We thought gas masks and goggles were creepy until we discovered the HazMaPo series by UNKL Brand ($20, Missing Link Toys, 3314 SE Belmont St., 235-0032, and other locations), a line of adorable little nuclear-waste-shoveling vinyl toys with bulbous heads and silver balls for hands. Creepy-cute is in lately, and these little guys are the epitome of the style. Keep 'em in your bedroom to freak your parents out on their next visit.
Don't Call Him No F-ing "Doll"
GI Joe isn't punk; the Sex Pistols are punk! Bollocks up your room with a 12-inch Sid Vicious Real Action Hero figure ($169.95, Compound/Just Be Toys, 107 NW 5th Ave., 796-2733), dressed in Sid-authentic imitation leather pants and jacket and wielding a scale-model bass guitar. It's got attitude, unlike most action toys (including anything Mr. Rotten could dream up). And the best part? You just know this would really piss Sid off. If he were still alive, that is.
The Speedy Rocket Tin Racer
Reenact the Speed Racer cartoon across your floor with the Speedy Rocket Tin Racer ($6.50, SpielWerk, 7956 SE 13th Ave., 736-3000). It has friction-powered wheels, a motor that clacks and an antique look to scoot.
If there's one thing we've learned in this life, it's that there are occasions when a normal ventriloquist's dummy just isn't enough. That's why we recommend the Carol Channing ventriloquist's doll ($34.99, JC Penney, 9500 SW Washington Square Road, Tigard, 620-0750), a red-clad, 3-foot model of everyone's favorite older-than-dirt, muppet-mouthed, musically challenged actress. You wouldn't believe how she's improved our closed-lipped performances of "It Takes a Woman."
Luddite For Beginners
Not a fan of life in the future? Check out Gobblet ($29.95, Bridgetown Hobbies and Games, 3350 NE Sandy Blvd., 234-1881), a hybrid of Go and checkers that comes in a handsome wooden box—ours still stank of finish—that could have come right out of the 19th century. The goal of the fast-paced game is to line up four of the stacking wooden pieces through clever placement and "gobble" your opponent's pieces. While the hours away under your gaslight, and curse modernity for not producing enough toys like this!
Nirvana by the Numbers
Six years out, it is high time the '90s became fair fodder for shameless nostalgia. There's already a Trivial Pursuit edition for the Clinton years; now there's Let's Paint the '90s! ($12.95, Borders Express, Pioneer Place, 700 SW 5th Ave., 274-2728). Complete with watercolors and a brush, this set from Chronicle Books lets you color all the high points, from O.J.'s high-speed chase to Tonya Harding's thuggery on the ice (she's never looked better!).
Portland crafter Jenn Hill is on to something—her Chet and Dot stuffed animals ($18, Crafty Wonderland's Holiday Bazaar, Saturday, Dec. 10 & 17. Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., 231-9663; also online at chetanddot.etsy.com) tap into the primal desire to snuggle small, soft things. The button-eyed cats and perplexed-looking birds are cute enough to crack even the coldest of hearts. Unless you're a soulless monster, of course.
They'll Knock Your Block Off
There are creepy robots, and then there are aggressive fighting bots. The Sumo Robot Kit ($59.95, OMSI Science Store, 1945 SE Water Ave., 797-4626) lets you build a mean-ass little automaton that uses an infrared beam to find opponents, and then attempts to bash them into submission. Buy two, and they'll grapple until one emerges victorious. Teach basic robotics and violent wrestling at the same time!
God, I love living in the 21st century! All the flying cars, helpful robots and laser-powered toys...well, at least we have the laser toys. Khet ($49.99, MudPuddles Toys & Books, 16420 SW Langer Drive, Sherwood, 625-7699), formerly known as Deflexion, is an Egyptian-themed board game in which players attempt to zap each others' pharaohs by maneuvering mirrored pieces. Think chess, only with lasers, and in the FUTURE!
The Plants Are All Right
Flowers are boring. Grow something with some teeth with Carnivorous Creations, ($25, Finnegan's, 922 SW Yamhill St., 221-0306), a kit that gives you everything you need to cultivate over 10 varieties of man-eating (well, bug-eating) plants: a miniature greenhouse, potting soil, fertilizer and all the seeds you could want. Give your home that Little Shop of Horrors Seymour-eating touch it's been missing, and take care of the fruit flies at the same time.
My Li'l Pyro
Dear every sicko who has enjoyed jamming Barbie heads onto X-Men bodies: Rejoice, because now there is a legitimate outlet for your most base urges. The Li'l Boys' Club (First and Last Thursdays and at Southeast 49th Avenue and Holgate Street, other Thursdays, myspace.com/lilboysclub) has regular burn-offs to fit between the AA meetings and all those stupid, hassling counselors. And maybe you'll even score some green...I mean, hard-earned cash for your art.
Pardon the eruption
When you combine earth, fire and water, it kind of looks like bubble tea. Nature's Fire ($29.95, The Sharper Image, Pioneer Place, 700 SW 5th Ave., 228-4110) is like a lava lamp-induced trip on tapioca pearls. It's a wonderful gift to furthur the brains of young scientists.
Web only Buh-Bye, Pacemaker
There isn't a kid in the world who doesn't take joy in scaring the bejesus out of parents, teachers and anyone else with functioning vocal cords. Empower a devilish child with the Remote Control Mexican Redknee Tarantula ($24.95, Discovery Channel Store, Pioneer Place, 700 SW 5th Ave., 222-0015), a terrifying, life-sized animatronic spider that "scurries on any flat, smooth surface." It's just the thing for wreaking havoc at the nursing home.
YoshimI Battles the Cardboard Robots
It's just a small box of thin cardboard, but it transforms into a small robot (CardBoy, $6.99, The Missing Link, 3314 SE Belmont St., 235-0032) with indestructible cuteness.
In ancient times, a little puzzle determined who would be the next ruler of the world. Now a game based on the fabled Gordian Knot ($9.95, Thinker Toys, 7784 SW Capitol Highway, 245-3936) is just the thing for kids who aspire to become Alexander the Great.
The Eames Toy
Industrial designers need toys, too. But the toys have to be cooler than the rest. Designer Chairs Vol. 1 ($8.99, Just Be Complex, 107 NW 5th Ave., 796-2733) contains miniature replicas of chairs designed by Herman Miller, among others.
TABLE OF CONTENTS: Introduction | Toys, Gadgets & Gizmos | Books, Stationery & Ephemera | Outdoors | Entertainment: Music & DVDS | Fashion | Food & Drink | Furnishings | Pets | Sacred & Profane | Stocking Stuffers