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Category Archives: Flying toys

A Beginner's Guide to Model RocketsEver wanted to launch model rockets but didn’t have a clue where to start? Rockets can be a fun parent-child or family activity but it can be overwhelming when you walk into Turner Toys & Hobbies and see a huge array of rockets and accessories.  Follow these easy tips so you can be a hero in your child’s eyes when you introduce them to rocketry.

Rocket “Toys”

Have kids under 10?  Start off with rocket “toys” that are propelled by baking soda and vinegar.  The  Meteor Rocket Kit or Rocket Car Kit  both by Scientific Explorer are great choices.  If you have a group of kids, go for Science Wiz’s  Bottle Rocket Party pack.  It has the basic tools but you’ll need to supply the baking soda & vinegar.  Note:  all of these rocket toys require adult supervision.

Ready For “Real” Model Rockets?

Estes Rockets are the granddaddy of rockets.  Turner Toys & Hobbies also carries FlisKit rockets.  They’re  quirky, inventive (the Nantucket Sound Lighthouse Rocket, anyone?) and are made in the USA (in New Hampshire) but they require more skill than the beginning rockets I’m listing below. 

All of these model rockets are designed for kids 10+.  Adult supervision is still recommended for kids under 12.

Rockets are graded so you know what you’re getting in to.  For beginners, look for rockets that say “RTF” or “Ready To Fly”.  These don’t require any cutting, gluing or painting.  The next level is “E2X” (Easy to Assemble). Then they are graded 1-5 depending on the complexity of assembly.

What do I need to get started?

You need:

·         Rocket with included parachute

·         Recovery Wadding

·         Engines

·         Launch pad

·         Launch Controller

·         Batteries for the controller 

The nice thing is the rocket, parachute, launch pad and controller are reusable.  All you need to replace is the wadding and the engines. 

You can buy all these items separately, but if you don’t already have a launch pad and controller, it’s cheaper to buy a set that includes the rocket, pad and controller.  In any case, you’ll still need to buy the “consumables”:  engines and recovering wadding.

Engines

You can’t launch your rocket without the right engines.  Each rocket comes with a recommended assortment of engine sizes.  The last ones on the list are the largest recommended engine size for that model.  If you are a novice you should try the engine marked “First Flight.”  This will give you a sense of how the rocket will fly and descend.   The engines are marked with letters and double in power as you go up.  For example, a “B” engine is twice as powerful as an “A.”  You will need a new engine for each flight.

How High Will it Fly And Where Will It Land?

This depends on your rocket and the size of the engine you use (see above).  RTF rockets can go anywhere from 675-1200 feet depending on the engine size.  As I mentioned above, I recommend starting with the smallest engine (marked “First Flight.”)  

Landings will depend on wind and drift.   It’s unlikely that your rocket will shoot straight up and land in the same place.  Tracking and finding your rocket is half the fun!!  I’ve got some more tips below on how to handle drift.

Best Rocket Kits for Beginners

The Riptide Model Rocket Launch Set RTF is a good choice for beginners.  All you do is add engines, recovery wadding, batteries for the launch controller and you are ready to go!  This rocket can fly up to 675 feet depending on the engine you use.  

The Rascal & Hi Jinks Launch Set RTF  includes two rockets, along with the launch pad and controller.  This way you can prepare the second rocket while the first is flying and descending.  No need to wait to recover the first rocket. These can fly up to 1200 ft with the largest recommended engine (C6-7).

The Flash Model Rocket Launch Set E2X  requires more assembly and tools.  This is great for the kid who has already flown RTF model rockets and wants to try a little more hands-on construction. You’ll need to assemble the motor mount, attach the fins, assemble the nose cone, tie on the reusable parachute, apply the decals and head out to the launch pad!  The Flash Rocket can fly up to 925 feet with largest allowable engine (C6-7) and can be used over and over again. In addition to the recovery wadding, engines and batteries, you’ll need to have glue and a hobby knife and paints on hand.

Don’t have a lot of space?  A lot of folks like the Moon Mutt Model Rocket Launch Set because it’s small and inexpensive and you can launch it in a small space.  It’ll fly up to 200 feet.  The only thing is that it uses mini engines and has a small launch pad that you can’t use with the other rocket models.  It can be assembled in less than an hour and has a plastic nose cone and fins and self-stick decals.

There are loads more RTF and E2X model rocket sets.  Once you have the launch pad and controller you can experiment with other model rockets.  Check Turner Toys & Hobbies for more models.

Flying & Weather-Related Tips

This is kind of a no-brainer but make sure that you have the space to launch a rocket – make sure that there aren’t trees or overhead wires.  Remember that the rockets will drift as they float down to earth. It might end up on a neighbor’s property. The wind will affect drift so think about launching on days without much wind. 

How quickly a rocket descends will help cut down on how far it drifts.  Each rocket comes with a parachute.  You might want to cut a circle in the parachute’s peak or slit the parachute.  This will vent the parachute so it will descends more quickly.   If it comes down too quickly, you risk damaging it on impact.  You can also angle the launch pad SLIGHTLY (just a few degrees) so it points into the wind.  This way, it will drift back to you. 

For more tips, read our earlier post about flying model rockets.  What are your best tips and model rocket stories?

Ready to Launch?

Now you know what you need to launch your first rocket: 

1)      RTF or E2X model rocket kit

2)      Make sure you have a launch pad and controller and batteries

3)      Recovery wadding

4)      Engines – look at the packaging to decide which engines your model can use. 

