By Christina Barron, The Washington Post
It’s time to start the list. We’re not talking about homework assignments or your clarinet practice log. The list. The one that’s pure fun. The holiday wish list.
KidsPost went straight to the target audience for a holiday toy test. Kids from 10 Washington-area schools took more than 75 toys, games and crafts out of their boxes to see if they were as much fun as they looked.
Cool Baker Cake Pop Maker
Tested by: fifth-graders. Spin Master. $25; refills that make four pops: $6.99. Age 6 and older
This toy lets kids make the sweet treats without baking. Water is the only additional ingredient. Kids said the instructions were easy to follow. but they said the pops don’t taste the same as cake baked in an oven.
Digital Light Designer
Tested by: third-graders. Crayola. $50. Age 6 and older
Drawing colorful pictures on this dome-shaped canvas requires no paint or markers. Touch the dome with the stylus or pen and the drawings appear out of light. The kid testers said ,”It’s like an iPad and a coloring book mixed together.”
Tested by: second-graders. Vtech. $60. Ages 3 to 8
This learning toy is a game console, an e-reader and an art studio all in one. Three games come loaded on the device, and many more are available. Second-grade testers loved it, especially the games, and they all said they would play with it for months.
Angry Birds Action Game
Tested by: second-graders. University Games. $30. Age 5 and older
This game, which is like a beanbag toss, includes two stuffed birds, a plastic pig, three wooden blocks and a play mat. To play, place the pig on a stack of the blocks and toss the birds to knock him down. Second-graders loved knocking down the pesky pig.
Take Along Soccer Match
Tested by: third-graders. Playmobil. $60. Age 5 and older
This portable soccer game was a favorite with third-graders, who said it reminded them of foosball. The figures can kick the ball with the help of a lever. The goalies are connected to short poles that allow them to move back and forth and even dive for a ball. The field folds in half for storage with all the pieces inside. The kids said this was a toy that would keep their interest.
Weird and Wacky Contraption Lab
Tested by: third-graders. SmartLab Toys. $40. Age 8 and older
This colorful building set includes 65 ramps, levers and other pieces (including a mini toilet) that attach to a Velcro-like board to make dozens of contraptions, or devices. The goal is to send a ball from the top of the board through the pieces to a pig cannon at the bottom. The set provides five course designs, whicg testers said took a long time to put together.
Tested by: sixth-graders, The Game Chef. $25. Age 10 and older
All the kids who tested Rollick! said it was funny and had them laughing. It’s played in teams, with some players acting out one of the 750 clues for team members to guess. One student said, “I loved how you had to work together with your friends.”
Lego Friends Heartlake Stables
Tested by: second-graders, Lego. $50. Ages 6 to 12
This year Lego introduced its Friends line, its first building sets specifically for girls. And the sets have been popular. Our testers gave a thumbs-up to the new Heartlake Stables set.Second-graders reported that it was a little hard to build, but putting it together is half the fun.
Lego The Lord of the Rings
Uruk-hai Army. Tested by: third-graders. Lego. $30. Age 8 and older
This set includes a fortress wall, a catapult, weapons and six figures, including Eomer, who is sold only with this set. The testers said they had fun building it and would play with it months from now. “You can take it apart and it’s like a new toy,” one student said.
DJ Rock Dock
Tested by: fifth-graders. SmartLab Toys. $20. Age 8 and older
Build a dock for your iPod or MP3 player with this kit. Boys and girls said that learning about circuits was challenging but worth the effort. They all agreed that they would use the dock long after they had put it together.
Tested by: sixth-graders. AppFinity. $20. Age 8 and older
An iPhone, Android or iPod Touch snaps into a fishing rod and reel and — once the free app (search for Fish It) is downloaded — you seem to be casting for real fish. The testers said the instructions were simple and the game was entertaining. “Even though fishing is boring, this game is fun,” one tester said.
Silverlit Interactive Bluetooth Porsche 911
Tested by: sixth-graders
SilverLit. $80. Age 8 and older. Available at Amazon.com, the Apple Store and Silverlit.com
With the download of a free app, an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad becomes the remote control for this Porsche 911 Carrera. You control the car’s movements either by tilting the device or moving a virtual joystick. Kids found it hard to control but fun to drive. One said it was “so cool to see this car powered by an app!”
Tested by: fifth-graders Winning Moves. $20. Age 12 and older
Move the disks of this puzzle from one peg to another. Sound easy? Not when you can move only one disk and move only smaller pieces on top of larger ones. Players can challenge one another to solve the puzzle in the fewest moves. Once you’ve mastered the basic level, two more-difficult challenges await. “It takes a lot of strategy,” one student said.
Micro race cars
Tested by: second-graders Age 6 and older
Several toy companies have small spaces in mind with the new miniature cars and tracks. Two of our testers’ favorites were Nano Speed Super Vert Crash Set (Spin Master. $35.) and Micro Chargers Jump Track (Moose Toys. $30.).Crashing the cars was the favorite part of playing with both sets, the kids said.
Air Storm Z-Curve Bow and Z-Tek Cross Bow
Tested by: fourth-graders
Zing Toys. $20 to $25. Age 8 and older
If you picture yourself as Katniss from “The Hunger Games,” you need a bow. The Z-Curve can launch foam arrows up to 125 feet, and the Z-Tek features firing modes for close range and distance. The Z-Tek also includes a target. The fourth-grade testers called the bows “fun … fast … challenging and entertaining.” And to reassure Mom and Dad, one student noted, “It didn’t hurt anyone.”