If you're like us, you're still out there looking for Christmas gifts, and one of our picks this holiday season is the Ugly Doll. These hip and huggable stuffed toys are favorites with many kids, ours included. They're not really ugly, even with their fangs, buck teeth, and missing eyes—they're actually pretty cute—and each one has its own distinct look, personality, and back story. Designed by a husband-and-wife artist team, these adorable and hilarious plush toys are even a hit with older kids who wouldn't be caught dead lugging around a teddy bear.
Ugly Dolls are available in a range of sizes, including clip-ons (about 4 inches tall, ideal for clipping to a backpack zipper pull, and perfect for a stocking stuffer), Little Uglys (about 7 inches), Classic (12 inches), and Jumbo (24 inches). Prices range from $6 to $40, depending on size and availability.
You'll find literally dozens of different Ugly Doll characters in different sizes, shapes, and colors, and part of the fun of shopping for them is trying to figure out which ones best fit your children's personalities. That's our ever-expanding team of Ugly Dolls in the photo above, hanging out on our living room sofa. From left to right: Gerry Berry, clip-on Ninja Batty Shogun, Little Ugly Suddy, Classic Brip, and clip-on Puglee .
Kids love games as holiday gifts (especially ones the entire family can play), and kids love LEGOs. Why not combine the two? LEGO games, produced by the world's favorite maker of interlocking plastic building bricks, do just that.
As you might expect, LEGO games are constructed of LEGO bricks. As with all LEGO sets, part of the fun is actually putting the games together, and part is playing them. Kids can also rebuild the games into different versions, or even make their own creations. You can even modify the included six-sided die to tweak the rules of your game.
Many of the LEGO games are German-style board games, which are designed and played differently from traditional American-style board games. These games emphasize short game play times (20 to 30 minutes, tops), repeatability, social interaction (nobody gets kicked out of the game, like in Monopoly, so everyone keeps playing), and the use of strategy to win. Because they're intended for an international audience, there are minimal reading requirements and words involved, except for the instructions. Feel free to modify the rules to your liking, too. We can vouch for the fact that LEGO games are a lot of fun!
Some of our favorite LEGO games include:
Creationary, which is similar to games like Pictionary, except instead of drawing you create things out of LEGO bricks
Ramses Pyramid, where you race to the top of an Egyptian pyramid, avoiding mummies along the way
How'd you like to have your very own dinosaur? Sounds neat, until you start thinking about all the details, not the least of which is that it's totally impossible, since dinosaurs have been extinct for millions of years. There is a way to have your own prehistoric pet, though, with Aquasaurs!
What are Aquasaurs? They're a commercial name for a water-dwelling creature with three eyes called a triops or tadpole shrimp (Triops longicaudatus). Triops have been around since the Devonian period, roughly 350 million years ago, and are still going strong in vernal pools and seasonal ponds in North America.