Blog Archives

A Kids’ App Review: Scanimalz – Scan It and Play Games

ToysBulletin.com reviews a brand new smart phone/tablet app from “Wicked Cool Toys.”

 

“Scanimalz” is both a cute stuffed animal and also the key to playing a new app on your smart phone or tablet (IOS or Android).  To get started, head to the store, or order from Amazon.com one of the eight available “Scanimalz” for just $9.99.  These are the first releases and make up Wave 1.  A “Scanimalz” stands approximately 5 inches in height; each one has a unique name and depicts a different animal.  The one quality that each has in common is the QR code on their belly...

Posted in Apps and Video Games

i-Firehouse Plus Carrying Case – A Kid’s Adventure on the iPad

“AppVentures” has created a new app for the ipad called “i-Firehouse.” It costs just $.99 at the Apple App Store, and allows youngsters to explore the inside and outside of a firehouse. This app is primarily aimed at kids ages 3 years old and up, and is a perfect match for those little ones wanting to use mom or dad’s ipad.

 

The app has been coupled with a great little carrying case, which is actually a replica of the outside of the red firehouse featured in the app.  Parents can fit their ipad into the case by safely removing the back cover.  The front of the case then provides an opening for the front of the ipad, which allows kids to choose the “i-Firehouse” app (or any other app for that matter).  Suddenly, you have a colorful new ipad case, which would also provide some protection for the ipad should the case be accidentally dropped...

Posted in Apps and Video Games

Snow Queen – A Breathtaking App For All Ages

“Timecode,” a Kiev based developer of mobile and server applications, has just released a very special app. It is a storybook based on the classic fairy tale, “Snow Queen,” by Hans Christian Anderson. However, this is not your typical e-book, in fact, it is a beautifully illustrated and interactive presentation of a truly engaging story that surprised the entire staff at Toys Bulletin.

 

I can only compare the colorful illustrations with those used in the great Graeme Base picture book, “Animalia.”  In the case of the “Snow Queen,” the detailed illustrations were done by artist Vladyslav Yerko, who also designed the covers for the Harry Potter books in the Ukraine.  He used a special kind of brush technique, before turning things over to the technicians at “Timecode,” who prepared things for iOS.  It was a very successful collaboration...

Posted in Apps and Video Games

THE BEST OF 2012 FROM TOYS BULLETIN

This task has not gotten any easier since we published our “Best of 2011” 12 months ago.  We see so many quality and exciting new products during the year, making it especially difficult to single out just a few standouts.  Plus, as mentioned last year, we cannot possibly test and review every toy and game released by every manufacturer in the past 12 months, so there is no doubt that we may have missed some good ones.

Here are the guidelines we follow in making our selections.  “The Best of 2012” is based solely on the toys and games that we have reviewed on our website from November 2011 through October 2012.  We have purposely excluded some older items, which may have been reviewed during that period, because that toy or game has been around for a number of years.  However, in some circumstances, we have also included an item that was new to us at Toys Bulletin, even though it may have been available for purchase prior to November 2011.

 

And most importantly, we kept with our mission statement of providing a list of the “Best Toys and Games You’ve Never Heard Of.”

Posted in Apps and Video Games, Baby and Toddler, Board Games, Building, Christmas, Doll, Electronics, Figures, Games, Girls, Information, Learning, Nostalgic, Outdoor, Remote Control, Riding, Sports, Vehicles

Monsterology / Animal Planet-Wildlands – New Game Apps from Nukotoys

It is time for another iPad game app review.  “Nukotoys,” located in San Francisco, California, is a relatively new company that specializes in kids’ games that combine today’s highly technical world with the physical world.  Their first two games were recently released as free apps on iTunes.

 

The first app is called “Monsterology,” which is somewhat based on the best selling book of the same title. 

The app, intended for ages 7 years old and up, allows players to play, train and battle with 75 monsters, 15 magical items and 10 traps, all available for use in playing their way through multiple 3D worlds, trying to earn the title of Master Monsterologist.

There are enough items available on the free version to get started, but as the game progresses, players can make additional virtual card purchases on the app, or actually buy physical Nuko cards at their local retailer, including all Apple Stores and Toys R Us.  The additional cards are critical to advancement in the game...

Posted in Apps and Video Games

Paper Bees – You Must Protect Your Hive

It is time for another app review on Toys Bulletin. This is a clever app from "Wiggles 3D." Although known primarily for their game offerings, they have introduced an addictive app that will keep youngsters entertained for hours on end.

"Paper Bees" pits a group of bees, trying to defend their hive, against a swarm of aggressive pests.  Kids will love how a simple swipe of their finger sends bees racing across the screen to intercept and eliminate the attackers.
Although there are eight different types of unwelcome guests, including mosquitoes, stink bugs and exploding beetles, the bees do have some allies, who come to their assistance. Look for the bumblebees, dragonflies and ice worms to provide support for the bees. The use of multiple bees and power boosts to make your bees larger and stronger was also a definite plus...
Posted in Apps and Video Games

Game Changer – Interactive Board Game for your iPad




"Identity Games," a Netherlands based game company, has introduced a fantastic new interactive board game that is used directly with the Apple iPad. "Game Changer" may be the first board game to totally allow the user to play an interactive game on an iPad while being connected to an actual game board.

