Everything You Need to Know About Buying Holiday Gifts for Kids Who Love Disney's Planes Movie
My credentials for writing this guide include:
- Did I mention I saw the movie Planes twice in the theater with my then three, now four year old son? I did.
- I have read the Planes book approximately 600 times with my four year old. He has now basically memorized it and reads it to himself which I absolutely love listening to.
- We own approximately 30 Planes toys (no exaggeration) and I have thoroughly researched the ones we don't have to find the best ones to surprise my son with for Christmas.
- I am cheap and love to find the best deals on toys and gifts.
Disney's Planes Movie - A Cheat Sheet
This article is geared for anyone looking to buy gifts for kids who love the recent Disney/Pixar Planes movie. I realize that not everyone has seen this movie twice in the theater, as I have. I wonder if I am the only 34 year old to have seen this movie twice in the theater, come to think of it. But that is neither here nor there.
In the box, I have laid out my credentials - go take a look. Ok, now that you have some basis for trusting me, I will relay all you need to know about the Planes movie.
The Plot: (Disclaimer: If you are three or four and have not seen the movie, read no further. If you can't yet read, like my four year old, this will make this easier).
- In a completely new direction in film-making this is an underdog story. Dusty Crophopper is a cropduster plane who dreams of being a racing champion. He trains on his own after work and makes it into the Wings Around the Globe Rally - a race around the world. He is also scared of heights.
- Dusty's friends in his hometown of Propwash Junction help him train (including his pit crew, Dottie, his gas truck friend Chug, and an old fighter plane, Skipper).
- Once the race starts, he meets various other planes, including Chupacabra, from Mexico who wears a mask and a cape, Bulldog from England, and Ishani from India. Ripslinger is the defending champion and a total bad guy. He even has two henchmen, Zed and Ned. He tries to sabotage Dusty in various ways throughout the race.
- At various points in the race Dusty helps out the other planes, even at some disadvantage to himself.
- Towards the end, Dusty runs out of fuel and is and rescued by planes who used to fly with Skipper. He finds out that Skipper actually only flew one mission and then was scared to fly again because he had lead all his trainees to their deaths. Dusty and Skipper then have to work out some trust issues.
- After Dusty leaves the rescue planes, he flies into a big storm and is badly damaged. All the planes who he has helped along the way give him spare parts, and his friends from Propwash Junction come to Mexico to help him prepare for the last leg of the race.
- Ripslinger tries one last time to knock Dusty out of the sky, but Skipper comes to help out, and Dusty escapes. He faces his fear of heights and flies above the clouds to catch a tail-wind and catch up with Ripslinger. He passes Ripslinger right before the finish line as Ripslinger turns to face the cameras, thinking he's about to win.
- Dusty and Skipper take a joy ride at the end of the movie.
Clearly, this does not include every detail, but this should provide enough to think about what the child you're buying for might like.
The Planes Movie Characters
The Characters: As described in the plot, there are many characters, which Disney shockingly decided to turn into toys for purchase! Even planes that feature very little in the movie have been made into toys. It's almost as if they were hoping to make a ton of money off the merchandising for this movie!
The Racing Planes:
- Dusty Crophopper - the hero of the movie. He's a good guy all along - he just wants to be more than he was made for - it's a sweet and inspiring story and I love this character.
- Ripslinger - the bad guy. They feature him more than I think necessary in merchandise. Very one-dimensional. The only humanity (and I do realize these are planes) you see is when one of the characters points out that Ripslinger is only mean to Dusty because he's scared to lose to a cropduster. However, I think this character glorifies being bad a bit much, and be ready for the kid to really get into bad guy play if you get Ripslinger stuff.
- Zed and Ned - Ripslinger's henchman, the twin turbos (my son insisted they were the "tween" turbos for a while which cracked me up). They don't do much, and it's hard to find die-cast toys of these guys.
- Chupacabra - Mexico's masked champion - has a mask and a cape. Very romantic and dramatic and a fun character. He becomes good friends with Dusty and they help each other out. Favorite line: "I swish my cape at you!" Falls in love with Rochelle, the French-Canadian plane who has a very minor role, but there are toys made of her too. My only concern about this character is if he's a little to stereotypical.
- Bulldog - The British plane, snooty. He springs an oil leak during the start of the race and Dusty helps him out even though it puts him in last place. Bulldog tearfully thanks him but when Dusty asks are you crying, Bulldog, he says "I don't cry, I'm British." A favorite line of my son and his friends.
- Ishani - The sleek racer from India. I love that they have multiple female planes, and I think she's a strong, complex character. A bit too complex for young kids to understand, but I liked her. Ripslinger pays her off with a new propeller to try to sabotage Dusty, but then she regrets it and gives the propeller to Dusty.
