If you’re like me, yeah, this is pretty much what you look like too. Secret Senna Season is here, and while the friendly guidelines recommend you spend at least $10 or the equivalent for your giftee, maybe you’d rather keep a little change for yourself so you can finish that weekend car project or renew your XBL subscription. If that’s the case, here are a few ideas that hover right at or even below the $10 Secret Senna minimum. Maybe your gift recipient won’t even notice!
NOTE: This does not include shipping charges! You’ll need to pay attention to that as you decide on and make your online purchases!
Meguire’s Interior Wipes (or similar product): $6.99 from MeguiresDirect.com
You don’t have to be a gearhead to appreciate a clean car. Though prone to abuse from those who don’t know what they’re doing (gotta love that ultra-slippery steering wheel!) interior cleaning/”restorative” wipes provide quick spot-cleaning in a few minutes.
Meguire’s Supreme Shine Microfiber Towels (or similar product): $7.99 at MeguiresDirect.com
The most basic cleaning essential you need, and you really can’t have too many of them.
Mothers Tire and Wheel Brush Combo: $9.99 at AutoGeek.net
I’m betting not a lot of people have dedicated wheel and tire brushes, yet they’re a must-have auto cleaning essential. Ask me how I know. A decent tire brush will more resemble a hard-bristle dish scrubbing brush - it’s exactly what you need to scrub clean your tough yet grimy sidewalls but it will wreck the finish of your alloy wheels. Which is what the softer-bristle wheel brush is for. Don’t get them confused. Ask me how I know that one, too.
Craftsman 4-in-1 Slotted Screwdriver Keychain: $0.99 at Craftsman.com
Sure it’s really setting the bar low when it comes to price, but nobody should be walking around without some sort of screwdriver at all times, especially if you do much driving. For the price of a Hot Wheels from Kroger’s (more on that later!) you can have a modicum (about 99 cents worth!) greater in terms of peace of mind.
Craftsman Magnetic Tray, $6.99 at Craftsman.com
Opponauts don’t exactly flood Kinja with horror tales of not being able to find loose metal parts, but there’s enough to fill out a few pages on the search engine. Heck, I don’t need to tell you, having parts roll around underneath unreachable spots sucks. So here’s a magnetic tray for you!
Hot Wheels Race Case Track Set: $9.99 at ToysRUs.com
Ooooh, I know what you’re thinking, you probably thought I was just going to suggest shipping $5 worth of Hot Wheels cars to your Secret Senna! Hot Wheels themselves are cheap enough that we’ve all probably amassed a sizable collection from Secret Sennas past if nothing else, so it’d be nice to be able to display a few (even just two at a time) and have a little fun with them as Mattel and God intended. The Race Case Track Set (try saying that three times fast!) provides a compact and attractive dual-use display/launcher which becomes even more attractive to Secret Sennas everywhere in comparison to C-Note worthy “display garages.”
Hot Wheels Star Wars Kylo Ren Character Car: $5.12 at Amazon.com
Still want to send an actual Hot Wheels car while both wanting to splurge a little bit and feed your inner fanboy upon The Force Awakens’ release? The Kylo Ren character car is in my opinion the best looking of the bunch with its LMP-ish inspired looks and paint that would make Car and Driver proud. The Darth Maul Hot Wheels is also a nice-looking vehicle, or if you prefer old school like me you can go with Luke Skywalker’s ride or Boba Fett’s
DeLorean Corvette Rat Rod. Either way I think it’s a worthy alternative if you’re afraid getting the Greenlight 1:64 Robert Clemens’ ‘70 Camaro might be duplicated (hint hint).
Now I know what else you’re thinking: hey, while I’m at it, maybe I can get the Hot Wheels X-Wing/TIE Fighter/Millennium Falcon/etc. I would actually strongly advise against that, because there are actually better options with more “desk model”-ability and just about the same playability for around the same price.
Revell Poe’s X-Wing SnapTite Model Kit: $16.59-$19.10 New on Amazon.com (and Various)
This one requires a bit of “finessing” in order to meet anything remotely resembling a budget Secret Senna price - and by that I mean a lot of online hunting. Still, it’s possible to find decent The Force Awakens merch for a budget.
Micro Machines Star Wars Vehicle Packs: $4.99-$9.99 depending on set at Target.com, Walmart.com and Amazon.com
Micro Machines are great toys for nostalgia lovers and actual tikes (not prone to shoving random choking hazards into their mouths) alike. For about the same playability as the Hot Wheels licensed toys, you get more bang for the buck with three to five toys for the price of Hot Wheels’ one. The cheaper sets will come with three vehicles while the “high end” ones (still less than a Hamilton) will come with five plus two figures as seen above. There’s also a wide selection representing the entirety of the movie and TV show line (including Disney XD’s Star Wars: Rebels). I just think it’s such a better use of the same money compared to the Hot Wheels toys, unless you like the scale and detail for display purposes.
