Non-mainstream toys for mainstream children? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 12:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So my nephew's 4th birthday is coming up this weekend and while I am looking to buy him a gift, it occured to me to wonder if it is, um, appropriate (?) to buy a mainstream child a non-mainstream type gift?

Not that I think anything we would buy him would be INappropriate, but just a couple of weeks ago they gave DS a toy totally opposite to our values (a light-up, flip-over remote control car complete with extra disposible batteries - for a 2yo ), so I wonder if in some way they see our "crunchy" gifts as pushing our values on their family.

They're a good family and I love my nephew, but he's definitely a TV-watching, electronic toy-raised kid and I find myself hesitating to buy something without batteries as I'm pretty sure it needs to be flashy to keep his attention, IYKWIM.

So what kind of toys do you buy for the mainstream kids in your life?

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#2 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 12:21 AM
 
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stomp rocket!

art supplies
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#3 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 12:27 AM
 
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I guess it depends on what you mean by non-mainstream. Like, a playsilk? Because while I adore and value them as amazing toys, I can see that going over like a lead balloon with many families. ("What is it?" "I don't know, a blanket?" "Doesn't seem very warm.")

But I think there are tons of toys that can meet "crunchier" values (whatever your values may be... sustainable materials, non-electronic, non-character, etc) while still being seen as a somewhat normal present. Blocks, instruments, games, craft projects, books, puzzles, outdoor toys. Brands like Melissa and Doug and the Target wooden toys are sort of a compromise between the two extremes.

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#4 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 12:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess it depends on what you mean by non-mainstream. Like, a playsilk? Because while I adore and value them as amazing toys, I can see that going over like a lead balloon with many families. ("What is it?" "I don't know, a blanket?" "Doesn't seem very warm.")
LOL! That's exactly what I mean! I'm planning on dying some playsilks for Christmas for DS and thought about doing some for my nephew but didn't figure he'd have a clue what to do with them...

Craft stuff occurred to me but to be honest, I've never seen or heard of him doing anything remotely crafty. The stomp rocket seems like something he'd enjoy though! Mostly I was hoping to get him something that "unplugged" him for a bit from all the electronics/TV characters he's so addicted to. (But that's when I started to wonder if I was pushing my values on him...)

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#5 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 12:38 AM
 
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Stomp rocket is my go to toy as well. Love those things!! They are so fun.

Also things like magnifying glasses and bug catchers, art supplies, hot wheels (my girls still have their collection of these and while they are just little metal cars I am surprised how open ended they are.) or course legos and playmobile are always cool.

Honestly we are pretty low tech but out of three children I doubt any of them would have gotten much use out of a play silk. Maybe here and there but it would not have been a hit or anything and my kids are happy with scrap cloth, they do not need expensive "playsilks". I would definitely skip that. You really already have to be there for those to be cool. I think there is a nice middle ground between waldorfy type stuff (most of which I dislike even though I am very crunchy) and electronic, beeping, flashing, crap. I would just find something cool and exciting that is not electric or character driven.

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#6 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 01:13 AM
 
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Yeah, I'd skip the playsilks. Lilyka said it perfectly: you have to already be there to appreciate something like that. I also don't think that they're self-explanatory. I think kids who enjoy playsilks are kinda trained into knowing how to play with them.

I think the magnifying glass and bug catcher idea is a great one. Something outdoorsy and naturey would be loved by more 6 year olds, even those who like their electronic toys.

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#7 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 08:41 AM
 
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Just another vote for the stop rocket - we have the jr stomp rocket from amazon (w/ glow-in-the-dark rockets ) and they are *SO* fun!!! They go *SO* high and are completely safe (I don't even worry about them hitting ds2 )

And the playsilks... yeah. I bought some off a co-op on here a coupel yrs ago. And they have mostly just sat... we get them out an use them as capes occasionally, but thats about it.
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#8 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 09:19 AM
 
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Originally Posted by lach View Post
I guess it depends on what you mean by non-mainstream. Like, a playsilk? Because while I adore and value them as amazing toys, I can see that going over like a lead balloon with many families. ("What is it?" "I don't know, a blanket?" "Doesn't seem very warm.")
Yeah, my family would have this conversation while raising their eyebrows at each other.


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LOL! That's exactly what I mean! I'm planning on dying some playsilks for Christmas for DS and thought about doing some for my nephew but didn't figure he'd have a clue what to do with them...
I think you're right, and I don't think that's a bad thing. It's important not to assume that a lack of interest in an item signals some kind of deficiency. My son, who has had the gamut of wooden/quirky/open-ended toys, refuses to play with playsilks. When his class did them when he was *2*, he said, "that was stupid. I don't want to dance with a scarf." He's still that way. Now my DD would be delighted, and she's had the same upbringing, so there ya go...

