Here’s some gift choices tied to the worlds of comic books, video games and pop culture franchises that are sure to delight fanboys this holiday season.
For role players
The Eleven Doctors (Character Group and BBC, $39.99, ages 5 years and older) — Help the “Doctor Who” fan celebrate 50 years of the show’s existence with this micro-action figure set. Owners get 1-3/4-inch, cartoony versions of every Doctor with articulated designs that will remind collectors of Mega Bloks’ mini-figures. Each figure gets a display base and spot-on costuming (reference the Fourth Doctor’s excessively long scarf) while most get a sonic screwdriver accessory, except the Seventh Doctor who wields an umbrella. Parts of each figure (arms, torsos and heads) are swappable to mix and match Time Lords. The package also includes short biographies on each Doctor.
Sonic Blasting Iron Man (Hasbro, $29.99, for ages 4 and older, requires 6 AA batteries) — The 42nd iteration of Stark Enterprises’ famed armor suit comes to life in this 15-inch-tall, moderately articulated, action statue. The black, gold and silver hued version of this Avenger offers 20 phrases combined with weapons sounds and lighting effects. Touch its unibeam chest projector for the figures eyes to glow and hear, for example, “armor online” and “systems critical.”
Additionally, his right arm wields a massive, motorized repulsar cannon to fire the 15 missiles that are included (five per load with a choice of red, blue and gold projectiles) accompanied by more sounds and phrases when his back button is pressed. And, just to top it off, the armor is glow-in-the-dark.
Anakin to Darth Vader (Hasbro, $24.99, for ages 4 years old and older, AA battery included) — Take control of the transformation of an angst-ridden Jedi into a Dark Lord of the Sith with this 13-inch-tall, interactive figure.
First press Anakin’s arm to watch his lightsaber come to life and glow blue while the figure spouts actual phrases from the movies including “If you are not with me, then you’re my enemy.”
Next, attach a cowl (with black cloth cape), helmet, mask and chest plate, and press Anakin’s arm button again. Now he is Vader, complete with raspy breathing, booming vocals such as “it is your destiny” and a glowing red lightsaber. The cool makeover and sounds (three phrases per character) will impressive all younger and older “Star Wars” fans in the family.
Iron Man RC Extreme Hero (EB Brands, $69.99, for ages 8 and older, requires 6 AA batteries) — Tony Stark’s armored alter ego takes to the skies in this massive, radio-controlled flyer. At almost 20-inches-long, the aircraft looks like a Mark IV version of Iron Man poised for mid-flight and is made of reinforced, structural foam, powered by twin-engine propellers and piloted with a 2.4 GHz controller (for about a 250-foot range).
The learning curve is painless as owners toss it like a motorized paper airplane, and it buzzes away waiting for steering commands. Budding aeronautical engineers should find a large open space, be careful not to be too reckless with Iron Man (that foam will break on hard impacts and require scotch tape) and watch the instructive videos (http://www.rcextremehero.com/) for flight tips. Parental note: Junior will get bummed by the short fly time (about 8 minutes) per every 45-minute charge.
Spider-Man Web Creator Lab (Uncle Milton, $34.99, for ages 6 and older) — Taking its cue from the mental rather than physical might of Marvel Comics’ famed web slinger, this kit allows a child to create four types of webbing including sticky and stretchy versions as well as web balls and clinging web nets. Junior scientists melt reusable gel (2 red and 2 blue packets) using a beaker full of hot water (parental help required) and use the injection system and templates in the lab base to mold the webbing.
The box also offers a fact sheet comparing Spider-Man’s various uses of webbing versus an actual arachnid. This creative use of Spider-Man’s greatest power (his brain) should keep parents smiling as long as Junior keeps the gel off of the carpeting and fabric.
Police Station Zombie Defense (Hasbro, $26.99, for ages 7- to 14-years old, 270 pieces, 3 AAA batteries required) — With society’s fascination with an undead apocalypse, it was just a matter of time before a company came up with a buildable playset for kids focusing on this horrifying subject.
Owners spend about 30 minutes assembling a building, gun turret and police car with Lego-like bricks; put together 1-inch tall mini figures of Deputy Strong, Sergeant Baker, Zombie Teen, Zombie Bandit; and Zombie Chief Zito and let the attack begin.
Two interactive features help the role-playing. First, a brick module that not only delivers creepy sound effects (moaning, sirens, police chatter and gunshots) but also vibrates the building and its surroundings. The vibrating helps some of the figures (perched on motion bricks) to move around by themselves, very similar to the technology of tabletop football games of years past.
Also, a QR code comes in the package to take the action online in a video game app (ages 9 and older) for tablets and smartphones. The set is part of the more massive fits within the Kre-O CityVille Invasion series (other sets such as Haunted Hideaway, $26.99 and Cemetery Heist, $11.99 are sold separately).
