One of the most complicated issues I had with toys under my Christmas tree as a tot was how Santa managed to make G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Star Wars action figures and playsets (and know precisely which ones I wanted). I was aware, of course, he had the elfpower and expansive facilities in the North Pole. But as a young, yet dedicated, toy collector, I also knew companies such as Hasbro and Kenner manufactured those figures – and I even had some sense of intellectual property and licenses.
So, how did Santa do it?
When questioned about the potential copyright issues with Mr. Kringle’s charitable global contributions, my second oldest brother put it this way: You want to continue getting toy deliveries? Then best not to ask too many questions.
Sadly, in our own gift giving, we all need a little more assistance than Santa. Unless you are a pretty expert builder, with no regard for IP, you likely have to purchase pre-made toys for the loved ones on your gift list. And you might need a few recommendations of what to get.
Enter Blastr Claus. In our second gift guide, the excellent toy fiends of our staff are willing to offer some tips on what to get to make the most out of holiday playtime. What follows is a collection of toys, games (tabletop and video), and one out of this world recommendation that redefines play.
McFarlane Toys has been cranking out some very cool kit for Walking Dead fans, and this set is one of the most ambitious. Basically, it’s a hyper-detailed take on the prison, including a few walkers to give it that “apocalypse” feel. The 620-piece set is compatible with McFarlane’s several other Walking Dead sets (they also do an awesome Game of Thrones throne room set, for the fantasy fans who might be burned out on the undead). Perfect for the loved one who still love LEGO, but are looking for something with a grown-up slant. ($64.99) -Trent Moore
Anyone who has a PlayStation 4 knows that some extra memory goes a long, long way. Unlike those on other games systems, PlayStation games actually take up a huge amount of memory on your hard drive, making organizing your memory, especially when you do GameFly, a little of a headache. This bundle allows the gamer to get four times the amount of memory through an installation so simple that even my sister could do it. The bundle has everything you need for an installation, including a the 2TB Hard Drive, a USB 3.0 Black Enclosure, a 8 GB Flash Drive (to make the conversion), USB cable, and, of course, a screwdriver to make the magic happen. It's the best gift for the gamer in every family. ($139) - Matt Dorville
What better way to celebrate the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens than with a sci-fi spin on one of the classic strategy board games? The game allows players to recreate the final moments of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, playing across a TIE fighter-shaped gameboard. The game runs across three simultaneous battles: The attack on the Death Star, the shield assault, and the battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Opponents choose to play as the light side or the dark side (of course) and use the classic Risk dice to control characters and ships. Nerdy? Oh yeah. But, the perfect option for your sci-fi inclined boardgames junkie. ($29.99) - Trent Moore
Kickstarter is a breeding ground for weird ideas, and Exploding Kittens is arguably one of the biggest (and most successful). The strategy card game became one of the most-backed games, with the most backers, in Kickstarter history. Put simply: It’s like Russian Roulette, except with cards with kittens on them. That explode. It’s hilarious, easy to play, and a ton of fun. If you’re looking for a ridiculous cool (and just plain ridiculous) game, you can’t go wrong. ($20) -Trent Moore
Back in 2012, Disney released a Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One gift set (still available for $199.99) housed in a S.H.I.E.L.D. briefcase and a light-up Cosmic Cube/Tesseract prop. Phase Two had to be just as epic, and it is. If the Marvel zombie in your life likes to sit in his or her home theater chair pretending they are Thanos, they must get the Phase Two Blu-Ray collection. It comes with three formats of each film (Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man) with handsome new packaging by artist Matt Ferguson. Plus, there’s a 13th disc with 2 1/2 hours of new bonus features and a stack of Marvel Studio swag including tattoos, coasters, patches and more. But the reason this gets on the Playtime list is because of the prop replica of the purple Power Infinity Stone as seen in Guardians. It comes in its own orb carrying case and stand and lights up. That’s right, put on some “Ooh Child,” practice your running man and you can hold your own Star-Lord dance off, bro. This gift set is exclusive to Amazon and will release on December 8 but you can pre-order now. ($184.99) – Ernie Estrella
This is a weird gift, but if you’re buying for the creative techie who has it all, it’s the idea you’ve been waiting for. Basically, this kit allows you to turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the Internet. It's described as an “invention kit,” and lets you turn anything into an NES-style controller for all kinds of crazy stuff. The kit is compatible with over 5 million software applications, and is an excellent way to flex the engineering muscles. ($79.99) -Trent Moore
Antihero stories might be my favorite, and Deathstroke is probably the best DC villain that isn't named Joker. He's a smart, calculating soldier for hire with superhuman healing power that has matched wits as well as brawn with Batman and terrorized the hell out of the Teen Titans. While today he's more of a sympathetic antihero than the bloodthirsty killer he used to be, he still commands a morality that is all his own. This gift set has the first 6 issues of Tony Daniel's Deathstroke: Gods of War (from The New 52) as well as a mask that might put my recently purchased Court of Owls mask to shame. Put it on and be the killing machine you know you are. ($29.99) - Matt Dorville
Whether your giftee wants to set out to be good or aim to misbehave, they’ll have the chance if you pick up this Firefly figure available in January. The best Malcolm Reynolds figure I’ve yet to see, this 38-point articulated, 12-inch-tall, 1:6 scale version of Nathan Fillion comes with interchangeable hands and realistic micro-suede clothes. It is an incredibly cool, true-to-screen figure for the Firefly
flan fan in your life. Oh, and I guess you could pretend he’s a cosplaying Rick Castle, too. ($179.99) – Aaron Sagers
There's something great about playing chess with images of characters named Destiny, Death, and Despair, especially when they're from the mind of Neil Gaiman. Cold-cast in porcelain, the seven Endless are beautifully sculpted in what might be the most awesome chessboard imaginable. The pieces are stunning, crafted by Paul Harding with a hard attention to detail that allows the player to attack and defend the king's game across a wooden board. It's a set that serves as an excellent collector's item as well the most incredible chess game ever. Set up your army and unleash hell. ($249.54) - Matt Dorville
So, this is currently out of stock, and not available to ship until Dec. 14 -- but Whovians on your list won’t be too bothered by that considering they know all about Time And Relative Dimension In Space. As I'm a fan of LEGO and a massive Doctor Who fan, this TARDIS set is at the top of my Christmas gift list, and I think it is a favorite for other fans, as well. The time machine/police call box opens up to feature a control console (detachable), and comes with mini-figures of the Twelfth and Eleventh Doctor, Clara Oswald, and two pesky Daleks. Of course, a tiny sonic screwdriver and a fez (still cool!) are in there, as well. ($60) – Aaron Sagers
"Sky's The Limit" Item: World View Exploration at the Edge of Space
Nobody I know will be able to afford this, but we can dream,i can't we? Looking like something out of a Jules Verne novel, this adventure allows the participant to float with five additional companions and two pilots aboard the luxury capsule Biosphere 2, loaded with a fully functional bathroom and bar, as a high-altitude balloon lifts them 100,000 feet up in the air. Yes, it's $60,000, but seeing that the flight is 5 to 6 hours, that's only $10,000 an hour, or only $1.67 cents a foot, so it's all a matter of perspective, really. ($90,000) - Matt Dorville
And keep an eye out for our next gift guide, which involves some freaky, scary, and grown-up gifts.