Summer means plenty of time for outdoor fun. So grab a friend or two and head out to the yard or down to the park. And if your favorite toys and games are past their prime, we have a few suggestions. A “sticky” ball toss, a cool new water blaster and spinning ninjas are among our favorites. They’re a perfect fit for summer — not only because they get you outside but also because they have few rules and directions. After all, you’re on vacation.
Toysmith, age 5 and older, $19.99
This twist on badminton would be fun in the back yard but also easy to take on the road. There’s no net, so the idea is to simply volley the ball between two players. The oversize rackets have foam-cushioned handles and quick-dry fabric around the frame. The birdie is a small plastic ball covered in mesh cones. It’s easier to hit than a traditional badminton shuttlecock and wouldn’t hurt if your big brother smacks one right at you.
Yulu Toys, age 6 and older, $14.99
This catching game takes a little practice to master, but it’s another fun option for home or away. The hard-plastic ball sticks to the “stix” thanks to a suction cup. When you want to throw, you pull a trigger and the ball releases from the cup. You can bounce-pass or send it flying up to 30 feet in the air. Throw it against a wall for a version of wallball. There are no rules, so you can make up your own game.
Lego, age 6 and older, $9.99
Choose one of six Ninjago characters and build a brick handle for the spinner, which snaps together in seconds. The rip cord slides into the top of the handle and a quick pull sends your ninja spinning across the sidewalk or in the palm of your hand. The spinners can bounce and climb ramps when rolling on their side. So you can set up obstacle courses and challenge your friends.
Prime Time Toys, age 6 and older, $19.99
It wouldn’t be summer without water battles. This large blaster shoots water about 35 feet with a pump-and-trigger action. Water flows in a single stream or several streams. For running around the neighborhood, you would fill the decent-size tank. But for a backyard play, water warriors can attach a hose to the blaster for a battle that’s sure to leave everyone drenched.
Far Out Toys, age 8 and older, $19.99
What used to be kind of a wet hot-potato game has been updated to include challenge questions. Fill a water balloon, and place it inside of the hollow ball. Snap the ball halves together. Choose a card and read a category (“Thing in a closet,” “Flying animals,” for example). Wind the timer on the ball, call out an answer and pass it to the next person, who also answers and passes. And so on. When the timer runs out, the balloon pops and someone gets wet. Get wet three times, and you’re out. You’re also soaked.