Remember:  Model rockets are not toys and are not recommended for kids under 10.  Kids under 12 really need adult supervision.  But why would you let your kids have all the fun?  Of course, you’ll be launching with them!

Photo credit: Foter / Public domain


Looking for fun, affordable stocking stuffers for kids? Here are 20 of my favorites – all under $10 each.  I’ve noticed that several of the toys on this stocking stuffer list are classic toys. Even if you didn’t play with them when you were a kid, you can enjoy playing with them with your children or grandchildren.

affordable stocking stuffers for kidsStocking Stuffers for Toddlers

Here are some fun, affordable stocking stuffers for younger kids.  Some they can play with on their own; others might need a little parental help.

wooden train whistle made in USAWooden Train Whistle – Choo Choo!  This train whistle has 4-tones and sounds like the real thing. Made from unfinished pine and high quality birch plywood. Measures 8-1/4″ long by 1-1/2″ square. Decorated with chart showing what 11 different whistle sounds mean (long, long, short, long is the sound for train approaching a crossing.) Made in Vermont USA. Ages 5+  $5.99

Ryan's room shoe lace manipulative toy for preschoolersOne-Two Tie Your Shoe Lacing Toy – This lacing toy helps children practice lacing and tying their shoes. Builds hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Wooden shoe measures 4″ long and includes lace. (Shoe colors may vary from image.) From Ryan’s Room. Ages 3+  $4.99

Maple Landmark Made By Me Truck preschool toyMade By Me – A great first woodworking assembly project!  Kids can assemble their own Truck, Train, or VW Bug and then color, paint or decorate them.  The individual sets come with smooth-sanded unfinished pine pieces and wooden wheels and axles.  All you need is some glue, a hammer, paints, crayons, stickers or whatever else you might want to use for decoration. A great Grandparent & Me activity! Made By Me’s have received Dr. Toy’s 100 Best Children’s Products Award and Dr. Toy’s 10 Best Creative Toys Awards. Made in the USA. Ages 3+ $3.99

old fashioned spinning top preschool toyOld Fashioned Spinning Top  A table-top wooden toy spinning top with spinning bracket and string. A safe indoor toy that even a 3-year-old can operate with help from Mom or Dad. Ages 3+ $8.99

Engineer’s Cap Our son wouldn’t take off his engineer’s cap when he was little.  Every boy & girl needs one to run their railroad!  100% cotton. Available in Adult or Children’s size. Blue/white stripes or pink/white stripes.  $9.99

Stocking Stuffers for Ages 5-7

Lots of these classic toys will also be enjoyed by kids older that 7 years.

Marbles – our cool marbles come in a “vintage” metal box and are even made in the USA!  48 marbles & 2 shooter marbles plus a handbook to learn about different marble games. Made in USA $9.99

Dominos – Another classic game.  Dominos can be used in many ways (math games or racing dominos, for example.) Take it to the next level and learn how to play block, draw, Maltese cross, Sebastopol, Bergen, Montana and Texas 42. Comes in a “vintage” metal box and includes a full set of 28 double six dominos and a twenty page handbook covering history, technique and game rules. Made in USA. $9.99

Jacob’s Ladder – I never had one of these growing up and didn’t “get” it until I read the instructions.  So much fun!  This can be played by younger kids, but even 8 & 9 year-olds love watching the wooden pieces cascade as if by magic.  You can also do magic tricks with the Jacob’s Ladder. I have seen cheap Jacob’s Ladders but this is the real deal with quality wooden pieces.  Made in the USA. $8.99

Jacks – This traditional jacks set comes with 5 gold and 5 silver jacks a ball and a cloth storage bag.  Also comes with rules but you can make up your own, too.  $4.99

Whirly Toy – Did you have one when you were a kid?  This one has lights inside the wheel so the fun can continue after dark. It’s quite hypnotic and I – and other adults – have spent lots of time playing with these! Wheel is magnetic and tracks along the metal rod while spinning (and lighting up).  I’ve seen lots of cheap imitations but this is a sturdy, well-made toy.  Comes with battery. Ages 5+ $9.99

Slinky Collector’s Edition – Who hasn’t had a Slinky? The Slinky is still made in Pennsylvania with the original equipment that Richard James created. The Slinky has changed little in over 50 years and is loads of fun.  Great for coordination development, learning about gravity, balance and more. Made in the USA. Ages 5+ $7.99

Made in USA Light Crystal PrismLight Crystal Prism – A great science toy that’s fun to look at! Natural sunlight is refracted through the prism into the full spectrum of colors – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.  Made of polished glass; must be handled with care. Made in USA. Ages 6+ $8.99

Eni Keychain Puzzle

Eni Puzzle – A great “fidget” puzzle toy with lots of possible solutions and great for spatial relation skills.  The “Keychain” size comes in two colors schemes: pastels and hot/bold colors.   Ages 5+  Keychain is $6.99

Pommawonga Ring Toss Toy 

Pommawonga Ring Toss Toy

Toss the tethered wooden rings in the air and see how many you can catch on the wooden stick. Once you’ve caught all the rings see if you can catch the square – but don’t lose the rings in the process. This is a great way for kids to develop their hand to eye coordination.  From Ryan’s Room. Ages 6+  $8.99

Sidewinder spinning top Sidewinder Top
This is a great top for beginners!  It’s easier to throw than the wooden top because it comes with a Power Spinner cord that makes it fool proof to spin.  The Sidewinder is a fixed nylon point Spin Top.  Measures 2″ diam x 3.25″ long. Includes fixed plastic point and Power-Spinner for easy launches. Made in USA. Top colors may vary.