The Propwash Junction Crew
- Chug - Dusty's friend the fuel truck. He helps Dusty learn to fly.
- Skipper - Old fighter plane. Similar to the Doc Hudson character in the Cars movie, in the sense that he's old, has hidden secrets (that he only flew one mission) and begrudgingly helps the hero at first, and then truly becomes a teacher and friend to him.
- Dottie - Forklift who keeps fixing up Dusty when he runs himself down from racing. She's a great character and I love that she's a strong, smart female mechanic character.
- Leadbottom - Dusty's friend who is perfectly happy being a cropduster.
How to Decide What Type of Toys to Buy?
Before getting into specifics, I wanted to lay out the basic categories of toys out there, and suggest a few questions to ask when deciding what type of toy to get.
Questions to ask yourself (or the child's parent):
- Are they more into imaginative play where they have complete control over what the toys do?
- Are they really into things that they can wear or have in their room?
- Are they really into things that move on their own or by remote control?
- Do they love little or big toys? Will they lose little things easily?
- Do they like drawing or coloring?
Basic types of toys and gifts (different types of Planes products):
- Die-cast planes and forklifts
- Clothing, backpacks, posters
- Pull-and-go planes, remote control planes
- Small plastic toys
- Coloring books and stickers
As you may notice, the numbers correspond. If you answer yes to the first question, you probably want to look for presents from the first type of toys. Wasn't that clever?
Planes Movie Preview
A Break for Fun
We've been through a lot so far, so this seems like a great time to sit back and watch this Planes movie preview. There are a lot more clips on YouTube.
How Would You Rate the Planes Movie?
My Top Recommendation
My Top Recommendations
Alright, this has been a lot of background information, but now I have to take a stand and say which toys I think are the best.
For your money, I think these are the best presents to get, in this order. Of course, it all depends on your answers to the questions above. My bias is towards stuff my son can do lots of imaginative play with, and he loves little things (like the forklifts and pit crews).
- Pit Row Gift Pack, Plane (Dusty, Ripslinger, Chupacabra, Ishani, or Bulldog) with pit crew. These go for $12-14 dollars and they have a tent with removable flag, a plane, and a pit crew. All are die-cast and well-made.
- Figure Play Set (with six different planes or characters). These seem to only be available through the Disney Store, though I could be wrong. They are smaller but you get a lot for your money (only $12.50 for six planes!).
- Remote Control Dusty. They also have remote control versions of some of the other planes, but Dusty seems the best. They are pricey (approx $35!), but this could be an amazing holiday gift and give a kid hours of fun. They get 4/5 stars on Toys R Us, and they also seem to have the best selection of the remote control toys.
- Deluxe Talking Planes. Also pricey, but they have them at Costco right now for a little cheaper ($25ish). I think Bravo is the best, but maybe that's just because it's the one my son has. It says a lot of fun things and he loves playing rescue plane with it.
- Disney Planes Wings Around the Globe book. I almost forgot about books! This is super cheap ($3.99 at Target!) and I like this version the best. It's not overly long, but it has fun quotable parts your kid can memorize ("Go get em, Dusty!")
I could go on and on, but that's of limited help at a time like this. I think you can't go wrong with any of the above and they would make very special presents for children who love the Planes movie.
What do you think is the best recent Disney/Pixar movie?
The Movie Itself!
Of course don't forget that the DVD of the movie itself can make a wonderful present! I think this is a movie that kids can enjoy over and over (I know I have!) and it has good take home messages about pushing yourself, believing in yourself, and helping others.
My only reservation about the movie is the glorification or significant focus on the bad guy, Ripslinger. I wish he was redeemed a little bit more, or they gave a little more of a backstory to explain how he ended up that way, or showed ow being mean really doesn't serve him well. Of course, he loses in the end, so that does help, but he has a lot of mean comments that are unfortunately pretty quotable. Of course, playing bad guys is a huge part of development, but parental guidance may be a little more important with this character.
In all, I absolutely love this movie and highly recommend it.
Going to the Planes Movie!
Go Forth and Purchase!
I hope this has been helpful in getting an overview of the Planes movie and its characters, and thinking about which presents to buy for children who love this movie.
I am surprised (though I shouldn't be!) at the amount of merchandise out there related to this movie, and it can be a little overwhelming, especially if you don't know the movie or the characters well. I hope this helps make it a little easier to sift through the many options and share the joy of this movie with a child in your life!
Please share any thoughts in the comments about other Planes products you think would make great gifts...