Toy Report 2014 – Toys by category, from 10+

A description of the categories will be coming soon.
 
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Construction Toys

★★★ Children's Choice
Birthday
Leonardo da Vinci Catapult (D-17)
Pathfinders Design And Technology
12 +

Bring to life the sketches and designs of the great da Vinci. This inventive craft kit allows kids to build a functioning catapult from natural wood pieces. The instructions are easy to follow, and our testers found the activity very appealing, even though it was challenging at times. Just be careful not to tighten the strings too much! Testers were proud of the completed product and liked to use it to launch Play-Doh balls. Parents liked how the activity teaches kids about history and early inventors.

★★★ Children's Choice
Birthday
Medieval Siege Tower with Catapult (D-17)
Pathfinders Design And Technology
12 +

Get ready to storm the castle! With this detailed, all-inclusive activity kit, teens and tweens can build a functioning model of a catapult siege tower. The natural, untreated wood pieces are all precut and ready to assemble with the provided glue. Our testers liked the straightforward and humourous instructions and for the most part could do everything on their own. They were pleased with the results and liked that the drawbridge, catapult, and wheels all functioned smoothly. One tester even used it to stage imaginary battles. Kids also experimented with launch distances using various materials, and one managed a distance of 6.4 meters! Build time took between 1.5 and 2 hours, and most testers were happy to work on it over several sessions.
Games

Not Recommended
Agricola (ZMG2012-01)
Filosofia


This detailed game is situated in plague-ravaged medieval Europe, where families are struggling to rebuild their farms. The game comes with 360 cards, over 300 wooden pieces, more than 50 tiles, 9 boards, a scoring pad and very lengthy instructions. The game is beautifully crafted, but although it was tested by several families who are experienced with games, no one could figure out how to play it. Testers and parents alike found the instructions overwhelming and insufficient. Families also found that a very large surface (perhaps the size of a small plot of land?) was needed for game set-up.

★★★ Best Bet
Birthday
Duple (ANO003)
Everest
10 +

This fast-paced contest of symbol matching and word finding is both enjoyable and educational. Players flip over cards with large letters and clearly drawn symbols. When a symbol match is found, players face off to be the first to call out a word that contains the associated letters in the category shown (food, animals, verbs, nouns, adjectives). “C” is for challenging! Our testers found that the category and wild cards add variety and liked the rule that they did not need to know how to spell the whole word, but simply that certain letters are contained in it. Testing families found that the game is best played with people of similar levels of spelling ability and vocabulary. Games for 3–6 players take about 20 minutes to complete.

★★
Extreme Dot to Dot Posters (Rainforest Animals) (MB-56146)
Mindware
10 +

Can’t get enough of dot to dots? This is the activity for you. These large-scale dot to dot pictures (about 75 cm x 100 cm and 50 cm x 75 cm) have up to 3000 dots. Our testers found these pictures very challenging to complete but enjoyed watching the picture reveal itself as they progressed. While the large size appealed to some, others were overwhelmed. However, the posters are big enough that two people can work on one together, and they come with a great storage case. For testers who had patience and liked a challenge, this was a big hit, and parents liked that it has the potential to keep kids busy for a loooong time.

★★
Marusenko Sphere (Level 1)
Marusenko
12 +

This handheld sphere adds a whole new twist to puzzling. The black and red sphere is made up of 6 rotating sections that players must figure out how align to form certain patterns. This toy is the first of 5 puzzle levels of increasing complexity. Our testers liked how the sphere was a good shape and size for their hands, but they found the instructions confusing. They also found it difficult to rotate the sections. Those who were familiar with Rubik’s Cube enjoyed this challenge and appreciated the resources available online to help them solve the puzzles.

★★★
Birthday
Quartex (CSE-FSG0102)
CSE Games
10 +

In this easy-to-learn game, players place cards to match up shapes and earn tokens. A strategic element is that scoring changes with each game, depending on how many of the four shapes have been made. This game appealed to testers of multiple ages, and parents found it to be good family entertainment. Game comes with 55 double-sided tiles, 40 tokens, shields, a velvet draw bag and instructions. Play takes 20–30 minutes for 2–5 players.

★★★
Birthday
Silent But Deadly (13290)
Outset Media
10 +

Hey, who cut the cheese? Our testers had a gas with this silly game that’s all about, ahem, farts. The 54 cards are divided into coloured suits and 10 types of flatulence. The object of this straightforward game is to discard all the cards in your hand by matching colour or toot type. But you must say the name of the toot and make the appropriate sound as you play your card. Our testers thought the cards had some interesting factoids, but the gross theme quickly lost its appeal, making this more of a flash in the pan than a game of lasting value.

★★★
Birthday
Snake Oil (1869)
Out Of The Box Publishing Inc.
10 +

Now, what you need is a Burp Balloon! In this humorous card game, players ply dubious products, trying to make a sale to players with customer cards. Easy to learn and quick to play, this game encourages creativity and sparks a lot of laughs. While enjoyed by young and old players alike, our testers found that the more people you have to play, the more entertaining the game is. Game comes with 324 word cards, 36 double-sided customer cards, and clear instructions printed on the box. Playing time is about 20–30 minutes.

★★
String Railway (FOX-STRING)
Foxmind Canada
10 +

All aboard! This unique train-themed game has players strategically laying colourful pieces of string as railway lines, trying to connect the most stations within their network while navigating around mountains and a river. Testers who love trains and into games really enjoyed playing this one, but other testers found the scoring complicated and the instructions hard to understand. Players must also be careful not to disturb the strings and cards already in play. Games for 2–5 players take 20–25 minutes to complete.

★★★
Birthday
Wow World of Words
Kroeger Inc.
10 +

Calling all wordsmiths! How many words can you think of that start with a G and end with an E? This challenging and educational game will have players trying to create as many words as possible that start and end with letters shown on a blue first-letter card and a red second-letter card. Win points by finding unique or long words. Small and compact, this game comes with 33 cards in 2 decks, a timer, score pad and instructions. This is a great way to develop vocabulary. Our testing families found that play is most enjoyed among those with similar word skills, although handicap options are available to reduce parental advantage. Games for 2 or more players can take 30–45 minutes, depending on house rules.
Science & Discovery

★★★
Birthday
6-in-1 Educational Solar Kit (CIC21-610)
Unicorn Enterprises Corp.
10 +

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine! This mini solar beginner’s building kit shows children how solar power can be used to drive a small motor. Children do not need any tools to snap together the 21 pieces and build 6 working models (airboat, car, windmill, puppy, 2 different planes). Our testers liked how they could do multiple projects with the same kit and how easily the pieces snapped together. Families appreciated the durable parts, which can be repeatedly assembled and taken apart. Assembly of the first model can take more than 1 hour to complete, given the need to build the solar panel and motor. Some testers required adult assistance, especially with the instructions and wire connections.

★★★
Candy Chemistry (665003)
Thames & Kosmos, LLC
10 +

Do you know what triboluminescence is? Well, this enticing science discovery kit offers a sweet way to find out. Children learn about chemistry and physics through 25 different experiments that produce a variety of candies, such as chocolates, rock candy, and gummy bears. With a great, informative booklet, lots of provided materials, and straightforward recipes, our testers were able to craft delicious treats and gain hands-on scientific knowledge. Note that activities require active parental involvement and a fair amount of time. All food supplies must be purchased separately.