Los Angeles is awash in designer vinyl toys, but fans of postwar Japanese classic flicks like De-stroy All Monstersflock to Anime Jungle for old-schoolkaiju needs. It stocks Kikaider DVDs, Ultraman masks, and perfectly rendered models of every irradiated beast that ever laid waste to Tokyo. The ideal gift for the obsessive who has everything? A limited-edition Godzilla diorama that goes for $2,400.» 319 E. 2nd St., Ste. 103 , Little Tokyo, 213-621-1661 or anime jungle.net.
For 1:16-scale replicas of everything from cow trailers to concrete mixers to farm equipment, nothing beats a Bruder. The German toy company makes diminutive vehicles with details that put a Tonka to shame (working suspensions and jacks, steerable axles).Three Cheeky Monkeys carries dozens of them, including the Grimme SE 75-30, a potato harvester with moving conveyor belts and imitation spuds. » 10800 W. Pico Blvd., Ste. 264 , West L.A., 310-470-7060.
When an LAPD detective blasted the Homies figurines in 1999 for supposedly glorifying la vida loca, retail stores pulled them from their shelves. One hundred and twenty million toys later, the two-inch tributes to the neighborhood friends of artist David Gonzales—Big Loco, Eight-Ball, Smiley, et al., in all their baggy-pants-and-bandanna glory—are charming kids and adults. » Available at Wacko, 4633 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz, 323-663-0122 or wacko.com.
Made of smooth, curved birch by a Swedish furniture company, the Svan Scooter seems more like a sculpture than a plaything. The minimalist vehicle—a 13-inch-wide strip of wood bent into a zigzag that allows kids to sit comfortably while propelling themselves with their feet—is high art, toddler style. The design emporium Yolk sells this museum-quality piece alongside imports from Germany, Denmark, and Peru. » 1626 Silver Lake Blvd. , Silver Lake, 323-660-4315 or yolk-la.com.
Peruvian Finger Puppets
Your kid wants to see elephants at the zoo; you want him to play by himself at home. Compromise by buying him Peruvian hand-knit finger puppets from the Craft and Folk Art Museum gift shop. Among the colorful characters are monkeys, fish, bears, birds, bees, and a dozen more creatures, each about four inches tall. It’s a zoo on your fingertips, without the crowds, parking fees, or wild animal escapes. » 5814 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., 323-937-4230 or cafam.org.