December 2015 | Vol. XIV - No. 12
LEGO Crazy Action Contraptions by KLUTZ
LEGO Crazy Action Contraptions is a brand-new book of brand-new, high-performance projects. From the supercharged Speedster to the Squeezeclaw Grabber to the Wall Rocket Racer — all these contraptions spin, stretch, speed, or otherwise spring into action. And all of them are totally buildable thanks to super-clear instructions and step-by-step diagrams. Every single one of the 16 projects can be constructed using just the custom selection of LEGO® bricks that come with the book.
— As of 05/12/2011 this product had 4.7 out of 5 stars from 15 reviews on Amazon.com. Cons: Some contraptions run slowly; the included rubber bands wear out with time.
— "Klutz Lego contraptions is by far our biggest seller," Mary Porter Green, owner of The Curiosity Zone in Asburn, Va., told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011.
— Want this? As of 05/11/2011 this product was available at The Curiosity Zone. 5/11/2011 (MSRP: $21.95; Age: 7 and Up)
Twig by FAT BRAIN TOY CO.
When precision wooden shapes and vibrant color meet, expect nothing less than masterwork. Twig features natural wood, carved with care and colored with brilliance. Light plays its way through the windows of Twig - illuminating lines, contours, space and arrangement, opening the mind and imagination to new exercises in visual spatial development. Each Twig set consists of 72 wooden pieces; all are compatible with one another. The interactivity between components means limitless combinations in open-ended play. Launch date: February 2009. ( Watch Video) 8/5/2008 (MSRP: $59.95; Age: 3 and Up)
85 Piece Bristle Blocks by TOYSMITH
This 85-piece set contains 72 easy-to-handle building blocks in a variety of brightly colored, interlocking geometric shapes, 8 wheels to construct buildings and vehicles with and 5 figurines. A convenient handled carrying case stores all the blocks neatly away when not in use.
Awards: 2013 TDmonthly Seal of Approval
— Mary Porter Green, owner of Curiostiy Zone in Ashburn, Va., told TDmonthly in a May 2015 survey that this was a best-selling construction toy at their store.
5/25/2012 (Age: 3 and Up)
Wood Stacking Robots by SCHYLLING
These 3.5" wooden robots interlock in many different positions to create remarkable shapes.
— These robots are a best-selling gift item, according to Tom England, owner of Dancing Bear Toys and Gifts in Frederick, Md.
— England told TDmonthly he sells about 15 units a month of the Stacking Robots.
— "They're a great remake of a classic toy. Kids love robots, but many of them are too young for our tin wind-up reproduction robots that are age-graded 8 and up," said Stephen Medina of Schylling Toys. 7/23/2007 (MSRP: $14.99; Age: 3 and Up)
Squigz by FAT BRAIN TOY CO.
Apply pressure to two Squigz. Air rushes out and the fun rushes in! Connecting to each other and to any solid, non-porous surface - Squigz are a species all their own. They flex. They stick. They suck people into creativity. Once they take hold, it takes some pull to separate them. When Squigz POP! in protest - you’ll have to admit… your hands and ears are shamelessly delighted!
— Jenni Mallory, manager of Magic Box LTD in New Orleans, La., told TDmonthly in a March 2014 survey that Squigz was a best-selling product.
— David Castillo, vice president of The Red Balloon Toy Store in Salt Lake City, Utah, told TDmonthly in a November 2014 survey that Squigz from Fat Brain Toys is one of their store's best-selling toys.
Where to buy:
NORTH WEST 12/4/2013 (MSRP: $24.95; Age: 3 and Up)
LEGO Creator Treehouse 31010 by LEGO
Create your very own treetop hideaway with the 3-in-1 LEGO Creator Tree house. Open the secret trapdoor and climb up the fold-down ladder. Use the gray bucket to lift supplies up with the winch. Fill the red bucket with water and tow it up to keep unwanted guests away. This detailed playhouse includes a yellow wagon for transporting all your favorite things to your treetop hideaway, a hollow tree for storing your secret treasure map and a dog. Remove the roof for easy access to the storage area and sleeping bag, or detach the entire Tree house. Rebuild into a cute lakeside hut with a jetty and pizza oven or a 2-story farmyard barn with a garden and wheelbarrow using the supplied alternate building instructions. Includes a child minifigure. 10/26/2015 (MSRP: $29.99)
LEGO Disney Princess Elsa's Sparkling Ice Castle by LEGO
Hop aboard the sleigh and join Anna and Olaf as they pay a visit to Queen Elsa's beautiful ice palace for some frosty fun! What will they do first? Play hide and seek behind the secret staircase, or go skating around the castle? They could ski down the ice hill or prepare frozen treats in the castle's ice cream bar and then get ready for a picnic in the snow under the magnificent icicle tree. It's all up to you! First have fun building Elsa's Sparkling Ice Castle. Then it's time to play! Includes Queen Elsa and Princess Anna mini-doll figures, plus Olaf the snowman. 9/30/2015 (MSRP: $39.99; Age: 6 and Up)
Super Fun Marble Run by FAT BRAIN TOY CO.
This gigantic marble run features 103 pieces with 12 marbles. Kids can build their structure any way they like, then drop the marbles and watch them race through the run.
— In a May 2013 survey, two out of 10 retailers told TDmonthly that marble runs were one of their best-selling construction toys. 11/20/2012 (MSRP: $29.95; Age: 4 and Up)
Plus-Plus by GEARED FOR IMAGINATION
Plus-Plus is a brand new breed of construction toy. Made in Denmark (the land of LEGO!), it is the ultimate in open-ended, imagination-driven simplicity. Each piece is the same shape - two plus symbols joined together - allowing for endless possibility. Available in Basic or Neon colors, and in 100pc, 300pc, 600pc and 1200pc. MSRP from 9.99 to 59.99. Launch date: July 2012.
— In a September 2014 survey, Kai Rady, owner of Shenanigans Inc in Charlottesville, Va., told TDmonthly that Plus Plus is one of the store's best-selling novelty items. 7/10/2012 (MSRP: $9.99; Age: 3 and Up)
KEVA Contraptions 200-Plank Set by MINDWARE
This kit gives some structure to free-form building with planks, including an idea book with instructions for building ball-track structures, ramps, funnels and more. It allows for scientific experimentation as kids test rolling the two included lightweight balls to see if they move as anticipated.
— "A new concept kit will help kids build bigger and better — simple, open-ended and smart," said John MacDougall, owner of Golden Apple Learning Store in Pleasanton, Calif., at Toy Fair 2010.
— It was also a top-two favorite at ASTRA's Share the Fair event during Toy Fair 2010.
— In an April 2012 survey, Elmer Carranza, manager of Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Springfield, Va., told TDmonthly that KEVA blocks are their best selling construction toy. ( Watch Video) 2/19/2010 (MSRP: $49.95; Age: 7 and Up)