn’t with me. Unfortunately, it sold out quickly and we had a hard time finding it again. We thought we found it through a third-party Amazon seller, but when it arrived, we found that we overpaid for just Bug Smasher and Grinder Extermination Station. Finally, my mom found the Creation Station for the normal price and grabbed it quickly. For some reason that I can’t fathom, this seems to be Jake’s one of the top three favorites of all the contenders. While the concept is cool (who doesn’t like creating goopy bugs and squishing them?), the execution blows. It takes a minimum of 30 minutes to make a single bug. First, you must shove at least three eggs into the chamber. Do not listen to the directions when they tell you to use one or two. You MUST use at least three to fill the mold. Then you wait about 15 minutes or so for the eggs to melt into goop. After the mold is filled, it takes at least another ten minutes to harden. After several uses, the unit needs to be cleaned or it jams up, making an insane mess. Also, our unit did not come with the part to make hollow bugs. We’re already just about out of eggs, after making maybe seven bugs. Still, Jake loves this toy and plays with it as much as possible. Luckily, once you grind and smash the bugs, you can reuse the bits. I personally wouldn’t recommend it, but my five year old sure would!
Nintendo DSi and Games
When Jake opened the DSi, he didn’t know what it was. The box isn’t very descriptive to a child who can’t read. When he found out what he was holding in his hands, he was ecstatic. He’s wanted a Nintendo DS since he first saw his older cousin playing one two years ago. We bought him a Leapster instead and called it a DS, which he still loves. This year, I decided he was old enough for a real DS, an the DSi model seemed to have the coolest functions. Because we never do anything half-way, we also got him nine games to go along with it (several came from his grandmother and family friends). I was dying to play Super Scribblenauts and thought that would be a favorite, but he has a hard time with it. He prefers the Spongebob Drawn to Life and Marvel Superhero Squad. This is definitely the number one favorite of the contenders. I just wish the camera was a little better, we haven’t been able to take any decent pictures with it. But he does like taking random pictures and making them look crazy. If you buy a Nintendo DSi for your little one, I HIGHLY recommend getting the Nerf Armor to go with it. It costs under $15, easily goes on over the unit and keeps it a little safer. I still wouldn’t recommend dropping it off a tall building, but it’ll protect against random bumps and bruises.
Various Board Games
(Don’t Break the Ice, What’s Gnu, Piranha Panic, Puppyopoly, M is for Mouse, Scooby Doo Pop & Race, Perfection, etc.)
I finally got tired of playing Candyland, Chutes and Ladders and the other games Jake had on hand, so I decided to get him a ton of board games. I think between all his relatives and myself, he got about 12 new ones. Of all the games, toys, and so on that he got, Don’t Break the Ice is his second favorite toy of the season. My aunt got it for him because she remembered it from when her kids were little, and I said he seemed to like it when he played at speech therapy two years ago. I was really surprised at just how excited he got when he opened it. The simplest game in the world, and it keeps him enthralled for hours. Of course, that means I have to play it over and over, but it takes less than five minutes per game, so it’s not so bad. The set up is the longest part. What’s Gnu is also pretty awesome, especially for those just starting to spell. The cards have two sides, the green is a little easier. Jake makes me play on the orange side while he plays on the green side, which I suppose is fair since I’ve been spelling for about 30 years longer than he has.