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Also things like magnifying glasses and bug catchers, art supplies, hot wheels (my girls still have their collection of these and while they are just little metal cars I am surprised how open ended they are.) or course legos and playmobile are always cool.
These are all good ideas. I tend to go for things I think will challenge minds, so I often buy puzzles or puzzle-type games. Or books.

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#9 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 09:28 AM
 
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the comet-tail balls are fun

schleich animals are pretty all-purpose, and folkmanis puppets go over pretty well

4 is a pretty good age for beginning stuff like kid skateboard/roller skates if he doesn't have those
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#10 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 09:56 AM
 
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Books, washable markers and a coloring book, matchbox cars
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#11 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 10:33 AM
 
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I agree with the PPs about the toys with lots of "crossover appeal" if you will. Books, science stuff, puppets, games/sport gear, etc. would probably all be good. Also just to throw in my two cents on the Stomp Rocket-- my little boy loves those.


Melissa & Doug makes a great set of 60 standard unit blocks. They ship free from Amazon too which is nice cause they are fairly heavy.


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Like, a playsilk? Because while I adore and value them as amazing toys, I can see that going over like a lead balloon with many families. ("What is it?" "I don't know, a blanket?" "Doesn't seem very warm.")
I would skip the silks too, however it is worth mentioning that my *very* mainstream (if that's how you call it) 6 y.o. nephew LOVES to come over and dress up in playsilks at our house. He even wore a bunch of them in the children's parade last spring and was as proud as a peacock. Likewise, my son has fun at his house riding the Power Wheels and driving the RC trucks.

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#12 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 10:51 AM
 
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I agree with the others that there's a middle ground that's likely to appeal to lots of kids.

My own kids had zero interest in playsilks. They also left all those gorgeous, expensive, open-ended wooden toys that I thought would be a hit go pretty much untouched.

The bug stuff or any nature related stuff is good, as are books or puzzles. There are also old-fashioned toys like slinkeys, Tonka trucks, or Etch-a-sketches that are also fun.

I'd never seen the stomp rocket before and now I want one. I suppose I can't really buy it for my dd13, can I?
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#13 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 11:31 AM
 
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I like board games from Orchard and Haba. I find board games for kids these days are underrated and most in mainstream toy stores are crappy spinoffs of character shows (MIL got DD a Dora board game and DH and it was really not fun!) so kids don't want to play them, understandably. I bought this one for a friend's 5 year old recently and she loved it:

http://www.orchardtoys.com/products/bus-stop/

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#14 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 11:49 AM
 
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I wouldn't worry about whether something fits a "mainstream" or "non-mainstream" label, and just get him something he enjoys. Not to mention, just because a kid has some "mainstream" electronic toys, that doesn't in any way mean that they don't love other stuff. Just ask his parents what he enjoys...or even ask him if he can communicate that well enough.

I have 2 nephews who are 4. They all sorts of typical boy stuff. Cars (both the movie and the other non-disney kind), bugs, dinosaurs, construction stuff, etc. One of my nephews is way into his karate stuff, he just started a Karate class. And for my other nephew, my brother just got his pilot's license, so he's way into planes right now. Sure, both boys would be happy getting an age appropriate video gamee...but they would also be totally happy getting some wooden planes and cars that they can crash into each other. Because that's stuff they like,
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#15 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 11:52 AM
 
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Hearthsong also has a lot of good options, IMO. DS is still a little young for many of the games and toys there, but they look like fun to me.

I love the idea of a nature kit. This idea might be better for an older child, but you could also do something like a "secret agent" or detective kit with a magnifying glass, invisible ink/decoders, etc.

I also give a lot of books as gifts.

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#16 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 12:07 PM
 
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I wouldn't worry about whether something fits a "mainstream" or "non-mainstream" label, and just get him something he enjoys. Not to mention, just because a kid has some "mainstream" electronic toys, that doesn't in any way mean that they don't love other stuff. Just ask his parents what he enjoys...or even ask him if he can communicate that well enough.
,
I agree with this. If it makes you feel better about the gift try to get something that doesn't need batteries and doesn't have cartoon characters all over it. Other than that, if he'll love some plastic piece of whatever that you roll your eyes at then I'd buy it. *shrugs*

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#17 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 12:19 PM
 
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I dunno, I mean what is maintstream anyhow? My 2yo would love that remote control car, and he would also love playsilks. He has all sorts of flashy light up sound making toys, and he also has lots of wooden, simple type toys. I think that for the most part with kids, toys are toys. I think that art supplies are always fun, whether you have seen him do it or not maybe he just hasn't been exposed to it yet. Or maybe a dress up costume? or books?
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#18 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 01:03 PM
 
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Ijwouldn't worry about "mainstream" or "non-mainstream". Go with what he likes. Don't buy the battery-powered toy if you have personal reasons not to like them. Buy a Tonka truck instead of a RC vehicle for example. Don't rule out plastic toys simply because they are plastic. Legos are way more open ended than wooden blocks. Animals and dinosaurs are way more realistic when made in plastic than in wood. Fisher Price and Playschool are great for open ended play. I've never undstood playsilks. That's what sheets, pillowcases, blankets, and tablecloths are for. Not to mention, living room furniture and the dining room table and chairs. Kid sized gardening tools, buckets, shovels, scoops are all good outdoor toys. Matchbox and other small cars are also good. Magnets. Magnifying glass.

