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MPMK 2015 Gift Guide: Top Toys for Vehicle Lovers

Top toys for kids who love planes, trains, cars, and construction vehicles - great detailed recommendations here!

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.

Also, 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 and to see every sale we find – join our brand new “MPMK Gift Guide Sales Alert!” facebook group!

One last thing, before we get to our list. While shopping, please consider adding an item from Hope on the Hill Guild’s

Gift Wish List for Seattle Children’s Hospital

The list benefits the Autism Center & Opera​tion Family Care and contains items that are in high demand within that program. You can have the items shipped to the provided address and they will be delivered to the Autism Center or hospital directly. There are many items as low as $2 – $5 and every gift helps a child in need!

 

Once again this year, I’m heading up each list with my favorites from all the picks (there are over 40!) – here, arranged by age, are my

Top 11 toys for vehicle lovers (scroll down for full details on each):

  1. Green Toys Flatbed Truck and Car $21.44 (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.
  2. Kidkraft Waterfall Mountain Train Set & Table $170.99 $119.97 (18 months – 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 four 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-decker bridge is pretty cool too). Also, over the years we’ve amassed quite a collection of Thomas trains to go with this table.
  3. CAT Digger $82.82 (2 – 8 years) – The aunties bought this for my then 3 year old son for Christmas and, I have to say, I had my reservations. C of course thought an excavator that he could actually sit on, drive, and manipulate was just about the coolest thing ever but I was concerned about the space it would take up in our yard, especially with a non-rainy season of only about 3 months here in Seattle. What I failed to realize was the versatility of this toy.  Yes, it’s awesome for digging in the sandbox or bark in the summer, but it’s also great for picking up leaves in the fall and snow in the winter (see here).  This thing gets played on year-round and is often the only thing that lures my kids out to play on a rainy day (they put out buckets to collect the rain water and use the bucket shovel to scoop it out).  This one’s definitely a big ticket item but return on investment is high.
  4. Battat Take Apart Sets $20.21 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 vroom.  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!
  5. 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. Last year the only thing he got for Christmas was this flatbed truck and backhoe $125.99 which is all he wanted, and he was totally thrilled.
  6. 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”.
  7. Imaginext Rescue City Center $34.62 (3 – 8 years) – This rescue center play set gets a lot of kuddos for having a high number of working parts for the kids to interact with and for doing a great job in stimulating dramatic play. One Amazon reviewer wrote, “The toys are clever and witty and well designed with hidden doors, functions and scope for imagination. They are some of the most played with toys–besides Legos–in our house… These are some of the coolest toys out there that meet the need for non-licensed (usually no licensed toys beyond the Batman line) for lots of fantastical, imaginative play.” The set also gets high marks for durability and two-sided play that allows for more than one child to play at the same time without crowding.
  8. Hot Wheels 20 Car Gift Pack $21.63 (3+ 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 (3+ years) for rainy or sick days (I was pleasantly surprised that it’s lasted it us a few years already and I like how it folds down flat for easy storage).
  9. Hot Wheels Track Builder Total Turbo Takeover Track Set $34.86 (4+ years) – If you do want to get yourself some tracks, this is my favorite starter kit. It’s well-priced and comes with not one, but two, loops – which always seems to be the kids’ favorite part – plus a “two way booster” that gives them multiple ways to race and launch the cars. This is an ideal rainy day toy and also great for multiple kids to play with together. The only drawback, is that this one can be noisy and you need a little more space – another great set that’s noise-free and has a small foot-print but TONS of cool options and tricks for the cars is the Color Shifters Flame Fighter Playset $27.99 (4+ years) (note: we don’t use the color-changing water features but may add it in as the kids get older).
  10. Automoblox $36.50 (3 and no longer mouthing toys – 8 years) – These 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. There’s also the newer and larger sized automoblox Rescue SUVs: the Fire SUV,  Police Car, and Rescue Truck.
  11. LEGO Creator 3-in-1 Kits starting at $11.24, (age varies by kit) – This is another series of kits, much like the LEGO City collection with the difference being that each kit can be used to create 3 totally different things.  My son thinks this is especially awesome and I did a lot of research to find the perfect set for his 6th birthday. We settled on the LEGO Creator 31011 Aviation Adventure and we were not disappointed! The photos don’t do justice to the sheer size of this thing! That and the number of pieces involved in the build truly make this the next level in LEGO builds. Plus it actually has moving parts (pull back the landing gear to make the propellers move, slide the cockpit windshield back and up to insert and remove the two pilots, etc.). My son has been playing with it non-stop for weeks and he still hasn’t even gotten to the boat and helicopter he can build with this set. This toy has already given us hours and hours of fun and promises to give lots more – a great investment in my eyes.

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.

