- The Washington Times - Friday, December 11, 2015

Here’s a selection of top gift ideas for young superhero fans in the family.

Create a Story: Avengers (Colorforms, $9.99, for ages 3 years old and older)Older fans of classic toys can now introduce youngsters to the wonders of vinyl stick-ons with the return of the over 60-year-old Colorforms’ brand.

In this case, a roughly 12-inch-long easel allows artists to place 48 reusable stickers of classic Marvel Comics’ illustrations of Thor, Iron Man, Nick Fury, the Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Captain America and Falcon, along with vehicles, on three cityscapes and in Avengers headquarters. Users can configure an infinite amount of two-dimensional masterpieces.

The very portable set even allows a tethered character to move across a background and should keep Junior plenty busy during the long ride to Grandma’s house.

Ninja Control Leonardo (Playmates, $59.99, for ages 4 and older, 3 AAA batteries required, 4 AA batteries included) — The elder leader of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comes to sword-wielding life in the form of a moving, swinging, talking, head-twisting and belching, almost 14-inch-tall figure that is ready for action.

Leo gets a pair of removable, soft plastic Katana blades to fit into his fists. With help from a multidirectional, infrared remote control, owners can use a pair of toggle sticks to roll him back and forth and even spin him 360 degrees.

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Better yet, tap one of the three action-sequence buttons to unleash the moves “Sliced and Shredded” (high-speed spins), “Katana Crackdown” (aggressive forward attack) or “Bot-Bashing Blade” (swinging blades).

He’ll shout phrases and sound effects during his attacks, or press the button on his belt to hear 40 in total, such as “prepare to feel my blade of justice” and “it’s Turtle Time” between sword clinking and noises tied to gastrointestinal distress.

Batman vs The Joker Imagineering Set (Lionel, $49.99, for ages 2.5 years old and older)A legendary railroad model brand teams up with DC Comics to offer youngsters an unusual take of an epic superhero and villain conflict. It’s the Dark Knight challenging the Clown Prince of Crime on the rails. They each control an engine with a connected gondola car and manually race around 6 feet of track to ram into each other.

Besides the train cars, the very kid-friendly, imagination-fueled set features four curved and six straight track pieces to assemble, and the Joker’s Joke Shop that looks suspiciously like a sawmill. A child pushes a red log-looking piece of plastic through the Shop and it turns into a block with the Batmobile or Jokermobile displayed on it.

Best part of this introduction to trains is the wonderful colors of the pieces, especially the Joker’s engine with vivid greens and purples, and the cartoony illustrations of the lead characters throughout.

Interactive Hulk Buster (Hasbro, $34.99, ages 5 years and older, requires 3 AA batteries included) — The best battle of the movie “Avengers: Age of Ultron” featured a rampaging Hulk versus Tony Stark wearing a powerful set of crimson and gold armor built to try and take down the Green Goliath. Dubbed appropriately the Hulk Buster, it’s now an imposing, talkative, 13-inch-tall, mildly articulated figure and one heck of a gift for younger fans and even Marvel collectors.

With the press of a chest button, its repulsor beam lights up, and it offers either a sound effect or line of dialogue, such as “Bruce, it’s time to calm down,” or “Avengers, assemble.” Next, press a button on its upper arm to let loose with an impressive jackhammer punch and another repulsor blast.

As part of Marvel’s “Avengers Titan Hero Tech” line-up, the figure also verbally interacts with other Titan figures such as Captain America, Ultron, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk. For example, have the Hulk Buster face Thor and he’ll offer assurance and commands, such as “Thor, you’ve got the power, I’ve got the tech” and “Thor, lightening strike, there, now!”

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