We like summer just as much as you do: the beach, the family cookouts and the long days playing outside. (Oh, and then there's that whole no-school thing.) That's why this year, we decided to find the best outdoor toys. We looked far and wide, asking toy companies for their best new products, calling toy store owners to see what they think and then finally getting some experts — kids — to test the toys.
Here's what we came up with: water toys, new scooters and things that fly. They're all perfect for hanging out at the park with friends, chilling in your backyard with your brothers or running around at the beach with your cousins. Summertime, and these toys, are meant for outdoor fun with the people you love.
Y-Fliker F1 Scooter, YVolution, $99.99, age 5 and older. Just when you mastered your old scooter, here comes a new one, with two platforms to stand on, one for each foot. To go, move your hips and transfer your weight from one foot to the other, sort of like you're ice skating, except you keep both feet on the scooter. Grab the brake on the handlebar to stop. It's easier to balance than on a typical scooter, but it may take a little practice to master the swaying motion so you can scoot to the park.
Wipeout Helmet, Triple Eight, $29.99, ages 3 to 11. What do you get when you combine art and safety? A helmet that you can draw on. A little pink heart here, a star there, a traced rocket right on top of your helmet. Make your helmet your own. Then erase it the next day and decorate it again. The helmet comes with five markers and eight stencils to trace.
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Sky Scrapers, Aeromax, $9.95, age 9 and older. Lesson No. 1: Things that fly are cool. Lesson No. 2: Things that fly high are really cool. Sky Scrapers fit that description. Just attach the flying disk to the launcher, pull the string and see how high the disk goes. The only problem is that it's easy to lose the three disks that are included. Fortunately, you can buy replacement (and even glow-in-the-dark) disks.
Nerf Super Soaker Switch Shot water blaster, Hasbro, $29.99, age 6 and older with Nerf Super Soaker Hydro Pack, $19.99. No summer is complete without at least one good water fight. Grab the Hydro Pack, fill it up with water and wear it like a backpack. Attach it to the Switch Shot or to most older versions of the Super Soaker, and you won't need to fill up for a long time.
Sky Ripperz, Zing, $14.99 for a three pack, age 8 and older. Perfect for a big field, the Sky Ripperz rocket can fly up to 200 feet, whistling as it goes. (That's as tall as a 20-story building.) Fling the rocket like a slingshot by looping it around a part of the launcher that's something like a rubber band. Stretch the band and let go — or, should we say, let ’er rip.
Spark Scooter, Razor, $79.99, age 8 and older. This scooter sparks — literally. It's just like other scooters, but when you step on the brake, sparks fly behind you. Be prepared to hear things like “Cool!” and “Wow!”
Lunar Light-Up Bubble Blaster, Imperial, $5.99, age 5 and older. Nothing says summertime fun like a traffic jam of bubbles floating through the air. Shoot dozens of bubbles at a time with just a pull of the trigger. The blaster lights up and flashes as the bubbles come barreling out. You'll need four AAA batteries to get started, and you'll probably run out of bubble solution fast. But you can refill the blaster easily with any brand of bubbles.
Nerf FireVision Sports Flyer Disc, Hasbro, $14.99, age 6 and older. Wearing the FireVisionFrames alone might make you feel like a superhero. Flip the switch on the frame, which sits on your nose like a mini sun visor, then throw the black disk. The red light coming from the frames reflects on the disk, making it look like a red blur as it glides through the darkening sky to your partner waiting to catch it. It's perfect for an evening on the beach. The bummer is that the disk comes with only one pair of frames. Your throwing partner will have to get his own glasses (for $5.99) to make it a complete game.
Portable Battle Pump with water balloons, Imperial Toy, $9.99, age 8 and older. What's better than a family-wide water balloon fight? A family-wide balloon fight with a water pump. Fill the container with water, attach a balloon to the green tip on the bottle (the blue tip will just fill your balloon with air and doesn't work as well), and then pump it full of water. You have to tie the balloon yourself, but the pump is easier than using the water spigot. Fire away!