Wondering what to get that mad scientist in your life for the holidays? We've got some ideas that will keep an evil mastermind occupied in the lab for days on end - and will of course result in world domination. Or at least living room domination. Though being a mad scientist can get spendy, we've tried to focus on items that are $100 or less. Check out our list of what all the warped geniuses will be asking for this year.
Every mad scientist wants to whip something up in the lab using beakers and Bunsen burners. Lucky for you, MAKE magazine has an excellent guide to chemistry sets and an exhaustive list of where to buy chemistry supplies online. For starters, MAKE's Phil Torrone recommends you try this basic chemistry set from Home Science Tools for $39.95. A nice companion piece would be O'Reilly's excellent Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments. (io9 readers who order this book through MAKE's shed store get 10% off if you use our special code, MKSCIFI, when you check out.)
Without a good telescope, your mad scientist can't gaze out upon the universe and cackle, "Someday all this will be mine!!" So we've got a few recommendations on where to start with telescopes. You can get a high-powered reflector telescope for just $129.99, on sale from Telescopes.com through Dec. 1. There's also a nice list of high-powered telescopes for under $300 at About.com. And you can add in O'Reilly's Astronomy Hacks book, and get 10% off cover price when you buy it from MAKE and use our special code, MKSCIFI.
If you ever peek into the heart of a mad scientist, what you'll find there is a deep desire to burn things with lasers. It's just a known fact. So this holiday season, just give in and buy a killer laser. Wicked Lasers sells a variety of lasers that look like laser pointers (and can in fact be used as such), but that can deliver enough mW to seriously do damage. Prices range from $100 for a 15 mW model to $400 for a long-distance burner at 125 mW.
Who will be your mad scientist's minions if not a robot army? That's why we're recommending a few different robot kits so world domination can begin immediately after the holiday season is over. Jameco Robot Store offers a cool kit that will help you build a walking spider robot for $54.99 - it uses infrared sensors to avoid walking into objects. And if you're willing to get spendy, you can go to Lynx Motion and pick up all the parts needed to make a seriously badass bipedal autonomous robot.
Spy Equipment, Including Blimps
Mad scientists can be the master of all they survey with Hobbytron's remote-controlled blimp, for $50. Once you fill it with helium, you can drive it around the neighborhood and attach a spy camera to it for good measure. It's important to remember that mad scientists prefer blimps and zeppelins to UAVs. But if you have an unusual mad scientist who prefers to build UAVs, you can pick up a nice UAV kit at Hobbyall, on sale for $100. Spy camera sold separately. If your mad scientist needs to hear what people are saying from 300 feet away, consider the parabolic shotgun microphone (with scope!) from Carl's Electronics for $69.95. Just aim the mic and listen to what your nemesis is cooking up with that lame sidekick.
You know those giant, lightning-emitting devices invented by the world's most important mad scientist, Nikola Tesla? Well now your mad scientist can make one too, with a little help from the fiendish folks at Information Unlimited. They offer several types of Tesla coil kits, ranging from the tiny at $50 to the mega-sized floor model at $1000. You can buy them as kits or already-assembled. Be sure to check out some of the other bizarre and dangerous items (including kits to make your own plasma gun) from Information Unlimited, a company that has evil genius written all over it.
Goggles and Lab Coat
Every mad scientist needs to look the part, which is why we recommend some welding safety goggles from Safety Glasses USA, ranging in price from $7 to $10. You'll want to pair those with a nice lab coat from All Heart Medical Supply, for $26-30.