Kids at Drew Model Elementary School try out the hottest new toys this season for the Washington Post’s KidsPost Toy Test. (Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post)

Which toys do kids like?

That’s a question toymakers ask every year when coming up with new products.

Here at KidsPost, we think the best way to find the answer is to ask kids themselves. So we sent more than 100 of this year’s top new toys to 10 schools in Maryland, Virginia and the District. Pens in hand, thinking caps — er, toy-testing caps — on, those kids tried them out and wrote down what they thought.

Inside this issue, you’ll find the 15 toys that our testers liked best. There are brain games and building kits, stuffed animals and science experiments. There are toys that drive, fly, sing and light up. Most of all, these toys are the ones that let kids use their imaginations, whether they were building a car, designing jewelry or coming up with a strategy.

Check out the winners (all are available at major retailers unless otherwise noted), and see which of these toys would pass your own toy test.


Aztack: Build temples with different color tiles. (Blue Orange)

Doodle Quest: Scribble with strategy and imagination. (Blue Orange)

Tested by fifth-graders. Blue Orange, $27.99. Ages 7 to 15.

Sharpen your strategy skills for this game! In Aztack, players race to build temples out of different colored tiles. Kids found this game challenging but fun, and they said that they learned a lot in the process.

Doodle Quest

Tested by third-graders. Blue Orange, $27.99. Ages 6 to 15.

It takes strategy, imagination and lots of drawing to play this game. Kids enjoyed drawing their way through different underwater scenes, and lots of testers said they would like to play Doodle Quest with their whole family.

“It is fun and adorable,” one tester wrote. She liked the game so much that she said she would still be playing it in six months.

Gravity Maze: A logic puzzled with marbles. (Think Fun)

Sharkmania: A board game that makes your heart pound. (Spin Master)
Gravity Maze

Tested by fourth-graders. Think Fun, $29.99. Ages 8 to 15.

This game is like a cross between a marble run and a logic puzzle. Build a towering path for your marble to move through, and see if you can get the marble to reach its target.

“I liked that it was a maze,” one tester wrote.

Shark Mania

Tested by third-graders. Spin Master, $19.99. Ages 6 to 11.

There’s no time to waste in this speedy board game. Players roll dice to collect gold coins and move around the board. But at any minute, a shark fin could appear and knock your piece out. “I like how the shark chased you,” one tester wrote.

Simon Swipe: A new version of the game Mom and Dad played. It’s like “Simon Says” with lights and sounds. (Hasbro)
Simon Swipe

Tested by sixth-graders. Hasbro, $19.99. Age 8 and older.

In this electronic version of “Simon Says,” you push or swipe colored buttons to repeat a pattern of lights and sounds. You can play by yourself or with a group of friends. Testers liked that the game gets faster and more difficult as you go: “It helps your memory skills,” one tester wrote.


Roller Copter: It flies and climbs the walls. Even if you crash it, the copter stays intact because of its cage. (Air Hogs)

Furby Furblings: This pint-size furball speaks a made-up language called Furbish until you teach it English. (Hasbro)
Roller Copter

Tested by fifth-graders. Air Hogs, $44.99. Ages 8 to 10.

This remote-control helicopter is encased in a special frame so it can roll on floors, up walls and along the ceiling without damage or crashing. “Super fun and exciting,” one group of testers wrote.

Furby Furblings

Tested by fourth-graders. Hasbro, $14.99. Age 6 and older.

These mini versions of Furby Boom make the same noises as the original toy and come in six colors. (If you have a Furby Boom, the two can talk to each other.) Testers found the Furblings cute and funny, and said that they would definitely still play with the toys in six months.

MiP: Use hand motions to control this rolling robot or move him with a smartphone. (WowWee)

Secret Dragon Fort: It has a movable gate, a trap door, a tower cannon and two mean-looking dragons. (Playmobil)

Tested by third-graders. WowWee, $99.99. Age 8 and older.

The MiP robot is “just like a pet,” one toy tester wrote — a pet that can do tricks, respond to hand signals and doesn’t need to be fed or taken for walks. It can also be linked up with a smartphone or tablet to unlock even more activities, making this a good toy for kids who are interested in technology.

Playmobil Secret Dragon Fort

Tested by third-graders. Playmobil, $99.99. Age 5 to 12.

This castle has everything it needs to be well defended: a high turret, a gate that swings open and two brave knights. But testers’ favorite thing about this toy? The two dragons that come with it.

Pom Pal Owl Kit: This craft kit lets you decorate a fuzzy owl and its baby. It’s easy and not messy. (PomTree)

Zoomer Dino: He’s not cuddly, but this robot dinosaur is a lot of fun. He follows commands, and his eyes change colors to show if he’s happy or ready to roar. (Spin Master)
Pom Pals Owl Kit

Tested by second-graders. PomTree, $12.99. Age 5 and older.

This no-mess kit lets you create your very own stuffed owl and a baby owl to match. Testers called this toy “soft and cuddly” and said they’d be very excited to have it as a present.

Zoomer Dino

Tested by fourth-graders. Spin Master, $99.99. Age 5 and older.

This robot dinosaur is about as close as you’ll ever get to meeting a real Tyrannosaurus rex. The Zoomer Dino moves around and roars in response to your commands — and you don’t have to worry about him eating other animals, like a real T-rex would. Lots of kids who tested this toy said they would even spend their own money to buy it. “It’s fun and amazing,” one tester wrote.


