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2018 Gift Guide 2018: Best ideas for young builders

December 19, 2018

Here’s a selection of top gift ideas for young builders in the family.

Spengler with Cage Car (Playmobile, 38 pieces, $21.99, for ages 6 and older) The classic 1980s cartoon series “The Real Ghostbusters,” which extended the movie franchise, lives on through an interactive collection of buildable vehicles and figures.

Although the items are made for children, Ghostbusters fans will be most impressed. One of the best of the series offers a 3-inch-tall, blond, pompadoured, bespectacled version of geeky scientist Egon Spengler chasing a pesky apparition in a modified Bobcat.

The 5-inch-long, 3-inch-tall, white-and-red vehicle features four rubber wheels, a front ram grill that can be folded up and down, and a movable protective grill in the back for climbing into or loading the vehicle with Egon’s included proton pack, proton wand (with attachable plasma stream), PKE meter and ghost trap.

Even more exciting, the vehicle has a launcher mounted to the top that holds three translucent green discs that can be shot out while attacking spirits.

Egon is dressed in his blue outfit with a Ghostbuster patch on his arm, gets five points of articulation and fits perfectly in the vehicle’s driver compartment

Despite all that coolness, the included glowing fairy ghost is the star here. The 3-inch-tall figure has pink hair, translucent pink wings, a purple ball gown, wears a bowler and has long claws attached to her arms.

The building process is less than 30 minutes, and applying the 18 stickers was a breeze.

Mojo Jojo Strikes (Lego, 228 pieces, $29.99, for ages 6 and older) Owners take a frenetic stroll through the colorful world of Cartoon Network and Craig McCracken’s supergirl-powered team in this construction set.

In this scene, the hippest ape super villain in any cartoon galaxy, Mojo Jojo, attempts a theft of diamonds in Townsville. The set requires that owners first assemble a 3-inch-tall ice cream stand with a counter and ice cream cone catapult; and a 3-inch-tall jewelry store with opening translucent door, rotating security camera and breakaway window.

Builders assemble perfectly recreated, block- and bulbous-headed, 1.5-inch-tall renditions of the big-eyed Buttercup with rolling skateboard and Blossom on golden roller skates holding a pink cellphone. They also get Donny the Unicorn and a robot holding dynamite.

Better yet, they build the villain with a soft plastic purple cape and mesmerizing beanie. He drives a red getaway car with working rubber wheels, a breakaway banana fin and attached laser pistol that fires translucent green studs.

Accessories also include two ice cream cones, cash register, six ice cream toppings, a remote, two diamond crystals and a small group of easy-to-apply stickers that help bring the set to life.

Fans will find plenty of “sugar, spice and everything nice” as they spend about an hour constructing this perfect Lego mini masterpiece.

Hidden Temple with T-Rex (Playmobile, 121 pieces, $59.99, for ages 4 and older) This buildable playset for admirers of the “Jurassic Park” universe offers children a almost unlimited amount of hands-on adventures as they explore ancient ruins and run into one of the meanest creatures to ever roam the Earth.

The two-walled structure of grey-bricked ruins and wooden scaffolding offers a freight pulley, grated containment area with pincers, an observation deck, ladder, soft rubber foliage to hang on the sides, and a portcullis-style gate that opens and closes.

The set features three 3-inch-tall, mildly articulated researchers with backpacks. They can select from accessories such as a rifle, pistol, machete, camera or binoculars. Figures also include a small dog and a 9-inch-tall, red Tyrannosaurus rex with opening mouth and articulated arms and legs.

Other items in the set include a microscope, laptop, GPS unit, a pair of lizards (one with wings), a vine, a specimen container, an opening cargo container, a tripod and test tubes with a rack.

Most will be thrilled by the detail on the ruins, the figures and that awesome dinosaur, but Playmobile goes deep in delivering even more levels of interactivity.

First, owners rub the included map and a hidden path to the treasure gets revealed.

Next, they can faux fight off the T-rex using a pivoting laser cannon that actual flickers a red LED light with the push of a button (392-LR41 batteries included).

And, are you kidding me, the set comes with a UV flashlight (1 AAA battery required) that when shined upon the ruin’s crystal eyes or upon a jungle plant or test tube causes them to glow, especially when the lights are out.

The building process is less than 45 minutes with minimal sticker application. Suffice it to report, Playmobile delivers the “play” in this detailed playset.

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