Saturday, December 2, 2023

TOY REVIEWS: Lifelong toy maker offers his take on what inspires children

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Rocket shoes.

Plastic teeth that go Yakity-Yak.

A monkey that flings banana scented poo. 

It’s obvious toymakers have a great sense of humor but even the most imaginative person would have trouble coming up with an idea for a toy every child might like for Christmas.

So, how do they do it?

“I wish I could tell you more about the creative process but so much that I do I’ve been doing for so long,” said Eddy Goldfarb, who invented more than 800 iconic toys during a career that spans 80 years and is now the subject of a new award-winning short documentary “Eddy’s World.”

As he explains in the film airing on PBS stations throughout the country and streaming on and the PBS App starting Dec. 2., when he sees something, an idea pops into his head or when he sees a need, he will invent something to fill that need.  

His Merry Go Sip is a good example. 

In 1949, when mothers were having trouble getting their children to drink their milk Goldfarb came up with the idea for a drinking-cup-and-straw combo that had three animals on its top that would spin as a child sipped. 

It was one of three inventions he debuted at the American Toy Fair in New York City. He and his business partner at the time, also showcased a toy chicken that laid plastic eggs; no doubt a model for today’s doo-doo candy dispensers. While the sippy cup was a big hit with moms, what really launched his career was his third toy; a set of chattering plastic teeth, powered by a windup metal motor. Yakity Yak was one of those toy ideas that popped into his head after seeing an advertisement for a container that holds false teeth.

“When it comes to toys and games anything can give me an idea,” said Goldfarb, who still gets a kick out of seeing a child playing with a toy he invented.

“The newest is Forklift Frenzy (8-up, $34.99) and Kerplunk (5-up, $22.95) is still being sold,” he added proudly. “It really does make me feel good and I, I think they were important and there are even the collectors, the ones who collect Stompers, that makes me feel good too. Yeah. I feel it’s an accomplishment.”

As for modern inventions, Goldfarb said he really admires 3D printers.

”I think they are amazing machines,” said Goldfarb, whose daughter, Lyn Goldfarb directed the documentary coming out in December. “They make them for children too. it could be wonderful for kids.”

At the age of 102, Goldfarb is still pulling out a pencil and drawing prototype toys that come to mind, before heading into his shop, to invent what he imagined will bring some joy to people’s lives.

Just as the small solar powered toys that he and his late wife, Anita, collected added a little sunshine to theirs.   

“I love the idea that it’s right in front of us, all the power we need on earth, it’s shining every day for us and it’s just a reminder that we have to harness sun power in a much, much bigger way,” Goldfarb said, encouraging the next generation of toy inventors.

For those who are considering their future career Goldfarb believes the noblest profession to be teaching, especially lower grade levels. Next to that he would say toy making.

“The toy industry’s a noble industry,” Golfarb said. “It’s like the teaching industry. When you sold the successful games, say you sold a million games for that year, that meant a million families were playing that game with their kids. That was good for the family. Toys are educational. You learn from games. You learn from toys just like you learn from books.”

What toys parents bring home depends a lot on the family, child and their interests. To help narrow the search here is a review of the season’s hottest new toys. Some were tested by our team of toy testing tykes and others were suggested by experts in the field:

Panda’s Bamboo House (3-up, $149) from Hape.


Bababoo and Friends: Best Friend Bababoo Plush Toy (infant-up, $27.99) and little book is adorable. Made by a company out of Germany it features quality fabric and stitching with arms and legs that little hands can hold and drag along because this lion is sure to become a best friend. 

Storypod Starter Kit (birth-101, $99.99) by Craftie Fox is a unique audio player for little ones designed by educators. How it works: Kids just tap special content items on the Storyboard speaker to play age-appropriate audio content. Jack, 5, loved listening to the three little pigs. Each kit includes a player that little hands can carry along, as well as Storypod characters and a Story Sticker so parents can record a story, sing songs or even record memories of when they were a child. Jack was especially excited about the characters that came with the player and the different songs they played when placed on top of the Storypod. Add to the experience with further recordable stickers, 180 minutes long ($11.99 pack of three). Five Stars!

Montessori Mirror Shape Sorter Puzzle (10-months-up, $14.99) from Hape. Each piece features a soft ball on top that makes it easy to grip. Lift the piece up to reveal the mirror underneath. This toy is also organic, made from rice, and has a pleasant smell.

