Posts

Showing posts with the label toys and games

Unbranded Holographic Scratch Art Pads (Dollar Tree)

Image
A fun product and a fantastic value I was at Dollar Tree a few months back when I happened to catch a sight of these in the checkout aisle. I’d heard of scratch art before, and it seemed pretty intriguing, and I’m always interested in trying new things with the family. After all, even if it sucked, I was sure it would at least keep the attention of our five-year-old for a few minutes (because that’s the maximum amount of time anything holds his attention).  For a dollar, you get a pretty impressive 50 sheets of scratch-ready cards, which are 3.625” both wide and high. Obviously, the cards aren’t very big, but they are still large enough to make some pretty cool designs on, and perfectly sized for kids to mess around with. It also comes with a bamboo stick, shaped like a pencil, although many other things lying around the house can be used as a substitute should you end up losing it (toothpicks, keys, etc.) So how do these work, for the uninitiated? Just as the name suggests, you “scrat

Make-It Blocks 100-Count Building Blocks (Dollar Tree)

Image
Phenomenal performance, and a phenomenal value. I’ll open things up with some pointless trivia: I have never owned a Lego set. Never. And I probably would have gone through my entire life without experiencing the allure of the famous building block had a set not been given to our five-year-old son (Jesus Christ, he’s that old?!) as a birthday gift. Even though he doesn’t really care about them yet (he really doesn’t care about anything except cars), my wife and I have gone to town on them, graduating from the suggested designs on the instruction manual, to creating our own (often terrible) projects from scratch. Honestly, I see the appeal: Even if you suck at building things, it’s still a whole lot of fun to do, especially with the rest of the family (although it does suck when you need one of those single bricks that someone else is already using). As much as I love a good off-brand, in general, there are some things that I just never would have expected to be “private labelized”, and

Unbranded Spin Art (Dollar Tree)

Image
A decent amount of fun for a dollar. Arguably one of the greatest aisles inside Dollar Tree is their toy aisle. It is loaded with quite a bit of cheap junk, sure, but that’s the kind of stuff kids usually take to. I mean, how many times have you bought a toddler a toy, only to have them play with the box instead? Or bought a kid something that costs a lot of money, only to have them look at it once and then never again? The fact of the matter is that kids are fickle creatures, and you typically never know what they’re going to like.  And that’s what makes that aisle so important, at least to me (and other cash-strapped parents): It allows us to test the waters a bit without having to waste a ton of cash. Now, virtually everything inside Dollar Tree aren’t meant to be long-lasting products, or things that can withstand a lot of kid-related torture - that’s also not the point. Sometimes they provide some valuable insight into what toys a kid might want to play with long-term. For example

splash n swim Splash Catchers Net and Ball Game (Dollar Tree)

Image
With a modification or two, it's well worth the dollar investment.  This will probably sound like an ad, but it’s just the honest truth: Dollar Tree is the perfect place to find fun ways to kill time over the hot summer months, especially if you have young kids, who tend to play one thing one time before losing interest in it forever. That’s one scenario (admittedly, of many) where that one dollar price point is perfect: low enough that it doesn’t feel like a waste if they don’t like it, but a decent enough investment to where you can actually find some quality products, if you know what to look for. This kit includes two plastic “splash catchers” - which are just tennis-shaped plastic paddles with a net attached, instead of racquet strings - as well as a small ball, which is the soft kind that’s made to get wet. That makes it the perfect toy to play around sprinklers, pools, on the beach, or anywhere else that water might be around...although of course it can be enjoyed on dry lan

LED Glow Art Lighted Peg Display (Dollar Tree)

Image
A dollar store version of a Lite Brite. I, like many others, have fond memories of using an old Lite Brite as a child. It was probably one of my first introductions to the “magic” of toys. How cool was it that you can make your designs light up using pins and a board? Of course, those old Lite Brites (which are probably worth a fortune now) used electricity to light up the board, which clearly wasn’t safe for young kids; now, the national brand boards are made to run on batteries, in accordance with updated laws meant to sap the fun out of everything. Alas, the Lite Brite has forged itself a place in the annals of toy history, even earning itself a nomination for the Toy Hall of Fame. But let's be real here: the latest iteration of the beloved toy, while still mostly fun, just isn’t the same, all thanks to those blasted toy regulations. So imagine my surprise when I saw an item simply labeled LED Glow Art at Dollar Tree. It took me a little while to figure out what it was, but onc

Unbranded Smiling Fire Hydrant and Octopus Balancing Ball Sprinklers (Dollar Tree)

Image
Look at these adorable little fellas! Sometimes it’s kind of surprising to see just how far a dollar can (potentially) stretch these days - the latest example that kind of blew my mind were the fact they carry sprinklers. And who doesn’t want to kick back with some exciting sprinkler action during these hot summer months? Especially when you have a four-year-old boy...that virtually made it a prerequisite that I pick at least one of these guys up. Just to make sure I got a winner (or, at least, to heighten the odds), I decided to grab one of each of the two styles they had available at our local store. The first thing you’ll notice - and this is probably to be expected from a dollar store sprinkler - is that they are made of a very cheap, thin plastic. I probably wouldn’t consider these for a large neighborhood gathering, as all it would take is one dumb kid to fall on it, or kick it, or drop it, to render it inoperable; it should be fine for small family affairs. (To be fair, I was a

Pidoko Kids Power Burst Speed Break Apart Cars (Amazon)

Image
Absolute garbage. As I established in an earlier post , our four-year-old son has a fascination with car crashes, and watching cars break apart. We fed that interest with “computer car crash” videos (movies and clips made with the computer program Beamng.drive) and crash test videos (yes, the ones used to rate cars on their safety), but of course he eventually wanted cars that would do it in “real life”. Rather than head to the junkyard to buy a bunch of “beater” cars that we could destroy, I decided to do it the safer way, and find toys that we could break apart. There really aren’t too many options for what we were looking for, but of course those lovely Chinese folk had a couple options. I purchased the version from Chuchik, simply because they were cheaper—after about a month of remaining obsessed with these cars (to the extent that he would actually throw fits when staying at his grandmother’s house, wanting to come home just so he could play with them), my own mother decided to

Chuchik Toys Blaster Car Break-Apart Crash Cars (Amazon)

Image
NOTE: This product was reviewed on our radio show! If you'd rather, listen here . If you're looking for toy cars that break apart upon impact, this should be your only option. Through the first two or so years, our son was pretty much the poster child of the perfect baby/toddler: he didn't really fuss much (unless he was hungry or tired, of course); he picked up on things (especially words) rather quickly; and he was incredibly calm with toys. When we would visit his cousin (who is three months younger than him), we would be shocked at how ridiculously over-the-top that kid was, as he was loud, obnoxious, and rough on...well, everything. Our child, in comparison, never really crashed cars, and would even cry sometimes if he felt he was accidentally too aggressive with one of his toys, acting as if he “hurt” it. (In actuality, his cousin was actually just a typical kid; we were just blessed to have a much less temperamental one.) Everyone said to prepare for the terrible two