Travel is one of the best gifts an adult can bestow upon a child. Unfortunately, as gifts go, travel is expensive. And time consuming. And involves potentially painful car and/or plane trips. Which is why travel-themed games are so great — they can introduce kids to an aspect of travel in as little as 30 minutes, without leaving the house, packing a bag or applying for a passport. Games can help also prepare kids for real-life trips by providing knowledge and building excitement.
With that in mind, here’s a review of our three favorite travel-themed great board games. As with all games and toys reviewed on this website, each of these three games are ones that adults can enjoy playing too.
Last month, history’s most significant space launch took place. Or, at least it was the most significant to one little boy.
The launch wasn’t an exploration of Mars. It wasn’t a mission to the International Space Station. And it wasn’t the trial run of some new rocket. Instead, it was a father son project to send the son’s favorite toy — a wooden Stanley locomotive from the Thomas & Friends television series — into outer space.
The father, Ron Fugelseth, works as a producer in Santa Cruz, California and had previously made a video of his son’s extreme attachment to his toy Stanley. So it seemed natural to document Stanley’s space voyage too.
Check out the YouTube video story of the father who sent his son’s favorite toy train to space below.
Most American adults who are of a certain age today remember playing Twister when they were children. Spot Cool Stuff isn’t sure how international Twister is†, nor how common it is for kids these day to play. But if Twister were ever to exceed its past popularity it might be in the form of this huge Twister board.
Officially called the Inflatable Outdoor Color Dot Game, presumably to avoid copyright claim from Hasbro Games, this bouncy 15 foot by 15 foot (4.5m by 4.5m) playing area can accommodate up to 10 twisting participants. That would make for 40 hands and feet stretching, clawing their way onto one of 64 colored dots. Sounds rather chaotic. And lots of fun.
Users of Apple iPads and iPhones downloaded more than 5 million mobile applications from the iTunes app store last month. About that many apps were downloaded by users of Android tablets and smartphones. A million or so more went to Blackberries and devices running other operating systems.
Among the people who were struck by the high—and fast increasing—popularity of mobile apps: toy makers. Increasingly, toys are either designed to be used with an app or are inspired by them. Here’s our review of five especially cool ones:
Ropes, crampons and harnesses—none are required while scaling the Inflatable Climbing Iceberg
Summer fun is water fun. Here are two cool inflatable toys to bring with you to the beach, lake or swimming pool:
Board game purists beware: board games are becoming more commercialized and more high tech. Monopoly now comes in a version in which players electronically pay their rent using a pretend credit card. Rather than visiting a bingo hall or a chess club, you can now play online on sites like FoxyBingo or PlayChess. And an assortment of board games now incorporate a television and a DVD.
Does that mean these modern board games are less fun than their predecessors? We say no. Or, at least, not necessarily. Here’s a selection of three fun, modern board games:
Spot Cool Stuff is freshly returned from the 2012 International Toy Fair, a huge trade show where games, puzzles, scooters, trinkets, action figures, squirt guns, building blocks, mini robots and all manner of other playthings are put on display—and then taken way too seriously.
Here’s our annual roundup of the new toys we spotted at “The Fair” that seemed especially worthy of highlighting. Keep in mind that, at least for this website, Spot Cool Stuff has a bias towards products that adults can enjoy playing with as much as kids; you won’t find any dolls, baby rattles or toddler toys on our list.
Each of these toys has either come out in the last few months or is launching sometime this year:
Another entry for the category of Toys I Wish Had Existed When I Was Young: The Brookstone Rover Spy Tank.
Though, to call something that lights up this brightly when turned on a “spy” anything is a bit of a stretch. The rover tank doesn’t run at a whisper quiet either. But it is a very cool.