Flying Stick Toy

 Wooden Flying Sticks –  This Flying Stick is an aerodynamically sophisticated version of the old folk-toy stick helicopter. The pitch of the 7 inch rotor can be be changed by wetting and bending. It takes a little practice to get a good flight. Insider Tip: Wait until wood is dry before flying, or it will be too heavy.  Ages 7+  Sold in 16 packs only. A 16-pack is $16.99 but I included it on my list because each flying stick comes out to just over $1.

Stocking Stuffers for Ages 8+

Kids 8 and older will enjoy any of the toys on the ages 5-7 list, but here are a few that might need a little more physical & mental dexterity.

Maple Landmark Soma Cube Puzzle

Soma Cube Puzzle – This is a classic three dimensional puzzle consisting of seven unique shapes which can only be assembled into a cube one way. Cube measures 2-1/8″ and is made of maple hardwood finished with a clear urethane finish. Made in USA. Ages 8+ $9.99.

 

 

Q-Bitz – This is a fun brainteaser puzzle. We left it out on our kitchen table and our 12- & 13-year olds played with it. The goal is to duplicate the pattern on the puzzle card with the 16 wooden cubes. Q-bitz Solo can be played alone or used to add a player in a Q-bitz game. Three different ways to play including recreating the pattern from memory! Add a timer to see who can complete each puzzle the fastest. Includes wooden tray, 16 wooden cubes, 20 puzzle cards, instructions and is packed in a small tin box for easy storage. Ages 8+  $9.99.

Yomega Brain yo-yo Yomega “Brain” Yo-Yo –  This is the yo-yo that revolutionized yo-yo play. When you throw it down, it sleeps and then remembers to come back up.  Patented centrigual clutch allows super-fast free spin, followed by automatic return.  Ideal for beginners. Includes 5 extra strings.  Colors vary. Ages 7 to adult. $9.99

Wooden Throwing Top

 Wooden Throwing Top – This is a classic, natural wooden throwing top with a safe replaceable fixed plastic point.  Includes 60″ string and wooden “button”.  It’s a bit more challenging to throw that the Sidewinder above but is a really satisfying spin once you master it. Made in USA.  $7.99. Save 10% when you buy 3 or more.

Visit Turner Toys & Hobbies to see other affordable toys!  Have a Merry Christmas!

 

 


Looking for fun, affordable stocking stuffers for kids? Here are 20 of my favorites – all under $10 each.  I’ve noticed that several of the toys on this stocking stuffer list are classic toys. Even if you didn’t play with them when you were a kid, you can enjoy playing with them with your children or grandchildren.

affordable stocking stuffers for kidsStocking Stuffers for Toddlers

Here are some fun, affordable stocking stuffers for younger kids.  Some they can play with on their own; others might need a little parental help.

wooden train whistle made in USAWooden Train Whistle – Choo Choo!  This train whistle has 4-tones and sounds like the real thing. Made from unfinished pine and high quality birch plywood. Measures 8-1/4″ long by 1-1/2″ square. Decorated with chart showing what 11 different whistle sounds mean (long, long, short, long is the sound for train approaching a crossing.) Made in Vermont USA. Ages 5+  $5.99

Ryan's room shoe lace manipulative toy for preschoolersOne-Two Tie Your Shoe Lacing Toy – This lacing toy helps children practice lacing and tying their shoes. Builds hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Wooden shoe measures 4″ long and includes lace. (Shoe colors may vary from image.) From Ryan’s Room. Ages 3+  $4.99

 

 

Maple Landmark Made By Me Truck preschool toyMade By Me – A great first woodworking assembly project!  Kids can assemble their own Truck, Train, or VW Bug and then color, paint or decorate them.  The individual sets come with smooth-sanded unfinished pine pieces and wooden wheels and axles.  All you need is some glue, a hammer, paints, crayons, stickers or whatever else you might want to use for decoration. A great Grandparent & Me activity! Made By Me’s have received Dr. Toy’s 100 Best Children’s Products Award and Dr. Toy’s 10 Best Creative Toys Awards. Made in the USA. Ages 3+ $3.99

old fashioned spinning top preschool toyOld Fashioned Spinning Top  A table-top wooden toy spinning top with spinning bracket and string. A safe indoor toy that even a 3-year-old can operate with help from Mom or Dad. Ages 3+ $8.99

 

Stocking Stuffers for Ages 5-7

Lots of these classic toys will also be enjoyed by kids older that 7 years.

Marbles – our cool marbles come in a “vintage” metal box and are even made in the USA!  48 marbles & 2 shooter marbles plus a handbook to learn about different marble games. Made in USA $9.99

Dominos – Another classic game.  Dominos can be used in many ways (math games or racing dominos, for example.) Take it to the next level and learn how to play block, draw, Maltese cross, Sebastopol, Bergen, Montana and Texas 42. Comes in a “vintage” metal box and includes a full set of 28 double six dominos and a twenty page handbook covering history, technique and game rules. Made in USA. $9.99

Jacob’s Ladder – I never had one of these growing up and didn’t “get” it until I read the instructions.  So much fun!  This can be played by younger kids, but even 8 & 9 year-olds love watching the wooden pieces cascade as if by magic.  You can also do magic tricks with the Jacob’s Ladder. I have seen cheap Jacob’s Ladders but this is the real deal with quality wooden pieces.  Made in the USA. $8.99

Jacks – This traditional jacks set comes with 5 gold and 5 silver jacks a ball and a cloth storage bag.  Also comes with rules but you can make up your own, too.  $4.99

