The gift-giving holidays may have come and gone, but sometimes an extra stocking stuffer squirreled away can remedy those cold weather blues. This month's Tools of the Trade has a simple mission: to preview a few nifty items for kids and adults that won't cost as much as a new iPad. For the aspiring techie in short pants, littleBits offers the chance to experiment with electronic hardware without a soldering iron and attendant learning burns. Sold in "exploration kits" that come with 10 ($99), 14 ($149), or 18 ($199) bits, the object is to assemble the mini circuit boards with different functions to create responsive machines.
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