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Calico Critters – Better Than Ever looks at the ever expanding line of Calico Critters distributed by International Playthings.

Calico Critters 1At the beginning of 1985, Sylvania Families, better known today in the USA as “Calico Critters,” were created and released in Japan by Epoch. The collectible figures were most unique as they were made from flocked plastic. The “Calico Critters” all live in the fictional village of Sylvania, where activities are loosely based on life as it was in 1970s England. Many of the families are middle-class and some own successful businesses. Of course, the most interesting fact relating to this line of toys is that all of the families resemble woodland animals, like rabbits, bears, cats, dogs and many others. { READ MORE...}

Posted in Figures

AnimaLogic – Move the Animals to Safety reviews a brainteaser from the Fat Brain Toy Co.

animalogic 2“AnimaLogic” is a clever and challenging game for youngsters ages 5 years old and up. The idea is simple, there are 16 animals (4 each of lions, hippos, giraffes and camels). Each animal in their respective group is also a different color, either yellow, blue, green or red. The animals are trying to cross a river and get to the other side, but they are required to move according to a strict set of rules, that being that they must cross the river one at a time, must travel right to left on their given path, cannot jump over another animal and most importantly each animal must either follow an animal of the same color or follow an animal of the same species. { READ MORE...}

Posted in Board Games, Learning, Puzzle

4M Crystal Growing Kit — Sparkling Crystals Form Right Before Your Eyes reviews a science kit from 4M.

This is a great little “Crystal Growing Kit” that you can find on Amazon for around $10. The key here is to follow the directions very carefully, which not only ensures the success of your crystal growing but it provides a strong foundation for learning about science and teaching kids to follow instructions.

We tested this kit with a six year old and an eight year old, and I would say it was perfect for them, although you could even go a little younger if you are prepared to assist with the project. Everything you need is included in the kit except for water. We began by dissolving the powdery crystal mixture in hot water and letting it sit for 15 minutes. Then we transferred that to the clear crystal display case and waited another 30 minutes for everything to settle. Next we put in the multi-colored crystal seeds, and according to our watch, the preparation process took about 60 minutes. { READ MORE...}

Posted in Building, Crafts, Learning, Novelty

Plasticant Mobilo – Building Set Supreme reviews a building set made in Germany from Plasticant Mobilo.

Mobilo 1There are many construction sets to choose from these days, but there is one that clearly has established itself as a standout. “Plasticant Mobilo” is developed and manufactured in Salzburg, Germany, where they use an injection moulding system to create their high-quality plastics, and the final products are a sight to behold.

We first discovered “Plasticant Mobilo” products while roaming the halls at the last New York Toy Fair. We were immediately drawn to the bright colors used on the display models, and we had to see more. We were able to get a 120 piece Standard Set of construction parts, which provided us with a sampling of nearly every type of connector, wheel, rail and support needed to build just about anything. { READ MORE...}

Posted in Building, Learning

Buggaloop – Watch Out for the Hexbug reviews another great game from Ravensburger.

buggaloop 1“Buggaloop” is a perfect family game. It provides friendly competition for all ages with an easy to navigate playing surface and very simple rules.

The game arrives with 12 bugs, a 3-D yard, a special Hexbug® Nano V2® (powered by an included LR44 button battery), a game board and 1 six-sided die. The game is designed for 2-4 players, ages 6 years old and up, and set up is a breeze.

The object of the game is to be the first player to get their assigned bugs successfully across the game board to safety by simply rolling the die, moving the number of spaces shown on the die and staying on course. But, there is a pesky Hexbug running loose and it can knock a player’s bugs off course, causing them to return to start and begin again. The Hexbug creates a fun dynamic and continues to raise the level of drama and energy each time it bears its plastic antennas. { READ MORE...}

Posted in Games

Hurricane Water Balls – Reusable Water Bombs tests some water balloons from Prime Time Toys.

Hurricane Water Balls 1We grew up with home made water balloons, so we know from experience that water balloons are one of the best ways to drench your friends with water. However, when we came across a supposed reusable water balloon that can be refilled up to 1,000 times, we were a bit skeptical, but then again, we had to take a closer look.

We play tested the “Hurricane Water Balls” with a focus group made up of two 8 year olds, a 9 year old and an 11 year old. One of the 8 year olds was a girl and the rest of the group were boys. The first words that came out of the 9 year old’s mouth, after drenching his friend with two water balls, was “these are simply AWESOME!” { READ MORE...}

Posted in Outdoor

Wet Head – Perfect Fun for That Hot Summer Day reviews an exciting backyard water game from Zing Toys.

Wet Head 1The “Zing” tag line says it all…”Give it a spin, pull a pin.…will you be the next Wet Head?” It is so simple yet so fun. Why has no one thought of this game before?

“Wet Head” comes with four simple parts, a spinner, a helmet, a turning mechanism that attaches to the helmet and 8 pins. This is basically a game of Water Russian Roulette. Once the turning mechanism (filled with water) and helmet are placed on a player’s head, he spins it around and pulls a pin. If he is lucky, he will pull a pin and nothing happens, but watch out if he pulls the wrong pin. If he does, he is splashed with water and gets a good soaking. To set things up, simply remove the cap from the turning mechanism and fill it with water while it is attached to the helmet, making sure that all 8 pins are securely pushed in place, replace the cap and you are ready to play. { READ MORE...}

Posted in Outdoor

Syrinscape – Hear Your Games Come to Life reviews an astounding sound app from “Syrinscape.”

Syrinscape 1I remember playing games when I was a kid where I constantly provided my own” sound effects” to enhance the game experience. This was usually done by mimicking an explosion, a gun shot, an animal roar or maybe a strike of lightning using my mouth or clapping my hands. It worked for sure, but now gamers can experience the real thing, sounds that will literally make the playing pieces and game board come to life. { READ MORE...}

Posted in Apps and Video Games