Whirly Toy – Did you have one when you were a kid?  This one has lights inside the wheel so the fun can continue after dark. It’s quite hypnotic and I – and other adults – have spent lots of time playing with these! Wheel is magnetic and tracks along the metal rod while spinning (and lighting up).  I’ve seen lots of cheap imitations but this is a sturdy, well-made toy.  Comes with battery. Ages 5+ $9.99

Slinky Collector’s Edition – Who hasn’t had a Slinky? The Slinky is still made in Pennsylvania with the original equipment that Richard James created. The Slinky has changed little in over 50 years and is loads of fun.  Great for coordination development, learning about gravity, balance and more. Made in the USA. Ages 5+ $7.99

Light Crystal Prism – A great science toy that’s fun to look at! Natural sunlight is refracted through the prism into the full spectrum of colors – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.  Made of polished glass; must be handled with care. Made in USA. Ages 6+ $8.99

Firefly Hand-Launched Helicopter Toy –  This toy is so much fun.  We played with this a lot at home this summer (see my post about it).  Works like a sling shot that you point up in the air.  Helicopters down and has a LED light.  Ages  5+   $3.99

Eni Puzzle – A great “fidget” puzzle toy with lots of possible solutions and great for spatial relation skills.  The “Keychain” size comes in two colors schemes: pastels and hot/bold colors.   Ages 5+  Keychain is $6.99

Pommawonga Ring Toss Toy – Toss the tethered wooden rings in the air and see how many you can catch on the wooden stick. Once you’ve caught all the rings see if you can catch the square – but don’t lose the rings in the process. This is a great way for kids to develop their hand to eye coordination.  From Ryan’s Room. Ages 6+  $8.99

Wooden Throwing Top – This is a classic, natural wooden throwing top with a safe replaceable fixed plastic point.  Includes 60″ string and wooden “button”. Made in USA.  Ages 7+  $7.99. Save 10% when you buy 3 or more.

Wooden Flying Sticks –  This Flying Stick is an aerodynamically sophisticated version of the old folk-toy stick helicopter. The pitch of the 7 inch rotor can be be changed by wetting and bending. It takes a little practice to get a good flight. Insider Tip: Wait until wood is dry before flying, or it will be too heavy.  Ages 7+  Sold in 16 packs only. A 16-pack is $16.99 but I included it on my list because each flying stick comes out to just over $1.

Stocking Stuffers for Ages 8+

Kids 8 and older will enjoy any of the toys on the ages 5-7 list, but here are a few that might need a little more physical dexterity.

Maple Landmark Soma Cube Puzzle

Soma Cube Puzzle – This is a classic three dimensional puzzle consisting of seven unique shapes which can only be assembled into a cube one way. Cube measures 2-1/8″ and is made of maple hardwood finished with a clear urethane finish. Made in USA. Ages 8+ $9.99.

 

 

Saturn throwing top from SpainSaturn Throwing Top –  The Saturn throwing top or spinning top is imported from Trompos Space in Spain. Unclip the lid to store the included string and button. Internal weight can be raised or lowered to control vibration. Fixed point is more durable for long lasting fun but top still can do advanced tricks. Ages 8+ $8.99

Skip Rope Jump Rope Made in USA  Super Skipping Rope – This jump rope is long enough for 2 or 3 to jump at once. Rope is 15 feet long with wood beads to use as handles. Package includes skip rope history, techniques and skip rope rhymes. Colors are assorted. Can be used by 1 person if one end is tied to a door or a fence (or held by someone else). Made in USA. $9.99

Guillows G36 Catapult GliderCatapult Balsa Glider –  This rubber-launched balsa glider has 12″ wingspan and piggy-backed “Space Shuttle”. Wing and stabilizer position can be adjusted so you can experiment with different settings.  Assembly and flying requires careful reading of instructions, some dexterity & skill.   Made in USA. Ages 8+ $3.99 Save 10% when you buy 5 or more.

Visit Turner Toys & Hobbies to see other affordable toys!  Have a Merry Christmas!

 

 

 


10_15boygiftSomeone just asked me about good gifts for 10-15 year old boys.   I thought it might be helpful to think about it in terms of their personalities. 

Here are three types of boys I know:

Creator  (C)

  • Likes finding solutions for different kinds of “problems.” A Rube Goldberg type.  Learns, experiments, builds.  Might like blocks, mazes, marble runs or planes and rockets that they can design or tweak for different performance effects.

Sprinter (S)

  • Doesn’t necessarily want to devote a lot of time to an activity – maybe 10 minutes here and there.  Short bursts of concentration but likes to practice things over and over to master a skill.  Might like brainteasers, yo-yos, tops or ready-to-fly rockets and planes.

Tinkerer (T)

  • Likes to use his hands to build things, tweaks them to improve performance.  Can spend lots of time (hours, days) on a project.  Might like advanced rocket and balsa airplane kits that require precision cutting, glueing and painting.  Might like 3D puzzles or puzzles that require a lot of patience.

Here are 6 types of gifts for 10-15 year old boys who are Creators, Sprinters & Tinkerers

1.  Brainteaser Puzzles  (S)

The most jaded tween or teen likes brainteasers.  This is great for kids who want to fiddle with something for a short while and come back to it later – or fiddle with it all day. Here are four popular puzzles:

 

 

  • Mini Eni Puzzle – a great hand-held one-piece puzzle that kids can take with them, attach it to their backpacks.  Great for fidget toy.
  • Logiq Tower    – this wooden puzzle has more than 22,000 possible solutions.
  • Soma Cube –  wooden cube puzzle with only 1 solution

2. Rockets  (C) (S) (T)

I can’t tell you how many dads we meet who practically get misty-eyed when they see that we carry Estes rockets.  Their love of rocketry started when they were kids.  If your family hasn’t tried rockets, maybe this is the time – a father-son activity?