Wild Republic Stuggleluvs Polar Bear (infant-up, $43.99) is a soft plush toy with a weighted bum so it can sit up and listen when a story is told. We presented it to a 4-year-old for testing but it was Jack, 5, who clamped onto the polar bear and would not let it go. He loved the size (it’s quite big) and that it sat up and watched him draw. Five Stars!

My First Comic Soft Book: Batman by Kids Preferred (infant-up, $15 ) would make a great baby shower gift for someone who loves superheroes or comics. The cute book features two characters that are removable but attached and crinkle peek-a-boo flaps. Katie liked the softness of the book and how real the characters appeared to be. 

Disney Friends 6 Pack Plush Toys Set (newborn-up, $74.99) features Mickey, Minnie and the rest of the gang that children love together as a group. Each plush features hand fasteners so kids can join the hands and play with them as a group or separately. Our testers, ages 2 and 3, loved the toy, plain and simple as it was. 

Elmo Slide from Sesame Street (2-up, $39.97) from Just Play.
Elmo Slide from Sesame Street (2-up, $39.97) from Just Play.

Arctic Polar Bear Stacking Blocks (24-months, $19.99) is a wonderful addition to Hape’s collection of wooden toys for babies. Set comes with two polar bears and five stacking arches that are easy for little hands to grip. 

Bizyboo Hide ‘N’ Seek Busy Bags (2-up, $8.99-$19.99) by Vango Toys was a big hit with our 9-year-old tester. Each character features tiny objects hidden inside. Children use their observation and problem-solving skills (squishing and turning the toy) to find the objects hidden within each character. Andrea said it was challenging and fun. Five Stars!

Elmo Slide from Sesame Street (2-up, $39.97) this season’s version of the always popular toy speaks English and Spanish, sings, dances and will even play a game of “Simon Says.” Our toy testing teacher loved the toy, as did the 4- and 5-year-old students in her class. They loved the music, Elmo’s dance moves and how he talks. TOY HISTORY: Elmo has been a part of The Macomb Daily’s toy test since it began shortly after the first “Tickle Me Elmo” set off a frenzy to find it in time for the holidays.  

Tonka Chuck by Basic Fun (2-up, $29.99).
Tonka Chuck by Basic Fun (2-up, $29.99).

Tonka Chuck by Basic Fun (2-up, $29.99) is a dump truck with four sensors on the hat, hood, bumper and gas tank that come to life making sounds and phrases. Linton, 4, liked the colors and found several ways to use the truck during playtime. Our toy-testing teacher said it’s not as sturdy as the traditional metal Tonka truck but much safer.

SpillAgain (0-2, $44.99) from Fat Brain Toys is a great way to keep toddlers busy. All of the fun is in the suspense. Kids fill the top of the tower with 16 colorful balls and then press a button that starts a timer. Then click, the balls fall out and the child scrambles to pick them up and do it all over again.

6-In-1 Tunnel of Fun (0-2, $65) by VTech is a toy that will grow with the child. Babies can lie in the tunnel and bat at dangling toys, crawl through the vibrant tunnel or play the piano and chase a sibling in and out of the tunnel. Five Stars!

Naturalista’s Littlelistas Baby Lily (2-up, $24.99) by Purpose Toys is adorable and likely a doll that will last through hours of tea parties, baths, and every other adventure that comes along. Lily features a cute dress and two crowns, one for her and one to fit a friend. 

Age 3-up

Theodora STEAM Girls (3-up, $59.99): Elaine The Aspiring Engineer was a big hit with Shawna and Debbie, who loved that she was a girl engineer. They also enjoyed the book that comes with the 15-inch doll. Their teacher said she would create more dolls in the line and with different nationalities. Five Stars!

Magformers Creative Play (3-up, $119) is a STEAM construction kit featuring 74 magnetic pieces that come together to create towers, houses and whatever else the builder dreams up. Its shapes are great for small fingers to handle and the pieces connect immediately.  

Barbie Pop Reveal Doll from Mattel (3-up, $19.99).
Barbie Pop Reveal Doll from Mattel (3-up, $19.99).

Barbie Pop Reveal Doll from Mattel (3-up, $19.99) was a big hit with Kate, 9, although she did say it was difficult to open. Once revealed she loved the doll and accessories that came inside including the slime. Choose from a variety of dolls revealed in this line inspired by fruity flavors. Stella, 2, also loved the little kitten that was included along with a Barbie doll.

