Solar Power

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Hooray Science!  Spring is here, and the sun is out.  It’s the perfect season to learn about sunlight and play with solar power.  Seize a cloudless day and try these toys for outdoor fun:


Solar Paper Kits and refills, $6-14 – This classic combines creative collage with sun science.  Lay the sheet of light-sensitive blue paper outside on a sunny day with various objects on top.  Within minutes, the areas that are exposed turn white.  Rinse the sheet in water.  As the paper dries, the exposed areas turn deep blue, leaving behind a white "picture" of the objects.  Try lots of different objects and materials to make totally frame-worthy art. Ages 5+.

"Frightened Grasshopper", $11 – He’s an adorable plastic buggyboo with a solar panel that makes him quiver and jiggle in the sun.  Kids get a kick out of how he only calms down when he’s "hiding" in the shadows they make with their hands.  Recommended for ages 10+ because there is a bit of (fairly simple) assembly.  Or build it yourself and present it to kids ages 5+.

Solar Racers and Solar Robots, $12.50 – Here are more cool toys that move in sunlight.  Sun-powered microbots and super speedy cars.  To a child, the bright yellow robot appears as a lumbering warrior; I think he walks like a baby duck.  The racer cars are somewhat more popular because they are tiny and super-speedy.  No assembly required, ages 6+.

RainbowMaker, $25 – The rainbow maker puts a new spin on the popular prism.  A solar panel perches atop a box with rainbow colored gears which power a swarovski crystal to cast rainbows that move around the room.


Remote Control

Friday, May 15th, 2009

At Terra Toys, we don’t usually have a lot of electronic or battery-powered toys, but sometimes something special catches our eye and we just have to try it out.  Here are noteworthy choices from the remote control realm:


Go Go Autos, $25 – These are cuties made for toddlers ages 2+.  They are soft, safe, and rubbery with rounded edges.  The controls are simplified to two large buttons, easy for little hands to maneuver.


Morphibians, $30, ages 5+. Here are more RC cars that are hard to destroy.  Designed with the rowdy in mind, Morphibians can be used indoors and out – on the sidewalk, in the sand, or in water.  I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from moms and kids bubbling with excitement about the versatility and durability of these toys.  To further prove their rad-ness, the Shark and the Gator models run on different frequencies so kids won’t get frustrated when they want to race. For extreme fun try the Morphibian Mega X Morphibian, $80.  It’s twice the size, powerful and fast, stops quickly and turns quickly, and has a rechargable battery pack.  Also, it looks awesome!

Nuchi Wooden Railway Sets

Friday, May 8th, 2009


If your child loves trains, you know about the Thomas wooden railway, and Brio has been making a recent comeback, but there’s a newcomer to the train market: Nuchi.

Some parents may want a train that is not connected with a brand like Thomas, and some are just looking to expand their current collection with new and interesting stuff.  Nuchi can satisfy both needs.  The tracks and vehicles are compatible with BRIO, Thomas, and other wooden railway systems.  

The vehicles are simple, beautiful, and brightly colored, and they include not only trains, but also cars and animals.  My First Railway is a 15 piece set with three jungle animal cars, a bumpy loop track, and a plush mountain arch ($35, ages 2+).  We’re excited to carry a few Nuchi starter sets.  Each is beatifully packaged and makes an excellent gift for a toddler entering their age of fascination with moving machines.

Outdoor Summer Fun

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

The school year is wrapping up, and kids need exciting outdoor toys to keep them busy while school is out.  Entertain them with classics like rubber horse shoes, ring toss games, boomerangs, and standard and double dutch jumpropes.  


Having a barbecue or a day in the park?  Take some sack racing sets!  These sturdy nylon sacks have woven handles and are adorned with adorable animals.  2 sacks in each set, your choice of Frog & Monkey, or Rabbit & Kangaroo. $20, ages 3+


Though they’re meant for kids, we tested them to make sure adults can fit too.  They are somewhat short but very spacious.  We found them to be quite comfortable.


If you’re going to the beach, consider taking the Hello Kitty body board. Sturdy and oh-so-fashionable, you can even use it as a kickboard if you want to be the coolest one at the pool.  3 feet long, wrist strap attached, $26, ages 12+.



And who says toys aren’t for grown-ups?  Feast your eyes on the Aqua Sling Water Balloon Sling Shot.  This launcher is the "Competition Model": it has a 200 yard range and requires three people to launch.  Because it’s so extreme, and because the flying balloons can approach 75 miles per hour, this toy should be used in very large open spaces and is recommended for ages 21 and over.  If you look closely, you can see that these stylin’ dudes have stockpiled their balloons and are probably engaged in water warfare.  Includes water balloons and balloon fill-nozzle, $25.