Ready for the big list? Here we go…

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

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

  • Kid-O Go Car $11.21 (6 months – 2 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.
  • Green Toys Flatbed Truck and Car $21.44 (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.
  • Fisher-Price Little People Lil’ Movers Airplane $17.99 (1 – 3 years) – Like the entire line of Little Peoples Movers, the stocky size of this airplane is perfect for little hands still developing their fine-motor skills. This plane, which lights up and plays multiple sounds, gets tons of rave reviews from parents for it’s durability as well as how many ways there are to play. Complete with a pilot, two passengers, a piece of luggage, a door that opens, six windows, including the pilot’s windshield, a handle over the cut-out top, and working wheels (which make the pilot and passengers go up and down as if encountering turbulence). Push down on the pilot in her seat for flashing lights, a tune, flight attendant commentary, and swooshing airplane sounds.
  • Little Blue Truck $12.76 (1 – 6 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 $170.99 (18 months – 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 four 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-decker bridge is pretty cool too). Also, over the years we’ve amassed quite a collection of Thomas trains to go with this table.
  • 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.
  • 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 vroom.  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!
  • Playskool Heroes Transformers Rescue Bots Starting at $13.61 (3 – 6 years) – The perfect introduction to transformers, these rescue bots have a great book series of the same name and are easy for small hands to manipulate.
  • Imaginext Rescue City Center $34.62 (3 – 8 years) – This rescue center play set gets a lot of kuddos for having a high number of working parts for the kids to interact with and for doing a great job in stimulating dramatic play. One Amazon reviewer wrote, “The toys are clever and witty and well designed with hidden doors, functions and scope for imagination. They are some of the most played with toys–besides Legos–in our house… These are some of the coolest toys out there that meet the need for non-licensed (usually no licensed toys beyond the Batman line) for lots of fantastical, imaginative play.” The set also gets high marks for durability and two-sided play that allows for more than one child to play at the same time without crowding.
  • Plan Toys City Series Parking Garage $73.96 (3+ years) – Our then 4 year old son got this garage for Christmas.  He and his 2 year old sister really liked the working elevator and it’s a favorite toy for group play during play dates.
  • Hot Wheels 20 Car Gift Pack $21.63 (3+ 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 surprised that it’s lasted it us a few years already and I like how it folds down flat for easy storage).
  • Hot Wheels Track Builder Total Turbo Takeover Track Set $34.86 (4+ years) – If you do want to get yourself some tracks, this is my favorite starter kit. It’s well-priced and comes with not one, but two, loops – which always seems to be the kids’ favorite part – plus a “two way booster” that gives them multiple ways to race and launch the cars. This is an ideal rainy day toy and also great for multiple kids to play with together. The only drawback, is that this one can be noisy and you need a little more space – another great set that’s noise-free and has a small foot-print but TONS of cool options and tricks for the cars is the Color Shifters Flame Fighter Playset $27.99 (4+ years) (note: we don’t use the color-changing water features but may add it in as the kids get older).
  • Automoblox $36.50 (3 and no longer mouthing toys – 8 years) – These 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. There’s also the newer and 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, much like the LEGO City collection with the difference being that each kit can be used to create 3 totally different things.  My son thinks this is especially awesome and I did a lot of research to find the perfect set for his 6th birthday. We settled on the LEGO Creator 31011 Aviation Adventure and we were not disappointed! The photos don’t do justice to the sheer size of this thing! That and the number of pieces involved in the build truly make this the next level in LEGO builds. Plus it actually has moving parts (pull back the landing gear to make the propellers move, slide the cockpit windshield back and up to insert and remove the two pilots, etc.). My son has been playing with it non-stop for weeks and he still hasn’t even gotten to the boat and helicopter he can build with this set. This toy has already given us hours and hours of fun and promises to give lots more – a great investment in my eyes.

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

Construction Vehicles

  • 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.
  • CAT Digger $82.82 (2 – 8 years) – The aunties bought this for my then 3 year old son for Christmas and, I have to say, I had my reservations. C of course thought an excavator that he could actually sit on, drive, and manipulate was just about the coolest thing ever but I was concerned about the space it would take up in our yard, especially with a non-rainy season of only about 3 months here in Seattle. What I failed to realize was the versatility of this toy.  Yes, it’s awesome for digging in the sandbox or bark in the summer, but it’s also great for picking up leaves in the fall and snow in the winter (see here).  This thing gets played on year-round and is often the only thing that lures my kids out to play on a rainy day (they put out buckets to collect the rain water and use the bucket shovel to scoop it out).  This one’s definitely a big ticket item but return on investment is high.
  • 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…”.

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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.

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P.S. See all 10 of our 2015 Gift Guides here.

 

P.P.S. Looking to simplify and connect more? We can help! Check out our organizational eBook and printables pack – buy both and save 71% on the eBook!

Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life eBook & 2014 Printables Pack - This is the year I WILL be more organized!!