- The Washington Times
Thursday, December 10, 2015

Here’s a selection of top gift ideas for “Star Wars” fans in the family.

The Force Trainer II: Hologram Experience (Uncle Milton, $119.99, requires 1 AAA battery, for ages 8 and older) – By far the coolest “Star Wars”-themed experience in the galaxy, this science-based, app-enabled game works with an iPad or Android tablet and melds concentration with EEG brainwave sensor technology to actually allow owners to manipulate objects without touching them.

Padawans put on a Bluetooth headset, download an app to their computer tablet, place the tablet on a translucent pyramid shaped monitor and the Force fun begins

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With guidance from Yoda, owners focus on famed Jedi moments that appear as animated monochromatic images (slightly three-dimensional) to advance through 10 different levels of training. That might mean lifting an X-Wing out of a Dagobah swamp, fighting a group of Battle Droids, escaping from a Wampa monster, or challenging Darth Vader and the Emperor.

Of course plenty of musical cues, familiar voices and sound effects from the famed movies enhance the action. Now, best of all, children can read about the brain science via the included brochure, and the app will be getting updates to expand training to include the new “Star Wars” film.

Parents should be forewarned: Be ready for some set-up time including app installation, tablet placement and assembling the pyramid-shaped base. So, I suggest building and then testing your Force powers way before Junior wakes up on Christmas morning. Why should children have all the fun?

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens Tin Tote (Vandor, $14) — So let’s call the container by its other alias, a lunch box, and appreciate the retro design featuring a metal latch closure and collapsible plastic handle.

Measuring 9 inches long and 7.5 inches tall and 3.5 inches deep, the front and back of the box displays a shiny, menacing portrait of the mysterious Dark Side devotee Kylo Ren with glowing red ligthtsaber drawn, while the sides of the lunch box showcase the movie’s logo.

Only caveat here, gift givers, is that the box is made of fairly fragile, dentable tin and is more for display purposes rather than stuffed into lockers or cracked open during school lunch period.

First Order Special Forces T.I.E. Fighter (Hasbro, $39.99, for ages 4 years old and older) — One of the Empire’s most versatile as well as lethal starfighters was resurrected and customized by the First Order to hunt down the Resistance. This 11-inch-tall version of the classic Twin Ion Engine craft offers young role players a scaled, faithful recreation, and it’s rugged enough for backyard dogfights.

The grey, black and red, two-seater features an expansive cockpit with opening canopy, projectile missiles, spring-loaded, detachable wings and rotating guns. An exclusive 3.75-inch-tall version of Poe Dameron, dressed in black pilot garb with a removable helmet and blaster, is also included.

Best part of this iconic “Star Wars” vehicle, my parental units? It requires no stickers.

Furbacca (Hasbro, $79.99, for ages 6 years old and older, requires 4 AA batteries) — A classic, interactive friend gets a “Star Wars” twist and will enthrall any human hanging out with it. Take the traditional Furby, add wild brown hair liberally, toss on a familiar brown bandolier and welcome a mutated version of Hans Solo’s co-pilot Chewbacca into the world.

This noisy furball, dances and unloads with plenty of Wookiee roars and complaints as owners pet his head, rub his belly, tug on his tail and speak to him to elicit a variety of responses.

Usually, that’s more than enough fun, but now Hasbro tosses in a “Star Wars”-themed app (iPad or Android), and Furbacca interacts with the tablet computer.

Our furry friend can now take a kind of bizarre shower (using an onscreen lightsaber nozzle), try out foods and even assist in blasting probe droids with Chewie’s bowcaster weapon.

The app also features hatching and taking care of virtual Furblings (baby Furbys) themed to the “Star Wars” universe — including versions of Han, Princess Leia, Yoda, Darth Vader and Kylo Ren.

Owners collect Furbucks as they feed (at a Cantina juice bar), wash and groom (in the Bespin carbonite-freezing chamber) their new friends to unlock more eggs.

I dare any member of the First Order or Resistance to not smile at Furbacca’s antics.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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