The best new toys
Have you ever been in a toy store and you just couldn't decide what to get? That's what it's like, times 10, at Toy Fair, the annual gathering of toy companies from all over the world showing off their new products.KidsPost's Margaret Webb Pressler spent a dizzying day in New York City looking for the best new gadgets, games and gizmos, many of which aren't on sale yet.
This year, there were a lot of really creative toys, especially ones that used technology in new and fun ways. Want to sing perfectly? Now you can. Want to build your own neon sign? You can do that, too.
Since no kids can go to Toy Fair, we offer this sneak preview of some of our favorite finds. Except where noted, toys will be available in late summer or early fall.
1 Puppet Heap puppets, Puppet Heap Playthings, 6 and up, $19.99. These puppets were created by a company that has made puppet figures for the "Veggie Tales" movies, among others. The super-detailed printed faces are full of character, with amazing expressions that will inspire your imagination! Sold with a DVD that includes the Puppet Heap characters in a short film.
2 X-Ceter-0, Endless Games, 6 and up, $14.99 (available now). This clever version of tick-tack-toe never ends in a tie. There are three O pieces, which also are numbered 1, 3 and 5, and three X pieces, numbered 2, 4 and 6. If your first game of tick-tack-toe ends in a tie, then play continues based on the numbers 1 through 6 that are on the pieces. Number 1 (an O) moves first to another open spot on the board. Then Number 2 takes a turn (an X) , then Number 3, and so on, until a player gets three X's or O's in a row. It takes real thought and makes tick-tack-toe fun again!
3 Meon, Skyrocket Toys, 5-12, $10-$35. Who doesn't want his own neon sign? This is a very cool toy that is packaged with themed templates, such as Cars or Disney Princess. But older kids can be really creative by using the colorful glowing threads to write or draw anything they choose. The frame looks a little like a Lite Brite box.
4 Bizu, Spin Master, 4 and up, $4-$15. Girls will love these pretty beads, which come with a very clever wand for stringing them on the elastic. But the best part is that if you put them on your bracelet the right way, you can take it off and twist it into a cute animal- sort of like twisting an animal balloon.
5 Air Swimmers, William Mark Cor p., 8 and up, $39.99 (available in July). These giant mylar shark and tropical fish balloons have a remote control system that makes your fish "swim" through the air with awesome, realistic motion. You have to get it filled with helium at a store that fills party balloons.
6 Glow Crazy Distance Doodler, Glow Crazy, 6 and up, $24.99 (available now). Now you can write on the walls without getting in trouble. Put large sheets of light-sensitive paper on the wall (or ceiling) and use the included laser to write sharp, bright- green drawings. The effect is terrific in a dark room! Comes with two poster-size wall clings that can be put together for really monumental drawing spaces.
7 Tetris Link, Techno Source, 6 and up, $19.99 (available in spring). This game is a a cross between Connect Four and a puzzle. You drop in different shapes of connected blocks and try to leave no empty spaces. It's a nice low-tech spinoff of the famous video game.
8 Projector Ants, Uncle Milton, $34.99, 6 and up. This circular, gel ant farm is a great way to see ants at work. But it's even cooler in a dark room. Turn on the light under the ant farm and the shadows of those scurrying bugs are projected onto your ceiling. Sweet dreams!
9 B.I.G. Power Hand, Jakks Pacific, 6 and up, $29.99. Get in touch with your inner superhero with this gigantic, working hand that fits like a glove. The 10-inch lifelike fingers extend from your own and move as your fingers move. Use the giant hand to grip items, point your finger or give your mom a creepy tap on the shoulder!
10 Paper Jamz Pro Microphone, WowWee, 8 and up, $39.99. Can't sing but love to? This is JUST what you need. The technology built into this karaoke-style microphone adjusts your voice so it sounds like you're singing the right notes, even if you usually sound like an angry donkey. Plus, you can download your own songs and sing along to them.