The Max Liquidator from Prime Time Toys is great fun for the pool. Unlike many other water shooting type toys, the spray in this one is not as harsh–making it a safer choice. It also looks more like a water toy -rather than a plastic assault gun. I personally love the kickboard that has the mechanism built in…allowing you to surprise your kids when they think you’re just just floating around.
As we’re wading through all of the new toys that will be vying for your toy dollar come December, I was just thinking how much fun blowing bubbles can be. I’m not sure why I keep focusing on bubbles, but for the past few days, I’ve really wanted to play with some bubbles.
When you’re really little there’s the excitement of watching bubbles being blown by others and chasing them down–and as you get a bit older there’s the ultimate satisfaction of making your own bubbles. Now I find it really pleasing because it is such a pure play experience-no batteries, no instructions…you’re good to go. Come to think of it, that’s probably why it’s on my mind so much–many of the toys we’ve been looking at this week are very high tech. Not that there’s anything wrong with high tech toys–but none of them deliver what bubbles do. You make something so beautiful and then, in a matter of moments, watch it as it floats away….lovely really.
I loved the pink and blue plastic jars of bubbles –with the wand. Remember those? The way the bubble solution always found it’s way to my hands…it was just fun- unless of course I knocked it over…and then there were tears! The picture below is from one of my birthday parties (my brother James is on the left). That is not me in the background, but I do remember that ride-on.
For this new generation, bubbles are a whole new experience–thanks in large part to the folks at Little Kids–the inventors of the No Spill Bubble Tumbler…no more tears from an accidential spill. No more sticky fingers from trying to get the wand out of the solution.They have them now in all sizes–the little ones make great party favors!
Now for super big bubbles–I’m a huge fan of the BeeBoo Big Bubble Mix Kit from Extreme Bubbles, Inc. You can watch my demo on the TODAY SHOW last year. I’ve also noticed that it doesn’t matter how old people are–they love trying this toy out. Even my most reserved teen age (and mostly retired) toy testers love this product.
One of our testers who really liked the 3D Chalk kits just raised a great question…is there something in the chalk that makes it 3D or will the 3D glasses make all chalk 3D…we posed this question to the folks at Crayola…
“Yes, the 3D glasses will work with any Crayola chalk and out sidewalk
crayons. The ones that come with the Crayola 3D Sidewalk Chalk Kit allow for the best results
because we paired warm and cool colors together.”
Al Roker had a fun time with these glasses on our outdoor toy segment last year…click here to watch the segment.
- We’ve loved the other dinos (T Rex and Triceratops) from Kid Galaxy. Both won Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Awards last year. This line is just right for preschoolers because the controller has an easy to use single button. This Brontosaurus is friendly and will not scare your three year old. Also new and fun, My First RC Animal Pal series–we love the Penguin the best!
Spring time always meant new bubbles in my house. I’m a big fan of the Little Kids No-Spill line—probably because I can still remember crying over those plastic bottles of pink or blue bubbles–remember those? You had to put your finger in the bottle to pull out your wand? This Bubble Blitzer with a Dora the Explorer theme makes lots of little bubbles when you blow…Our testers had no problems making this one work. The Bubble Blitzer Glitter Critters are very cute looking but required more air than our testers could muster. If you’re worried about your child running with the Bubble Blitzer in their mouth (not a good idea)…stick with the original.
We got mixed reviews on the new Crayola TaDoodles Drop & See. This three level ball run is designed so that your toddler needs to push a lever at each level to release the ball to the next level. The toy is marked 9 months and up and that’s where the problems arose for our testers. Our nine month old testers could not make the levers work. In fact a play group with mostly 18 month old toddlers also had difficulty. The biggest complaint is that the toy falls over easily–unless it’s against a wall which is hard to make happen when you’re talking about a toy for on the go toddlers. Nothing like asking a toddler to only play with something in one location!
Even without the falling over issues, our older toddlers had problems making the red cat lever operate. Our testers were creative — suggesting that the levers should be bigger and that the base should be wider to address the tipping issue. Everyone liked the concept but all had suggestions on how to “fix” the toy to make it better.
The testers that were 2+ could make the toy work–and even our younger testers enjoyed making the balls go from level to level with help…but still, we think the age label is too off the mark to make this one an award winner.
We loved the concept of these new vehicles from Kid Galaxy when we first saw them at Toy Fair. Happily, they work really well. The figure in the middle (left) has a built-in motor. Once you place it in the vehicle the truck will move forward and you can see the pistons moving–also cool. It’s fun that the motor is also a character that can be used for spinning stories. Our testers really liked the Dump Truck and the Pick’n’ Plow. The mechanism on the Lift ‘n’ Load wasn’t as sturdy as the others. These are interesting and engaging vehicles for preschoolers. We’re giving Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Awards to both the Dump and Pick ‘n’ Plow Truck.
Looking for a great lightweight truck to take to the sandbox–or just enjoy in your house? Take a look at Sprig Toys new Eco-Trucks ($14.95). We’ve been big fans of this truly green company that makes it toys from repurposed milk jugs and saw dust! There are three trucks in the new in line: a loader, a dump truck and an exacavator. While we were concerned that some folks may find them too lightweight, our testers across the board thought the weight was a plus–making the toys easier for their kids to tote about.
If you’ve spent any time with a two year old, you know they love to do the same thing over and over again. It’s through that repeititive play, that they develop their self confidence and sense of their own abilities. The other thing you know about toddlers is that finding toys for them can be really challenging. They’ve outgrown their baby toys–and they’re not really ready for most preschool toys with all of those pesky small parts that pose a safety risk. They’re often more interested in seeing if they can climb on a toy at this stage rather than play with it. My son Adam did this with his first garage!
So just in case you’re looking for the perfect birthday present, I periodically like to recommend Edushape’s Rollipop ($24.95). We’re adding it to our list of Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Blue Chip Award winners – indicating that this great toy has been in the market place for more than five years and should not be missed just because it wasn’t invented yesterday! The balls are big enough to be safe and they move through the toy slowly enough so that they can be tracked. You can talk about colors as you play, but really just making something happen again and again is the biggest reward. We prefer this one to some of the other ball runs that have lots of noise–you really don’t need it! Your child will add their own sound effects–promise!