It’s called “The Stepdad’s Guide” but, really, it’s just as much for the father whose kid inherits a stepdad. Through no fault of their own (well, maybe, but that’s getting a bit personal), both men are immediately thrust into a tug of war for their kids’ affection. If left unchecked, this battle can spiral cartoonishly out of control, resulting in the pile of gifts outlined below that no tree can contain. In fact, that’s how the score gets settled: Whoever buys them a new house to store all this crap probably deserves to win. Godspeed.
You Get: Duffy’s Diner ($7,900)
Custom-built diner with drive-through window your kids could probably profit from, with a skylight, tile flooring, menu board, and optional red leather booth and exterior drive-in movie theater. Is the size of your living room.
They Get: Sophie The Giraffe ($22)
Sophie is the inanimate kid whisperer. Babies love her, particularly teething babies who hate everyone. Nobody knows how the hell it works, and nobody needs to — it just does. This is as much a gift for the kid’s parents as it is for the kid.
You Get: Life-Size Ride-On Giraffe ($1,880)
Sophie may be cuddly, but she’s not a handcrafted portrait of a magnificent beast that’s climbable and looks great in your living room (provided you have high ceilings). This thing is a ridiculous 95 inches tall, nearly 8 feet. And, at that price, you could probably pay less to have Yao Ming come over and give your kid a piggy back ride.
They Get: Lionel Polar Express Train Set ($120)
Kids can travel aboard the top-ranked hobby train in Amazon Land to Santa’s workshop, where they can personally thank the big guy for delivering them the world’s best dad. It features authentic sounds, detailed retro styling, and even a disappearing hobo! Just like that other dad!
You Get: Takara Tomy Linear Liner Maglev Train ($540)
Or they can blast north at ludicrous speed on this replica of Central Japan Railway’s L0 superconducting maglev train. Like the real thing, it levitates above the tracks and is literally more powerful than a locomotive. It’s also the preferred transportation method of super independent Japanese kids, whose super awesome parents unconditionally trust them.
They Get: Meade Instruments 216005 Polaris 127 EQ Reflector Telescope ($168)
Impress the kids by telling them this is the same telescope the guy building the next Hubble gives his kids. When they ask what Hubble is, just tell them it’s Wall-E. That’s only, like, half a lie.
You Get: Space Camp ($950)
Kids today don’t want to be astronauts as much as you’d think, but Space Camp remains a favorite, even after 33 years dominating the back pages of Boys’ Life magazine. Plus, after graduating from this program they’ll have enough STEM skills to beat Old Man Hubble back there for his next space station-building gig.
They Get: LEGO Ferrari F40 ($100)
The real thing is pretty pricey, but this LEGO set gives a kid as close to a real Ferrari experience as they’re ever gonna get. The details — pop-up headlights, twin-turbocharged, 90-degree V8 engine, logo steering wheel, red racing seats — are so true to life, they’ll barely notice the difference.
You Get: Ferrari 458 Italia Extreme Experience ($299 For 3 Laps, And Up)
Unless the other guy shows up with a helmet, some sweet fingerless driving gloves, and a ticket to the test track. The details — 4.5-liter V8 engine, 562 horsepower, top speed 202 miles per hour — are so true to life because they’re real life.
You Get: Mini Monster Truck ($125,000)
A 4-cylinder Ford engine gives this actual monster truck a top speed of 25 mph — over hard surfaces, grass, dirt tracks, and lame-ass Power Wheels. It even has NOS boosters for performing jumps. Seriously. NOS. Raise your hand if you thought they made that up for The Fast And The Furious.
They Get: Nerf N-Strike Elite Mega CycloneShock Blaster
Nerf darts are every kid’s favorite. The CycloneShock fires them farther than ever, special Mega Whistler Darts fly louder than ever, and the rotating drum fires 6 shots before reloading.
You Get: Boomco Colossal Blitz
Fires 72 rounds from dual drums in 15 seconds without reloading, and the darts are sturdier than foam and stick to targets 70 feet away. So basically all of the above but better in every possible way. Suck it, Nerf!
They Get: K’NEX 375 Piece Deluxe Building Set ($20)
With K’NEX, kids can build all kinds of miniature vehicles that roll and fly around the house. The only thing cooler would be if they were sturdy enough to build rideable wagons, trikes, scooters, and go-karts, with optional add-ons for snow.
You Get: Infento Constructible Rides ($299 And Up, Pre-order)
Sorry, K’NEX, you were saying something?
They Get: A Day At The Nearest Six Flags Amusement Park ($62 And Up)
The country’s best roller coasters, endless fried food, and maybe a gigantic plush animal that you win for the kid with that rocket of a fastball — you’ve still got it!
You Get: Private Premium VIP Disney Tour ($400-$600 Per Hour)
Curses, foiled by the Mouse again.