The holidays are here, so that means it’s time to check every blog, flyer, and wishlist for the coolest things to buy your geek(s). Here are some of my favourite STEM / STEAM, pop culture, and all around geek stuff that will make an awesome present under the tree this year!
Click on these tags to reach the part of the geek gift guide you’d like to read most!
- STEM / STEAM Gifts for Kids
- Geek Gifts in Pop Culture
- Geek Gifts for the Everyday
- Geek Gifts for the Foodie
STEM / STEAM Gifts for Kids
(Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics)
VEX Robotics by HEXBUG
This year, we’re all over the VEX series of robotic toys for STEM play!
Your kids will have a choice of six different names to stick on the three astronaut figures that come with the Discovery Command. Their available list of names are: Maj. Ken, Maj. Buzz, Col. Neil, Col. John, Maj. Sally, Col. Chris.
… while props for naming these astronauts after famous spacemen & woman. These toys are meant to inspire a future generation, and there is only one female name (Sally), and one unisex name that could be considered a shortened form of a girl’s name (Chris).
With six names to choose from for three astronauts, I would love if a future kit had some diversity involved for both gender, and nationality. Buzz has had his turn in space, let’s make room for our future generation of moon walkers.
That said, the fun is largely in building the Discovery Command Base, Mech Loader and Drone!
The instructions for each build were easy enough for newly-minted 7 yo Kit to follow along.
I love that this VEX Robotics set has helped Kit’s imagination, and provided a basic concept for engineering.
Kit had a bit of trouble getting pieces to click together here and there. Part of it was due to being tired, as we were building these at the end of the day for a few days in a row.
Other times it was due to his still developing dexterity. Building with these tiny VEX Robotics parts was a great way to help him practice though!
One of the exciting moments for me was when Kit had decided that he wanted to see if his drone could fly, and land. With a bit of help from his mom (cutting up a plastic bag we had on hand,) he put together a parachute with the hopes that he could fly his new drone, and watch it safely land instead of crash.
While the experiment didn’t work, we’re proud that he tried something different all on his own.
And hey, the drone withstood crashing a few times! This means that Kit is free to think up new ways to get this drone to fly and land safely.
HEXBUG Reviews Coming Soon:
If Kit’s attempt to get the drone above to take flight wasn’t a hint enough, he is really interested in aerodynamics. He has flown countless paper airplanes, and those styrofoam ones you can get at the dollar store.
So while this kit is meant for teens 14+, I figured he and I could build and play with this one together. I don’t think I’ll let him play with this Crossfire Airplane Launcher on his own, but who wouldn’t want to watch a paper airplane fly 30 feet anyway??
This awesome STEM toy is for kids 3 yo and up, so looking forward to having Henry digging into this as soon as possible. I forsee hours of play to get a nano hexbug zip lining across the station.
Geek Gifts in Pop Culture
Playmobil How to Train Your Dragon Drago’s Ship Building Set
I love this ship for it’s introductory to engineering, arts and science (buoyancy).
The ship isn’t fully built out of the box. Kids will have fun putting different parts of the ship together, including the mast, and dragon cage.
This is Kit, excitedly putting together Drago’s ship figurehead.
I will admit, I was a bit concerned about these fiery projectiles, especially with 3 yo Henry. I could picture him aiming to take out his big brother just for the fun of it.
I had the kind of stern talk you can only have with a toddler, and it seems like I got the point across to never aim these at anyone. A couple weeks of extreme play with this ship so far, and he hasn’t tried yet!
But should he forget in the midst of serious pirate play, the orange bits are made of a really soft kind of rubber. And, while there is some distance obtained, the flying sticks don’t shoot out too fast.
While I would still suggest having a talk with your kids to not aim at people, it won’t hurt if accidentally hit.
With a bit of help from their Chachi (aka Auntie, aka me), 7 yo Kit and 3 yo Henry were able to put this ship together in no time, and had a ton of fun doing so.
This much-loved toy was also dragged all over the house for the next three days straight!
Sometimes it’s just fun to be a pirate!
And, Drago’s ship floats on water! *fist bump*
When Kit and I had finished putting this baby together, we noticed on the last page that it mentioned an “underwater motor” that’s not included.
That’s when we figured out that the ship we just built will actually float in the bathtub, and make for awesome creative play on the high seas. I couldn’t help but exclaim, “You betcha!” when he asked if we could find this extra piece.
The underwater motor is apparently hard to find? Or at least not easily found online, but I did source a good price on ebay.
Sphero’s Spider-Man with Interactive App
Here’s the thing about the Holiday Gift Guide reviewed toys in our house. Both Kit’s and Henry’s birthdays are in the winter months. So when I have STEM/STEAM toys coming to the house for the gift guide review, I hide them until my time and the kids’ sync up and give them a “Birthday Present”.
