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Rubbabu – 3D Shape Sorter and Rubbablox




Let's take a look at a couple of very educational toys from "Rubbabu." First, we spent a lot of time with the "3D Shape Sorter." The "3D Shape Sorter" is made of the same high quality rubber foam as all "Rubbabu" products. This basically teaches children to put nine different animal shaped puzzle pieces into the proper cut out opening on a puzzle board. Each of the pieces must fit exactly into the designated space. They will not fit upside down, and they must face the proper direction.

In our focus group, this toy had particular appeal to those ages 2 and up. "Rubbabu" had recommended it for ages 0 and older, but with very young children they definitely needed the help of a parent to teach them where to place each animal piece. The youngest children did enjoy simply playing with and squeezing the various animal shaped pieces. The bright colors (6 different colors in all) used for the different animals was a definite positive noted by the parents.

Another plus sited by the parents was the terrific non-slip surface on the bottom of the puzzle tray. It stayed in one place, rather than slide around, which was especially helpful when the little hands were trying to put pieces into place.

Next, we looked at "Rubbablox," a building toy for ages 2 and older.  The set contained 9 rubber foam blocks, each measuring approximately 3" by 3". The blocks can be connected to each other with 14 short cylindrical connectors, each measuring about 1 1/4" in height and diameter.  Of course, everything is made of the quality "Rubbabu" rubber foam material.  They connect very easily and the number of bright colors used were expanded beyond those used with the "3D Shape Sorter."

The kids (2+) loved this one, and most of them found it very easy to connect the blocks, and stack them up.  Many of the parents suggested that "Rubbablox" was a perfect pre-Lego type building set, allowing young children to easily handle and build with softer and larger size pieces.

The "Rubbabu 3D Shape Sorter" can be purchased for $29.95 directly from "Rubbabu." The nine piece "Rubbablox" set  can be found at Amazon.com for $36.95.  We gave both of these toys our "Silver Rating."
-- RJ Cullen
*Silver Rating*

Posted in Building, Learning

Kidzsack- Sports Design – A Backpack you can make your own

"Kidzsack" is a new type of backpack for children ages 4 and up. We had never seen anything quite like this before. The "Kidzsack" measures approximately 12" x 13" and looks like it is made of canvas, although it is manufactured of 100% recycled fabric. The sack itself opens from the top to allow kids to carry books, papers, or even a soccer ball, as suggested by the manufacturer. Two strong heavy duty rope straps are attached, one on each side, allowing the child to slip the "Kidzsack" easily over their shoulders.

But what makes this product unique is that each one comes with an original black and white design on the backside of the sack. Included with each "Kidzsack" is a complete set of 8 different colored washable markers. The idea is for your child to color the design, much like they would do in a coloring book. Our review sample was based on a sports design. Kids were able to color the design as they wished using the washable markers, and the result was a bright new look for the backside of the sack. Children seemed to love coloring and creating their own personal "Kidzsack." Certainly no two would ever look the same.

Now for the magic, the "Kidzsack" is completely machine washable, and once washed, all colors disappear, and the sack is ready to be colored once again.  Children can use totally different colors and create a totally different look. Kids loved coloring and wearing the "Kidzsack," but they were truly surprised, when we showed them the "Kidzsack," after washing.  In fact, once washed, we could not find any trace of the previous coloring on the product.  It looked brand new, and again ready for coloring.

"Kidzsack" is available with several different designs, so if you own more than one, kids can simply recolor the designs and have several unique looks on multiple "Kidzsacks."  A "Kidzsack" can usually be purchased for less than $20.00, and can be found at www.Amazon.com.  This is a great item for your little one.  Who would have thought you could have so much fun with a backpack.
-- Lance Manion
Posted in Building, Learning

Thames and Kosmos Air + Water Power Kit – Amaze your friends and build 15 different models

Thames & Kosmos produces exciting science kits for our new generation of engineers. The kits are numerous, and remind me of both the classic Erector sets and Capsela building sets from the 80s.

I have focused on the "Thames & Kosmos Air + Water Power Kit," because of its overall appeal to most youngsters ages 8 and up. This kit will allow you to build your own models powered by either water or air, and learn some basic Physics laws at the same time. The water-jet propelled cars can be used outdoors, while the Hydro-pneumo powered models can be used indoors or out.

There are 15 different models to choose from, including a truck, excavator, plane, helicopter and tank.
Everything you need to complete each model is included in the "Thames & Kosmos Air + Water Power Kit." There is a 48 page color instruction manual outlining the step by step assembly process, and there are 165 building pieces in the complete kit.