Barbie Fashionista Dolls (3-up, $10.99-$22.99) feature Barbie and Ken in a variety of fashions, looks and hairstyles. Zac, 10, who has a Ken doll at home said he loved the version of the Barbie he tested. Nishil, 9, said she loved that this version of Barbie was flexible so you can imagine her doing all sorts of things.  

Abena 14″ Doll by Janice Kenyatta (infant-up, $24.99) was inspired by the book “Just As It Is!” about a little African American girl whose parents inspired her early in life to love and appreciate her natural features including her hair. Our 5 and 6-year-old toy testers loved Abena just as she is, her clothes, her hair and how soft and cuddly she was to touch. In fact the boys want their own version of the doll. Five Stars!

Naturalistas Fade Collection Greg (3-up, $12.99) from Purpose Toys is a stylish realistic doll featuring a short Caesar haircut with a temple fade and fashionable apparel including high-top sneakers and a cool messenger bag.  

Storytime Backgamon (3-103, $39.99) from Thinking Cup Games
Storytime Backgamon (3-103, $39.99) from Thinking Cup Games

Storytime Backgamon (3-103, $39.99) from Thinking Cup Games, who are also the makers of Storytime Chess teaches young children how to play the game of Backgammon. The game box was difficult to open but that was the only complaint. Ying, 9, said the stories were great and once it was out of the box the game was fun to play. Five Stars!

Netflix Sonic Prime action figures (3-up, $9,99-$14.99).Isaha, 9, said he didn’t care for the toy but felt that some kids might like it, especially kids who watch the show and are fans of the characters. He did suggest making the figure more flexible.

Moosh-Moosh Soft Plus Buddies (3-up, $18.99) are still the rage among toddlers and tweens. Our testers got a look at some of the newest Moosh-Moosh buds including Rayn, Ana, Chewmoca, Dawn, Dozer, Maya, Napoleon,Nebula,Sebbie, Skipper, Taz and Turbo.  

GooGames (3-up, $9.99) from Sky Castle were a big hit with our 9-year-old testers. Henry and Anna both said these were fun and very entertaining. These handheld sensory water games come in a variety of different styles and themes like GooGames Candy Craze where you guide glittering sprinkles in an ice cream cone bucket TIP for Santa: Make it even better by adding some sounds to the game. 

Bumpas Weighted Plush from Good Soul Brands (3-up, $34.99) was a big hit with our toy-testing teacher and two of her students, Sharma and Tamera. The teacher loved how it provides a positive way to calm a student while they just loved hugging the cute little character. Five Stars!

Radio Flyer’s Toy Little Red Wagon (3-up, $28.99) is still a great toy for boys and even girls who want to haul their toys around, take Dollie for a ride or go for a ride themselves. History of the toy: The little red wagon was invented by Antonio Pasin, a young Italian who came to the United States in 1914. According to Radio Flyer’s history the young carpenter was inspired by the leaps of innovation being made all over the country, including where he lived in Chicago and decided to start his own company. After renting a one-room workshop on the city’s west side, Pasin started designing and producing handmade furniture, as well as wooden tricycles and wagons for children. His first line of wooden wagons sold as quickly as he could build them. He called his creation the Liberty Coaster, which later became the iconic Radio Flyer’s Original Little Red Wagon

Winnie’s & Piglet’s Tree House (3-up, $49.99) is a wonderful little playset that comes with different items they can sort into the treetop by shape and color. Its design helps to develop fine motor skills and three-dimensional thinking. Our 4-year-old testers, Alex and Riley, enjoyed the toy but did not want to share it and it is a small playset. Best case scenario: pair it up with another set or figures when there’s more than one player.

Age 4-up

Magic Whispers: Luna (4-up, $24.99 ) is an interactive plush featuring 100 plus secret phrases and sounds.Everyone can hear Luna meow and purr but with a press of the kitty’s glowing crystal heart kids will hear the secret phrases and sounds. Our tester who has a cat of her own said the toy was super cute and a nice size for children. Other testers said they had trouble hearing it. TIP: Santa needs to crank up the volume.

Squinkies Cupcake Surprise Bake Shop (4-up, $34.99) was a big hit with Maya, 9-soon-to-be-10. She said turning the dispenser was hard because the ball had to be in the hole in order for it to come out. This should have been explained in the directions. However, she loved the little characters and how it looked. “It was so cute,” she said. Ilana, 6, who had difficulty with the dispenser too said it was a colorful toy and wished it came with more Squinkies.  

