Looking for the book/toy equivalent of quirky youtube videos
November 16, 2018 4:56 AM   Subscribe

Looking for Xmas presents for my two kids and hoping to find something they will find cool and will surprise them.

Of course they are addicted to youtube, particularly vids featuring slime, stimming videos and ones all about curious facts and fan theories, optical illusions, magic, easter eggs (the hidden injokes, not the chocolate ones), plotholes and general (non-scary) weirdness.

Would welcome any ideas for books/toys/posters/food etc etc that are in a similar vein, or anything else that is kind of cool/quirky in a similar way and makes you go 'huh'. We are in the UK but US stuff is fine, because I may well be able to find it or something similar.

posted by low_horrible_immoral to Shopping (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Klutz press had great activity books for this back in the 90s. It looks like they've been eaten by scholastic but they still offer some neat things along these lines: here
posted by Wretch729 at 5:52 AM on November 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

The Grand Illusions website is full of quirky and unusual toys, many of which have appeared in their YouTube videos.
posted by pipeski at 6:26 AM on November 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Extending from Klutz, your question immediately made me think of my very favorite Klutz book when I was a kid: Earthsearch by John Cassidy. You can get it on eBay and elsewhere pretty inexpensively.

Ostensibly a "geography" book, it defines geography as "everything from the tip of your nose going out". Its facts about things like the world population are naturally a bit outdated (it was published in 1994) but I would guess it still holds up well. It's not just a collection of facts -- it's really the kid equivalent of those hip thinky books fior grownups, with whole insights about history and human life today.

Unfortunately none of the existing copies I can find seem have the attached items/toys that it originally came with. But I bet there's a more recently published book in the same spirit.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:08 AM on November 16, 2018

How old are your children? My 11-year-old niece with these general interests really liked the Oatmeal comic books, like How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You. They do have quite a bit of adult content so you would have to think about whether you and your children are ok with that.

You could also buy slime from the specific Youtube slimers, if they sell it - I did this a couple of years ago and although it was very expensive (postage from the US), it was a hit.

And books with things to find might scratch the same sort of itch - such as The Big Book of Fantasy Quests.
posted by paduasoy at 7:11 AM on November 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

My kids (and I) enjoyed this 3d maze puzzle
posted by crocomancer at 7:42 AM on November 16, 2018

If they like weird facts, the Ripley's Believe It Or Not books are great. My kids love them.
posted by belladonna at 7:54 AM on November 16, 2018

I'm an elementary school librarian, and National Geographic's "Weird but True" books are by far the top seller in my library. They come in a variety of flavors, from totally random assortments of facts (Weird but True 9 or whatever) to topic-specific books on, say, presidents or animals or news stories etc. They're pretty great.

Also the good old DK Eyewitness books, if you're looking for something a bit more traditionally educational :)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 8:19 AM on November 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

I ordered Kanoodle, a 2D and 3D puzzle with lots of variations, for my 12 year old YouTube obsessed but somewhat brainy niece, and she really enjoyed it.
posted by MillyMath at 8:34 AM on November 16, 2018

I have a 12 year old who has begged me for a bunch of stuff from this website over the last year: https://www.vat19.com. They've got bacon popcorn, micro magnets, plasma balls, 3D MC Escher mirror puzzles, indoor blowgun sets, Japanese food erasers, medieval weapons push pins, giant gummy worms, all kinds of useless crap kids would love to find under the tree. I haven't actually ordered from the website because we're in Canada and I can't face paying the duties across the border for a giant gummy worm.
posted by Cuke at 8:57 AM on November 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

My kids like be the No such thing as a fish podcast and I'm going to get them a book or two from here

I also got tickets for Alex Clark's tour he is a youtuber
posted by Ftsqg at 9:12 AM on November 16, 2018

I'll 2nd Vat19. My 13-year-old has similar YouTube tastes and he LOVES VAT19. I think he first found out about them by watching videos on their YouTube channel. He got the giant gummy worm for Christmas last year.
posted by Otis at 12:26 PM on November 16, 2018

A classic gyroscope toy, with the weighted wheel inside a circular frame, a string to spin it with and the little cone to stand it on seems to me a perennial classic of this sort of toy.

For more general ideas, since you're in the UK, Hawkin's Bazaar has always been a good resource for this sort of thing.

Unfortunately the site rather suggests they've given into commercialisation and have more branded stuff and less of the huge array of bizarre and quirky widgets which used to make their pre-christmas physical catalogue seem like a tome of incredible dreams to a young Dext, but there's still some good stuff on there (even if annoyingly divided into "for boys" and "for girls").
posted by Dext at 10:08 PM on November 16, 2018

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