Estes 1403 Riptide Model Rocket

Riptide RTF Rocket

Sprinters (or novices) need a ready-to-fly, or RTF, rocket that requires almost no assembly with a launch set like the Riptide. (S)

Estes High Flier Model Rocket

Estes High Flier High Altitude Model Rocket

Creators and Tinkerers will like anything E2X & beyond (though start with the easier levels if your child is a novice).  The High Flier Model Rocket Kit  is a Level 1 skill level and flies up to 1500 feet.  It needs some assembly and painting and a launch set if you don’t have it. (C) (T)

For more information about rockets, please see my earlier posts:  Unplug your kids! and Model Rockets.  Feel free to call or email us if you’d like specific guidance.

3.  Building Toys (C)

The creator will take the basic units of these sets, add in stunts and then create all kinds of amazing contraptions or layouts that would make Rube Goldberg proud. Check out the videos!

Crazy Wall Coaster

I talked about this in my Kid Inventor post.  The Wall Coaster is basically a marble run that you attach to a wall and reposition as you experiment.  Also comes with stunt sets that make it that much more fun:

Q-Ba-Maze Big Box Set

Interlocking plastic cubes make this a 3D maze and marble run – physics & art in one set.  There are three types of cubes: hole in the center, one to the side, or two to the side.  Experiment with how the marbles run through the maze.  Use multiple marbles at once.  Only made more fun with stunt add-ons like vortexes, tubes, pivot trampoline & more:

4.  Flying toys  (C) (S) (T)

Is the boy is into planes and flight?  There are all kinds of planes and kits that will appeal to Creators, Sprinters and Tinkerers.

 

 

  • The Guillows Airplane Design Studio lets you design and build your own airplanes, biplanes, gliders. Comes with enough supplies to build 4 motorplanes and 4 gliders. (C) (T)

There are lots of other ready-to-fly planes that will appeal to both Sprinters & Tinkerers.  These are all rubber-powered (not radio-controlled) and many require little assembly but can be tweaked for enhanced performance.  (S) (T)

 

 

  • The P-51 Mustang requires minimal assembly and is rubber-launched. It loops, dives and flies great.  Can be tweaked for different flight patterns. (S)
  • The G36 Catapult Glider has 12″ wingspan and piggy-backed “Space Shuttle”. Great for learning basics of catapault launched gliding. Wing and stabilizer position can be adjusted so you can experiment with different settings. Assembly and flying requires careful reading of instructions, some dexterity & skill. (T)

Balsa airplane kits will appeal to Tinkerers. They require patience and dexterity, to.o

  • The Cadet Model Airplane Kit  Recommended age 10+. Build-time: 4 hours. Requires use of simple tools such as Exacto knife, pliers and artist’s brush. One of the first teaching designs when created in the 1940’s, this is the simplest model using stick-and-tissue construction. (T)
  • The Balsa Model Spitfire is recommended for ages 12+  Wingspan: 27″.  Rubber powered but can be converted to gas power. Requires a lot of attention to detail & patience! (T)

I’m partial to Ornithopters because I think they’re really cool.  They’re mechanical devices that fly by flapping their wings.

 

 

5.  2D & 3D puzzles (T)

 

 

Check out our Gift Guide to Puzzles – it includes puzzles for older kids.  Ravensburger’s 3D series of famous landmarks is fun – and take several hours to build.  Try the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben or the Empire State Building.  Or, try a 1500 or 3000 piece jigsaw puzzle or something devilish like the Krypt 654 piece Blank Puzzle. No image – just a uniform slate gray surface which includes a circular design.

6.  Tops & Yo-Yos (S)

Tops and yo-yos are classic toys and are great for kids who want to do something with their hands, master skills and reach for the next skill level.

For beginners, you can’t go wrong with the Wooden Throwing Top or the Trompos Saturn Top.

For more advanced throwers, try the Blizzard.  It spins smoothly on carpet, pavement, palm of the hand, or other rough surface. 

Why not pair a yo-yo with the Yomega Mania DVD?

The Yomega Brain is great for beginners.  The Yomega Raider is for more advanced users.

Hope this helps you think about what your Creator, Sprinter or Tinkerer might like.  You can always email or call us if you’d like help sorting out some of these choices.

 


unplugkidscoverThe #1 thing I hear is: “I can’t get my child off the screen.”  Unplug your kid with these 8 screen-free toys and activities that they’ll love enough to put down that electronic device!  For some of these, all you have to do is leave them out on a table; others require some supervision – a great way for you to play with your child!

1.  Gyrobot

A robot that can walk a tight rope!  The Gyrobot – Science of Gyroscopes Kit makes learning about the importance and power of gyroscopes fun.  Includes a  24-page educational booklet. Winner of Dr. Toy’s 100 Best Toys of 2013.  Requires 3 AAA batteries (not included). Ages 8+  Take a look at the video!

 

2.  Rockets

You definitely can’t leave these lying around but who doesn’t think rockets are cool?  Many kids develop a life-long passion for rockets so now is the time to nurture that passion.

We carry Estes model rockets that come in all skill levels.  If you don’t have a launch set and controller, you should get a rocket package that includes them because it’s more cost-effective.

