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Last-minute Christmas gifts for blokes - Pt. 1

By Michael Stahl, 21 Dec 2014 Features

Last-minute Christmas gifts for blokes - Pt. 1

So, you've got your Google glasses, new iPhone, curved television and a copy of the latest Wheels in your mitts. You’re the dude with everything, right? Not so fast

Vesaro Driving Simulator

Pure (virtual) driving pleasure
SO, YOU’VE got your geeky Google glasses, bendy new iPhone 6, the 105-inch curved television that turned your kids into radiation shadows and a copy of the latest Wheels in your mitts. You’re the dude with everything, right?

Not so fast. Christmas is a time of reflection and a time of giving, so you might reflect that somebody ought to be giving you, for starters, this Vesaro driving simulator (from $1850, frame only). Looking like an even more minimalist Aerial Atom roadster, the British-made Vesaro games sim is a modular system that kicks off with a powder-coated or polished stainless-steel chassis and genuine Cobra racing seat, then options upwards from there.

You can add fully height- and reach-adjustable seat and pedals, 500-watt surround sound, a single 60-inch or panoramic triple 55-inch monitors, and full rig movement using D-Box motion physics, with up to 150mm of vertical movement at each corner.

If you’ve already sorted a PC or games console, the Stage 3 (of 10) unit, priced at $6825, is about where you’ll grid up. But, hey, it’s Christmas. A Rosberg-rattling Special Edition Line model will run you – or those who claim they “love” you – to around $85,400, but they’ll feel the warm embrace of giving.

Vesaro driving simulator from $1850


These are the droids you’re looking for
EVEN if you’re somebody who keeps a Lamborghini LM002 for its novelty value, you still don’t have a smartphone-operated, off-road soup-tin robot. This little R2Dturd is called Ollie ($149.95), and it comes from the folks behind Sphero, the robotic plastic ball.

While both sound as dynamic and interactive as “robotic house brick”, be assured that the Sphero has already built a cult following through its cleverly expanding repertoire of tricks, controlled by more than 30 available apps.

Same goes for Ollie, which in physical terms is a plastic tube ringed with a pair of wheels, to which slick or off-road tyres can be attached.

Each wheel is independently driven, so Ollie can steer and pull 360s on the spot. In motion, it looks like some sort of crazed zombie remnant of a disembodied Mars rover.

It’s controlled within a 30m range from a smartphone (iPhone or Android); just download the app and start hooning around at up to 20km/h, doing turns, jumps, skate-ramp stunts and racing other Ollies.

With knobby tyres on, it’ll drive over grass, dirt and sand, and you get up to 60 minutes of play time before recharging.

Want. One. Now.

Ollie $149.95

Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari

The Ferrari that knows what time it is
FERRARI’S associations with watchmakers in the past have been patchy and short-lived, but new incumbent Hublot is taking the relationship very seriously.

The Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari says it all, starting with a $360K price to rival a low-km 458 Italia, but described better in a molto-complicated, tourbillon-regulated movement powered by a ‘crankshaft’ of 11 coupled mainspring barrels. It’s a new way to drive a watch and comprises some 637 individual parts housed within a black titanium case whose shape evokes its supercar namesake.

The power reserve of 50 days is a record for a tourbillon-equipped timepiece, and it has to be wound with a supplied mini-drill device, putting one in mind of an F1 rattle-gun. It displays the time via black aluminium cylinders to the right of the central crankshaft, while those to the left show the power reserve. It comes in a carbonfibre box leather-lined by Schedoni, Ferrari’s seat-maker.

Hublot built just 50 examples in 2013 – making it just over 10 times' more exclusive than the La Ferrari car – but it has since displayed yellow-gold and bare titanium versions. So there’s still a chance to get one.

Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari $360,000

Stealth electric off-road bicycle

Putting the ‘push’ into pushbike
MOTORCYCLES are great, but not everybody has the courage, co-ordination or their mum’s permission to ride one. And so there are bicycles. The line between them is blurred like never before by the Stealth electric bike, which has cranks and pedals like a treadlie, but can blaze through forest trails at more than 80km/h. It’s like a downhill mountain bike that also goes uphill. Imagine!

The Stealth bikes – there are three, namely the 3.7kW Fighter ($7900), 5.2kW Bomber ($9900) and pedal-less 5.2kW Hurricane ($9700) – are designed and built right here in Oz, using a fabricated chrome-moly frame that’s guaranteed for life.

Suspension is by a bunch of well-known MTB brands, with the base Fighter boasting 180/200mm front and rear travel and the Bomber 180/250mm. All are hauled up by Magura hydraulic disc brakes, with a variety of upgrades available.

The Fighter pedals through a two-speed crankset and delivers its 3.7kW output through a rear hub motor; the whole bike weighs just 34kg. The 5.2kW Bomber weighs a tad over 50kg, but has a nine-speed crankset and a lot more power.

A 25km/h speed-governed setting keeps things legit for road use, a rider-activated regenerative braking system complements the up-to-80km range, and recharging takes two hours. And, unlike a dead motorbike, you can still ride it home.

Stealth electric bikes $8000-$10,000

Tonino Lamborghini Antares phone

Is that a Lamborghini in your pocket?
JUST as the Porsche family had Ferdinand Alexander, aka ‘Butzi’, as a scion in freelance product design, so Lamborghini has Antonio, aka ‘Tonino’. The Italian businessman, one of two children born to supercar maker Ferruccio, parlayed his father’s name, logo and probably not a little of his money into the 1981 founding of a design company to produce branded furniture and personal accessories.

Tonino treads carefully around the car-company connection these days, lest he be dive-bombed by lawyers from Ingolstadt, but there are plenty of identifiable cues in his latest toy, the Antares mobile phone ($4900). The Android phone has a stainless-steel body with leather inserts and a screen in tough gorilla glass. It even ships in a plastic case that resembles an alloy cam cover. With its angles, intakes and grilles, this is a phone that does look like it’s doing 349km/h on a coffee table.

Tonino Lamborghini has added a bunch of its own icons and apps to distinguish the Antares from other Android 4.2 phones.

Geek sites haven’t been quite so gushing about its performance, praising the Yamaha amplifier and speakers and Sony cameras, but lukewarm on the Fiat-spec
screen, 1.5GHz quad-core processor and 170g kerb weight.

Tonino Lamborghini Antares phone $4900

Dremel rotary tool set

The sharpest tool in the shed
IN 1934, nerdy genius Albert Dremel of Wisconsin, USA invented a little electric-motored doohickey he named the Moto-Tool. Like a hand-held dentist’s drill, the Dremel’s 5000-35,000rpm speed range (it varies depending on model) and mini-chuck open a Stargate-style portal to a universe of attachments.

There are grinding wheels, cutters, polishers, mandrels, wire brushes, drill bits, blade sharpeners and routers, and right-angles and flex-shafts so you can perform any of these tasks in the tightest spaces.

There’s an owners club and chat room where people discuss all aspects of Dremelling, for this brilliant and indispensable device has become verb.

The Dremel rotary tool range now comprises four models, two of them (8100 and 8200) cordless, which top out at 30,000rpm. Speed variability in the top corded model (the 4000) ranges from 5000-35,000rpm. And for extra-fiddly jobs, there’s the Dremel Stylus, a pistol-sized cordless jobbie.

They’re cheap enough that you can go the rat, with a top-spec 4000-series and starter set of 50 attachments available for about $175, with a similar pack for the top cordless 8200 about $145. Online retailers often bundle them with bonus accessory packs, too, so you’ll have grinding discs and polishing buffs left over to hand down to the grandkids.

Dremel 4000 rotary tool kit $175