Harry Potter gadget goodies for the kids
It seems hard to believe that Harry Potter has been battling arch-enemy Voldemort in cinemas for 10 years now, but 15 July 2011 will see the eighth and final film unleashed. With just days to go before the big finale, no doubt young Potter fans (and possibly some slighty older ones, too) are getting pretty excitable at the thought of the boy wizard's last adventure, so we've conjured up a collection of the best Harry Potter goodies around to keep them occupied and off your back until they're safely sat in the cinema seats.
The good news is that the corporate bigwigs behind the Potter franchise have covered all the bases when it comes to gaming, so you can pick up a game for most platforms. There are plenty to choose from, covering all of the films. The age of the kids involved will probably effect your choice of game - it may be something of a cliche, but each film is darker than the one before it and the same applies to the games.
The action-based Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 is suitably dark and dreary for teenaged fans and it's available on Xbox (£14.75), Wii (£10.14), PS3 (£11.12), DS (£9.16) and PC (£7.99), while Part 2 is released on 15 July - the same day as the film. For something a little lighter, check out Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 on the Wii (£9.99), DS (£9.99), PS3 (£12.99), Xbox (£22.49), PSP
(£11.89) or PC (£7.99).
We've already talked about lego-based computer games, but how about some actual building bricks to keep the young 'uns occupied? If you're feeling flush, then you may just make yourself the most popular adult ever by splashing out on a Lego Hogwarts castle (£80.99). You can also pick up some slightly cheaper sets such as the Knight Bus (£26.99) or the Forbidden Forest for just £9.19.
If you prefer to treat your fledgling wizards with lots of small treats rather than one relatively expensive piece of kit, then check out the selction of minifigures. You can choose from a wide range of characters including Dumbledore, Draco Malfoy and Professor Snape, while you can pick up Harry himself for just 12p.
This Potter-based online portal was recently annouced by author J.K Rowling and is set to combine a social media experience with additional information on all the characters. Not only will it fill the void left in the hearts of Potter fans once the film series comes to an end, the Pottermore site will also offer the Harry Potter novels as ebooks for the first time and there will also be audio book versions as well.
The site isn't due to launch fully until October but if you head over there now then you can check out a welcome video from the author and sign up for more information. The site also says "Come back on 31st July to find out how you can get the chance to enter Pottermore early". You know what to do.
Kymera magic wand remote control
This magical gadget first found fame when its manufacturer - The Wand Company - pitched it to five entrepreneurs on the BBC's Dragons' Den. Although it doesn't enable you to levitate objects or transform them into frogs, it will let you control the basic functions of your TV with a flick of the wrist, just like Harry and chums, casting their spells (sort of).
It's worth noting that although being a hell of a lot of fun to play with, the Kymera remote isn't a toy, but you can pick up various replica wands from the films for as little as £14.95 (while the wand remote will set you back £42.38).
If the kids are lucky enough to have their own smartphones then a protective, Potter-style case might be in order. Despite being one of the biggest brands on the planet, there are relatively few phone cases around featuring the young wizard, but we've managed to track down a few over at Zazzle.co.uk.
You can opt for a classic design from the films, like the 3GS case pictured (yours for £28.10), or for cool kids there's the Hipster Harry option for iPhone 4, priced at £25.80. You can also get a limited edition silcon case for the 4G iPod nano from Proporta (currently on offer for just £3.95).
It's all about the apps these days, which is good news as anyone who has placed a tablet in front of child will know what an effective distraction they can be. There are plenty of apps around featuring Harry and Friends, although it has to be said - a lot of them are rubbish. Just type Harry Potter into your chosen app store and you'll find a horde of unofficial apps with little functionality and hence, very little fun. However, the offical app - Harry Potter: Spells - is available for iOS for just £1.79 and transforms your iDevice into a magic wand.
You can either use your fingers to draw on the screen to cast spells or brandish the device like a wand and rely on the motion sensors, either casting spells on your own or use multiplayer to challenge a friend to a duel over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. You can also take a visit to Ollivanders wand shop and get sorted by the Sorting Hat. This one should guarantee you several hours of peace and quiet and even better - there's also a free 'lite' version available. You can also download the free Deathly Hallows app which will let you stream the first five minutes of the first Deathly Hallows film (before giving you the option to buy the full version from iTunes) and it also includes an art gallery and bonus features such as videos of the cast.
Get involved with like-minded fans and sign up to one of the many online fan sites. MuggleNet proclaims itself to be the the world's number one Harry Potter fansite. There are all sorts of goodies to be found here including fan fiction and art, games, recipes, wallpapers and of course, a chat forum.
Other well-known fan sites include The Leaky Cauldron and Harry Potter Fan Zone and it's also worth considering joining one of the many Facebook groups or follow some of the wizardry-based Twitter feeds on offer.
This may seem like an obvious one, and it's likely that any self-respecting Potter fan will already have the boy wizard's canon of work already. However, if your young fans don't already have all of the films or have only got them in standard-def DVD, then it just might be worth shelling out for the high-def versions. Not only will this give them a chance to catch up on the previous films before the last installment but it will also offer a gargantuan amount of extras for them to play with.
There are all kinds of things on offer from virtual tours of Hogwarts to games and quizs. The later films also include Maximum Movie Mode - an interactive feature where members of the cast and crew pop up throughout the film to let you in the secrets behind the camera. You can pick up a Blu-ray boxset of the first seven films for just £29.99.
Meet the cast
No doubt it's the dream of many a Potter fan to meet the cast from the film and now they have a chance, but they'll have to get their skates on. On Tuesday 5 July (that's tonight if you're reading this on the day it was published), the Apple Store in Regent Street, London, will play host to Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy) who will be talking about the making of the final film. The event starts at 7pm but seating is limited so you'll need to get there as early as possible.
If you can't make the event at the Apple store then it's worth keeping your eyes peeled for events in the future by checking the fansites. Alternatively, get yourself along to the premiere on Thursday 7 July - the premiere itself will take place in Leicester Square, with a public red carpet event planned to take place in Trafalgar Square beforehand from 4pm. Better start making that "We love you Harry!" banner now.
Got any other ideas to keep the Potter fans amused in the run-up to the final film? Let us know.