Hulk Maquette (Sideshow Collectibles, $649.99) — Serious collectors smitten with the 2012 live-action movie “The Avengers” will pass out in pure joy after receiving the massive mixed-media ode to one of its film’s angry stars.
Sideshow teams up with Legacy Effects (the studio that handled some of the film’s modeling effects) to deliver a 1:4 scale, life-like version of the Hulk (based on actor Mark Ruffalo’s computer-generated transformation) looking absolutely ripped from the movie screen.
Standing over 2 feet tall, the museum-quality masterpiece features such subtle detail as tattered and wrinkled, cloth pants, a glossy bottom lip (moist by the frothing of the misunderstood monster), enameled teeth and shiny fingernails. A tensed and dirtied green body and outstretched arms highlights its bulging muscles and veins while the Hulk’s facial expression is one of pure rage.
He stands firm (feet entrenched) on a display base made up of a destroyed section of an asphalt city street even exposing underground an electrical cable. The price is an obvious choke point, but any adult fascinated by the Green Goliath will appreciate this gorgeous gift of Marvel’s legendary superhero.
Klingon Bird-of-Prey (Diamond Select Toys, $70) — Sculpted by Art Asylum, this partially cloaked, translucent starship looks plucked from the film “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.” Measuring 19-inches-wide, with wings fully spread and 12-inches-long, the detailed plastic statue includes a button near the bridge that unleash dialogue snippets starring Christopher Lloyd as the infamous Klingon Commander Kruge, sounds such as torpedoes firing and decloaking and multiple lighting effects that really bring the Bird-of-Prey to eye-popping life. The ship includes a display base to mount it upon for generous ogling by Trekkers in the family.
Nightmare Batman (DC Entertainment, $124.95) — Based on the vampiric state of the Dark Knight in the upcoming video game Infinite Crisis, this 10-inch-tall masterpiece offers a frightening metamorphosis of DC Comics’ brooding vigilante. Sculpted by Erick Sosa, owners get a man-bat-like monster complete with a blood-stained, grey-and -black costumes and golden utility belt who now sports long fangs, bat wings with talons, massive clawed hands and stand upon a metallic base. A definite “must have” for the picky Batman collector in the family.
Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition (Warner, for PlayStation 4, rated Teen, $59.99) — This gorgeous third-person fighting game celebrates the heroes and villains of the DC Comics Universe with up to a pair of players controlling legendary characters in one-versus-one, frenetic and cinematic matches. With battles between such legends as Batman, Superman, the Joker and even Lobo (more than 30 adversaries in all), it’s a comic-book fan’s dream punctuated by a slick “alternate world” story, gorgeous cut scenes and devastating combination moves as characters battle from Gotham City to Metropolis.
The Ultimate edition includes an extra six characters, every version of costume culled from the downloadable content packs (from the Man of Steel’s version of General Zod to Catwoman’s garb from the Batman: Arkham City video game) as wells as the zombie mode (the entire cast turns undead). More than 250 single-player STAR Lab missions sweeten the deal.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, for Xbox 360, rated E10+, $59.99) — It took long enough for TT Games to finally bring Marvel Comics’ massive stable of characters into Lego’s popular video game universe. Much like the Lego Batman franchise, up to four players cooperatively take control of such talking blocky mini-figures as Spider-Man, the Hulk (an unstoppable brute worth appreciating in a block format), Captain America, Wolverine and even Marvel’s patriarch Stan Lee (with eventually over 100 characters available). The goal is to construct, collect as well as destroy objects, vehicles, buildings and bad guys in such famed locales as Stark Tower and the X-Mansion.
It’s a wonderful game for families and allows plenty of bonding time between parent and tweens as they thwart the plans of Loki, Doctor Doom, Magneto and other villains trying to build a world-destroying superweapon.
Transformers Rescue Bots Beam Box Game System (Playskool, $49.99, for ages 3 to 7-years old, requires 4 AA and 2 AAA batteries) — As a much cheaper alternative to such “real toy melds with video game” franchises as Disney Infinity and Skylanders, this younger child-friendly system plugs directly into a television and offers some very basic challenges starring Autobots and Decepticons.
After popping the included 2.5-inch-tall Optimus Prime figure into the Beam Box and pressing a top button to close the door, it reopens to find Optimus not in the box but appearing on the TV screen. There, he takes part in a collection of four mini-games ranging from side-scrolling robot battles to driving through a maze and catching Energon shards.
When done, another press on the Beam Box and the figure magically reappears for some extra, away-from-the-TV, role-playing. Additional Rescue Bot Beam Box game packs ($7.99 each) include Bumblebee, Heatwave, Blades and Boulder.
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