Mobo Cruiser: Mobo Explorer X (4-6, $99) from ASA Products is a balance bike designed for adventurous kids. The durable frame is designed to withhold standing, rigging or gliding. It also features an adjustable seat. Great starter bike that can be handed down from one sibling to another.

Style BAE Fashions That Stick: K-Pop Princess Kiki (4-up, $20) by Just Play
Style BAE Fashions That Stick: K-Pop Princess Kiki (4-up, $20) by Just Play

Style BAE Fashions That Stick: K-Pop Princess Kiki (4-up, $20) by Just Play is a unique doll that comes with 850 reusable stickers for fashionable fun. You just peel, stick and style the doll to your liking. Other dolls include: Y2K Gurl Dylan, Pop Punk Star Kenzie and Streetwear Queen Harper.

Playmobil Rainbow Castle in the Clouds: (4-10, $99)
Playmobil Rainbow Castle in the Clouds: (4-10, $99)

Playmobil Rainbow Castle in the Clouds: (4-10, $99) was difficult for our 9-year-old testers to put together, very difficult in fact. So, parental supervision may be required for younger players. However, once it was done Anna said she loved how it looked and the fun she had playing with the set afterwards. She really liked the cute little drinks and food that came with the set. Esti also said she loved how magical it looked when it was all put together. Tip for Santa: Add more people. They expected the set to have five people instead of only three. Pair this with Playmobil My Figures: Magic Dance (5-10, $34.99) also proved to be a construction challenge for our 9-year-old testers, Anna and Isabel, as there are lots of pieces but they liked that it allowed them to be creative. Still, both girls found it fun. 

Monkey See,Monkey Poo Game (4-up, $19.99) by Spin Master Games
Monkey See,Monkey Poo Game (4-up, $19.99) by Spin Master Games

Monkey See,Monkey Poo Game (4-up, $19.99) by Spin Master Games is a silly game that capitalizes on kids’ fascination with poo, in this case a banana scented version that they fling while collecting bananas to win the game. Our toy-testing teacher had trouble assembling the toy and felt it could be sturdier but her students found it to be a fun game. They especially liked how the monkey “pood” into its hand and threw it. 

Bene (pronounced benny) Buddies: Sparkle the Dog (4-up, $39.99) and

Seawhee the Turtle ($39.99) are cuddly toys that inspire an interest in animals while also teaching lessons. The first-graders at Huron Elementary who tested the toy liked the colors and the stories that teach sharing, cooperation and kindness. They also liked that you get coins when you make a good choice. Five Stars!

DC Stunt Force Batmobile R/C by Spin Master (4-15, $39.99) was a big hit with Ashley and Anthony, who are both 8. They said it was very fast and light. At first they questioned the material used in making it but realized being lightweight makes it fast. The foam tires also ensure a thrilling ride over surfaces such as hardwood floors, carpets, rocks and more. It is built to hold an action figure so kids can imagine themselves as the hero behind the wheel. Our testers also liked that the vehicle is rechargeable but said Santa should make the R/C rechargeable too.

Future Fans Football was launched in September by Watchitude Active (4-10, $59.99)  and features a unique concept that introduces the sport of football to players of all ages by using three easy steps: read a book; play games (like ring toss or even eating cookies) and be fans together. Watch for more versions of different sports to come out soon. Our 9-year-old tester loved everything about the toy. It was fun, challenging and he liked that he could make up his own plays. Five Stars!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Pizzafire Delivery Van (4-up, $39) by Nickelodeon earned vehicle of the year among toymakers and was a smash hit with Daxton, 5, Stella, 2, and LJ, 3. Daxton played with the van and action figures including Leonardo, Donatello and Michelangelo, Raphael (4-up,  ) on his own but they all had fun taking their turn in firing pizzas out of the side of the van. Parents who might not want to spend $40 can also look for TMNT figures that come with a pizza or sewer top firing gun ($14.99). TOY HISTORY: The first “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie was released in 1990 creating a generation hooked on the reptilian superheroes, many of whom remain collectors of the toys. Five Stars!  

