Stuff We Like: Retro Gifts for Kids
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If you were ever the recipient of an annual Hess truck or woke up on Christmas morn to find a shiny new Lionel train chugging around the tree, you’ll know the anticipation your kids will feel when you begin a gifting tradition you can build upon every year! The 2013 Hess Toy Truck and Tractor boasts a truck with 45 working lights, an extendable rear loading ramp, and realistic sound effects including a backup alert and hydraulic lift, plus a tractor with reliably fun bells and whistles, too (ages 3 and older; $27.99). This year Lionel introduces a variety of new trains, but our vote goes to the remote-controlled locomotive celebrating the ever-popular, hard-working steamer Thomas the Tank Engine. The set includes Annie, Clarabel, and of course Thomas (with three interchangeable faces) and (bonus!) your child can activate the engine from the next room, so watch out! (Ages 8 and older; $199.95 for Thomas & Friends Remote Set; smaller sets, individual cars, and accessories also sold separately). We admit: These both require batteries, but they do have that retro vibe, no?
Winning Isn't Everything
[gallery ids="5813,5814,5815"] There’s nothing like some good old competition to keep a night in from getting boring (and the holidays provide plenty of opportunities for extended families to take part in the fun). This array of younger-kid games from eeBoo never goes out of style: Crazy Eights ($4), Sidewalk Games ($4.25), and Slips & Ladders($9); all for ages 5 and older.
To satisfy the competitive spirit of the older players in your gang, check out that classic capitalist venture Monopoly(ages 8 and older; $17.99)—just don’t expect to be the iron, as Hasbro retired that token and replaced it with fan-favorite cat game piece!
Color Their World
Kids can use dry-erase or washable markers to color these heat-proof Paintable Placematsagain and again ($17 for mat; $26 for gift set including 6 markers).
You’ll have as much fun as your little ones when you whip out this Shrinky Dinks Charms & Trinketsassortment with whimsical designs by artist Suzy Ultman—just color, pop in the oven, and voilà ($19.95).
And gift Outside the Lines: An Artists’ Coloring Book for Giant Imaginationsto inspire any budding Picasso—among the 100-plus contemporary artists whose line drawings appear in the book are Keith Haring, Shepard Fairey, Buff Monster, AIKO, and Carol Es, representing genres including graphic artists, photographers, street artists, and video game artists ($18; Penguin).
The Fine Print
[gallery columns="2" ids="5824,5827,5822,5825,5823,5821,5828,5826"] Two divergent classics celebrate their 75th anniversaries with style and make memorable gifts this year: an authentic reproduction of the first edition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer recaptures the magic of the 1939 original, while Gertrude Stein’s only children’s book brings back into print the poetic tale exploring a girl’s individuality and personal identity, The World Is Round. Mary Shelley’s classic work of gothic horror, Frankenstein, undergoes a twisted and fresh graphic transformation; illustrator Jemima Catlin puts a lively new spin on The Hobbit with pencil, ink, and watercolor interpretations of Tolkien’s Middle Earth; and Brooklynite John Bemelmans Marciano breathes new life into the beloved Madeline character created by his grandfather Ludwig Bemelmans two generations before. Peanuts fans young and old will delight in the hardcover tribute A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition, which includes interviews with the original child actors who were the voices of the gang in the beloved TV special, music and publication notes for Vince Guaraldi’s jazz score, the script, and more than 200 pieces of original animation art. Throw in some delightful paper dolls reminiscent of an earlier era in Mary Engelbreit’s Paper Dolls: Fun with Ann Estelle and Mikayla and a jaunt down the 100-year-old yellow brick road in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz , and this selection of books will enhance every youngster’s library! Also see: Top Tech Gifts for Kids Safety Hazards to Keep in Mind When Buying Toys