What's that, Aunt Ocherdraco? Why, nephew, it's a Phee!
January 13, 2014 9:16 PM   Subscribe

My not quite two year old nephew is fascinated by lights. He calls them phee, which is adorable. I discovered today that he is so fascinated with them that he enjoyed watching me, via webcam, blink on and off the plain white led on my phone. I have a feeling that if I were to amass a small arsenal of brightly colored, differently blinking—dare I say it?—color-changing and/or blink-speed-coordinating lights, I would be favorite auntie for at least fifteen minutes at a go. (Which is a long time for a toddler!) My requirements within.

I would like to have A) lots of lights, which B) can be turned on and off very easily, are C) cheap, D) handheld, E) require little to no assembly, and F) can provide lots of visual variety while being viewed on a video call like FaceTime or Google Hangouts. Ideally I'd spend about $25 (as his whims could suddenly change, and I'm a pretty cash-strapped student), but I'd be willing to spend up to $50 if that's what it costs to get more than a couple magical blinky lights.

What is the ideal blinkylights emporium for someone with my needs?
posted by ocherdraco to Grab Bag (19 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
One of these things enraptured my son for weeks. I'm not sure exactly where ours came from but I often see them at dollar stores or in the cheap toy/party favor bins at Target, Toys R Us etc. They cost about a dollar and apparently last forever because I recently found ours at the bottom of a bin after being forgotten for several years and it still works.
posted by jamaro at 9:27 PM on January 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

It might be too late to catch the after-christmas sales, but it sounds like you could find your arsenal at a christmas-lighting store:

Here's the very first hit at Amazon for "LED Christmas lights": under five bucks, delivered... I'm sure they'll have more.

"Super bright and perfect decoration for party, room, garden, home and Christmas. Total 100 led light string. Every string has 8 different modes: combination, in waves, sequential, slogs lo, chasing/flash, slow fade, twinkle/flash, and steady on."
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 9:30 PM on January 13, 2014

here is the thing that you want
posted by bq at 9:31 PM on January 13, 2014

"Rave Gloves"

I'm 29, and when my friend's little brother brought these out in broad daylight while we were all fully sober it was like being a toddler (or on MDMA, same thing).
posted by cmoj at 9:37 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

The "LED Gem Ring" at cmoj's link looks cool too and is only a few dollars.
posted by XMLicious at 10:03 PM on January 13, 2014

I bet he'd love the NodeBeat app... it's on Android I know, not sure about iPhone. It's blinky/glowing moving lights plus music on the screen, and you can change it by moving it.
posted by stormyteal at 10:41 PM on January 13, 2014

I'd like to suggest the LED inside bouncy ball toys, they are fun, BUT these little thingies are so much fun: they flash when they move, a shimmering double handful of tiny flashing lights. I have some!
posted by Kaleidoscope at 12:21 AM on January 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

One of these!

It's a solar powered rainbow maker on a suction cup, that you stick to the window and it spins, spraying rainbows around the room when the sun strikes it. We bought one for our daughter when she was born. We still have one facing west, one east, and one in our daughter's room.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:12 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think the answer here is finger lights from your local party store.
posted by rabidsegue at 4:45 AM on January 14, 2014

For extreme cheapness, this sort of thing is great. It's a sort of battery powered fan with soft foam blades. The LEDs light up in changing patterns and produce a variety of different effects. They always seem to sell them at fairs and outdoor markets here in the UK, but I'd imagine they're widely available.
posted by pipeski at 4:50 AM on January 14, 2014

For even more extreme cheapness, do you have a light that works on a dimmer in your house (often in dining rooms, for example)? Playing with that --- sometimes fast! sometimes slow! then fast again! --- will usually thrill the dickens out of small kids.
posted by easily confused at 5:08 AM on January 14, 2014

A PRISM! the simple klutz prism I have from when I was very small still gets placed on the window sill of every apartment I've rented and is now great entertainment for my phee-crazed cat.
posted by ghostbikes at 6:33 AM on January 14, 2014

I got these funky blinking chicks ( flashing light video warning) at the drugstore (Duane Reade) around easter last year. They are soft nubbly rubber that you can squeeze and stretch, and blink for about a minute when you jostle them. I think they were under $2 a piece, and came in multiple colors.
posted by kimdog at 7:55 AM on January 14, 2014

Response by poster: For app purposes, let me note that my phone is an Android.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:28 AM on January 14, 2014

We used LED lapel pins at fundraisers to identify staff (I don't know where we bought them, sorry). Amazon has some. The ones we used had a steady and a flashing setting and were held on with magnets and powered by a button battery.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:02 AM on January 14, 2014

This is a string of 50 color changing LEDs.
I have a strange obsession with LED holiday lights, and got a set of these this year. They are pretty cool - maybe a little too much flashing, but I don't care.
posted by bonofasitch at 1:16 PM on January 14, 2014

Your nephew sounds like an ideal candidate for the LED shoes which I inquired about in 2005.
posted by Rash at 4:34 PM on January 14, 2014

When I think blinking lights and kids, I think Simon. He's a little too young to play it properly, but not too young for you to play it for/with him. And no one is ever too young to just hit the buttons and see them light up and make fun sounds.

Man, I loved that game when I was a little kid.
posted by decathecting at 5:23 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions! I hope to implement them soon!
posted by ocherdraco at 9:44 PM on January 14, 2014

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