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Best toys for this holiday season, as picked by local kids

How do you know if a toy is good or not? You play with it! That’s why KidsPost goes to the experts when putting together our list of holiday toys and games. We gathered nearly 80 items, from board games and race cars to crafts and collectibles, and then asked 10 classes from area schools to put them to the test. These second- through sixth-graders considered everything: Is it easy to set up? Will I still want to play with it in six months? Is it worth spending my allowance on? And, most important, is it fun?

We absolutely rejoiced with happy feet at the rapid responses the kids had to the playthings they dabbled in. In the end, a few toys went out with the trash pack, but more than a dozen left the kids goggle-eyed with delight and are now on the fast track to success.

— Margaret Webb Pressler

GREAT GAMES

Happy Feet Two —
Freezing Frenzy

Tested by: Second-graders.

Pressman Toy, $19.99, 5+.

When the bouncing penguin sends colorful ice cubes popping out of the tray, you have to grab all the cubes
of your color before anyone else can throw them back in. Our kid testers liked that four kids could play, called
it “noisy in a good way” and said they would play with it “over and over again.”

Goggle Eyes

Tested by: Third-graders.

Goliath Games, $24.99, 8+.

Just putting on the kooky-looking, vision-altering glasses makes this game funny, testers said. Trying to do the drawing challenges with them on makes it just plain wacky. One tester said the only thing she didn’t like was that everyone wanted to play with it!

Fastrack

Tested by: Fourth-graders.

Blue Orange Games, $19.99, 5+.

Players flick little wooden disks though a small hole, and the first player to get all of his discs to the other side wins. This simple game won raves from every tester. “This is the most funnest, awesome, fast, enjoyable game I could ever play,” one girl wrote.

Dabble

Tested by: Fifth-graders.

INI, $24.99, 8+.

This “cool and fun” game was one of the best word games the kids tested. Players get 20 tiles and have five minutes to fill a tiered stand with a two-, three-, four-, five- and six-letter word. It can take several rounds to get a winner, but kids said it was easy to play and “made you think.”

Rapid Response

Tested by: Sixth-graders.

Fundex Games, $29.99, 8+.

Putting together the colorful plastic maze was a bit tricky. But once kids started playing and tried to answer questions before the marbles made it to the maze bottom, the game turned out to be fast and fun. Testers would buy it with their own money because “it is totally worth it,” one wrote.

Other games that tested well: Cranium Brain Breaks , Hasbro; Wordquest , Goliath Games; Monopoly Electronic Banking , Hasbro; Scrabble Alphabet Scoop , Hasbro

STOCKING STUFFERS

Ickee Stikeez

T ested by: Third-graders.

Zing Toys, $1.25-$2.99, 4+.

These icky, squishy creatures really hang around: Each one has a little suction cup so “it can stick to stuff,” one tester explained. They are cute and gross at the same time, so naturally the kids liked them.

Trash Pack

Tested by: Second-graders.

Moose Toys, $5.99-$9.99, 5+.

Kids love to get dirty and love to collect things, so it made sense that our testers loved these spongy critters that look like they came out of the garbage. Also a hit? The trash cans they come in.

Fyr Flyz

Tested by: Fourth-graders.

i-Star Entertainment, $9.99, 8+.

These spinners create amazing, swirling light shows. Kids liked that there was nothing to put together but that they had to practice to make the effects they wanted. Works best in the dark.

JUST FOR BOYS

DaGeDar

Tested by: Second-graders.

Cepia, $4.99-$19.99, 4+.

Testers really loved this twist on stunt car action. Instead of cars on a looping track, this toy has crazy character balls that are fun to collect and go really fast. The boys also liked that it was “super easy” to put together.

Beyblade Triple Battle Set

Tested by: Third-graders.

Hasbro, $29.99, 8+.

Boys love Beyblades, and this complete set has everything needed to hold a thrilling stadium tournament, including inserts to customize the arena and two exclusive metal tops. One tester called it “the best toy ever.”

JUST FOR GIRLS

Jewelry Boutique

Tested by: Third-graders.

Crayola, $19.99, 6+.

It’s hard to believe that you can make jewelry with modeling clay, but the girls really enjoyed creating swirled beads that can be air-dried and glazed. “You could make whatever jewelry you want,” said one tester.

Twisted Critters

Tested by: Fourth-graders.

Klutz, $16.99, 8+.

Girls enjoyed twisting the fluffy and bright pipe cleaners that come with this spiral-bound book into different designs, The book includes simple how-to tips and pictures of the adorable creatures you can make. The testers liked everything about it and said they hoped to get it as a present.

JUST FOR FUN

Outer Space Adventure/
Dinosaur Dome

Tested by: Third-graders.

DuneCraft, $24.99 each, 3+.

These clever dome planters, about the size of a bowling ball, won raves from kids who loved “planting with friends” and “could not wait to see it grow.” These terrariums have seeds that will grow into four or five small exotic plants to create a futuristic or prehistoric-looking landscape. The kids also loved decorating the domes with stickers, gravel and creatures.

Bild

Tested by: Third-graders.

OgoSport, $14.99-$24.99, 6+.

Testers called this new building toy “epic” because of the incredible variety of colorful creatures and vehicles you can make. The high-quality parts snapped together easily and inspired the kids’ imaginations. One tester said he would play with it “every single day.”

Tonka XT Ricochet Trickster

Tested by: Third-graders.

Hasbro, $24.99, 6+.

The testers flipped for the flips that this car does. When this fast-moving remote-control vehicle with big wheels turns upside down, it just keeps on going! “It chased me!” said one tester.

My Keepon

Tested by: Sixth-graders.

Wow! Stuff, $49.99, 3+.

This adorable little guy responds to sound and motion, and kids just melted when they saw it react to them and dance to music. Our testers liked that it was squishy and cute. “Interacting was fun!” a tester said.

DodgeTag Shield Set

Tested by: Second-graders.

Diggin Active, $29.99, 6+.

The goal of this game is to throw the soft balls at your opponent and have them stick to the included vests — and to catch your opponent’s ball with your shield when he throws one at you. Kids wished there were more balls but liked that you could play it inside “because the balls won’t break anything.”

© The Washington Post Company