Toy Test 2010
The results are in! MetroKids received hundreds of submissions for our 20th annual holiday toy test. After narrowing the submissions, we asked local families to play games, make crafts, build with blocks and try out toys. Here are the top 20 toys — and what moms had to say about these holiday must-haves.
Baby & Toddler Toys
Hide-and-Seek Jojo Silverlit, $44.98, ages 1½+
Jojo, a surprisingly irresistible electronic bunny, plays hide-and-seek by locating a sensor shaped like
a carrot, which your child holds while hiding. Brittiny S. of Willingboro, NJ says that playing with the talking Jojo helped her 2-year-old son Darius “count to ten and learn things like near and far.”
Henrietta the Pull Along Hen
International Playthings, $19.99, ages 1+
Baby chicks tumble out of a hen in this toddler toy. “No assembly required which gets points from this mom and the chicks were fun on their own for the kids to carry around,” says Dawn M. of Philadelphia. “Double bonus for sharing, since one child can pull while another picks up the chicks.” Henrietta makes chicken noises, but “I did not find the clucking annoying,” Dawn says.
Mattel, $12.99, all ages
Squeeze the soft tummies of these silly plush characters to watch their tiny mouths open and to hear them talk, sing or harmonize together. Our Mt. Laurel, NJ tester mom’s babies “were mesmerized by the toys as soon as they started singing,” she says.
Citiblocs $44, ages 3+
Eco-friendly wooden blocks encourage open-ended play. “Basic stacking evolved into more developed creations and (they even attempted) modifying creations shown in the guidebook that came with the toy,” says Mary S. of Philadelphia, of the designs made by kids Max, 9, and Stephanie, 6. The 200-piece set comes in either cool colors (shades of blue and green) or hot (reds and yellows).
HEXBUG Nano Habitat Set
Innovation First Labs, $29.99, ages 3+
This race track for motorized bugs is “futuristic-like,” says Linda S. of Pennsauken, NJ. Flexible, easy-to-assemble design means you can follow sample layouts or create your own. “The toy track breaks down to little storable pieces you can take anywhere,” Linda adds.
The Big Box of Fuzzoodles Giddy Up, $19.99, ages 5+
Make goofy characters by twisting and bending a Fuzzoodle, described by our Marlton, NJ tester mom as “a fuzzy pipe cleaner but more durable.” She gives cheers for the bright colors and sturdy supplies and says the kit sparked her six-year-old daughter’s imagination.
Blissful Body Mist Kit and Wild Science Bath Bomb Factory
Body Mist Kit: Giddy Up, $9.99, ages 8+
Bath Bomb: International Playthings, $19.99, ages 10+
Both of these girly science kits had Mikayla, 9, of Sicklerville, NJ measuring and pouring and mixing concoctions for hours. Sweet-scented perfumes are the result of the Body Mist Kit, while bubbling “lava” explodes from volcanoes in the Bath Bomb Factory. Both kits have directions easy enough for kids to follow on their own.
My Friendship Bracelet Maker
Crorey Creations, $24.99, ages 6+
This kit comes with a rainbow of colorful threads and features a pretty butterfly clip to secure string while your child ties a bracelet. Directions on how to tie knots could be confusing for a first-timer, so save this kit for an experienced bracelet-maker. Natalie, 11, of
Lansdale, PA made her creation in less than an hour.
Gathering A Garden Game eeBoo, $18, ages 5+
Gorgeous illustrations create instant visual appeal for this eco-friendly game that also boasts a green message: Be the first to grow a full garden of vegetables, fruits and flowers to win. Carolyn U. of Ambler, PA appreciated the thoughtful design, from the easy clip-on play pawns to a colorful spinner in place of dice.
Guess My Picture Game
Crayola/Wild Planet, $14.99-$19.99, ages 4+
Kids such as Nicole, 6, of Marlton, NJ, are challenged to combine basic shapes to make images such as a house, a car or a cupcake in this puzzle-like game. “A great toy to get the child thinking!” Nicole’s mom says.
Educational Insights, $29.99, ages 4+
Preschoolers can play this simple, cute game without parents’ help. Look for clothes that match your playing cards by reaching into a mini felt washing machine. “The cards are perfect for little hands and the clothing items…have yet to show any signs of wear,” says Jenna H. of Bensalem, PA.
Nab-It Hasbro Games, $19.99, ages 8+
“If Scrabble is a slow, thinking game, Nab-It is a fast-paced refresher,” says Robin R. of Haverford, PA. Use brightly colored letter tiles to “‘nab’ someone else’s word by putting your letters over it,” Robin says. “It tests the whole family’s spelling and vocabulary.”
Order’s Up! Gamewright, $15.99, ages 6+
Race against other players to satisfy hungry customers in this restaurant-themed game that comes with a real ringing bell and illustrated guest checks. “It’s an easy, very fun, fast game!” says Leslie F. of Mullica Hill, NJ. The game only takes about 15 minutes to play and Leslie says set-up is a snap — no assembly or batteries required.
Rummikub 8 Round Rummy Card Game
Pressman Toy, $5.99, ages 7+
UNO meets Rummy in a new card-game version of the popular board game. The card game, featuring numbers, shapes and colors, requires less strategy and less space than the original. Our Lansdale, PA tester family says this card game could be easier for younger players to grasp and that the compact cards are great for play on the go.
Wits & Wagers Family Game
North Star Games, $19.99, ages 8+
This family version of the original Wits & Wagers game features simplified rules and scoring. Trivia questions reinforce lessons learned in school, such as how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon and how many feet are in a mile. Fifth grader Tyler of Marlton, NJ says the best part was “getting the answer right and beating Mom!”
My Take Along Puppet Theater
Playmobil, $49.99, ages 4+
This portable puppet theater with figurines, changeable sets and sound effects including applause and music is a “great toy for storytelling and imagination,” says Aimee F. of Woolwich, NJ. She gives two thumbs up for easy assembly (her son Zach figured it out all on his own) and for the sturdy carrying case that holds all the pieces inside.
Stinky The Garbage Truck Matchbox, $59.99, ages 3+
“I don’t think (my boys) could have dreamed up a better truck,” says Elyssa D. of Philadelphia. Stinky drives around, eats other cars, makes jokes and snores while he sleeps. “My boys play rough, and so far Stinky has stayed in one piece, unlike many other trucks I am constantly fixing,” Elyssa says.
Alphie Robot Playskool, $39.99, ages 3+
This lovable learning pal reinforces “everything from colors to counting to the sounds of musical instruments,” says our Media, PA tester mom. Alphie’s double-sided quiz cards offer numerous combinations and several hours of play. Alphie is designed for preschoolers, but even the 6- and 8-year-olds in this family had fun playing the advanced levels.
Smart Cycle Racer Fisher-Price, $79.99, ages 3-6
Exercise combines with education in this high-tech stationary bike. The Smart Cycle hooks up to the TV, not much different than plugging in a video game. Jaelyn, 4, of Newfield, NJ learned about numbers, letters, shapes and colors while riding.
Stephanie Halinski is calendar editor and toy/product coordinator of MetroKids.