?Today’s list was suggested by Gruntforglory, one of the winners of the TR Daily List Suggestion Contest!
With apologies to Whitney Houston, children aren’t out future — nerd children are our future: teach them well, and just get out of the way. But how to ensure that a child proceeds down the righteous path of the geek? Like any complex process, it starts early — with the toys.
There are some obvious candidates in this area. The tried and true: Star Wars action figures and vehicles, anything Masters of the Universe, Transformers and G.I. Joe, Barbie DC heroines, or whatever the modern equivalent of the D&D Basic Set might be this month. But almost all of those are for kids aged 5 and older. If you want to make a true nerd, you’ve got to start earlier than that — and any parent interested in their child’s nerd potential should pay serious attention.
Here, then, are some very good ways to begin investing in any child’s future nerd quotient as soon as they pop out of the womb.
10) Giant Plush RPG Dice
?Nothing tells an infant “I will make you a nerd whether you like it or not” better than a massive plush RPG die in his or her crib. Toy Vault has a variety of plush dice from d4s to d20s over at their website. We suggest the d20, that way your baby can roll a Saving Throw to see if he or she will have a first kiss anytime before a clumsy drunken encounter at Gen-Con.
9) Young Mad Scientist Alphabet Blocks, 6 mos.+
?Babies have learned their letters from wooden blocks for hundreds of years, but only now can nerd parents purchase blocks that depict mad scientist-friendly terms like F is for Freeze Ray, M is for Maniacal, O is for Organs and P is for Peasants (with Pitchforks). You can purchase these from ThinkGeek, and let the words and phrases nestle snugly into your infant’s subconsciousness.
8) Batman Sounds and Lights Trike, 2-5
?Trikes, karts and Big Wheels are perennial kids’ favorite, but there’s nothing intrinsically nerdy about them. Unless, of course, you buy the Batman-branded one, and then tell your kids they have to go out and fight crime if they want dinner. Or you can go one step further and have yourselves gunned down in an alley after they see a movie with you.
7) Hasbro “Heroes” Figures, 3 yrs.+
?They’re really just little static plastic figurines — the sort of stuff that you used to get in a cereal box, back when cereal boxes boasted prizes that didn’t consist primarily of suck. But even while intended for toddlers, Hasbro’s various Heroes line are pretty much the ultimate action figure line. Think about it — they include Star Wars figures, Marvel superheroes (shown above), G.I. Joe, Transformers and even Indiana Jones characters, all in the same scale and style! They have vehicles and giant figures! And despite being for little kids, they’ve included insane characters like Slave Leia, Booze-Serving R2-D2, the Ghost from the Ark of the Covenant, the genocidal Nazi Red Skull, the wife-beating Ultimate Giant-Man, and more. We guarantee that there are plenty of nerd parents who had a kid just for an excuse to buy these things — and we don’t blame ’em.
6) Dismember Me Plush Zombie, 3+
?Young children can be whirling dervishes of rage, so you might as well find them a safe way to channel that — by killing zombies. Not just any zombie, but this adorable (and kind of ghastly) zombie plush toy from ThinkGeek. Kids can rip off his arms, legs, head and his brain, and even tear him in two… although his adorable entrails keep those halves from totally separating. Then they can put him back together to destroy again and again. Plus, your child learns a valuable lesson that even if you kill one zombie, there are always more zombies — an important lesson at any age.
5) Fisher-Price Super Friends Toyline
?Don’t want to infect your DC-adoring child with any of Hasbro’s heathen Marvel Superhero Squad toys? Mattel’s Fisher-Price line has you covered. While not nearly as robust as the Superhero Squad — it consists mostly of Batman, his Rogues Gallery, and a few Superman characters — it does have the massive and totally awesome Batcave playset above. Also, the Brave and the Bold toyline has a few mini-figures that would play well here, or even — god forbid — with the Marvel figures.
4) Albert Einstein Action Figure, 3+
?Accoutrements makes a wide variety of action figures based on authors, literary figures and important scientists. But while you probably don’t want to deal with the ramifications of giving your child a Sigmund Freud figure, their Albert Einstein can only be an inspiration. Also, he has fuzzy hair. Hee hee!
3) Disgusting Science, 4+
?Science Kits are few and far between these days, although there are a few Mythbusters-themed sets that nerd parents should probably look into. However, the closest thing to a sure bet in the science kit category is Scientific Explorer’s Disgusting Science set, which allows kids to make mold, bacteria and learn how and why people fart. If your kid doesn’t want to know why people fart, you should probably take them to a doctor.
2) Leapfrog Leapster2 Learning System, 4-8
?Yes, Leapfrog’s Leapster system is very educational, but that’s not why we selected it as a way to make your child a nerd. Yes, it also has plenty of games based on Star Wars, beloved cartoons like SpongeBob SquarePants and more, but that’s not why we selected it either. We selected it because it gets your child used to having videogames and a videogame console, which will be an entertainment addiction that should last them the rest of their nerd lives.
1) Star Wars Lightsabers, 4+
?If you do not get your child a toy lightsaber for his or her 4th birthday — which is the first day Hasbro recommends they can play with one — you have failed as a nerd parent.