Tag Archives: zing

Blasting into the New Year

Because playing with your kids—no matter how old they are—is a blast, here are some great ways to start your 2017 off with well, a blast.

Laser X Two Player Laser Gaming Set (NSI International, Inc.)

laser xThere are a lot of words to describe Laser X, but to keep the list short, we’ll limit ourselves to “Wow!” “Amazing!” “Cool!” “Whooo—hooo!” and, most importantly, “Let’s do it again!” Get the point? We reviewed the two-player set, which, if you’re a laser newbie, is the only way to go. Playing against someone else is infinitely more fun than playing by yourself. This set comes with two laser blasters, two vests, an interactive “coach” who tells you to get down and lets you know when you’re running low on ammo, cool sound effects, and hours of fun. It’s great for outdoor or indoor play, and since the vests and blasters glow, it’s especially fun at night. It’s also compatible with other Laser X equipment so you can field teams. Each vest allows you to select Red Team, Blue Team, or to go rogue and blast everyone. Ages 6-16. $24.99 for a single blaster and vest and $49.99 for a double set at major retailers or at www.GetLaserX.com.

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A Vacation from Vacations

With all the camps, family trips, excursions, and non-stop activities, after a few weeks, summer vacation can sometimes start to feel like work. Here are some great ways to slow things down and get back to having some good, old-fashioned, low-pressure fun.

Math Dice Chase (Think Fun)

math diceThink Hot Potato, but with math facts. This game comes with two pairs of 12-sided dice and the goal is to pass your pair to your opponent before he or she does the same to you. The way you get rid of your dice is by rolling them, multiplying the two up-facing numbers, and calling out your answer. The speed factor and the element of competition make Math Dice Chase a fun, engaging way for kids (and adults) to master their multiplication tables. There are, of course, plenty of other ways to use the dice. You might, for example, roll one and have three players roll a die of their own and be the first to multiply theirs by the one in the middle. Ages 8+. Retails for about $6.99. http://www.thinkfun.com/products/math-dice-chase/

Escape the Room: Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor (Think Fun)

escape the roomThere’s something very strange going on at the old manor down the street. Your neighbor, a famous astronomer, has seemingly disappeared and you and your guests have decided to investigate. Being adventurers, you let yourselves into the astronomer’s house, but, gasp, you find yourselves locked in a room. And time is running out. The only way you’ll survive the night (why do these things always happen at night?) is to work together using logic and problem-solving skills to solve puzzles and unlock clues. It’s a delightful (but a little sinister) way to spend time with your family and/or friends. The kit includes scene cards, sealed envelopes containing secret items (no, we’re not going to tell you what they are), instructions, and more. It’s for 3-8 players, ages 10+, and retails for under $22. http://www.thinkfun.com/products/stargazer/

Back Spin (Think Fun)

back spinImagine a two-sided flying saucer with six color-coded slots on each side. Every slot can accommodate three colored marbles, for a total of 36. But there are only 35. That allows you to push a marble from one side into the empty space on the other. Mixing everything up is plenty of fun, and involves lots of twisting and spinning and poking. But the real challenge is getting all the marbles back into their original positions. Back Spin is frustrating (in a good way) and requires logic, planning, time, and patience. But it’s also incredibly addictive and you won’t want to put it down. It’s for one player aged 8 and up (so it’s perfect for when you need a little “me” time) and retails for about $14.99. http://www.thinkfun.com/products/back-spin/

Wet Head (Zing)

wet headIf you’re looking for a fun way to cool down after a long day out in the sun, Wet Head is perfect. Imagine a small tank mounted on what looks like a hardhat. The tank has eight pins sticking out of it. Then, fill the tank with water and put the hat on. One of those pins will dump the contents of the tank onto your head. Now, spin the spinner, which will tell you to pull one or two pins, skip a turn, or do something else. (There’s also a Wet Head Challenge app that brings in trivia questions and just ads to the fun factor.) If you follow the instructions and stay dry, pass the hat to the next player. Eventually, someone’s going to get soaked. You can play indoors or out, fully dressed, or clothing optional. Ages 4 and up. Retails for under $20. http://wethead.toys/

 

Are We Having Fun Yet?

It’s still cold outside, but there’s still plenty of family fun to be had. Here are a few winners of the recent Mr. Dad Seal of Approval (mrdad.com/seal), plus some other great options.

