1. Is Your Kid a Control Freak?

    Is Your Kid a Control Freak?

    I'm not ashamed to admit that my children are complete control freaks. Yes, I said it. My gang can't get enough of any toy that can be controlled by a remote. If your family is going through the same situation, you can relax. This mom is here to help kids, and their parents, navigate the several new remote control offerings this holiday season. And there are more this year than ever before, trust me!

    Choosing the right RC toy isn't as hard as one would think, but I know how overwhelming it can be to innocently walk into a store and be confronted with dozens of different RC birds, trucks, cars, robots, etc. Your child's Christmas list just said "remote control toy". Awesome. It would be helpful if the adult buying the toy had a clue as to what kind of RC will make said letter writer squeal with delight, but he's a kid and that's not going to happen. So, after working in a toy store for 5+ years, and more importantly, raising my own brood for the past 18 years, here is my professional and personal advice.

    The first thing to consider when buying that dream RC is pretty obvious: the age of the child you are buying it for. Believe it or not, there are fantastic remotes for kids as young as 2 years old!

    Besides the look of utter disbelief and joy on a toddlers face after figuring out he's in control, RCs actually help promote hand-eye coordination, balance, and spatial thinking. My favorites are the soft fire truck RC by Kid Galaxy, and the brightly colored Wacky Wheels for the little ones. Large colorful buttons on the remotes allow toddlers to move the vehicle forward, backward, and in a circle. Nothing fancy, just really sturdy and fun! The soft rubberish body of the fire truck won't hurt little toes if there's a mishap, and furniture doesn't get even a scratch if hit. For a little more excitement, Wacky Wheels comes in a couple different styles: a helicopter with a rotating propeller or a VW bug inspired car with headlights that really light up!

    For the older kids, there are some truly exciting options out there this year. The one I'm most excited about is the Auto Moto. You have to see this transforming remote/voice controlled car to believe it! It's a sleek, beautifully designed sports car that, with a simple touch of a button or a one word voice command, actually transforms into a robot! Seriously, what kid doesn't love cars and robots? Can't think of any can you? Me neither! For the 8 and up set, the Auto Moto is a sure winner all the way around. Another great option for that age group is the Voice 'N Go Racer. Ready for this? Kids wear the remote on their wrist and speak into it for voice commands! Nothing makes playtime in the neighborhood cooler than pretending to be James Bond. Enough said.

    Now let's talk about the flying remote controls on hand this year. The most important and helpful thing I can say about these toys is you must make sure there is plenty of space when these flying gadgets take off. I'll never forget the year two of my kids got drones from Santa, they were tickled that he brought exactly what they had asked for. What tickled these kids more however, was watching mom run from the house to the car with an umbrella over her head shrieking "Don't hit me with that thing!" The neighbors enjoyed that little show as well. Anyhoo, my point is if you buy a child a flying remote control gadget, give them enough space to actually be able to conduct manuevers with their toy, and not worry about obstacles during play.

    This year, Ebirds is offering two styles of RC flying toys: a pigeon and a butterfly. The first thing to catch my eye when I first ran into these was the brightly colored, very detailed designs on the wings of each style. They really are a sight to see, the pigeon is decorated with shades of blue and gray, and the butterfly is covered in a swirling pattern of pinks and purple. As you control the Ebirds with the easy to manuever buttons on the remote, these toys flap their wings and soar to heights I could not have imagined when I was growing up. Kids control the speed of the wings to determine how high or fast the Ebird will fly, and it's super cool to be in control during take off and landing, just like a real bird!

    Have a racing fan in your life? If you answered yes, as 9 out of 10 parents do, then I've got one more awesome RC to write about. New on the market this year, it's already won awards for inovation and unique play! The product is called Zipes Speed Pipes, and kids use the remotes to race each other on a track they've designed themselves. What makes this RC set different from others on the market is the fact that the tracks aren't your traditional flat tracks we had when we were kids. No cars flying off tracks, hitting the dog, cracking a window, etc. etc. (speaking from experience here, told you to trust me). The "tracks" these mini cars race on are actually clear pipes that snap together to transform into a child's dream design.

    Seriously, if a kid loves construction, engineering, design, and fast, light up cars, Zipes will be your dream too. The design possibilities are endless, and kids will have a ball controlling their cars to run up and down walls, over tables, or even through a series of loops. Here's the best part about Speed Pipes: there are extension packs and extra cars with remotes on the market! Kids can keep adding pipes and cars to their track designs, so the fun just keeps going!

    After all of my descriptions and advice about the hottest new RCs available this year, I hope I've helped point all of you gift givers in the right direction. If I've at least given you a starting point and narrowed the choices down just a tad, then my work here is done. Have a lovely weekend, thanks for trusting this well intentioned mama, and don't forget to buy batteries. Lots and lots of batteries. Again, trust me.

