Good day, Learning Express readers!
Here we are – the day after Halloween. Ah yes, time to throw out the moldy, squirrel-gnawed jack-o-lanterns. Time to contend with two wild children coming down off a serious sugar high. Time to put away the ghosts and goblins and bring out the pilgrims and horn-o-plenties.
November 1st also happens to mean that we are at T minus 53 days and counting until Christmas. Even worse, there are only 37 days until Hanukkah! Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time (plenty of time!) to find everyone on your list the perfect gift, and the Learning Express Top Toys reviews can certainly lend a hand.
This week I had the pleasure of watching 10-year-old, brother-sister twins Dalton and Sidney tackle two incredible, original toys:
Suspend Family Game by Melissa & Doug®
The twins immediately recognized the game Suspend when I brought it out and set it on the table. They had played it before and were extremely enthusiastic to get their hands on it again.
Without reading any directions, they began. Suspend starts
off as a wooden base with a tall metal rod
and hook towering above. Players start with an equal number of hooked-and-grooved metal pieces of different colors. They roll a colored dice that tells them which piece to play on the base. The more pieces played on the game, the more unsteady it becomes. If pieces fall during a player’s turn, the player must take the fallen pieces and add them to his own pile. The first person to run out of pieces wins.
As more and more pieces are added, the game starts to resemble a work of modern art. Dalton and Sidney thought their game looked like a firework or a funky Christmas tree – “way cooler than some of those sculptures in museums.”
Besides the neat figures created in Suspend, a real thrill of the game is the suspense it creates. The work-in-progress can be mighty unpredictable, and you never know when the slightest move will send it toppling.
Melissa & Doug are known for delivering quality products at affordable prices, and Suspend is no exception. I was really surprised at the low cost of the game considering it is composed of heavy-duty materials (wood and metal). The game itself looks like it will hold up quite well, heck, I’d even venture to say it would last a lifetime.
Suspend also has the flexibility of appealing to many ages and stages, which to me is so important. The game comes with four different rule options: solo, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The twins played the intermediate version, and it suited the fifth graders perfectly. The manufacturer recommends ages eight and up. I personally feel that kids as young as six would have fun with this game. I also feel that the game would be a huge hit for adults as well. It’s a shame that many adults might pass it up simply because it’s produced by a company that is known for kids products, not adults. Last point: the manufacturer says Suspend is for one to four players. You could easily play with a bigger group though either on teams or by each player starting with fewer pieces.
Overall this game is incredibly fun and novel. I fancy myself a game lover and connoisseur, and I’ve never played anything like Suspend. The kids were laughing the whole time and hanging on the edge of their seats to see what would happen next. Dalton rated Suspend four-and-a-half stars. “No way,” countered his sister. “It’s five stars for sure!”
Boogie Board™ LCD Writing Tablet by iMPROV Electronics
Dalton and Sidney had wide eyes when I brought out this gizmo. It's the number one seller at Learning Express at the the moment, so I was pretty curious myself to see what it was all about. “What is it?” they exclaimed. Well, the Boogie Board is an LCD writing tablet. Translation: it’s a sleek, modern Etch-a-Sketch, and it feels kind of like writing on a Kindle screen.
It’s also about the same size as a Kindle, but it’s much, much thinner – only 1/8th of an inch. Yet for its thinness, it has a durable feel you’d expect in a product marketed for children. The Boogie Board comes with a stylus, but you can use pretty much anything to write – your finger, your elbow, or a paper clip. The twins had fun experimenting with different writing tools. The drawings you make have a neat but subtle electronic quality to them. The best part is when you are done, you push a button and the screen magically wipes clean.
The twins were super excited about the Boogie Board because it was finally an electronic device for them. Sidney wanted to make sure she always had it in the car because it would make long trips so much more fun. “Yes!” agreed Dalton. “We could play hours of hangman or tic-tac-toe or dots and boxes and never run out of paper!”
And apparently, they wouldn’t run out of battery power either. According to the manufacturer, the Boogie Board’s battery never needs replacing or recharging. That means no misplaced power cords and no extra costs! Fantastic.
I hope these reviews have been helpful. Happy shopping to all and to all a good night!