Ask Pippa

Pippa was seen on City TV's Breakfast Television where she reviewed several toys that recently appeared on the market. Below are her opinions about various toys and games -- with input from several neighbourhood kids who volunteered to help try them out.

The toys are available at places such as toy stores, WalMart, Zellers and other retail outlets. Prices are all in Canadian dollars, and may vary at some stores.

Lots of Cool Toys! Spring 2007

1. Make Your Own Monster Puppet kit. The package comes with a big blank puppet (it looks like a giant sock), along with all sorts of parts you can stick on, like eyes, arms, antennae, etc. The body parts all have Velcro on them, and you can stick them onto any part of the puppet. It's a very friendly looking monster, no matter how kids stick the pieces on. Bright colours, lots of fun for kids 4-8. ($19.99, Melissa & Doug)

2. New from Cranium!
- Grab & Go games, include Super Sudoku, Checkers Extreme, Mega Marbles, and more. These games are just as exciting and easy to play as the bigger board games offered by Cranium. They come in clear plastic tubes (about 10 inches high) with a lid. Plus marks from Pippa for being easy to pack away & carry around. Great for kids aged 7 to 12 ($14.99 or less, depending on which game you get)

- Squawkbox card games, for younger kids, aged 5 to 8. They come in colourful plastic boxes which make packing the cards away easy. There is a button on top which tells you something about the game when you press it, and is used when playing games. Takes 3 AA batteries, which are included. ($11.99, Cranium)

3. 3D5. Similar to tic-tac-toe, this 3D game has five layers, and you need to get rows of 5 marbles (which are included, in 2 colours). You need to get your marbles in a row up, down, across, diagonally, etc., The rules have some variations, and you can have up to 4 players.
Plus marks: Marbles are stored in a container that screws on snugly to the bottom of the game for storage so that... you won't lose your marbles! The game collapses down to a smaller size, making it easy to store. ($29.99, Outset Media)

4. i-gami Plastic Construction Kits. These building kits are packed with brightly coloured flat plastic pieces that sort of resemble folded paper (hence the name is similar to the word 'origami'). Pieces easily snap together and bend so you can build anything from a dome to an airplane to beautiful 3D stars, hats or even play purses. Unlike many building kits, the things you build are flexible and sturdy enough to play with it. Good value for the money because you get a lot of pieces in each kit. ($23.99 to $56.99, Kroeger)

5. Professor Noggins series of question and answer games. This is an educational question and answer game for kids age 7 and up. One of the newest in the series has questions about The Human Body, but there are about 2 dozen themes you can get; geography, space, history, life in the ocean, and more. The great thing is there are easy and hard questions -- to help level the playing field when kids and adults are playing together. The downside is as you play and cards are put back in the pile -- you often get the same question as you did earlier in the game. While this can help younger kids remember the facts, older kids might get tired of the game after playing it once or twice. (About $15.00, Outset Media).

6. 20Q. A very cool device that seems to read your mind. It's based on the old game a lot of kids play called 20 questions. You think of something, and the device asks you 20 questions to try to guess what you're thinking of. Animal? Mineral? Vegetable? It's amazing how often it gets it right (try the sample games at It uses a computing power called a neural net where the computer actually learns something about different topics from people who play the games. Each of these devices has a theme, you can get one with sports, music or other subjects. Great for kids age 8 and up.
Pippa tested the version of the game for Rock and Pop, and found 20Q got several answers wrong. In one case, she was thinking of a group from the UK, and 20Q guessed Rush (a Canadian group). Oh well!
(From $16.99 to about $25 depending on which game you get, 20QNet).

7. Flying Dino is for the kid who already has a room full of dinosaurs. This is a battery-operated pterodactyl that screeches and flaps its wings while it flies in circles. It hangs from a string suspended from the ceiling. Adds atmosphere to a room. Runs on 2 AA batteries.
($29.95, Toy Galaxy)

8. Dragonology is an awesome board game. It comes with gorgeous plasticy-rubber dragons. You pick a dragonologist character as your playing piece to move around the board. You pick up various cards and move your piece around the board with the goal of collecting and taming dragons. But different things can happen, such as another player might play a card that allows her to move your dragonologist to another part of the board. The rules are a bit long, but once you figure them all out, the game moves quickly and is really fun to play. ($39.99, Kroeger)

9. Skullduggery. A board game with a pirate them for 2-4 players, ages 8 and up. You get a plastic pirate as a playing piece, and you have to move around the island, often picking up gems -- or having to bribe other pirates with your gems to get past them. The goal is to collect pieces of a treasure map that will lead you to the prize --a pirate's treasure chest. The neat thing about this game is the playing board itself -- it is made of separate, unattached squares, each with parts of a path printed on it. Some have water or dead-ends on them. Before each game, you place the squares down so parts of the path connect -- but you end up with a different shaped playing board each game! Even more exciting is that players get to move some of the path squares during the game -- which can really change your strategy. A neighbour's 13-year daughter had a great time beating Pippa at this game! Arghh! ($34.99, Outset Media)

10. H2-Car. This is a small car (about 10 inches long) that runs on hydrogen fuel. In this day and age of trying to be environmentally firendly, that's a cool idea. It comes with its own hydrogen-making station. You add water (H2O), and it separates the oxygen from the hydrogen (the hydrogen fuel maker runs on 2 AA batteries, or you can usethe included solar panel). The hydrogen is fed through a tube and into the car to fuel it. This is a pretty neat 'first generation' toy, but the car runs for only a few minutes before you have to refuel it. Plus, you can't control where the car goes. A neat concept, but not the most rugged toy around. This is likely the first of many hydrogen powered toys to come! ($149.99, Dynatech)