1 December 2013

FEATURE: Christmas Stocking Fillers - Toys #2

You'll need bigger stockings.

As the days count down and the first doors of a billion Advent calendars are torn open,  we gather together another selection of Christmas gift ideas. This time round we're focusing of fun things for the wee kiddies.

But it's not just all about the sprogs, because if you or someone you know is anything like us (i.e. grown men with a strange fascination for toys), these would also make the ideal present. Never be ashamed to buy a father of two LEGO; that's the moral of today's feature.

Battle Action Sting

No, not an armoured action figure of the North East's most famous tantric sex loving singer, but rather a replica of Bilbo Baggins' sword from The Hobbit.

With the imminent release of The Desolation of Smaug there are a whole host of Hobbit-themed toys (and LEGO sets). This toy sword has a couple of features we've yet to see in a Sting model, namely motion-activated battle sounds (it goes chink! chink! when you wave it around) and eerie blue glow. Also included is a realistic looking scabbard and also The One Ring, aka "My Precious".

As the sword is fairly short at around 30cm, we feel this definitely one for younger adventurers. They'll love the blue glowing blade and we're certain you'll hear nothing but clink! clink! all Christmas morning.

Available from www.argos.co.uk

Plo Koon's Jedi Starfighter

Next up is something from a long time ago in a glaxy far away... Yes, we love anything Star Wars related here at The Test Pit, and although we tend to dabble with LEGO's take on it all, this Starfighter model comes from Revell.

The kit comes luke a classic model kit, with all parts still attached to the plastic sprue moldings. However, unlike the models we built as kids (which were also probably from Revell now we come to think about it) all the parts come pre-painted and require no glue for assembly. Everything sort of just snaps together nice and neatly.

We got our hands on the brand new Starfighter belonging to Jedi Master Plo Koon (the guy with the weird breathing mask) which looks pretty slick with blue and white paint job, transparent canopy and removable Astromech droid. Putting it together took us around half an hour.

One thing we did find was that although the parts easily broke free of the plastic sprues, most needed a little trim afterwards to remove any stray bits of plastic. Remember this if you're buying for a younger Jedi fan as they'll probably need help with this.

Apart from that this is a really accurate model that is both a breeze to put together and yet sturdy enough to be played with.

Visit www.revell.com

Feel The Force Darth Vader Mug

Still in that far away galaxy (and because there should be at least two Star Wars gifts under every Christmas tree) we quite fancy a cuppa. But oh no, Dave has left all the teaspoons on Tattooine! What are we to do? Use the force, thats what.

You'll be able to impress your work colleagues back at the office in January with this mug, as you seemingly stir your drink with the power of the force. Just don't let them see the yellow button you're holding down to make the built-in whisk spin.

This is actually a fairly good invention,  joking aside, particularly for drinks like coffe and hot chocolate where after a while a sediment develops at the bottom of your mug. With the Feel The Force Mug you can whip up a mini whirlpool in your morning beverage and keep it tasty.

It's pretty cool to watch as well. Look:


Available from www.find-me-a-gift.co.uk

The Beano 75th Anniversary Annual

This one has really taken us back to our childhoods and we're sure it'll do the same for you. It's pretty incredible to hear, but The Beano has been gracing the newsagent's shelves for 75 years this year, and what better way is there to commemorate this then getting the 2014 Beano Annual.

None of us have opened a copy of The Beano since the early 90s so it was great to see all our old favourite characters still at large and causing mayhem. Roger the Dodger was always a firm fave, as were The Bash Street Kids - all still present and correct and (thankfully) still drawn in the same style that we all remember.

While flipping through the pages we were also delighted to discover some old regulars from The Dandy, The Beano's sister comic also produced by DC Thompson. It was lovely to read a Bananaman strip and certainty not expected amongst Dennis the Menace and crew.

Obviously any child, whether they regularly read The Beano or not, will get a lot out of this. And as for older sods like us who still remember the days when Dennis was essentially a thuggish bully... this will transport them back to their misspent youths.

Available from www.waterstones.com

Torva from Ikea

If you thought the only things you coukd get from Ikea was furniture, meatballs and blue tarpaulin bags that are handy for laundry, think again! That is because the next time you're wandering around that massive shop looking for a table named Flimflop you really ought to pick up one of these chaps.

Torva (or The Giant Headed Broccoli Monster as we affectionately came to call him) is one of Ikea's new range of soft toys for kids. He's a big chunk of broccoli and judging by his smile, he's fine with it.

Torva has some other veggie mates (including a carrot with delusions of grandeur) who together make up a happy bunch of healthy pals for your children. Perfect for bedtime snuggles, Torva is soft, plush, and packed with iron and B vitamins.

Oh no, thats actual broccoli. Just the first two adjectives are correct.

Available from www.ikea.com

LEGO Galaxy Squad 'Warp Stinger' #70702

And so we come to a gift that is guaranteed to put an excited smile on the face of anyone, regardless of age, gender, and cognitive abilities: LEGO, mofos!

As the old coloured blocks from Denmark tend to be a tad pricey these days, we've gone for a set that won't dent your bank account by any more than 20 squids. For that we've got the Warp Stinger from the Galaxy Squad range.

The set, which includes 310 cosmic pieces, features the insect-like Warp Stinger itself and three minifigures; two from Galaxy Squad's Red Team, and a third bug-faced pilot for the stinger.

The whole thing took us around 45 minutes to leisurely piece together, the highlight being the Warp Stinger's curving tail. It is quite a clever design, employing a few technic rod parts to connect the pieces together and actually ends up being a very firm and securely built model - perfect for the wee ones to crash about with while playing.

We love the three minifigures, especially bug-boy with hid antenna and big black gun. Also the member of Red Team with the jet pack is pretty cool, and giving the goodies a little speeder bike is a nice touch.

This is a perfect set for anyone wanting to get someone some LEGO without having to remortgage their home. Beginners will love the easy and quick build, while more experienced LEGO fans will love those colourful transparent parts.

Visit www.galaxysquad.lego.com

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