What do you get for the little space fan with dreams of stars and rocket flights? From a Lego spaceship to engineering toys, little astronomers everywhere are bound to find something perfect for them on Space.com's gift guide this holiday season.
Celestial Buddies Comet
Celebrate this year's historic landing of a Europe's Philae spacecraft on a comet with this incredibly cute Celestial Buddies Comet ($30.99 on Amazon). The plushy comet has a happy little surprised look on its face as it makes its way around a little one's imaginary solar system.
Why we love it: Celestial Buddies makes a series of wonderful little stuffed cosmic objects including the Sun, Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter (with the Great Red Spot for a nose!) and Saturn that are as adorable as they are cuddly. They're a great way to introduce objects in space to tiny explorers.
Shadow FX Color Projector from Crayola
The Shadow FX Color Projector from Crayola ($17.49 on Amazon) is a great, creative toy for anyone. The projector is designed so that kids can play with animation and drawing. The projector's multicolored lights shine on a transparent board that allows young space fans to draw and erase to their hearts' content.
Why we love it: The projector is inventive, fun and allows creativity to shine along with special animations made by anyone with an erasable marker.
Moon in My Room by Uncle Milton
Uncle Milton's Moon in My Room ($22.95) is fun for kids of all ages. The toy tracks the phases of the moon. The lunar face is illuminated in stages to represent the various phases the moon goes through during the course of each month.
Why we love it: The moon is the easiest object to see in the night sky, and most obvious one to track changes. What Moon in My Room does is pluck that overgrown nightlight out of the sky and pop it on your wall. A CD that comes with the toy also gives kids a guided tour of the moon. And if the moon's not enough, you can bring in the planets with Uncle Milton's Solar System in My Room, or just stick with the Earth in My Room.
Giant Mars Volcano
Geek & Co. Science Line by Thames & Kosmos
The Geek & Co. Science Line of science kits for kids by Thames & Kosmos teaches tiny space fans how to create a model of a Martian volcano, grow crystals, build a music-making UFO and other science-minded activities. Our favorite is the Giant Mars Volcano ($18.21 on Amazon), because, well, Mars.
Why we love it: The best part of the Giant Mars Volcano kit is that it's science in action. Not only do you get to mold your own Olympus Mons, but you get to watch it explode, too. And if volcanoes aren't your bag, the sheer variety of different kits is sure to hold something any little will truly love.
Jedi Telescope by Uncle Milton
Uncle Milton has taken the classic viewfinder and given it a sci-fi twist with the Jedi Telescope ($19.98). Part of Uncle Milton's Star Wars Science series, it serves as both a basic hand-held spyglass for viewing far off objects, as well as viewfinder to glimpse Coruscant, Tatooine, Mustafar and some of the other more famous (or infamous) planets and spacecraft in the Star Wars Universe.
Why we love it: While essentially a toy, the Jedi Telescope comes with a booklet that compares Star Wars objects with their real-life counterparts. The Death Star is no moon, it's a space station. And the Jedi Telescope tells you that the International Space Station, while not moon-sized, does orbit the Earth 250 miles up.
GoldieBlox and the Builder's Survival Kit
GoldieBlox is a company on a mission. The organization has put out a series of toys designed to help girls get into math and engineering from a young age. Their biggie is Goldieblox and The Builder's Survival Kit ($54.48 on Amazon) which comes with more than 190 building pieces for various construction projects, and introduces her cranky cat Benjamin.
Why we love it: GoldieBlox building kits come with a storybook about the kit that encourages girls to invest in the story behind their project. And we've seen it work, too, as Space.com managing editor Tariq Malik's 5-year-old daughter can attest. The Dunk Tank project is one of several kits available, including a dunk tank ($18.22) spinning machine ($21.99), a parade float ($18.49), a movie machine ($29.99) and a new GoldieBlox action figure with a zip line ($24.99).
LEGO Benny's Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP!