Parents will love the educational value of such a kit, while the kids will be begging to stay up late to complete their next project.  The "Thames & Kosmos Air + Water Power Kit" retails for just $39.99 and can be bought at Amazon.com.  Don't forget to also check out their line of "Little Labs" for children 5 years old and up.  This is one great toy.  It'll earn a Toys Bulletin Gold Rating.
-- RJ Cullen
*Gold Rating*
Posted in Building, Learning

Tolo Activity Shape Box

Many of you may not have heard of the toy brand "Tolo." Tolo Toys Ltd. was established in 1985 and is a British owned company, headquartered in Hong Kong. "Tolo" is known throughout the toy industry as a leader in developmental toys for young children.

The quality, playability and durability of their complete line of toys is legendary. It is not unusual for a "Tolo" toy to be passed down to a younger brother or sister, and for the toy to still appear totally fresh and like new.

There are approximately 200 different toys in the complete "Tolo" line. I have reviewed and purchased several dozen over the past few years, but I decided to choose the "Tolo Shape Box" to review here. It is very representative of a typical "Tolo" toy.
The "Tolo Shape Box" is made of durable hard ABS plastic, and teaches matching and shape sorting.  In fact, individual pieces act as their own rattle, each making their own sound.  There are 6 different shapes in all.  The box itself has a lever to pull, a wheel to spin, and everything can be housed inside, with a carry handle included.  It is recommended for ages 12 months and older.

The "Tolo Shape Box" has received the prestigious "Parent's Choice Best Toy Gold Award," the "Dr. Toy Best Toy Gold Award," and the "Practical Pre-school Bronze Award."   "The Tolo Shape Box" retails for around $18.00 and can be seen and purchased here (Tolo Activity Shape Box).  Remember to look at the full-line of "Tolo" toys.  The selection will amaze you.

This one receives a Silver rating.
-- Andrew Joseph
Posted in Building, Learning

Lock Harbour and Marina by Aquaplay

Aquaplay is the premier manufacturer of high quality water toys for children. The toys are made in Sweden and the quality is amazing.

Aquaplay makes imaginative portable water stations, that include canal systems, paddle wheels, water pumps, and a basic lock system. They even produce waterfalls, sailboats, barges and small figures that can be used in many of the sets.

I chose to recommend the "Lock Harbour and Marina" because I frankly never understood how locks worked in the first place. I did after spending some time with this toy. I honestly feel like I just had a fundamental engineering lesson. The "Lock Harbour and Marina" is on the high end of the Aquaplay line of toys. All components are made of high quality recyclable plastic and can be used indoors or out.
This set includes lock, paddlewheel, water gate, small harbor, crane with bucket, barge, marina, car, curved and straight sections to hold things together and several figures too.  Add some water and watch things happen.

Although the "Lock Harbour and Marina" retails for anywhere between $120 and $160, Aquaplay makes many starter sets for as low $17.  I would suggest that to get the full educational value from this toy, it would be best for those 3 years old and up.

But don't forget those starter sets for the younger kids.
-- Lance Manion
Posted in Building, Learning

Melissa & Doug Slice and Bake Cookie Set

“Melissa & Doug” make extremely high quality toys and puzzles for young children. Their products are always safe, and are built to last. This item is no exception; in fact, this may be one of this reviewer’s favorite “Melissa & Doug” toys.

This set simulates the actual baking process, something all young kids want to try. Your children can pretend to bake, decorate and serve cookies just like mom. The set comes with 12 wooden, sliceable cookies, all packed in a realistic dough tube. They are held together by Velcro so they stay together, when removed from the tube. Decorating pieces are included as well, along with a set of kitchen utensils, a cookie sheet and oven mitt.

The set retails for $19.99 and is intended for pre-schoolers, ages 3+. Read more and make your purchase at www.amazon.com .
-- RJ Cullen
Posted in Building

Automoblox

This is a dream toy for those young builders in your family. This is a solid wood automobile with real rubber tires that can be assembled and disassembled over and over. Unlike “Lego” or other building toys, there are far fewer pieces and each piece is much larger than traditional building models. It is extremely sturdy and the parts are interchangeable with other automobiles in the series. As the manufacturer suggests, it is truly a “modular marvel of engineering.”

Another key benefit here is that “Autoblox” are intended for kids 3+, again because of the simplicity and larger parts. This is an amazing toy, and likely your son or daughter will be the first to have one in your neighborhood. It is not an inexpensive toy, as a regular size “Automoblox” may retail at $39.99. This is not sold in traditional toy outlets, but can be purchased at speciality toy stores or at www.amazon.com .
Posted in Building








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