Spanish for Kids: The Ultimate Collection (Whistlefritz)

Spanish-Ultimate-CollectionThis cute video features an adorable, animated mouse and a Spanish-speaking senorita who have teamed up to help you learn Spanish. It’s really sweet, and has fun and upbeat music that the kids can enjoy while learning a new language. The one drawback is that it’s entirely in Spanish, which can make it a little hard for kids to follow along unless they already know some Spanish vocabulary. We worry that the kids might give up too quickly. That said, this Collection would be great to use in conjunction with other Spanish language learning sets (including those made by Whistlefritz). As the kids become more fluent (which shouldn’t take too long), you can use this DVD more regularly. Ages 2-6. $115.00. Buy it at www.whistlefritz.com

Happy Wrap (Happy Baby Wrap)

happy baby wrapBabywearing is an easy and effective way for dads (and moms) to get tons of cuddle and bonding time with baby while boosting those all-important feelings of competence and confidence. These lightweight, breathable wraps have no buckles or rings and are one-size-fits-most, so you and the baby-mama can share one wrap. They come in a variety of prints and can safely and ergonomically support a baby up to 25 pounds (translation: less back pain for ma and pa than many baby carriers). $48-$55. www.happybabywrap.com

Shampoo & Body Wash (Nature’s Baby Organics)

nature's organics shampoo and baby washToday’s dads are involved in every aspect of parenting, and bathing the kiddies is no exception. In fact, it’s one of the best jobs ever. Really. But some of the “baby” shampoos and bath products out there have a—there’s no nice way to say this—stench. That’s not a great thing under normal circumstances. And it’s especially unpleasant if anyone in your family is sensitive to scents. Nature’s Baby has figured out a way to clean and moisturize our littlest monsters, leaving them smelling delicious–like coconut and pineapple. Also comes in lavender-chamomile and vanilla-tangerine. $17.95 for a 16-oz. bottle. www.naturesbaby.com

King’s Gold (Blue Orange Games)

blue orange king's goldThink Yahtzee meets Jack Sparow. Pirates take turns rolling the five custom dice (instead of numbers, the faces have coins, skulls, cannons, or crossbones). You can roll up to three times, keeping some or all, trying to make certain combinations, which allow you to take coins from your opponents (or the king, who gets a cut of all your winnings). Play wisely and you’ll become the richest pirate in the Caribbean. About $14.00. 2-6 players, ages 8 and up. www.blueorangegames.com

Draw 4 (Blue Orange Games)

blue orange draw 4The dig starts by creating an excavation zone, consisting of face-down dinosaur bone cards and action cards. Players take turns removing cards from the zone, trying to assemble complete dinos. The action cards can speed things up or cost you your turn—or your bones! About $13.50. 2-5 players, ages 5 and up. www.blueorangegames.com

X6 Zoom Rocketz (Zing)

zing zoom rocketzThere’s no strategy, no stealing cards from your opponents, and nothing to assemble here. Zoom Rocketz is all about competing to see who can send six rockets the farthest. The harder you stomp on the launch pad, the better. Depending on the angle of the launcher, you can go for height or distance. Comes with one launcher (which automatically rotates and loads the next rocket) and six rockets. About $20 at your favorite retailerFor kids 8 and up, and definitely for outdoor play only. www.zingtoys.com

Soothing the Savage Infant and Toddler

We often think of the first few years of childhood as a time of total dependence on dad, mom, and anyone else who’s willing to change diapers and clean up vomit. But while that’s true, those early years are also a time when kids start hurtling towards independence, trying to do everything on their own, whether that’s crawling, walking, eating, reading, using the big-kid toilet, or anything else. This week we take a look at a number of toys that little ones will want to do on their own. You may need to be around to help or explain a few things, but even the smallest humans need some “me time.”

zing stikbotStikBots (Zing)
Got a budding animator in your home? If so, this is definitely for you (as long as your child is old enough not to put small things in his or her mouth). The idea is pretty simple: kids can pose the cute plastic figures and use the free StikBot Studios app (for iOS or Android only) to create their very own stop-action. Suction cups where hands and feet would be allow the StikBots to do all sorts of neat tricks. The Bots themselves don’t always hold their posed position and the app can be confusing for very little kids, but overall, it’s a really fun way to bring out your child’s creativity. Ages 4+. $9.99 for a kit with two Bots and a tripod. http://www.stikbot.toys/