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#19 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 01:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's important not to assume that a lack of interest in an item signals some kind of deficiency.
Oh, I definitely wouldn't assume some sort of deficiency! I was more feeling that there was no point getting a non-electronic toy due to my nephew's lack of interest in them. I do want him to enjoy his present.

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I dunno, I mean what is maintstream anyhow?
To me mainstream is things you can find at TRU, Walmart & the like. Honestly I'm currently more knowledgeable about Waldorf-type toys available online than I am most things in TRU! (Not trying to be judgemental, it just doesn't have the stuff I'm interested in for DS so I don't spend a lot of time there. Plus we don't watch TV so I don't have any ideas from commercials.)

There's just a lot of discussion on here about wanting other people to respect our choices and I want to be sure I'm affording them the same respect while still giving him something I'm comfortable with. For example, I'm fine with plastic, just not junk, and there's been lots of great suggestions here. I've also sent a message to my SIL to see if she can give me some ideas.

Oh, and I'd really LOVE to get him a Stomp Rocket but TRU doesn't seem to carry them and I'm not sure where else I might find them in Canada? (Before Saturday, I might add! )

(Books would also be an easy one, but I got the vibe from a recent get-together that the parents are feeling like they've got lots of books and would prefer something else. So one of those respecting-the-parents'-preferences things...)

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#20 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 02:02 PM
 
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Oh, I definitely wouldn't assume some sort of deficiency! I was more feeling that there was no point getting a non-electronic toy due to my nephew's lack of interest in them. I do want him to enjoy his present.
He seriously has NO interested whatsoever at all in anything that doesn't have an on switch? I honestly have never met a child like that.

Someone mentioned legos...legos are one of the most creative toys in existance, seriously. And I have only met a few kids who don't like legos...is that something your nephew might be interested in? Sure they are carried at TRU and Walmart and every other store that sells toys in existance. And they are plastic and all over tv. But, there's no on switch and they are probably the most open ended toy you can find. Give a kid an hour with a box of legos and you will end up with planes and castles and lego block people and animals. Legos make everything:

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There's just a lot of discussion on here about wanting other people to respect our choices and I want to be sure I'm affording them the same respect while still giving him something I'm comfortable with
Just because the parents have made a choice to allow plastic/electronic toys (or rather, to not try to avoid those things) that doesn't mean that parent isn't equally open to non-electronic or more open ended stuff. I sometimes think that people (not saying you in particular, just in general here) are so wrapped up in their "non-mainstream-ness" (hows that' for inventing vocabulary : ) that they forget that most "mainstream" parents don't label themselves as "mainstream" and just do whatever works for their kids.



I find it ironic to see posts like this online
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#21 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 02:13 PM
 
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My daughter is four and she's very very into Imaginext toys right now. It's not something I would've picked but she has a few sets from Christmas and a few she and my husband have picked out over the year. She can play with ONE for hours and set up endless scenarios (and then video and take pictures of them), or she will combine a few (Sea Serpent Island meets Dragon Castle meets Rescue Boat is very popular right now). I wasn't in favor but I'm surprised just how creative she's been with them and how long they've held her attention. And for some reason, adults like them. She's been able to con all her aunties and uncles (and in some case, great aunties in their 70s and 80s) into playing with them and they all get really animated, which is so NOT the norm in my family.

There's also this super cool cardboard castle (or house) you can find at a lot craft stores - TRU may even have them. You put them together and you can draw, color, or paint on them. We used chalk so she could decorate her castle over and over. It was a lot of fun for her on her own and she could also get other people to help decorate. She loved it.

Another option is a peel and stick chalk board with chalk. We got ours at Target. Inexpensive and a big hit. She likes it and kids of all ages seem attracted to it.

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They also left all those gorgeous, expensive, open-ended wooden toys that I thought would be a hit go pretty much untouched.
Painful, isn't it? Because I am so attracted to those beautiful, beautiful natural toys. I was looking at Waldorf dolls before she was even born. She could give a toot about dolls of any kind and most of the natural fairy/elf toys just don't hold her attention. All the kids we have over can't get enough so at least there's that.
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#22 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 02:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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He seriously has NO interested whatsoever at all in anything that doesn't have an on switch? I honestly have never met a child like that.
Okay, so I haven't spent much time with him lately, but the two things that aren't electronic that I know he's interested in are Bakugan (I know NOTHING about it) and sword-fighting (he already has foam swords). Besides that??? I don't know. I'll wait to see what SIL can suggest.

