- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 14, 2019

Here’s a selection of top gift ideas for role-playing heroes in the family.

Giggle Blaster (Alpha Group, for ages 6 and older, $19.99, requires 2 AAA batteries included) – Perhaps the oddest of items tied to SpongeBob SquarePants’ 20th anniversary celebrations is a 10-inch-long, yellow-red-blue-and-green pistol with a noisy attitude that looks like a transformation of the famed porifera.

Obviously the weapon of choice for Bikini Bottom, owners load up the canister of included silly string, use the rotating working periscope to set sights on opponents and pull the trigger to unleash the gooey hurt and hear for the pop icon.

He’ll cry out “I’m ready,” or “Let’s get messy,” or “You can’t hide from me” as bubble sound effects accompany his vocalizations, or he makes silly noises and giggles as one would expect.

In total, expect variations on 15 phrases and sounds in one of the more fun gifts of the year.

Zombie Strike Revoltinator (Hasbro, for ages 8 and older, $49.99, requires 4 AA batteries) – Role-players in need of battling a horde of the undead now have help with this generously sized, 29-inch-long, neon-green-and-orange semi-automatic, fly wheel rifle with the capacity to shoot 18 hollow-tipped Nerf darts in a row with rapid-fire blasting action.

Owners tap or hold down a lower trigger to display either a glowing wheel near the handle with circular spinning lights (simulating revving up the weapon), or fire up four electrodes on the barrel of the gun, sizzling and glowing blue.

Pull the main trigger to fire the darts easily at 60 feet per second as a laser-like pulse moves along the barrel accompanied by a blaster sound effect.

Features include a large, attachable magazine that holds all of the included darts and (compatible with other Zombie Strike weapons), an access door to clear jams and an overall industrial tech design.

It’s the perfect weapon for those in love with any of the video game iterations of “Call of Duty: Zombies.”

Additionally, two tactical rails allow owners to customize the rifle blaster with Zombie Strike accessories such as an optical sight (sold separately).

X-Shot Ninja Turbo Strike (Zuru, for ages 8 and older, $39.99, requires 3 AA batteries) – Inspired by a warrior from the popular video game “Fortnite,” this 22-inch-high capacity weapon comes with an auto-rotating barrel to shoot 20 Nerf-like darts and features the innovative “Slam-Fire” rapid-shot technology to unleash a stream of projectiles.

With a roughly 85-feet-per-second shot speed, the blue-and-orange blaster has a button-activated, pop-up tactical sight and extra dart storage around the barrel.

The Turbo Strike comes with 48 darts, a Ninja dog tag and three, 1/2 cut cans for practice targets that can connect together.

Dino Smashers Epic Egg (Zuru, for ages 4 and older, $24.99) – Here’s a great idea for budding paleontologists in the family. A roughly foot-tall orange egg just beckons to be smashed to reveal a sealed egg yoke bag filled with more than two dozen goodies.

The stuff includes packs of Fizzy Lava, Fossil Rock, Ice Age Putty, Dino Dirt, Glowing Slime, a plastic pickax, six mini, smashable eggs and a stand to reassemble or display the mini eggs.

With help from an included map, owners go on a treasure hunt as they scratch off icons revealing clues that align with the revealed goodies.

Each substance contains hidden dinosaur bones that need to be extracted to ultimately construct a slightly complex skeleton of either a brontosaurus, triceratops or Tyrannosaurus rex.

The mini eggs also contain mini dinosaurs that can be used as pencil toppers.

Also available for young girls is a massive Rainbocorns Ultimate Surprise Egg ($24.99) that requires smashing to reveal a plush, scented creature with a magical, sequined tummy and 10 layers revealing more goodies including, wait for it, Rainbocorn poop.

Motormouth Mikey (Playmates, for ages 4 and older, $19.99) — Still around after three decades in comic books, films and cartoons, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continue to battle the evil Shredder and his minions while protecting their beloved New York City.

Playmates’ Babble Heads line offers two of the turtles — Loudmouth Leo and Motor Mouth Mikey. These 5-inch-tall, too-cute, compacted versions of the heroes boast head, eye and mouth movements and sensors in their chest, head and hands (weapons sensitive) that unleash more than 50 sound effects and phrases.

Mikey comes with an orange nunchuck and has been know to retort when tapped “welcome to the sewer squad,” “all right, ya little mischief maker, what’s the plan?” “can we get some pizza?” and appreciating a Cowabunga-inspired high-five or letting loose with an occasional digestive noise.

Also look for the less interactive but all action figure, 4-inch-tall versions of the “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” lineup with characters dressed in a wrestling motif.

Wrestling Mikey ($8.99) is especially noteworthy for his large tuft of white hair on his head (think Troll doll), and he comes with a pair of 1.5-inch-tall Connectable Nano Clix turtle figures.

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