Copter Darts: Throw the foam darts to see who can get closest to the target ball. (OgoSport)

Fingerprint Detective: Learn how to analyze fingerprints the way forensic scientists do. (Spark)
Copter Darts

Tested by second-graders. OgoSport, $39. Ages 6 to 9.

Available at Barstons Child’s Play locations and Labyrinth Games in Washington.

These foam darts are specially designed to fly straight and land head down, making them great for competitive games outdoors. “I liked it all,” one tester wrote. “It is a very good toy.”

Fingerprint Detective

Tested by fifth-graders. Spark, $9.95. Age 7 and older.

Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes with this fingerprint detective kit. Black powder lets you collect prints, and instructions for three experiments will help you analyze them. “I liked that it’s less of a toy and more of a science project,” one tester wrote. Another said, “It’s fun to act out crime scenes and drama.”

Headband and Bracelet Studio: Make your own stretchy headbands that have become wildly popular. (Creativity for Kids)

Minecraft Papercraft kits: The popular video game comes off the screen for kids to explore another way to build. Create Steve, Creepers and Endermen as well as rocks, trees and treasure chests. (Minecraft)
Headband and Bracelet Studio

Tested by third-graders. Creativity for Kids, $21.99. Age 7 and older.

Available at Toy Kingdom in Rockville, Sullivan’s Toys in the District, Why Not in Alexandria and other specialty toy stores.

Use stamps, beads, glitter and glue to decorate stretchy headbands and bracelets. Testers say that these accessories would make good gifts for friends. “It is useful because you get to make stuff and make people happy,” one tester wrote.

Minecraft Papercraft kits

Tested by fifth-graders. Minecraft, $8.99-$24.99. Age 6 and older.

Do you wish that the virtual world of Minecraft could exist outside the computer? With this craft kit, you can construct 3-D characters, buildings and environments out of folded paper. “It is very addicting because once you build one thing, you can’t stop,” one pair of testers wrote.

Spikeball: This game has inspired players to create leagues across the country. It folds up and is easy to take on the road. (Spikeball)

Spirograph String Art: The classic drawing toy has been turned into a more of a craft kit with string designs. (Kahootz)

Tested by sixth-graders. Spikeball, $53-$59. Age 8 and older.

Available at the Brain Store in Bethesda, Shananigans Toy Store in Baltimore and REI Tysons Corner.

Spikeball is a cross between a game and a sport — small enough to play indoors, but intense enough to get your heart pumping. The rules are similar to those in tennis: Players rack up points by bouncing a ball off of a trampoline-like net in a way that prevents the other team from returning it.

“You can have a lot of fun with it,” one tester wrote.

Spirograph String Art

Tested by fifth-graders. Kahootz, $19.99. Ages 8 to 15.

Available at Barstons Child’s Play in Arlington, Rockville and the District, Fair Day’s Play in Takoma Park and other specialty toy stores.

Create beautiful, complex designs out of only string. By wrapping colorful strings around various cardboard shapes, you can create all kinds of patterns. Testers say this kit can be confusing when first starting out, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll never get bored.

The Crayola Virtual Design Pro Car Collection: Design a colorful car then use an app to move it into the virtual world. Add accessories and then watch it speed around a virtual course. (Crayola)
Virtual Design Pro Car Collection

Tested by sixth-graders. Crayola, $29.99. Ages 6 to 15.

Design your own creative car on paper and then watch it drive onscreen. Even testers who weren’t interested in cars said that they would ask for this kit as a gift: “I like that it has a lot of colors . . . and I like to draw” one tester wrote. The kit works with smartphones, tablets and iPod touch.


Hyperspeed Hangtime Roller Coaster: This set isn’t a speedy build, but putting it together is a big part of the fun. Once it’s together, watch the car race around the track. (K’Nex)
K’Nex Hyperspeed Hangtime Roller Coaster Building Set

Tested by fourth-graders. K’Nex, $69.99. Age 9 and older.

Aspiring architects and amusement park enthusiasts will love this building kit. Starting with more than 600 tiny K’Nex pieces, kids can construct a roller coaster that’s more than two feet tall. The kit also comes with a battery-operated car that runs along your newly built track. “There wasn’t anything bad about it,” one tester wrote. “It is creative and awesome.”

Indy Car Building Set: Build a race car or several other kinds of vehicles with this light-up set. (Laser Pegs)

Lego Friends Jungle Bridge Rescue: Two figures aim to save a bear stuck on a rope bridge. They have a jeep and a helicopter to help get the job done. (Lego)
Laser Pegs Indy Car Building Set

Tested by third-graders. Laser Pegs, $29.99. Ages 5 to 8.

“I would buy this toy with my own money because I really think it’s a great toy, and it is worth it,” wrote one tester.

She was not alone. Toy testers loved this multicolored build-your-own-car kit. Twenty of the see-through pieces that make up the car have built-in LED bulbs that light up. The set also can be used to make a starship, a tractor and other vehicles. “It is very cool,” another tester wrote. “I think I would be pretty absorbed in it for a pretty long time.”

Lego Friends Jungle Bridge Rescue

Tested by third-graders. Lego, $29.99. Ages 7 to 12.

This Lego set has nearly everything a kid could ask for: a helicopter, cliffs and trees, an off-road truck, a monkey and two figures. Those little details are what appealed to KidsPost testers. They also liked that the structure could be rebuilt in tons of different ways: “It’s something that you can be really creative with, which I like,” one tester wrote.

Sarah Kaplan