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Pizzafire Delivery Van (4-up, $39) from Playmates Toys
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Pizzafire Delivery Van (4-up, $39) from Playmates Toys

Miraculous Volkswagen e-Beetle Vehicle by Playmates Toys (4-up, $34.99) looks just like the vehicle that zooms around in the movie. VW seats two Ladybug action figures and has moveable parts to create new adventures each time including a removable roof. Fans of the movie will love the vehicle and it’s a great pairing with the action dolls. Our 7 and 8-year-old testers said it was colorful and they liked its connection to the television series. 

Miraculous Movie Ladybug Fashion Doll (4-up, $16,92) or Cat Noir Action Doll ($16.92) by Playmates. Casbar, 7, and Becker, 8, were excited about the toys because they like the TV show and are familiar with the characters. 

Panda’s Bamboo House (3-up, $149) is a bit pricey but it’s from Hape. Known for its craftsmanship Hape’s panda playset is a great way to teach little ones about green energy and even pandas. The home features solar panels, an elevator basket and slide and it comes with accessories including figurines that can sit, stand and grip with their hands. Five Stars! 

Ages 5-up

KerPlunk (5-up, $16.99) from Mattel Games is a blast from the past with a cool look and attitude. Each player selects a numbered compartment to use throughout the game and the straws are passed through holes midway of the tube to form a lattice. The marbles are then placed in the top of the tube and held in place by the web. Don’t let the marbles fall, is the object of the game. Tabletop versions ($5) also available. . 

Bitzee Interactive Digital Pet (5-10, $39.99) from Spin Master
Bitzee Interactive Digital Pet (5-10, $39.99) from Spin Master

Bitzee Interactive Digital Pet (5-10, $39.99) from Spin Master is among the hot toys you’ll want to grab early. The interactive toy is similar to the Tamagotchi digital pets of previous generations except it does not tragically die, if it doesn’t get enough attention. Pet it, put it down and Bitzee simply goes away until you pick it up again.

Jamm’d by Watchitude (5-up, $25) Bluetooth Speaker is a mighty small speaker that makes it easy to play music wherever you are — provided you have a cellular phone. Our 9-year-old tester did not but once his teacher got it going he enjoyed it. He especially liked that you could skip a song. Shaan also found it pretty easy to use except that it was hard to change the volume without changing the song. Tip for Santa: Make it so you can choose a song.

Plus Plus Puzzle By Numbers: Map of the United States (5-up, $9.99) was a huge hit with our toy testers. William, 10, and Ethan and Teddy, both age 9, who spent two days completing the puzzle. They said it was simple and fun to play. In fact he would not change a thing about it. “It’s perfect,” said William. Five Stars!

DC Gotham City Guardian 4-in-1 Playset (5-up, $99) by Spin Master comes with three Batman vehicles including the Batwing, BatTank, Batcycle and Mobile Command Centre that combine to form one very large (30-inch) Mech Batman. Jack, 5, was super excited about testing the toy but had to wait 20 minutes for his assistant to apply the stickers. He had fun with the separate vehicles but could not disassemble the completed Batman without help. He thought the sounds and LED lights were also cool.

My Gnome On The Roam Family Adventure and Creativity Kit (5-up, $39.97) was a big hit with Katie, 5, who enjoyed the ability to decorate the gnome known as Gustav and other items in the kit including the “My Gnome on the Roam” storybook, adventure journal, adventure guide, all of which fit neatly into the traveling suitcase. Kids can decorate the pieces and then use their imagination for hours of play afterwards. It also comes with a magical pen. Katie also like that there was no assembly required. Other versions include the GNOME in His/Her Home Kit ($14.99), My Gnome on The Roam: An Artist’s Adventure Book ($17.99) that invites readers to create their own special works of art and encourages beautiful messes. Five Stars!

Lite Brite Super Bright HD by Basic Fun (6-up, $24.99) celebrates Disney’s 100th anniversary with a dozen amazing templates for hours of fun. Kenley and Lavanda, 5, liked the way the pegs light up and that you can see what you created in the dark. One hint for Santa: Make a bigger version. TOY HISTORY: In 1966, a New York city window display featuring hundreds of colored lights inspired toy creators Marvin Glass, Henry Stan, and Burt Meyer to come up with a plaything employing this concept. To simplify and streamline the idea, they reduced the light source to a 25-watt light bulb. Their design placed a perforated plastic panel in front of the bulb and covered the panel with a simple sheet of black construction paper. When colored translucent plastic pegs were inserted through the paper, they made an illuminated picture. Lite Brite is among the classic toys inducted in the National Museum of Play. That first version in 1967 has been updated to a new version for every generation since. 