sleeperheroSleeperHero (SleeperHero)
When kids are little, bedtime can be tough on everyone: they may be afraid of the dark or of being alone, and you may be afraid (then angry) that you’ll be up all night dealing with them. SleeperHero is a doll-book combo that’s aimed at eliminating some of that nighttime tension. The book is about a child who has trouble falling asleep in his own bed but is befriended by SleeperHero, who’s there to comfort and banish the bad guys and monsters hiding under the bed. For the parents, the doll has a light on his chest that glows red when it’s time for the child to stay in bed, then changes to green when it’s okay to run around and wake everyone up. Naturally, you can set both times. Ages 3+. $49.99. http://www.sleeperhero.com/


troboTROBO (Trobo)
If you’re completely opposed to exposing young children to technology, you’re out of luck here. But if you agree that technology can be wonderful in moderation and with an adult around, you’ll love TROBO. This friendly plush toy pairs with an iPad or iPhone and tells stories to your child. The stories subtly expose toddlers to science and technology concepts, and by incorporating your child’s name and a cartoon avatar, he or she becomes part of the story—and stays interested, which hopefully builds a love of learning. TROBO isn’t quite out yet, but he’ll be available just in time for the Holidays. Pre-order at http://www.herecomestrobo.com/




tiny love mobile + crib toyDouble-Sided Crib Toy and Hide and Seek Mobile (Tiny Love)
The crib toy attaches to the inside of your baby’s crib and lets your baby pound, bang, poke, and twist five colorful elements that produce a variety of sounds and effects. Flip it over and it switches to nighttime mode, with softly twinkling lights and soothing music.  The mobile is not your father’s (or even your) mobile. Sure it has adorable animals that gently go round and round, accompanied by music. But these figures also play hide and seek with your baby, sometimes hiding behind something that looks like a leaf, sometimes not. The mobile also gives your baby some control over the music. 0-24 months. Prices vary. http://www.tinylove.com/

Toy Trends to Watch in 2013

Going to Toy Fair is always a bit overwhelming. To start with, hundreds of manufacturers from all over the world are showcasing thousands of products.  Some are amazing, innovative, and creative. Some are copycats or retreads, and some are just plain awful. But what’s especially fun is trying to predict which of the trends we’re seeing will actually become hits—and which will bomb. Here are a few categories we think are worth watching.  Some of these are already hot—and we believe will get even hotter. Some are just appearing but will be all the rage in 2013. Over the next few months your parents@play team will bring you reviews of these and many, many other categories.

Archery
nerf bowWith the amazing success of the movies Hunger Games, Brave, and the Avengers—all of which featured archers—it was only a matter of time until bows and arrows took their place alongside swords as the low-tech weapons of choice for today’s young adventurers. Everyone from well-known brands like Nerf (hasbro.com) and Zing (zingtoystore.com) to tiny brands you’ve never heard of (but will soon), have introduced bows or crossbows that fire a variety of (safe) projectiles.

Zombies and Vampires
mystixx beforemyxixx afterThe Twilight series, Dark Shadows, and animated fare like Frankenweenie and ParaNorman have taken vampires and zombies out of the crypt and enrolled them in high school. The Monster High girls have been out for a while. But some of the most fun—and most creative—are the face-changing Mystixx Vampires (mystixx.com). At first  glance you’ve got a cute-as-a-button doll. Turn the head around, rearrange the hair, and you’ve got one stylin’ vampire.

Moustaches
stacetat mustacheMaybe it started with the Got Milk? mustache campaign. Or maybe it was the Movember campaign when men around the world grow their facial hair during the month of November to raise awareness of prostate cancer and other men’s health concerns. But however it happened, mustaches are hot. And not just for men and boys—plenty of girls are getting in on the act as well. We especially liked the Ha! Ha! Moustache game from Haywire Group (haywiregroup.com) where player try to identify famous (or infamous) people based on a cardboard mustache and a handful of clues. And Stachetats (stachetats.com) has a line of wild and colorful temporary upper lip decorations for every taste.

Duct tape
melissa and doug duct tapeOnce upon a time duct tape was grey, sticky, boring, and available only in hardware stores. Today, there are entire aisles in arts and crafts stores devoted to far less sticky, and definitely not boring duct tapes in dozens of colors and patterns. Specialty companies like Creativity for Kids (creativityforkids.com) and Klutz (klutz.com) have wonderfully colorful kits that are built around duct tape. And so do some of the giants, like Melissa and Doug.

From app to reality
mattel angry birdsAnother interesting trend is to take popular apps like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds and turn them into real-life games. Sometimes there’s a branding double whammy, such as when Star Wars character start flying through the air knocking down structures.

Pink and glitter
Just about anything you can imagine–building systems like Lego and Megabloks, science kits, tattoos, cameras, mustaches, sports equipment, action figures, and even guns and other weapons—are now available in pink and glitter.