MPMK 2013 Gift Guide: Top Toys for Vehicle Lovers
This gift guide is all about things that go Vroom! If I let my son see it, I’m sure he’d want every single item on this list (which is exactly why I’m keeping it under wraps). Although, honestly, I’ve found a good quality truck with some interesting moving parts, or a dozen or so matchbox cars, can buy me quite a bit of independent play - so it’s not really that hard to sway me to purchase the items on this list. Plus, I’ve found these are great toys to bring along when visiting a friend or relative who won’t have toys on hand because they don’t involve a lot of pieces that can be easily lost.
Whether your child gets most excited about cars, trucks, trains, planes, or construction vehicles – you’ll find something they’ll love below.
Don’t forget – you can check out all 10 of our 2013 Gift Guides here!
Once again this year, I’m heading up each list with my favorites from all the picks – here, in no particular order, are my top 7 toys for vehicle lovers (scroll down for full details on each):
- Kidkraft Waterfall Mountain Train Set & Table $119.96 (2 – 8 years)
- Green Toys Flatbed Truck and Car $22.42 (1 – 10 years)
- Bruder CATERPILLAR Construction Vehicles $16 and up (3+ years)
- Step2 Easy Turn Coupe $39.99 (18 months – 8 years)
- Hot Wheels 20 Car Gift Pack $20.29 (4+ years)
- Battat Take Apart Sets $ 18.15 and up (3+ years)
- Mighty Machine Videos $12.95 (2+ years)
Read on for 20 or so of the most engaging toys for vehicle lovers.
Special Note: In an effort to help you out as much as possible this year, I’ve included both prices and age recommendations for each item. Please take the age ranges as just that – recommendations – you know you’re child best after all!
Also, this time of year prices can fluctuate quite dramatically. So if you see something a little outside of your price range, it might not be a bad idea to click over and check it out anyway – you may get lucky and catch a sale.
Along those lines, I’m doing my best this year to keep our readers up-to-date on any sales I see on our gift guide items. To be in the loop, be sure to follow us on facebook and subscribe to our newsletter.
Ready for the big list? Here we go…
Planes, Trains & Automobiles
- Kid-O Go Car $11.21 (1+ years) – I gift this car quite a bit to babies and young toddlers. With it’s bright colors and built in handle, it’s the perfect first car for any child.
- Step2 Easy Turn Coupe $39.99 (18 months – 8 years) – The cozy coupe has been a quintessential toddler toy since I was a kid. Little ones love tootling around in these things and getting to play driver like the grown ups. This updated version now includes a front castor wheel in order to provides easier maneuverability – so smart. Other features include gas cap, ignition key, working horn, cup holders, and molded in push handle in the roof (a feature parents will especially appreciate).
- Green Toys Flatbed Truck and Car $22.42 (1 – 10 years) – Along with the Kid-O Go Car, Green Toys cars are my other go-to gift for little ones. As I’ve already said in these gift guides, I really appreciate that their stuff is made in the USA from 100 percent recycled plastic milk containers and contain no BPA, PVC, phthalates, or external coatings. Beyond that, their vehicles are easy for small hands to grasp and manipulate and I like the 2-for-1 punch packed by this flatbed and car combo.
- Little Blue Truck $12.76 (1+ years) – Our all-time favorite book. The characters are incredibly endearing, the illustrations are vivd and bold and it has a great message. Enough said.
- Kidkraft Waterfall Mountain Train Set & Table $119.96 (2 – 8 years) - We bought our son a train table for his 2nd birthday and we always say it’s one of the best purchases we’ve ever made. Over three years later both he and his sister still play with it several times a week. At 4 he was able to completely construct the track by himself using the map and that added a whole new level of building play to this fantastic toy. I think the model we bought has been discontinued but this one has all of the same key components: a bridge, waterfall mountain, helicopter landing pad, and the all-important drawers for storing all the little pieces. If you’re going to be putting your train table in main living space, you may want to spring for the more expensive and KidKraft Metropolis Train Set Table with Trundle Drawer. It’s got a nicer “furniture” look (and that double bridge is pretty cool too). Also, over the years we’ve amassed quite a collection of Thomas trains to go with this table.
- Diggin Active Box Cars Set $27.99 (3 – 8 years) – These Diggin sets (there’s others like this airport) are perfect for on-the-go play. This would be just the thing to throw in the car for a weekend at the grandparents.
- Plan Toys City Series Parking Garage $73.96 (3+ years) – Our then 4 year old son got this garage for Christmas last year. He and his 2 year old sister really like the working elevator and it’s a favorite toy for group play during play dates.