"The LEGO Movie" entranced viewers of all ages, and now, space fans young and old can put together Benny's LEGO Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP (from $98.88 on Amazon) from the hit film. The 1980s blue spaceman helped save the day with his spaceship idea, and now, people everywhere can use their imaginations to build it themselves or any other spaceship, too.
Why we love it: This LEGO kit is a perfect combination of vintage and new LEGO space projects that can be a joy to build, as Space.com's Tariq Malik and his daughter found out. It's an EPIC build, so be prepared to spend at least a few hours at a time. It took us 12 hours over three days to assemble, but the result was totally worth it.
LittleBits Space Kit
The littleBits Space Kit ($199) may be a hefty price tag, but it aims are just as lofty: teaching small space fans how to create some amazing science through simple circuits. The kit has a series of instructions about how to build a Mars rover, explore light spectra and even create a basic satellite dish by attaching its modules to everyday items (like boxes or other items). The space kit has 12 modules that snap together to form the different space-themed builds, perfect for any little space explorer with a good imagination.
Why we love it: It's smart fun and approved by NASA scientists. At first we were a bit intimidated at the thought of working with circuits, but after our resident 5-year-old created an iPod speaker within minutes of opening the box, we got over it. There is also the littleBits Base Kit ($99) for starting out, and the littleBits Premium Kit for more in-depth projects.
Laser Pegs National Geographic Space 24-in-1
Why build one spaceship, when you can build 24? Laser Pegs National Geographic Space set packs 24 building block projects into one box, for hours of light-up brick play. The Space set is one of five Laser Pegs sets developed with National Geographic themed kits to foster interest in children in the sciences. Other kits include Oceans (6-in-1), Animals (12-in-1), Dinosaurs (24-in-1) and Landmarks & Archaeology (a whopping 30-in-1).
Why we love it: Laser Pegs like LEGO sets, offers kids a chance for creative expression while also emphasizing building acumen. Ensuring smooth connections between light-up Laser Pegs, in particular, shows how to complete circuits from power to light brick. And let's be honest, turning out the lights to see your creation shine is just plain cool.
Ozobot is a little robot that comes with a lot of fun options. Using Ozobot ($49.99), kids and families can play different games using tablets and the small toy. The robot is able to follow different colored lines on an iPad or other surfaces, rolling through mazes and tracing outlines of images.
What we like about it: Ozobot is a lot of fun for the while family. Games played with the robot can be cooperative or competitive, and all of them are spatially intriguing. The initial kit is a single-pack, but Ozobot also makes a Dual-Pack ($99.99) so you can race them against each other.
MiP from WowWee
While we're on the robot subject, if you're looking for a small automaton to drive around, then WowWee's MiP ($95.94) may be the 'bot for you. The small two-wheeled robot can follow hand gesture directions using its GestureSense technology and can be controlled via smartphone via a free remote control app compatible with iOS and Android.
Why we love it: MiP is not just a cute robot to drive around, it oozes personality with its sleek look and amazing tricks. The robot can dance, roam and drive up small inclines. It can even balance objects (even another MiP!) on a small tray (included). We loved MiP so much that it won the Robots category of our Space Age Toy Awards at Toy Fair this year
Oregon Scientific Smart Globe Star
Like Oregon Scientific's Smart Globe Earth, the Smart Globe Star ($99.74) lets kids explore the universe at the touch of a smart pen. Little astronomers can learn more about the 88 officially recognized constellations, the stars of the night sky and space facts with 30 activities designed to help kids learn.
Why we love it: With its eductational activities and 6 constellation games, Smart Globe Star is a great way for kids to learn more about the night sky and constellations in a fun, interactive way. As you'd except, it has internal lighting to display the constellations in the dark, and does glow on its own when the lights go out. But if Earth is more your bag, have no fear. Oregon Scientific's Smart Globe Horizon ($94.93) puts our home planet on center stage with 30 educational tasks covering everything from nation capitals to world leaders and different currency. It also syncs up with your computer for updates as needed.