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  2. The Ultimate At Home Laser Tag!

    The Ultimate At Home Laser Tag!

    Toysmith's Laser X Double Blaster Pack brings arcade-style laser tag into your home! The Double Blaster Pack includes 2 laser x blasters with 2 receiver vests. One laser gun glows red, the other blue - perfect for two players! Keep track of shots and hits with full color lighting effects. Run around outdoors for maximum space to play and take full advantage of backyard terrain; if your aim is true, you can hit your opponent's target from up to 200 feet away! The Laser X Double Blaster Pack is just the thing for indoor active play as well! Plug in headphones to each laser blaster and feel the full immersion of the Laser X soundtrack and special sound effects. An interactive voice coach will even provide tips and feedback throughout the game! A fully immersive, interactive light and sound experience that doesn't add loud electronic noise as your kids run and play and laugh - the perfect laser tag experience for kids and adults! Uses 3 AAA batteries per blaster.

    Amp up the game and challenge your laser tag speed and accuracy with the Laser X Game Tower! There are multiple ways to play laser tag when you bring the Laser X Tower into the game! Either choose solo play or play one of the nine built-in games! Now that's a real laser tag experience! Grab a friend for a game of Capture the Flag...turn your backyard into a laser tag arena with this exciting, high-tech game! Set includes one Laser X Blaster, and one Laser X Game Tower! This tower is guaranteed to have pinpoint accuracy for hours of active play! Recommended for ages 6 and up!

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  3. The RC Car with a "Twist"!

    The RC Car with a "Twist"!

    Did you know there was such a thing as a breakdancing car? We didn't either, ‘til we met the awesome flipping Turbo Twister from Mindscope! The Turbo Twister lights up, does flips, and performs all kinds of impressive stunts at the flip of a switch! The remote control is extremely easy to use - we've spotted three year olds twisting and flipping with giggles galore throughout our stores.

    Turbo Twisters are designed on two separate frequencies, so you can purchase one blue and one red and RACE (or battle) in the same space! This super cool car is incredibly durable and is perfect for use both inside and outdoors. The car and wheels both light up with bright flashing LED lights, so you can play day or night! Turbo Twisters feature a patented 360 degree front axle rotation, as well as a back extension with wheels on top of the car for full body flips!

    There's a reason they call the Turbo Twister from Mindscope the ULTIMATE STUNT CAR! Don't wait to start flipping, tumbling, rolling, dancing, and popping those wheelies! This product is not suitable for children under 3 years.

    Come test out the entire line of amazing RC Cars by Mindscope at your local Wonder Works!

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  4. Cubed Creations

    Cubed Creations

    Cubed Creations
    Create, destroy, play! The best toys are the ones that encourage imagination, creativity and problem-solving. These skills are both necessary and beneficial to a child's development. California Creations does a fantastic job of inventing toys that require all three of these skills. Wonder Works has picked out two products that are sure to please anyone!

    Animal, object, tower - your child's imagination will be flowing with ideas when they get Geomatrix in their hands. These shapes are crafted with spectacular rare earth Neodymium magnets, which are the world's strongest! The rotating magnets attach freely for unlimited creations. Kids will improve their spatial skills as they understand the different geometric shapes. Ages 3 and up!

    Similar to a Rubik's cube design, but with a fun twist! Change the cube into a star (or multiple stars) or just have a blast fidgeting with the cubes! Your child will be enhancing their spatial skills to understand the relations of the cubes in front of them. This will improve their perception, visualization and mental skills. Recommended for children aged 8 and up!


    Happy creating! 

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  5. Rule the Arcade!

    Rule the Arcade!

    Rule the arcade with the coolest retro video games around! Schylling has made it possible to bring classic arcade games right into your home!

    The Frogger Retro Arcade Game looks and plays just like the 1981 original! Complete with an arcade style joystick and authentic sounds too! No coins required! Get Frogger home safely by navigating across the busy highway and rushing river without falling into the water. Can you beat all the levels? Based on the original Atari Arcade Game of the 1980's, this mini electronic game will bring back feelings of nostalgia and excitement. Whether you're a Frogger pro or you're just starting out, this mini version is perfect for everyone! 3 AA batteries are included so the fun can start right away!

    The PacMan mini arcade game comes programmed with two play modes for awesome throwback action! Move the joystick to devour the dots and enjoy authentic arcade sounds from two mini speakers. Practice makes perfect - you'll be chomping up prizes and out-running ghosts in no time! You never even have to take a break for more quarters! The perfect gift for both a kid too young to have experienced the old school arcade glory days and a grown-up kid who remembers heading down to the arcade with a bag of coins and a herd of pals. It even comes with 2 AA batteries. 

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