Tomy: New Toys in Time for the Holidays

11/26/2008 at 09:00 AM ET

Chances are, you grew up playing with toys made by Tomy. Not only is this legendary toy maker still at it 80 years later, they make toys that both affordable and timeless in their appeal. Just in time for the holidays, they’ve unveiled some great new additions to their line — some of which you might just recognize from your own youth!

If you have a budding train enthusiast on your hands, you’ll love the Choo Choo Loop ($20). Intended for babies 12 months and up, it features a gravity-defying train when the track is set up in a loop; To undo the loop, just twist each section of track until it snaps in place. What you’re left with is three or four little hills and valleys for the train to travel on. You can even set up buffers that will make the train will go back and forth in reverse.

This toy really is ideal for babies, for there’s not a lot of extraneous action going on to hold the interest of a toddler. On the flip side, a baby almost surely could not operate the Choo Choo Loop on its own, so prepare to stay close by to put the train back on the track — often! I like it because it takes up very little space (about 12 inches when it’s in the loop formation), it’s inexpensive and in our house anything that defies gravity is a guaranteed winner.

Teaching a toddler how to tell time is no small feat, and I will take any help I can get in this department. We’ve used a few other time-telling toys in the past without much success, and while our 4-year-old son hasn’t mastered it yet, Tomy’s Tic-Tock Answer Clock ($15) has brought him a long way. We’ve been using it with him for about two weeks, and the improvement is striking.

He keeps the clock, which is shaped like an owl, next to his bed because he likes to pretend he has an alarm clock just like mom and dad. Before he goes to bed at night, we will set his ‘alarm’ for a certain time; I’ll twist the knob to turn the hands of the clock and ask him when he thinks the clock will go off in the morning. Simply push the right hand down and the owl’s eyelids open to show the correct time, in digital form. Or, for a more repetitive method of teaching, pushing the left foot down will automatically move the hands of the clock forward by five minutes; just push the right foot down for the big reveal. The Tic-Tock Answer Clock is recommended for children ages 3 and up.

Talk about reliving my youth! I vividly remember playing Mr. Mouth ($25) with my older sister when we were kids, so I was excited to sit down with our son and teach him the ropes of this game, which has been a classic since the mid-1970s. The good news is that it’s just as enjoyable now, as it was then. For those who weren’t lucky enough to play this game previously, it’s fairly straightforward…but not as easy as it looks! Between 2-4 players catapult little plastic flies into a frog’s mouth, which opens and closes as the entire frog rotates round and round. The game ends when a player succeeds in landing all his bugs into Mr. Mouth’s mouth.

Recommended for children ages 3 and up, Mr. Mouth does require a bit of patience. While I can see how some toddlers are able to handle with ease the disappointment of continually launching flies that miss the target, I can also see how some toddlers could become easily frustrated. With that being said, I think that a 4-or 5- or even a 6-year-old child would get a lot out of Mr. Mouth, and probably be better equipped to deal with losing what is — for all intents and purposes — a game of luck a little bit better than their 3-year-old counterparts. I love playing Mr. Mouth with our son; it’s a great rainy day game that I know we’ll be playing for years.

— Missy

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