Action figures and tiny vinyl statues are great for taking up work real estate and making employers question professionalism, but toys are meant to be played with. Here’s a selection of toy gifts that they won’t be able to keep their hands off. (Or something.)

Fifteen years ago I bought my stepfather, a huge baseball fan, a 12-inch Babe Ruth figure complete with cloth uniform and a plastic body far too slim to be Babe Ruth. He put it on a shelf in his office, and it hasn’t moved since. All of that articulation, wasted.

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Forget that nonsense. If you’re going to buy someone a toy for the holidays, get them something they’ll interact with. Better yet, get them something you both can play.

Here are a few choice suggestions.


Anki Overdive Starter Kit

Remember back when we were kids and we’d put together elaborate slot car tracks and watch little noisy cars whir from lane-to-lane in a circle for hours? Anki Overdrive is pretty much that, only the cars are fitted with tiny computers that allow them to drive themselves. Instead of joystick controllers you drive with your smartphone, controlling speed, lane position and weapons. Oh yeah, these cars have virtual weapons they use to destroy each other.

The Anki Overdrive Starter Kit contains a pair of cars and enough track to create eight different raceways. If the gift works out, new cars and track pieces make excellent birthday gifts.


View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack

The folks at View-Master get a head-start on the virtual reality age with a new version of its classic disc-based picture-viewing device that uses your cell phone to display full 360 degree virtual reality environments. At only $30 it’s one of the cheapest ways to experience virtual reality.

Grab one of three $15 VR packs—wildlife, space and famous landmarks—to further tailor the present to your giftee’s tastes.


LEGO Classic Creative Brick Box

Technically LEGO can sit on a desk, but first your present recipient is going to have to build something from the set. LEGO Classic packs available in a variety of sizes, contain a wide variety of pieces and a pamphlet of building suggestions.

My suggestion? Open the box, lose the pamphlet and reseal it. Where their mind is going they need no instructions.


PlayMation Marvel Avengers Starter Pack — Repulsor Gear

One of the coolest toys of the holiday season is a plastic replica of Iron Man’s forearm that talks to you and makes shooting noises. It uses the included bases to simulate enemies, sending you on virtual missions across the globe to beat up bad guys.

It sounds a little silly, but once you have that Iron Man gear on your arm it all makes sense. Your intended recipient won’t care that they look like a giant goofball—they’ll be having too much fun.


Stikbot Studio

Little plastic people with transparent bodies and suction cups for hands and feet? But Why? Stikbots are inexpensive little toy people built to get children of all ages into stop-motion animation. Using an app available for both Apple and Android devices, Stikbot owners can easily creation frame-by-frame animations of these little guys doing all sorts of things.

The Stikbot Studio comes with a pair of Stikbots to get started and a tiny tripod that’ll fit most cellphones. The figures may still wind up on a desk, but it’ll be a desk brimming with adventure.


Bounce-Off

Finally we have a gift for younger children who dream of going to college (parties) one day. Bounce-Off is a game where players take turns trying to bounce ping-pong balls into a grid in a specific pattern. Sound familiar?

It’s My First Beer Pong, no-beer edition. Of course there’s no reason beer couldn’t get involved anyway. I won’t tell you how to celebrate your holidays.


Contact the author of this post , who already has more than enough toys, at fahey@kotaku.com or find him on Twitter @bunnyspatial.