Estes 1403 Riptide Model RocketFor absolute beginners, look for “RTF” ready-to-fly rockets.  The Riptide Model Rocket Launch Set RTF is a good choice for beginners.  All you do is add engines, recovery wadding, batteries for the launch controller and you are ready to go!  This rocket can fly up to 675 feet depending on the engine you use.  The rocket, parachute, and controller are reusable.  You will need to get some parts separately (see link for full description).

See our earlier post for more rocket flying tipsThe youngest recommended age is 10 years with adult supervision.

3.  Science Kits

Science Wiz Physics We carry the award-winning Science Wiz science kits.  The Physics Science Kit is a great way to develop a basic understanding of the laws of motion, weight, force, mass, velocity and acceleration. A 40-page science book, materials and illustrated step by step instructions let children play and learn by themselves.  24 different activities including launching a bottle rocket, performing tricks with inertia, measuring mass and spinning water upside down. The Physics Science Kit has won awards from Creative Child Magazine and Dr.Toy Best Toy and Best Vacation Toy. Ages 8+

Other Science Wiz Kits: choose from Chemistry, Inventions, Light Science, Electricity, Energy, Crystals and Capacitor Car.  Some kits may require supervision.

We also have party-sized kits that will engage and entertain 5-6 children:  Bottle Rocket Party Kit and the Crazy Chemistry Party Kit.

4. Marble Ball Track 

Marble ball track is a great open-ended, classic toy that lets children build and experiment – a great toy for future engineers.  Start with the basic Haba Wooden Ball Track set and then add on accessories so your child can expand the creative possibilities.  Kids as young as three can play with basic sets but older kids can really bring out their inner Rube Goldberg.  Watch what they can create. The sets are made of sustainably grown hardwood and are manufactured in Germany.  These will be around for your grandchildren!  My husband still has his! Ages 3+

Two of the HABA add-ons that I like are:

5. Q-Ba-Maze

Q-Ba-Maze Q-Ba-Maze differs from traditional ball track in that it’s a 3D maze that is also a ball run.  Colorful plastic cubes interlock to form a marble run.  Arrange the cubes in an animal, geometric or any other design you can imagine. Marbles travel through the maze following a different course each time – the configurations of the cubes are almost unlimited!

The colored cubes add a different visual dimension that wood doesn’t have.  A great way to teach kids about probability, gravity, symmetry, physics and art.  Q-Ba-Maze also has add-on stunts: the Bounce Stunt Set  and the Zoom Stunt Set. Ages 6 -14

6.  Citiblocs

Your child probably isn’t playing with the chunky building blocks of his childhood but s/he’ll love creating all kinds of sculptures with Citiblocs – plank blocks that come in different colors. You can use then as building blocks and/or dominos.  Look at the video below to see an AMAZING Citiblocs creation!

I leave a few bags of these on my coffee table and kids and adults are drawn to them. They come in Cool Colors (blues & greens), Hot Colors (red, orange, yellow, pink) and Natural wood. Made of sustainable New Zealand pine.

One of Time Magazine’s “15 Smartest Toys for Young Geniuses” and recipient of numerous awards.  No snaps, magnets or glues needed with these blocks – just imagination & gravity!  

 

7.  Brainteaser puzzles

I have seen middle school kids drop everything to play with brainteaser puzzles.  In the 6th grade, my son was obsessed with Maple Landmark’s Mental Aerobics – it was the first and the last thing he did each day.  The puzzle is a tangram with 102 possible solutions and is made of Vermont hardwood.   It has won several awards and has been recommended by the National Association for Gifted Children. Ages 8+

Eni Brainteaser PuzzleAnother popular puzzle is the Eni Puzzle.  Middle-schoolers love them but kids as young as 5 will have fun with them, too – as will adults!   This puzzle is a perfect travel companion as it requires no batteries, notepads, pens, pencils or electrical outlets. Great for developing hand to eye coordination, simple problem solving skills and spatial relationships.

The Eni is a great stocking stuffer or goody bag gift!  There are two sizes:

  • The Mini Eni Puzzle  offers lots of solutions as each column has 8 pieces by 8 colors.  Comes in black/white or bold hot colors.
  • The Keychain Eni Puzzle is obviously smaller with 4 pieces by 4 colors.  You can attach it to a backpack or computer bag.  Comes in pastels or bold hot colors.

8. Paper Airplanes & the PowerUp

 Power Up Airplane conversion kitYou’re thinking: “My child is so over paper airplanes.”  Not when your child sees the 12 really sophisticated designs and hot graphics in the Whitewings Hotshots Paper Airplane book.  Your child can make planes that fly far and straight & can be tweaked for maximum performance. Ages 4+

Triple the fun when your child adds the PowerUp to his paper airplane.  It’s the world’s first electric-powered paper airplane! Make a paper airplane that flies well, clip on the PowerUp Power Kit and your creation can fly for 30 seconds or more after a 20 second charge with the included charger. Ages 8+

How hard is it to unplug your child?   I bet that any one of these will do the trick!

 


boomerangLike most of you, I’ve been fascinated by boomerangs and always wanted to know how to throw a boomerang.  So, continuing on from earlier posts about flying toys –Flying Toys for Kids – Paper Airplanes & Electric-Powered Paper Airplanes and Aeronautics & Flying Toys for Younger Kids – we bring you one on boomerangs.

