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The Best of 2013 from Toys Bulletin

ToysBulletin.com lists its favorite toys and games of the year.

 

Each year this task gets much more difficult for our staff here at Toys Bulletin.  As has been the case in past years, we continue to see so many quality and exciting new products during the year that it is especially difficult to single out just a few standouts.  Plus, we also know that 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 2013” is based solely on the toys and games that we have reviewed on our website from November 2012 through October 2013.  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 2012.

 

And most importantly, we followed 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

Solar Robot Building Kit Review: RobotiKits – Build it and Watch the Sun Move it

ToysBulletin.com reviews a 14 in 1 Solar Robot from Owi.

Owi Inc. is one of the best known makers of robot kits and solar energy sets for young students.  We are going to look at one of their newer releases, that being the “RobotiKits - 14 in 1 Solar Educational Solar Robot.”  Most of the products from Owi are designed with different difficulty levels, up to a level 05.  This one is considered a level 02, and can be capably handled by youngsters 10 years old and up.


This kit is especially unique in that it allows the builder to construct not just one solar powered robot, but a total of 14, and all of the parts necessary are included. As you might have guessed, there are an enormous number of plastic parts included in the box.  However, to make things easier, Owi has provided multiple clear plastic bags, each with a sticker showing photos and part numbers, so that specific parts can not only be stored safely, but also can be identified and located quickly when building one of the robots...

Posted in Learning

Educational Toy Review: Magnetic U.S.A. Puzzle from Smethport – Learn and Have Fun Too

ToysBulletin.com reviews a high quality product from Smethport and Patch Products.

 

Smethport may be most famous for being the company responsible for “Wooly Willy,” the famous magnetic drawing toy first introduced in the mid 1950s.  But in 2008, they joined forces with Patch Products, Inc., and together they have continued to release winning games and playsets for young children. 

 

Everyone has seen and played with some sort of U.S.A. map related game or puzzle over the years.  It might have been a simple jigsaw or floor puzzle, maybe a card game or a sticker book, but most of them were likely a bit mediocre and really not much fun.  We have run across what may be the best of the U.S.A. map related puzzles, Smethport’s “Magnetic U.S.A. Puzzle...”

Posted in Learning

Mental Blox – A Brain Game for Kids

“Learning Resources” continues to release learning tools and games for youngsters aimed at increasing their ability to think and reason.  “Mental Blox” is that type of game, and it can be played at home or in the classroom.  The game comes with two sets of 10 blocks, each set identical, but every block different in either color or shape, and each measuring approximately 2” long x 2” wide.  There are also 20 double-sided numbered cards, each displaying a different combination of three or more blocks.  As the numbers get larger, the structures get more complex.

There are two games suggested by “Learning Resources.”  The first is called “Look & Build.”  In this game, players are divided into two teams, with each team getting a complete set of 10 blocks. 


Teams each send one player from their team to take a look at one of the numbered cards (all cards are kept at a distance from all other players) for 10 seconds.  Once the time has expired, both players return to their team location and quickly try to assemble the blocks so that they match the structure on the card exactly.  The first team to get it right yells out “Mental Blox,” and if they are correct, they keep the card.  Players alternate turns, and the team collecting the most cards wins the game...

Posted in Games, Learning

Chinese Cubes – Learn a Language the Right Way

We take great pride in reporting new and exciting products to our readers. This one certainly ranks near the top of that list. “Chinese Cubes” teaches both youngsters and adults how to speak, write and understand Chinese. But, they do it in a most unique, yet effective way, using a new concept in learning called Augmented Reality (AR) technology, which actually brings the characters to life on your computer screen.  The entire “Chinese Cubes” program encompasses 200 Chinese characters and will allow the user to learn approximately 30,000 words and phrases...

Posted in Learning

Electronics-Learning Circuits – Fun With Real Experiments

“Thames & Kosmos” is well known for producing some of the best and most educational science kits around. Toys Bulletin is going to take a close look at one of those sets, “Electronics-Learning Circuits.”

 

Starting with the 64 page full color “Experiment Manual,” to the finely detailed parts, there is little doubt when you open the box that this is a high quality science kit.   The kit is devoted to teaching youngsters (and a few oldsters on the Toys Bulletin staff) all about the world of transistors, LEDs, resistors and capacitors.  There are 73 experiments in all, and everything needed is included with the exception of two AA batteries.  All of the experiments are performed with a safe and low 3 volts of electrical current...

Posted in Learning

Baseball, Football and Movie Talk – Let’s Start a Conversation

U.S. Games Systems, Inc. has released a series of conversation cards. The idea is to provide facts about a certain subject, which in turn stimulates discussion between family and friends. This is accomplished with a deck of 51 cards, each of which contains information relating to that particular topic. The backs of each card in the deck are also different, depicting colorful drawings related to the subject matter. We have chosen to review the Baseball, Football and Movie Talk cards.


Here are some examples directly from the cards…

 

From Baseball Talk:

“Lou Gehrig was a legendary first baseman for the New York Yankees.  “The Iron Horse” played in 2,130 consecutive games, and still holds the record for most career grand slams with 23.  The disease that cut his career short is now commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease.”

What baseball player, alive or deceased, would you most like to meet?

Posted in Learning

Attribute Apples – A Basket Full of Educational Fun

“Learning Resources” has created a great little sorting toy for kids 3 years old and up called “Attribute Apples." The box resembles a circular basket and inside there are 27 durable apples in 3 different colors, red, green and yellow.  There are nine apples in each color, and the apples come in 3 different sizes as well.  Certain apples also have stems, worms or leaves.

 

The instructions suggest several ideas for using “Attribute Apples.”  One example would be to have children sort the apples by color or size.  Another might ask children to look for all of the apples with stems, regardless of size.  Or, maybe find and count all of the apples of medium size.  The possibilities are endless, and the instruction booklet outlines many more suggestions...

Posted in Learning








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