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts Movie Bumblebee 2-in-1 Converting Mask (6-10, $34.99) from Hasbro has been a big hit among moviegoers anxious to step into the role of a heroic autobot. Our 8-year-old testers, Anthony and Ashley, found the directions difficult and were afraid the plastic would break but others said the material made it easier for younger kids to transform it from a figure to a mask. Tip: Find a way to hide the head strap once it transforms into an autobot.

Kids Pickleball Set from Watchitude Move (6-up, $35) was a big hit with our 7 and 8-year-old testers. They had some difficulty setting up the net, so this might require a parent’s help, but the class testing the toy loved the game that’s a little bit like tennis and ping pong combined. The kit comes with a 10′ net, two kid-size paddles and two pickleballs and it all fits neatly into a nice carrying case. Good toy for the price. Five Stars!

Tech Deck Transforming Park by The Berrics (6-up, $49.99) comes with all the accessories needed to transform the container into a skate park. Parents will love that the skate park transforms back into a container for all of the accessories. Hudson and Henry, both 9, liked that it came with a skateboard but said it could have used a second one and better instructions on how to put it all together. Even still, Henry said it was cool.

Pictureka Giant Edition (6-up, $9.99) from Spin Master. Players must find things fast and then shout out if they found them. It’s a noisy game but it can be played indoors or outside. Audrey and Anna challenged their teacher, Darrin Winkler, to a game. All three of them said it was challenging and fun. Plus, the game goes fast so you can play it over and over. Five Stars! 

The Mars Rover Clixo Pack (6-99, $44.99) by Toyish Labs is a glow-in-the-dark flexible magnetic building experience designed for imaginative minds. Our 9-year-old testers, Henry, Jack and Milan found the instructions unclear but Tomas, 10, had no trouble at all. All of the boys loved the fact that it comes with all-terrain wheels, fire blasters, and custom pieces, that they could assemble, take apart, and then reassemble into something different. They also liked that its pieces glow in the dark. Other versions include: The Ocean Creatures Clixo Pack ($34.99) featuring parts to build underwater wonders that glow in the dark. Five Stars!

ItCoinz Ambassador Pack (7-up, $10) are magnetic palm size coins with vivid images that players use on a battle game board, which comes in four cool styles. The magnetic battle discs can spin, smash, battle and duel. How kids play with them is left to the imagination, although our 9-year-old tester, William, would have liked the toy better had there been directions or ideas on how to play the game. He did say it was unique and that the coins were cool. 

Plus Plus Puzzle By Numbers: Map of the United States (5-up, $9.99)
Plus Plus Puzzle By Numbers: Map of the United States (5-up, $9.99)

Bears! Dice Game (7-up, $19.99) by Fireside Games. Both Jameson, 10, and Jack, 9, had fun playing this fast-paced game, in which everyone rolls their dice and then tries to make pairs. Players score points by pairing dice to shoot bears, run and hide, or take a risk and score big by sleeping through the attack. Five Stars! 

Age 8-up

Castle Panic Second Edition (8-up, $34.95) by Fireside Games. So popular was the first tower-defense game that a second and improved version has been introduced featuring new art, custom die and heavier cardstock. Our 9-year-old testers Jameson and Alvin found it difficult to set up and too hard to play. This might be more suitable for children 10-up or as for family game night.

Spy Labs Incorporated Master Detective Toolkit (8-up, $49.95) from Thames and Kosmos. Our toy testers were very excited to give it a try but extremely disappointed to discover the instructions were missing. So, they gave it a thumbs down. Those who have reviewed it said their child had fun, although one reviewer criticized the quality of the items inside. Tip for Santa: Improve upon the fingertip powder and fingertip lifting tape. 

Rubik’s Coach Cube (8-up, $14.99) includes a step-by-stp guide and solves quicker stickers to help beginners grasp the concept of completing the cube. William, 9, liked the idea of a toy that could teach him how to solve the puzzle but found the directions confusing.  

Faction Skyfire Tactical Target Drone (8-up, $35) was a big hit with our toy tester. The drone flies by itself on auto-pilot, levitating and maneuvering to avoid your attacks, should you choose to use a Faction Gel Blaster to bring it down. Teddy, 9, loved how the drone hovered in place. Drone piloting toys are a good learning tool. This one shows kids how the objects work, look, react and sometimes fail.