Boomerang History 

Made in USA Free Spirit Magic Boomerang

Free Spirit Boomerangs from Channel Craft

Most of us associate boomerangs with the Aborigines of Australia. This is the best known connection, but anthropologists have discovered that throwsticks were also used in other cultures such as ancient Egypt, eastern Europe and Southwest US.  Throwsticks used for hunting were non-returning. From the US Boomerang Association:

At some point (perhaps by accident) the stick became more curved and refined (and much lighter) so that, when thrown vertically, it would return to the thrower. These true boomerangs were probably only used for fun and games, not as weapons.

How to throw a boomerang  

Here’s a video from Dean Helfer at Channel Craft showing how to throw boomerangs from the Spirit series.

 Throwing Basics

  • Always throw overhand  (like a baseball) and never sidearm.
  • There are two kinds of grips:  pinch and cradle.
  • The pinch is what is sounds like: hold the boomerang between your thumb and forefinger, allowing friction to keep the boomerang in your hand during the throw. Snap your wrist at the end of the throw to create spin.
  • The cradle grip is similar to the pinch grip, the difference being that you wrap your forefinger around the front of the boomerang. At the end of your throw, snap your wrist and “pull the trigger” to create spin.
  • Factors that will affect your boomerang flight:  amount of spin, wind (too much, too little), weather

Different boomerangs for different skill levels

Boomerangs are precision flying toys.  There are plenty of mass-produced toy boomerangs that most likely won’t return.  Turner Toys carries boomerangs from Channel Craft that are birch plywood and hand finished. 

There are different skill levels for different abilities and, like all good things, throwing a boomerang takes skill and practice. All are rated for ages: 9+.  Left- and right-handed boomerangs available.  Our boomerangs are made in the USA.

Turner Toys & Hobbies Boomerangs

Calico Jack Jolly Roger – Flies up to 25 yards.  

Calico Jack boomerang

Calico Jack Jolly Roger

Free Spirit Magic – Flies up to 40 yards even in high winds.

Graffiti Fire – Flies up to 35 yards.

Graffiti Earth – Flies up to 50 yards.

Graffiti Wind – Flies up to 25 yards, even in high winds.

Spirit of the Wind – Flies up to 25 yards.

Have you ever thrown a boomerang (successfully!)?  How were you successful?

Photo credit: sidstamm / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND


Made in USA Toy SaleTo honor American workers this Labor Day, we’re offering one of our best sales ever:

20% off Made in USA toys

I noticed that some big toy makers and toy stores are having sales this weekend but I noticed that they didn’t mention anything about American-made products.  Then it dawned on me – it’s because they don’t sell anything that’s made in USA!

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According to the US Department of Labor:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

So let’s celebrate the wonderful craftsmanship of US toymakers!   Use code LABORDAY at checkout. Choose from among:

 

Sale through September 3rd. We carry other fine made in USA toys and furniture but are unable to include them in this sale.  Sale excludes Vermont Dory, Mountain Boy Sleds, Little Colorado Furniture.

Remember that when you buy American made toys you are supporting your neighbors and contributing to a strong US economy!

Please check out these groups support Made in USA:

Made in USA Challenge

Buy Direct USA

For more information on the value of buying made in USA, please read my earlier posts:  Toys Made in USA, Made in America Toys – At What Price? and Made in USA Still Matters according to Businessweek.

Photo credit: Old Shoe Woman / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA


summer camp care package ideasSchool just ended and now we’re thinking of what our child should bring to camp and how we might surprise him while he’s there.  We frequently get calls from parents who want to put together a special summer camp care package and here are a few things to consider:

Before you send anything…

  • Check with your camp to get an idea of delivery options  (how often do they get mail, when is it delivered to your child, maximum size of package, etc.)
  • Also – find out if they allow food in care packages.  More and more camps are prohibiting food treats in care packages because of food allergies and wildlife.  Our camp favorite has always been chocolate chip cookies.  Rice Krispies treats are also sturdy and yummy.  Just make sure it won’t melt or attract critters while en route.
  • Send things that your child can share.  Some camps don’t want campers to feel excluded and what better way for your camper to make friends.

What should you put in your camp care package?

  • Honestly, you’re sending a care package because you love and miss your child.  So, we think the answer is: Love!!!  Anything you send will remind your child of how much you love him or her.
  • To help your camper share with fellow campers, look for items that come in bulk packs and that don’t need assembly.
  • Any traditional toy is great because it’s quiet and doesn’t require batteries or electricity.

Parents have told us that balsa airplanes are favorites so here’s a list of items we carry that will make your life easier and your child happy!

Flying Toys  balsa airplane ready-to-fly summer camp care package idea

  • Balsa airplanes – inexpensive bulk packs are great for group activities and lightweight to ship!  Options include:
  • Firefly rockets –  elastic launched toys with colored LED lights for nighttime flying.  See my earlier post about how much fun Fireflys are. Just make sure there is an open space for launching. Quantity discount available.
  • Flying Sticks – available in a 16-pack.  Sophisticated version of the folk-toy that you can tweak by wetting and bending the rotor.
  • PowerUp kit for paper airplanes – Attach a motor to your paper airplane and watch it fly for 30 seconds or so.  How cool is that?
  • Whitewings Hotshots Paper Airplane Templates – make the BEST aerodynamic paper planes and see whose flies the farthest (with or without the PowerUp!)

Spinning Toys

  • Yo-Yos & Spinning Tops –  Camp can be a good time to hone throwing skills.  Think of all the tricks they’ll be able to do by the end of summer!  classic whirly toy summer camp care package idea

Choose from basic wooden ones to more technically advanced models.  The Whirly Toy Classic is super fun, mesmerizing and lights up.  A great night-time activity!

