It’s hard to find a kid in today’s world that doesn’t know how to send text messages or play video games. It’s equally difficult to find toys that don’t beep, buzz, vibrate or entertain with some form of battery. But we’re up for the challenge: We scoured this year’s Toy Fair in New York City to bring you 10 tech-free toys that are sure to bring a smile your kids’ face--not to mention peace to your home.
1. Razor BoGo Pogo
Last year Razor’s compact scooters were all the rage, but this year, the company has an even more slender toy: a pogo stick.
And this isn’t your mother’s pogo stick.
“There’s a traditional coil spring, but there’s a bow spring too,” says Sheena Stephens, director of Public Relations for Razor. “It has the most spring action of anything on the market right now, and it’s made of aircraft-grade aluminum.”
Ages 6 and up can enjoy the Bogo, as long as they weigh less than 140 pounds.
Although the Bogo may look great for solitary backyard fun, Stephens says kids love playing together and challenging to see who can achieve the highest jump, the most jumps and the fastest jumps. The Bogo retails for $99, and is available at www.razorama.com.
2. Fashion Angels’s Project Runway Silk Screen Designer
Kids interested in fashion don’t need a digital program to create designs; this silk screen kit from Fashion Angels allows kids to stencil cute painted designs onto just about anything, including canvas bags, t-shirts and jeans.
Designs include butterflies, peace signs, guitars, hearts and letters. Company spokesperson Sarah Koth says the kit is targeted to tween girls ages eight to 13.
“It’s really like your down-home old-fashioned craft kit that’s been revamped for kids of this generation,” says Koth. “The DIY movement is huge right now and kids have caught that fever. They want to be able to make that one-of-a-kind piece that will make them stand out from the crowd.”
The kit also comes with a “challenge spinner,” so kids can use the kit at parties to see who can create the most innovative designs. Retails for $44.99 at major retailers.
It’s not edible, but it is wearable. Whipple is a “crafting cream” that’s the texture of icing, but made of plastic. Aspiring bakers can pipe Whipple onto miniature cakes, pies and ice cream cones that can be worn as barrettes, keychains, headbands, and more.
“Shows like Cupcake Wars have really increased the popularity of baking with kids, and with Whipple they get to keep their creations,” says Lisa Bernardi, senior brand manager for International Playthings.
With such realistic treats, it’s easy to see how kids might be tempted to taste, but parents don’t have to worry, according to Bernardi.
“Whipple has gone through untold amounts of toxicology testing, and it’s completely safe. Let’s just say if it did get eaten, everything would come out alright.”
Kits include anywhere from four to 12 Whipple creations, and are great for group settings like birthday parties, slumber parties, and anywhere little girls congregate. Available at major toy retailers nationwide for around $15 to $34 per box.
4. Outdoor Grill and Play Patio Café
Don’t have room for a cute miniature chef setup in your kitchen? Then try putting it outside. The Step2 Grill & Play Café is a new--and possibly more masculine--version of the old pink kitchenette that little girls cooked on next to mom for years. The Step2 Grill & Play Café goes outside and features a grill, fridge and two seats for patrons.
“It’s great for role model play, and it’s a safe way they can be near a grill,” says Step2 spokesperson Lisa Brogan. “Cooking and serving is a great developmental activity, and great for aspiring little Bobby Flays!”
The playset features an umbrella for sunny days and a variety of burgers, hot dogs and other grilled specialties. It costs $119.99 and can be purchased at www.Step2.com .
5. Puzzle Ball
TVs aren’t the only things going 3D these days: The puzzleball by Ravensburger forms into a perfect globe and comes with a stand for display on your child’s shelf. Choose to create licensed images including Iron Man and The Simpsons, or go for geography and piece together planet earth.
Each piece is numbered so kids can choose to follow the number sequence or use their eyes to find their way.
“The puzzle pieces are all curved, and they don’t require any glue, so it doesn’t require any more supplies than a traditional puzzle, but the end product is something kids really enjoy displaying and keeping,” says Alexandra Deegan, director of product development for Ravensburger.
Puzzleballs range in size from 60 pieces to 960 pieces and cost anywhere from $19.99 to 99.99. For more information, check out www.ravensburger.com.
6. Magnetic Putty
A new twist on what many of us remember from childhood as Silly Putty. Crazy Aaron’s Super Magnetic Thinking Putty is a very attractive option for would-be scientists or parents who want to give their kids a new twist on an old standard.
“You can eventually charge it enough so that it picks up paperclips, and it’s great to play with in the car,” says Amanda Cunningham, director of marketing at Crazy Aaron’s Putty World.
The putty leaves nothing on kids’ hands, nothing on the wall, and even though it’s magnetic, it won’t stick to your insides--the putty is nontoxic. The putty, dubbed the “Strange Attractor” costs $14.95 for 1/5 lb, and is available at www.puttyworld.com.
Education comes at you from all sides with these solid wooden blocks from Shure called ArchiQuest. Illustrated images on each side represent significant architectural symbols and motifs, which kids can look up in an accompanying book to learn more about its history and significance.
But it doesn’t end with architecture; other sets incorporate presidential history, mythology and the lore of kingdoms past.
“They stimulate the imaginary play, but not in a prescribed way,” said President Thomas Shure. “Kids can explore different places and themes, and whenever something really strikes them, they can look it up in their book to learn more.”
Sets of different sizes range from $30 per set to $200, and are available at www.archiquest.org.
Tetris has stepped out of the digital world and onto the coffee table with this new game from Techno Source. Reminiscent of childhood favorite “Connect Four,” tabletop Tetris gives points to people when they get three colored blocks together in a row, and incentivizes players to block their opponents.
“Basically we’ve taken a beloved electronic game and made it into something kids and their parents can do side-by-side on the couch,” said spokesperson Rachel Lyn Honig. “It’s even great for little kids who need to sharpen their motor skills.”
Players roll a die to see which Tetris shape they’re allowed to use on their turn. Game over when the players fill the board to the top.
Ideal for ages six and up, Tetris is available at major retailers nationwide, and costs between $19.99 and $24.99.
9. 4D Master “Vision” animals
Ever wanted to dissect a frog, but without all the mess? What about a dog? A shark? Well, now you can with John Hansen’s 4D Master “Vision” animals that allow for a miniature look at the major organs of popular animals.
Kids can take out and examine the lungs, heart, kidneys, and more, and match the organ to an accompanying book that tells of its function and importance.
“Models are always something cool and popular with kids, and this is a way for them to really be learning something as they create,” says John Hansen III, Operations Manager. “This is really the perfect mix of toy and education—that rare product that keeps parents and kids both happy.”
The models cost anywhere from $13 to $20, and are available at major toy retailers.
“It’s not just a bike—it’s a Zike. And it’s not just a ride, it’s a full-body workout,” says Zike CEO Nathan Scolari.
This innovative ride-along toy may look like a traditional bicycle, but it functions more like a stair stepper by engaging riders’ quads, gluteus muscles, abs and calves for a workout that “takes it to a different level,” says Scolari.
The Zike was originally designed as a way to fight childhood obesity, and has earned rave reviews over its ability to maneuver and being so forgiving with falls. Kids are standing a few inches off the ground rather than sitting a few feet up, making it easier for them to step off the side to recover from mistakes.
“Kids have fun and they don’t realize what a great workout they’re getting,” says Scolari. The Zike retails for $189 to $429 depending on size and is available at www.Zike.net.
Looking for quality toys that don’t go beep or buzz in the night? We found 10 toys that don’t require a battery and are sure to entertain.