- Hot Wheels 20 Car Gift Pack $20.29 (4+ years) – A decent set of small hot wheels are a must for us. They’re great for playing with the toy garages listed here or for using with blocks, up-cycled paper towel rolls, and even painter’s tape tracks for all kind of innovative an open-ended play. We also like this race ramp for rainy or sick days (I was pleasantly surprise that it’s lasted it us a few years already and I like how it folds down flat for easy storage). Finally, Hot Wheels Wall Tracks are a popular way to bring the play off the floor and up onto the walls.
- Cars Mack Play Set $69.99 (3+ years) – If you have a young car lover in the house then it’s unlikely you’ve escaped the gravitational force that is Disney’s Cars. I actually really loved the original Cars movie for it’s simple message and lack of bad guys and violence. Until last year it was the only movie we let our son watch and he loves it so much that he never complained. Cars fanatic that he is, C owns several of the die-cast characters and last year we got him this Mack carry case. He really loved it and I’d buy it again in a flash but I also think this version that unfolds into an entire play set is pretty cool. The only drawback being that the price seems to have gone up quite a bit since last year – this is a good one to keep an eye out for sales.
- Automoblox $36.50 (3 – 6 years), have been a favorite at our house for several years. Part racing toy, part building toy, they’re pretty much irresistible to both my son and daughter. I recommended them for socking stuffers in the past and their flying machine counterparts, Manhattan Toy Airplane Vehicle, are another way to extend the fun beyond the cars. New this year are the larger sized automoblox Rescue SUVs: the Fire SUV, Police Car, and Rescue Truck.
- LEGO Creator 3-in-1 Kits starting at $11.24, (age varies by kit) – This is another series of kits from LEGO. What sets them apart from others is that each kit can be used to create 3 totally different things. Almost all of these kits involve building one or more kind of vehicle such as a jet plane, construction hauler, speedster, and etc. My son thinks this is especially awesome and will probably ask for some of these instead of his beloved LEGO city kits (which also include a lot of vehicle options) from Santa this year.
- Battat Take Apart Sets $ 18.15 and up (3+ years) – I’m kind of in awe of these Take-A-Part kits (there’s an airplane, crane, 4×4 and roadster available) . They combine C’s two absolute favorite activities: building and playing with things that go zoom. Plus kids put together their sets using a working power drill with 3 different bits. The reviews on this one are stellar and I’m totally sold!
- Melissa & Doug World Airplane and Luggage Carrier Set $21.08 (2 – 4 years) – This simple set is charming. It’s the perfect thing for promoting lots of imaginative play and I’m smitten with the little wooden luggage and luggage cart.
- Bruder CATERPILLAR Construction Vehicles $16 and up (3+ years) – If you’ve got a true vehicle lover at home then you know they can NEVER get enough construction vehicles to push around the floor (or around the sandbox). The Bruder versions are each realistic, high quality options that won’t disappoint. Their working parts are incredibly durable and our son absolutely adores his large working crane truck with stabilizer feet, which he uses for all sorts of imaginative play.
- Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site $10.19 (1+ years) – This is a really sweet bedtime book, perfect for your little builder. We’ve checked it out so many times from the library it really is time we just bought it already!
- Mighty Machine Videos $12.95 (2+ years) - I did an entire review of Might Machine Videos here. They consist of nothing more than footage of real life “mighty machines” (i.e. bulldozers, excavators, airplanes, trains, ships, firetrucks, buses, etc.) at work. There are no contrived characters or drama. The machines narrate their actions and talk directly to your child to explain what they’re doing. Kids learn about how all kind of things work (“All About Recycling” is C’s current favorite) and they LOVE it. Each video contains several episodes so it’s easy to control how long your child watches. Some of them, like the one about trains, even have a collection of 5 minute “bonus videos”.
- Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel w/ Read Along CD $9.89 (3+ years) - We love this book because, unlike many others, the steam shovel is an actual character (Mary Anne – how sweet is that?). The illustrations are gorgeous and this 1939 classic also has all kinds of interesting throwbacks like the page that starts, “Now the girl who answers the telephone called up the next towns…”.
- Kettler CAT Kid Tractor $183.00 (2 – 6 years) – I already recommended the Kettler Cat ride-on excavator in our “little buidlers/innovators” gift guide. That’s the one we own, and we love it but this one looks awesome too. I trust the quality of this brand so I think the splurge would be worth it and, with the wagon, this is one two kids can easily play with together.
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If you like these recommendations, I encourage you to pin or bookmark them for later when you’re ready to start shopping. I would also love it if you forwarded the list on to your parenting friends or shared it on facebook – trust me, your friends will thank you for the help and you get to be the cool mom (or dad) with all the best resources. It’s a win-win.
P.S. See all 10 of our 2013 Gift Guides here.
P.P.S. If you’re really looking to have the holidays in the bag early this year. Check out our new eBook, Hands-On Holidays, packed with low-prep and low-stress ideas for make memories crafting, cooking, reading and adventuring with the kids!
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