There are many other toys and activities that you can send.  Don’t forget a handwritten note!  Sometimes simple is best.

What are you sending your child?


5 Great Gifts For DadLooking for the perfect gift for Dad on Father’s Day?  Look no more because we have great gifts for Dad on Father’s Day! 

Dad appreciates any and all gifts from his family but what he secretly wants to do is PLAY!  Nurture Dad’s inner child with any or all of these great gifts.  The best part?  He can play with these with you and the kids – the  BEST way to spend Father’s Day.

 

Great Gifts for Dad #1: Rockets  Estes Model Rockets

I can’t tell you how many men’s jaws drop when they come into our warehouse store and see our rocket collection.  We carry a full line of Estes Rockets – individual rockets and kits.  My husband wrote in an earlier blog post about our model rocket collection.    He profiled an all-in-one model rocket, the  Estes 1491 Taser Launch Set.  The launch sets include the rocket kit, launch pad and launch controller and offer great savings over buying those items separately.

Great Gifts for Dad #2: Pedal-Powered Go-Karts    Berg Go-Kart Ferrari Exclusive

Who wouldn’t want their own go-kart?  We carry the Berg Go-Kart line of pedal carts for both kids and adults.  Indulge Dad with his own Exclusive Ferrari FXX Pedal Kart or maybe Dad would prefer a Berg Jeep Wrangler off-road pedal kart or something more modest like the Berg Basic AF Pedal Go Kart.  These go-karts are for kids and adults.

 

Great Gifts for Dad #3: Ready-to-Fly Airplanes & Ornithopters  G76 Sky Launcher Balsa Airplane

You’re probably detecting a theme – flying toys for dads.    We have a great selection of ready-to-fly balsa gliders from the most basic balsa gliders that Dad flew as a child to more complex balsa airplanes that require some assembly such as the G-76 Sky Launcher that has a 17″ wingspan and a mechanism that releases a parachute or small “rocket” at peak of flight. Requires careful assembly & following directions, some experimenting and fine tuning.

I’m partial to our ornithopter, the Tim Bird because of it’s colors and how “life-like” the wings are when they flap. Tim Bird Ornithopter Flying Toy

Ornithopters are “mechanical” birds.  Some, like the Tim Bird, require no assembly and others like the Illusion Ornithopter Kit need to be assembled.

Great Gifts for Dad #4: Balsa Model Airplane Kits  Spitfire Model Airplane

Dad might have built model airplane kits with his dad when he was young.  What a great way for him to reconnect with his childhood and pass along a love of the hobby to your kids now.  We carry a variety of kits – from historical planes such as the Balsa Spitfire model, the most recognizable WWII British fighter plane to the Avion de Penaud  inspired by Alphonse Penaud’s “Planophore”, the first rubber band powered miniature aircraft.  Penaud was an aviation pioneer whose work was years ahead of its time. Among his other inventions is the Wright Bat, a toy helicopter that taught Orville and Wilbur Wright basic aerodynamic principles.

Great Gifts for Dad #5: Power-Up and Paper Airplane Templates   Power Up Airplane conversion kit

Who doesn’t love paper airplanes?  Maybe Dad can fly these at work and astound his co-workers.  The Power-Up is a great invention – clip on the power-module and your plane will fly for up to 30 seconds.  Of course, you need to make a good paper airplane first.  Get fancy with our Whitewings Hotshots Paper Plane templates.  For more information about these, check out my post on Flying Toys for Kids – Paper Airplanes.

Wait – I know I said “Five Great Gifts for Dad” but here’s another:

Great Gifts for Dad #6: Hobby Supplies!

Turner Toys also carries a complete line of hobby tools and supplies for any of Dad’s projects. We have a variety of glues including hard to find Ambroid Cement, hobby tools and paints from Floquil, Polly S and Testors Model Masters.

 What are you planning to get for the Dad in your life?


We just got in a great new product:  the Firefly Rocket Toy for kids (and adults – I love launching it, too!)   Firefly Rocket Toy for Kids

My whole family has been enjoying this flying toy the past few nights and it’s great to have a flying toy for younger kids (5+) 

How does the Firefly work?

You launch the rocket toy (or helicopter, if you prefer) with a rubber band and watch it twirl down.   The extra neat thing is that it has an LED light so you can use it at night and watch it fly in the sky (firefly, get it?).

Here is a very silly video we made just to give you a sense of what it looks like.

Tips on using the Firefly Rocket Toylaunching firefly rocket toy for kids

For $3.99, it’s amazingly sturdy and we’ve had lots of fun with it. My husband launched it repeatedly in the parking lot.  Not a great idea for it to land on asphalt but it has held up nicely.  Here are some tips:

  • It’s best to launch it over grass. 
  • Make sure that you launch it away from trees – ours got stuck in the tree but managed to shake loose.  
  • Launch it straight up in the air.
  • The rubber band is very sturdy – do NOT aim it at people or pets!!!
  • The battery isn’t replaceable so it’s best to switch off the LED during the day.   You can still enjoy it during the day.
  • When our light got a bit loose from too much asphalt impact, my son just put a bit of tape around it and it still works!

Our son loves to try catching it before it lands.  One of our dogs wanted to attack it.  I’m a sucker for colored lights at night so it was fun for me.  Plus, I was able to launch it well which was very satisfying.

I’m adding this to my earlier blog list of Flying Toys for Kids.  Please let me know if you’ve tried the firefly and please share any tips.

 



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