When their amassed amount of toys reach that way-too-many-to-step-on critical level, we choose older gently/hardly-used items that will go to our chosen charity to make room for the new.
This Sphero Spider-man though? It’s all mine! I’m not sharing.
Okay, so last night, I did bring Spider-man out for the kids and I to play with together.
As I knew would happen, Henry was only interested in pressing the spider (refresh) button on Spider-man’s chest, no matter what. That got old fast while Kit and I were trying to play trivia, and listening to Spidey’s stories of how his day went.
Sphero Spider-man is app-based. You need to download an app from either iTunes or Android in order to interact with him.
Last night, we played with him using my LG G5 smartphone.
This morning, as Kit was having breakfast before school, he didn’t have access to my smartphone (he never does without my being there.)
So that little monkey found one of the house tablets, went into Google Play Store, and searched for the Spider-man app all on his own.
According to Kit’s Dhadi (Grandma), he found, installed, and was playing with Spider-man all within three minutes, while I was snoring upstairs!
I want to be mad at him for playing with my Spidey, but I’m too proud of his problem solving to do anything about it, other than high-five him when he gets home.
Then we’ll have words.
My alter ego is “Spark Raven” (chosen from a list of possible superhero names,) and my superpower is my “Bionic Tale”. Listen to this bit as Spider-man realizes the power of a robotic tail to swish about with!
Sphero’s Spider-man with the interactive app is generally intended for one player, but can be fun for all the geeks in the family, especially for simply hanging out (incredibly awkward jokes, and storytelling.)
One cool, and brand new feature is “Watch With Me”, where Spidey will sit and react to the new Spider-man animated series!
I think it’s time to reintroduce the nephews to the Spider-man cartoon, if our little buddy is going to watch with us!
There is also a Guard Mode? Where it’s supposed to watch your room for you. *shrugs* Spidey does have sensors, but no camera, so I’m not entirely sure what Guard Mode does yet. I’ll keep you posted!
Geek Gifts for the Everyday
If you’re in Toronto on Saturday, December 9th, make your way to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for a 1-stop-shop experience for all things fantastically geek.
There will be all kinds of collectibles to collect, but you’ll also find original art for your geek’s favourite fandoms.
Honestly, I think that is my favourite thing about comic cons. Finding gorgeous art of your favourite books / movies / characters, made either by like-minded fans, or by industry creators (Marvel / DC comic book artists for example).
If you can’t make it this year, here are a few easy gifts that will make any geek happy.
Geeks LOVE exclusives. Anything that is limitedly produced, or has the potential of becoming “one of a kind”. Seach Amazon or ebay for “Pop! Vinyl Exclusives” to find key bobble-head characters for your geek’s unboxed collection.
Royal Canadian Mint DC Comics 2018 Justice League Coins
Go old skool on geek collectibles with DC Comics-inspired Royal Canadian Mint coins.
2 oz. Pure Silver Coloured Coin – The Justice LeagueTM: The World’s Greatest Super Heroes – Mintage: 6,000 (2018)
3D Coin and Two Trading Cards – The Justice LeagueTM (2018)
Geek Gifts for the Foodie
COFFEE. Cooooffffeeeeee. That dark ambrosia that makes 2 AM feel like 2 PM when you need it the most.
Binge-watching Stranger Things on Netflix needs all the concentration.
I’ve recently been introduced to a fantastic maker that will work on all of your coffee goals. Whether you need one cup for yourself (Keurig compatible), or if a carafe is needed for you and your BFFs, this coffee maker won’t let you down.
One of my favourite features of this coffee maker is that you can choose between a regular and a bold brew! That means you can choose to have more coffee in your coffee, yay!
Keurig has a deliciously expansive collection of coffees available in their K-Cups, but if you have a particular favourite coffee brand that you just won’t compromise on, the FlexBrew also comes with a single cup brew basket so that you can have your own beans mixed into an easy single cup.
Show allegiance to the Rebel Alliance one bite at a time!
Start your avenging days with a breakfast fit for an Asguardian prince!
Hamilton Beach Review Coming Soon:
Hamilton Beach 5-in-1 Grill/Griddle
I feel like it’s a life goal to never use a full-range oven again, and that should be made all the more easily possible with use of a 5-in-1 grill/griddle, that will make you bacon and eggs for breakfast, panini sandwhiches for lunch, and burgers for dinner!
What are your go-to gifts for geeks?
Keep coming back to this post as I will have more to add to it throughout the season!
Disclaimer: Some items in this post were provided for review. All opinions are my own.