"Toys Bulletin" actually got a demonstration of this great new innovation at the recent New York Toy Fair. It is an amazingly simple yet effective approach to basically playing a board game on your Apple iPad. To begin, you load the free "Game Changer" app from the App Store. Next, open the "Game Changer" template, that measures approximately 11" x 25". The middle portion of the template contains a plug in cradle for the Apple iPad. You simply plug it in, and The "Game Changer" app opens automatically. You are ready to play. There are currently two games that are available and included with the "Game Changer." One is called "Animal Mania," for ages 8 years old and up, and the second is called "The Magic School Bus," for younger kids ages 6 years old and up.

To play either game, you first place the desired game skins directly on the template to the right and the left of the iPad. The "Game Changer" application will provide complete instructions on the iPad display, before beginning the game. The game app keeps track of everything from alternating turns to making certain each player moves the correct number of spaces. Playing pieces are included for use as you move around the game board. It is important to push down slightly on each playing piece each time you make a move in order to register and complete your turn.

We took the "Game Changer" over to our nearby elementary school, which is always eager to help test any and all new products. We arranged for a group of 4 children, ages 6-9 years old to play "Game Changer," and met right after the end of the class day, with a teacher and parents on hand. We were also fortunate to find that 3 of the kids lived in a home that actually owned an iPad.

We first set up "The Magic School Bus" game. It was interesting that the parents and teacher were almost as involved as the kids in the setup and game play, again likely due to their realization that this was truly a groundbreaking experience. We set aside 30 minutes of time for each game.

"The Magic School Bus" game includes a choice of three different adventures. We chose "Space Trip" for our focus group. The kids began to play by using the interactive spinner and away they went. The object of the game was to get to the finish line before your opponents, but there were many surprises along the way, including puzzles and video clips. The sounds and colorful illustrations on both the game skins and the iPad were fun for the kids, who could not seem to get enough of this game. There were a few groans after one of the younger kids actually reached the finish line first and won the game.

Our second game was "Animal Mania," somewhat similar to "The Magic School Bus," but there were now multiple choice questions to answer and chips to collect from each animal region before winning the game. The questions were difficult for sure, but very informative and educational. This game took a little bit longer to play, but finally the nine year old was declared the winner.

We really cannot say enough about "Game Changer." It was fun, interactive, educational and it put the iPad to good use. The 4 youngsters were still talking about it, as they left the building, and the parents and teacher had never seen anything quite like it before. "Game Changer" retails for $56.99 at your Apple Store, and includes both "The Magic School Bus" and "Animal Mania" games. It can also be purchased at Amazon.com.

There are also additional games available without having to buy any more game skins. Once the "Game Changer" app is loaded, players have access to several additional games, all played on the basic template included with the game. They include "Kaboom," "Kaboom Pirates," "Airplanes," Butterflies," and "Chalkboard." We are certain this is just the beginning of game applications we will be seeing from Identity Games for the Apple iPad.
-- RJ Cullen

Posted in Apps and Video Games

Thomas & Friends: Day of the Diesels App for iPhone and iPad

The latest Thomas & Friends movie Day of the Diesels was released at the end of 2011, and just like the rest of the series, it again captured the hearts and minds of kids everywhere.  Especially in my household where the kids could barely wait to see villain Diesel 10 following the sneak peak of this great character at the end of Misty Island Rescue (and he's popped up in a few other episodes as well).

And while the release of the new film was highly anticipated, the app designed by Callaway Digital Arts is a great way to expand your child's Thomas & Friends experience in an interactive, learning focused app for the iPhone and iPad. 

The app features animated video clips, a read along book that summarizes the movie, matching games that are great for the young ones, animated puzzles and a painting game. 

There are a few aspects to this app that help it stand out from the rest of the kid's app pack.  First off, the navigation is super easy to tackle and young kids, even those under 3, can probably play with this just fine on their own. 

In addition, some nice touches are tossed in throughout.  The creators did an excellent job highlighting the main character of all this, which is Diesel 10 as much as it is Thomas.  So in the opening sequence you can touch Diesel 10's notorious claw and it will clamp down with a chink.  The coloring game is also a highlight.  It's super easy to use, and you can quickly email your completed paintings to friends or family, all from the signature "forward arrow" in the corner of the screen.  Nice job here.

The app works good on the iPhone but it really excels on the iPad with the larger screen and better resolution.  If your kids love this series, then this app is a no brainer.  It could likely be the best $5 you've spent in the Apple app store since 
Star Walk (another personal favorite).
-- Andrew Joseph
Posted in Apps and Video Games








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