I too grew up with and LOVED Legos, but he's got a 1yo brother (so choking hazard) and they already have a TON of the larger Duplo/Megablocks. I am thinking maybe larger Magneatos or Wedgits though.

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Just because the parents have made a choice to allow plastic/electronic toys (or rather, to not try to avoid those things) that doesn't mean that parent isn't equally open to non-electronic or more open ended stuff. I sometimes think that people (not saying you in particular, just in general here) are so wrapped up in their "non-mainstream-ness" (hows that' for inventing vocabulary : ) that they forget that most "mainstream" parents don't label themselves as "mainstream" and just do whatever works for their kids.
Very true. I guess part of it is I was stumped for ideas when I started this thread and didn't want to come off as the one with the "weird gifts" that never get played with.

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I find it ironic to see posts like this online

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#23 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 02:37 PM
 
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I'd ask, personally. And I don't buy toys that totally violate my own toy standards but it doesn't have to be something I'd buy for my kids either. My sister always says oh, they like your LO toys but hum, they don't really in my experience.

Legos all the way if you don't. With a gift receipt of course...
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#24 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 02:48 PM
 
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My "go to" list for mainstream little boys from age 1-5 would be:

-Little wooden cars from HappySquashToys on Etsy (they even make some painted ones, and do dinosaurs and animals too)
-Playsilks for the little kids
-Nature stuff & Science stuff (you know, those kits that let you examine bugs, etc.
-ART SUPPLIES!! Seriously, we stock up during the back to school season.

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#25 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 03:07 PM
 
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Just another idea I had (since we have a newly 4-y/o here anyway) - but she's really into being able to buy her own things, like take a few dollars to the candy store and pick out something small and pay the cashier herself. If theres a well-liked local candy shop/ice cream place/something you could get a GC to it for him to get his own treats, maybe even a tshirt too (if they have them).
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#26 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 03:59 PM
 
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Sometimes the toys kids have had in the time before they really start expressing strong likes and dislikes come from what the parents want! I wouldn't be surprised to learn that all the electronic stuff was started because dad thought it was cool or maybe one of the parents had a toy that they wanted when they were kids but never got. I still remember all of the years when I asked for an electronic racetrack for Christmas, and never got one because, "Santa thought you were a girl, honey!"

Last year I bought a wooden toy train for dh's niece. He thought it was a terrible choice and that she would never play with it, but after it was unwrapped all of the kids wanted a turn! Niece and her siblings are from a very mainstream, video game playing, TV watching, toys out the ears family.
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#27 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the input everyone, it really gave me some great ideas!

I went shopping at lunch today and when I saw these Automoblox cars I knew I'd found a winner. I think they're a great combo of car and puzzle, they seem well-made and most importantly I think my nephew will really enjoy them.

So that's dealt with, thank goodness. Can you guess how much I'm looking forward to Christmas shopping?

Quote:
Last year I bought a wooden toy train for dh's niece. He thought it was a terrible choice and that she would never play with it, but after it was unwrapped all of the kids wanted a turn! Niece and her siblings are from a very mainstream, video game playing, TV watching, toys out the ears family.
Huh. I guess it goes to show you never really know!

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#28 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 06:27 PM
 
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I'd never seen the stomp rocket before and now I want one. I suppose I can't really buy it for my dd13, can I?
My dd13 would think it was freaking awesome.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#29 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 06:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by curiouscanadian View Post
Okay, so I haven't spent much time with him lately, but the two things that aren't electronic that I know he's interested in are Bakugan (I know NOTHING about it) and sword-fighting (he already has foam swords). Besides that??? I don't know. I'll wait to see what SIL can suggest.

I too grew up with and LOVED Legos, but he's got a 1yo brother (so choking hazard) and they already have a TON of the larger Duplo/Megablocks. I am thinking maybe larger Magneatos or Wedgits though.



Very true. I guess part of it is I was stumped for ideas when I started this thread and didn't want to come off as the one with the "weird gifts" that never get played with.

He He, the ONLY reason I know anything about Bakugan is because of my 10 year old nephew: And all I know is that they are these little ball things that pop open. And no on switch:

When I buy for my nieces and nephews (I have 5 total-3 nephews and 2 nieces, ) I always just call my siblings and ask, or in the case of the 8 and 10 year olds, I just ask them what they want. And, we are all fairly close together, and see each other multiple times a week. When I ask, I usually get a list of ideas, and just pick one.
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#30 of 59 Old 09-02-2010, 06:50 PM
 
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We have a stomp rocket. It is pretty darn kick ass.

mom to sam arlo (5), olive loretta (3)....and twin girls Annie and Ramona Jean, born 3/10.

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