The thought of your days playing with toy cars, and the transition to the real thing, likely evoke equally warm, fuzzy memories. Apply those same thoughts to your child, though, and the warm fuzzies probably diminish by … oh, call it half. It’s true, they can’t stay young forever, but while they still are, these are the coolest, fastest, techiest, and prettiest toy cars money can buy. Because once you have another driver to insure, you’ll be done buying toy cars for either of you.
[vimeo https://vimeo.com/118926027 expand=1] Anki Overdrive is 50 percent slot cars, 50 percent Mario Kart, and 100 percent you and your kid’s most coveted toy this Christmas. Each app-controlled, intelligent robot car has a unique personality and driving style, plus customizable speed, defenses, and weapons. With AI designed to feel like another human, you can choose to get dominated by your kid or the world’s smartest Matchbox car. And the track is flexible and magnetic, so assembly takes seconds and cars stay on forever — not the other way around.
Anki Overdrive Starter Kit ($150)
Candylab ToysThese vintage-inspired, fast-rolling wooden cars are the Pinewood Derby racers your dad would have built you if he was even a slightly competent whittler. Instead of a poorly painted pine block, you’d have rode to victory on the wheels of the GT-10, BLU 74, or Stinger. Hell, even the Camper would’ve gone down that track faster. Assuming you haven’t sprung for the life-sized one yet, these cars are your ticket to victory row.
Candylab Toy Cars ($25 And Up)
Lego Ferrari F40The real thing might still be on your wish list, but you can probably afford to buy the Lego version for your kid. All the details — pop-up headlights, side air intakes, vented rear hatch, twin-turbocharged, 90-degree V8 engine, crafted cabled door handles, Ferrari logo’d steering wheel, and red racing seats — are all so true to life, you won’t even notice the difference. Or at least you’ll keep telling yourself that.
Lego Ferrari F40 ($100)
PlayforeverBecause a list of cars without one entry based solely on looks would just be invalid. The Freedom, Heat, and Thunderlane are the newest (and most patriotic, authoritatin’ and quasi-Springsteen-y, respectively), but you’re probably going to want to buy everything Playforever makes. It all would just look so perfect in your kid’s elegant, minimalist nursery.
Playforever Toy Cars ($40 And Up)
The chassis, tires, and other elements of Modarri cars are interchangeable across the entire product line, which all use real springs and linkages in their independent front and rear suspensions. Between teaching your kid real-life car fixin’ stuff and letting them feel the road when “driving” with their fingers, you’ll have ample excuses to keep them away from the real thing for as long as possible.
Modarri ($20 And Up)
Automoblox (that’s “Automobile” + “Blocks” if it took you a minute to figure out the name, too) allows kids to customize their rides by mixing and matching modern design elements with old-school wood frames. Truly the ultimate toy car for the kid with neo-retro-chic parents. Available models include hot rods, police and fire vehicles, trucks, and even a sensible, minivan for dad.
Automoblox ($15 And Up)
These capacitor-powered track racers (no, not that kind of capacitor — those cars don’t need roads, remember?) don’t depend on launchpad height for their speed but on how fast your kid can wave their hand over the top of them. That movement gets the cars revved up to fly down the track. After that it’s just loops on loops on loops.
Wave Racer Mega-Match Raceway ($40)