Scott’s Toy Box: Musical Christmas With Peanuts
In 1995 each of the members of my family got their own Christmas ornament. I know for some that’s tradition, but for us, it’s a rare occurrence. When time came for me to pick an ornament, I ran through the mall to Hallmark, and with the money my parents gave me, I picked out that year’s Charlie Brown. However, he was only one of a 5-ornament set. In 2000, I walked into Hallmark after Christmas, found that year’s Peanuts 5-ornament set for sale and snatched them all up in one swoop. Ever since then for me, Peanuts has always gone with Christmas and this Christmas is no exception. 2010 will be the 60th anniversary of Peanuts but you won’t have to wait until New Years to start celebrating.
Running Press has put out A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Kit. It comes with the book A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz, which tells the story of the TV special with the same name. It also comes with a bendable replica of Charlie Brown’s tree that stands 9 inches tall (unbent), the big red ornament and Linus’s blanket. This toy is great for any Peanuts fan and makes a great decoration for the holidays. It sells for $10.76 on Amazon.com.
The book Celebrating Peanuts: 60 Years will also be in stores for Christmas this year. This ultimate collection of Peanuts comics is sorted by decades and include many quotes from Charles Schulz that add flavor to the strips included. The book includes the strips that introduced Lucy, Schroeder, Franklin, and all the others from the most to least remembered. There are also some facts at the beginning of each section that expand on Peanuts’ history. If you love Peanuts but don’t own any Peanuts books, this is the book to buy. It’s well worth the $75 list price, but you can find it at Amazon.com for $40.50.
Ever heard of a Tri-Scoot? If not, it’s probably because I just made it up, but what I’m referring to is a three-wheeled scooter, much like Pulse’s Slither. It has two large fixed wheels in the front and a single wheel housed in a pivot-mounted swivel trunk in the back, much like the wheels of the Shred Sled I reviewed in October. Unlike the Shred Sled, the Slither is more for younger kids because of the stable front wheels and the low handle bar. Being 6 feet myself, I have to stoop over to ride on it. You’ll have to assemble it but it comes with all the tools you’ll need. Check for loose parts before you throw your box away. The handle bar pulls up and bends down for storing in smaller spaces. It runs for $69.99 on Pulse’s website, pulsescooters.com but can also be found in retail stores.
What all started with Lego Star War, has morphed into an unlikely combination: Lego Rockband. All the previous Lego video games have been based on movie franchises with familiar plotlines that you play with Lego people. So is this just a Lego-ized version of Rockband? Yes and No. The game play is still the same as Rockband 2. You watch the screen and sing the song karaoke-style or hit the notes on your guitar or drums. In Lego Rockband all the characters are customizable- not just your bandmates but your manager and entourage, too. The only problem I had with this was that their skintones weren’t changeable, so the face you want to use may end up being a different skintone on the hands of the shirt you wanted to wear, which is a minor complaint. The songs that you play reach a wide range of diversity so there are some songs that parents will know and difficulty ranges from super easy to expert. The game is rated E10+ (for everyone over 10) because of comic mischief, mild cartoon violence and mild lyrics, where most Rockband games are rated T (for teen) because of lyrics and suggestive themes, which is pretty much the difference between a movie being rated PG and PG-13. You can find Lego Rockband where video games are sold for about $50. Lego Rockband doesn’t come with the instruments, so make sure you have them and that they are compatible with the game.
Also out for Christmas, from the people that brought you Guitar Hero, is DJ Hero. DJ Hero is a different experience of gamplay set along the same lines drawn by Guitar Hero, the major different being you play a turntable instead of a guitar. The songs you play are mix-ups of two different tracks. They range from Bell Biv Devo’s “Poison” mixed with Cameo’s “Word Up” to Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” mixed with MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This. Play is similar to Guitar Hero, in that you press a button down at the right moment and on some songs you spin the turntable to scratch. There is a beginner mode that allows you to hit any button to get you into the hang of it and each level of difficulty adds challenge to the game. Two people can play which requires another turntable but there are some songs that you can play along with a guitar controller. The one minor complaint I have is that the DJs aren’t as customizable as they have been in the past. The DJ avitars are premade people with different options when it comes to clothing and equipment. I would have liked to create myself; however, this will probably change in other DJ Hero games down the line. DJ Hero is rated T (for teen) and goes for around $100 but the game comes with the turntable.
To round out this musical edition of the Toy Box, I bring you Disney’s Nintendo DS game Jonas. This game puts you in the shoes of the Jonas Brothers- you even get to pick which one you want to be. The game takes you through episodes of their television show, where you run through levels overcoming different obstacles by playing a guitar chord. Different chords do different things. One of the chords entitled Amped blasts a loud enough vibrations to wake up the other brothers or boost the power to closed doors. In each episode you also get to play along to one of the Jonas Brother’s songs using the directional pad and the stylus. The game is easy to play and will help kill time, but you won’t like it if you aren’t already a Jonas fan. It is rated E (for everyone) and sells for about $27.99 on Amazon.com.