Lego City-Theme Race Car, Rally Car and Race Boat: $9.99 each at Shop.Lego.com
Legos perhaps represent the ultimate mash-up of playability and hobby construction skill. Anybody who’s spent any time shopping around also knows that they’ve become quite pricey, especially for elaborate or licensed sets (yeah no The Force Awakens Lego kits on this list). That said, there are still budget-minded Lego sets out there for young and old Jalops alike.
Revell 2017 F-150 Raptor SVT 1:24 SnapTite Model Kit: $12.95 at HobbyZone.com
Revell’s SnapTite model kit line isn’t exactly as durable as say Lego kits or Micro Machines and they lack the detail of more “professional” kits, but they offer a more hobby-centric compromise between a toy and a true model kit and are great not only for tween-aged children but adults who are looking for a quick, budget-friendly time killer that can also take up unused desk real estate (or on top the valve cover of their real Raptor at Cars & Coffee). To find one at close to the Secret Senna bargain bin price as possible is, again, going to take some investigative work, but it’s not quite as near-impossible as it is for Star Wars licensed kits.
Air Hogs Titan: $9.99 at Amazon.com
The Air Hogs Titan is more than just a basic glider - it’s fun for the adult individual or for the whole family. But why take just my word on it?
Automotive and (literally) Jalop-themed ebooks, including the one the FP keeps pushing and the one by that one guy who plays with cars and CarMax warranties: $1.99 and up on Amazon.com or FREE to Kindle subscribers
Reading really is a universal gift, and ebooks are a very cost-effective way of providing hours worth of entertainment and knowledge. Since the FP sure loves to push their own book (hey I would totally be on that myself) and since it’s priced inexcusably cheaply at a mere $1.99, why not just roll with it? Already have it? Doug DeMuro’s Plays With Cars is just a buck more. There are in fact tons of automotive Kindle edition books that are either very cheaply priced or even free to Kindle subscribers.
And of course you don’t have to stop there: there are a variety of subject matter ebooks that would spark your Secret Senna’s interest, from Legos to aviation and military to, um, whatever the hell this is supposed to be. If I had to recommend just one beyond Jalopnik’s and DeMuro’s own efforts I think it’s hard to go wrong with this or something for the kids that’s free for Kindle subscribers to boot.
A visit to your local general aviation airport and if you’re really lucky an airplane ride: $50-$100 at your local fixed base operator or FREE + cost of lunch/dinner if you’re “connected” and/or know what you’re doing
Airplanes are pretty neat, and they’re also pretty expensive. You can go down to your local flight club and get what’s known as a “Discovery Flight” where you ride around the general vicinity of the airport for about an hour - a Discovery Flight “ticket” will cost anywhere from $50 to damn near the price of what it costs to get to Fort Lauderdale on Southwest. Needless to say that pretty much completely blows any sort of Secret Senna budget.
Unless you just happen to already be friends with someone who is a pilot (or a pilot yourself).
Most private licensed pilots have to perform a minimum number of flights in order to remain “current” and maintain the legality of their license. If you happen to be chummy with someone scheduling a flight just around town or such to maintain curenncy or just fight boredom, you might be able to talk him or her to taking yourself or a buddy along. They might need a little financial convincing still - maybe a $10 bill to help pay for gas, or lunch, or just to slip directly into the pocket. It’s a little tricky, and you really have to know someone, but it’s not impossible.
More realistic is to just take your Secret Senna if he or she happens to be in the area and bum around the local GA airport for a day. This used to be much, much easier and friendly in the pre-9/11 days but it’s still a day’s worth of fun if you know what you’re doing and employ some common sense. It’s even more fun if you can point to things and actually pretend you know what you’re talking about. If not, most general aviation airports will have some semblence of a terminal - maybe it’s just a glorified cafe, maybe it’s fully decked-out with desk clerks. Either way you can ask whoever happens to be passing for a front office concierge about the airport’s layout, what areas are accessible, how to access the tarmac and what restrictions apply, etc. You can also visit one of the flight clubs and see if there’s a pilot or a flight instructor with a little time to spare to show you around or at least give a quick explanation of what the rules on the flight line are. A decent flight club not entirely staffed by jerks will at least allow you to view or even sit inside a non-active aircraft as long as they’re not too busy. If nothing else spend the day at the terminal watching the aircraft fly by. And you can finish off the day with a moderately priced lunch or dinner (if you end up losing track of time) at the local cafe/diner/whatever.