These inspectors have all the qualities top toy manufacturers seek.
They're dynamic. Experienced. Opinionated.
And young -- 3 to 10 years old.
All are up to the task: testing new toys for the upcoming holiday season.
"It's easy," Avery Knoll, 5, said. "You just play."
Avery and about 50 other children at a KinderCare Learning Center in Great Neck, Virginia, happened to draw a lucky assignment recently. They were among 1,200 kids throughout the country who tested new toys for a contest that FamilyFun magazine sponsors every year.
While the smaller kids tried to decide if Darth Tater or a Wild West Bratz doll would be the season's hot seller, older kids tried out the Roll N' Doodle Tattoo Center, where they could ink their arms and legs with all manner of designs.
"They come off with soap and water," noted 8-year-old tester Kyra Solomon, no doubt thinking about what her mom might say later.
These official testers were quick to point out this wasn't all fun and games. Some assembly was required on some toys.
Even so, Alden Amrhein, 7, didn't find the task too difficult. "All you have to do is play with the toys," he said with a shrug.
Well, someone has to do it.
If it seems odd to be testing toys for the holidays when it's still 90 degrees outside, think about this: The magazine started working on this in February at the big toy show in New York, where 6,000 toys were on display. In June and July, 520 of those toys were reduced to 63 finalists by children in Kennebunk, Maine. Those toys then were sent to centers around the country for testing. Along with the toys came -- we're not kidding -- 2,704 batteries!
Alden and friends Spencer Cole, 8, and Khiry Weaver, 10, gave high marks to the Quadrilla Basic Set, a wooden contraption they first built before zooming marbles along its tracks. "It's like Legos, but with marbles," Alden said.
What makes a toy really good?
"You can make up new rules and make it funner," said Spencer.
The kids voted for their favorites. The 21 winners will be listed in FamilyFun's November issue.
Alden and his buddies agreed that toy-testing was fun, but they're not banking on it as a career.
Khiry wants to be a football player or archaeologist. Spencer, a tae kwon do instructor. Alden isn't sure yet.
But he thinks toy-testing is nice work.
"It's pretty cool," he said. "And fun. I knew it was going to be fun."
Look for the results of KidsPost's own toy test around Thanksgiving.