K'nex Marble Coaster Run by Basic Fun (8-up, $49.99)
K’nex Marble Coaster Run by Basic Fun (8-up, $49.99)

K’nex Marble Coaster Run by Basic Fun (8-up, $49.99) features 504 pieces and a motor that come together to create a marble roller coaster. Mason, 10, who tackled this toy said there’s no way the kid on the box put it together on his own. “His engineer dad must be taking the photo,” Mason said. However, he did have fun using the parts to make smaller contraptions he designed on his own and other reviews by older players said it was great.  

Skyfire Target Drone (8-up, $30.99) works with or without the app. Our 9-year-old toy tester liked that it was made for all ages and that it flew up in the air, just fine. It was bringing it down that he found a little challenging.  

Penn & Teller Magic Lab (8-up, $69.99) by Abacus Brands is for kids who seriously love to do magic tricks. The kit comes with virtual reality goggles so kids can see Penn & Teller perform 28 tricks and explain how they too can be magic superstars. If that’s not enough it also comes with a 50-page step-by-step instruction book to go along with a 75-piece magic kit. Now sit back and enjoy the show!

Harry Potter The Battle of Hogwarts (9-up, $79.99) from Lego features a buildable castle (730 pieces) and six figures to recreate the famous standoff between Voldemort and Harry Potter from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 2. Pair the set with the books and other HP playsets, which are still on the hot list. 

Here, Kitty, Kitty!  (10-up, $29.95) is a new game from Fireside Games. Our 10-year-old toy tester found the concept of cat-collecting interesting but the game itself very confusing. Also, it only came with one scorecard so you have to make copies to play it as a group. Might be better for older players or as a game for the family.

Exit: The Stormy Flight (10-up, $14.99) is another version of the award winning game. Players must solve riddles and puzzles and crack codes to escape from an imaginary room or environment. But the clock is ticking! Can you or your team escape? Great addition for family game night. 

What kids would invent if anything was possible? 

Every year new toys are invented by people such as Eddy Goldfarb. This year we asked our group of toy-testing tykes if they could make anything possible, what kind of toy would they invent. Here are some of the toys, gadgets and gizmos that our toy-testing tykes said they would invent:   

• Anna Weiner, 9, said she would invent a magical closet for her Barbie dolls. In order to change an outfit all you would have to do is write down what type of clothing you want Barbie to wear, slip it into a slot and that outfit would appear in the closet.

• Jack Weiner, 9, said he would create an electric jet. Its nose would be orange, its body would be blue and it would have two seats like in a fighter plane. Oh, and the wings would have lights running along the edge of them.

• Imagine a drone big enough to pick you up? That’s what Teddy Drazin, 9, would make and it would be remote-controlled so it would carry you anywhere you wanted to go. .

• Milan Zdravkovski, 9, said he would make a cute toy dog. It would be the size of a normal dog with realistic brown hair and it would make noise like a real dog. 

• Why is all slime green? If Maya Patel, 9, had her way she would invent a machine that had a handle that you would turn to make super-gooey pink slime or any other color you wanted. “You would put in the food coloring, crank the handle and the slime would come out. Maya’s classmate, Kate Schroeder, 9, would help to make it. 

• Zac Caza, 10, said he would make a Barbie drone. 

• Shaan Chaudhary said he would build a real car that can transform and he would make it yellow. He did not say what he would want to see it become but the possibilities are endless.

• How about a machine for football players who might be practicing on their own. Nishil, 9, came up with the idea of creating a machine that would toss the football back. “You would throw the football into something and then it would shoot it back to you,” said Nishil Arora.

• William Koppy, 9, who tested the Rubik’s Coach Cube said he would invent a version of the toy that featured auto-solving capability.

• Ava Jacobs said she would make a butterfly that could fly.

Many thanks!

The Macomb Daily Toy Reviews have been around since the digital pet craze made Tamagotchi a household word, started in an effort to help parents discover a toy that’s right for their child and while it’s readers that fuel this tradition it’s the work of many that make it possible including the toy manufacturers, who managed to get us their hot new toys to review despite supply chain challenges.

Our reviews would also not be possible without the support of teachers at Huron Academy in Sterling Heights and one Mr. Darrin Winkler at Pierce Elementary in Birmingham. They corralled their students long enough to fill out the questionnaires. We would also like to thank all of the toy testers, who make up the newest generation of Macomb Daily kids that volunteer with last-minute items, be it polar bears or Barbie dolls.

Cheers to all of you for making it a success!

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