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Category: General Games


Name: Pirate King
Company: FLASTERVENTURE LLC
Age: All Ages
Price: $24.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: BANDthology - "This Game Rocks"
Company: BANDthology Inc.
Age: 8 and up
Price: $30
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s roundtable review of this product

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Name: Pairs in Pears
Company: BANANAGRAMS
Age: 5 and up
Price: $16.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s roundtable review of this product.

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Name: Appletters
Company: BANANAGRAMS
Age: 5 and up
Price: $16.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s roundtable review of this product.

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Name: Patchwork
Company: KNIGHTWEAVER GAMES LLC
Age: 5 and up
Price: $19.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Pocket Farkel®
Company: LEGENDARY GAMES
Age: All Ages
Price: $5.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s summary of online toy reviews of this product.

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Name: Pairs in Pears
Company: BANANAGRAMS
Age: 6 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: 36 Cube
Company: THINKFUN
Age: 8 and up
Price: $24.95
Category: General Games

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Name: Ballpark Classics™
Company: BALLPARK CLASSICS, INC.
Age: 8 and up
Price: $349
Category: General Games

What It Is
Designed on a 1:18 scale, this mostly wooden tabletop ballpark lets players pitch and hit alone or in teams. The game easily assembles to recreate a classic ballpark, down to the vintage advertising decals on the fence and the lawnmower trails on the field. The pitcher rolls a ball down the pitching tube and the batter swings a miniature bat by pulling a lever. Since there’s a lever on both the pitcher’s and batter’s sides, it’s easy to play solo. Players keep track of innings with a peg by home plate. Each player also has a scoring disk to tally runs.

What We Thought
Ballpark Classics is a beautiful, arcade-style game that is good-looking enough to hang on the wall. The game is easy to play in concept, but as on a real field, it’s much harder to get a hit than it seems. The pitching pipe, however, allows a player to “throw” different types of pitches, and one can simulate various scenarios, including fastballs, sliders, walks, strike outs and home runs. The classic design will especially appeal to those with nostalgia for smaller, outdoor fields before the days of Astroturf. The no-batteries-needed game is made in the USA of quality materials, but does carry a high price tag.

Why They´ll Want It

Ballpark Classics would be a perfect gift for a baseball fan who can’t bear to hang up his cleats in the fall. It would be fun game for families to play together, since little legs wouldn’t be a hindrance to getting a home run. Dad will definitely forget the bad report card as long as he finds Ballpark Classics under the tree. — Alison Marek, 3/16/09

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Name: Potions™: A Wizard´s Apprentice Game
Company: DISCOVERY BAY GAMES
Age: 8 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: The Family Dinner Box of Questions
Company: THE BOX GIRLS
Age: All Ages
Price: $19.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Carpet Bocce
Company: SIMTEC CO.
Age: 6 and up
Price: $16.99
Category: General Games

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Name: Rapid 4® More
Company: UNCLE SKUNKLE TOYS, INC.
Age: 8 and up
Price: $74.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Party Pooper
Company: OUT OF THE BOX PUBLISHING
Age: 12 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Guess What I Am!
Company: TECHNO SOURCE
Age: 3 and up
Price: $15.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Merriam Webster´s Befudiom Word Game
Company: BEFUDIOM
Age: 8 and up
Price: $24.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: OOgal!
Company: MOUNTAINMEN ENTERPRISES
Age: 6 and up
Price: $15
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: 4th Corner
Company: STRATEGIC SPACE INC.
Age: 8 and up
Price: $14.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Spanish Bingo
Company: eeBoo corp.
Age: 5 and up
Price: $14.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Kubit2me Lil' Scholars ABC's & 123's
Company: KUBIT2ME INC.
Age: 3-6
Price: $24.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Froggy Boogie
Company: BLUE ORANGE GAMES
Age: 4 and up
Price: $24.95
Category: General Games

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Name: The Origin of Expressions™
Company: DISCOVERY BAY GAMES
Age: 12 and up
Price: $29.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Imaginiff – Revised 2006 Edition
Company: BUFFALO GAMES INC.
Age: 10 and up
Price: $20
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Head1Liners Board Game
Company: KVALE GOOD NATURED GAMES LLC
Age: 12 and up
Price: $38.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Abalone Classic
Company: FOXMIND GAMES
Age: 7 and up
Price: $24.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Zilch™ Zonk™ Farkle™
Company: KEITH ROBINSON & ASSOCIATES
Age: 6 and up
Price: $16.98
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Shrek Swamp Party DVD Game
Company: b EQUAL
Age: 6 and up
Price: $24.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Griddly Headz Baseball Game
Company: GRIDDLY GAMES INC.
Age: 8 and up
Price: $49.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Chakra Energy
Company: SPIRALING HEARTS
Age: 6 and up
Price: $29.5
Category: General Games

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Name: Coin Hopping - Washington D.C.™
Company: COIN HOPPING GAMES LLC
Age: 8 and up
Price: $29.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Kingka
Company: KINGKA LLC
Age: 3 and up
Price: $29.99
Category: General Games

What Is It?
This matching and memory game introduces kids (and their folks) to basic Chinese characters and pronunciations. Kingka comes with color boards lain out with squares that introduce a single Chinese character; corresponding photos of the actual objects are printed on the flip side. The instructions give recommendations for three basic games ranging in level from elementary to advanced. In addition, the more advanced games have variations that expose kids to the characters in new and exciting ways. Kingka also includes a CD that helps players learn the subtle differences in Chinese pronunciation. Made in USA, this brain teaser game challenges people in all age groups.

What We Thought
The various Kingka games are an easy way to boost Chinese character recognition. The glossy cardboard playing pieces are nicely designed and hefty enough to withstand repeated play. Printing photos on the backs of the character cards lets kids easily and quickly associate the two corresponding visuals, thereby increasing their chances of learning the Chinese word for a common object or number.

Why They’ll Want It
Kingka would be a great supplement at Chinese language schools; even adults will enjoy this fun and nonthreatening introduction to a whole new way of reading! It’s also perfect for Chinese-American parents who want to expose their children to Chinese characters. However, the game has broad enough appeal to reach a much wider audience, since parents are always searching for ways to stimulate their kids’ developing brains and language skills. - Alison Marek, 10/18/07

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Name: Farkle
Company: PATCH PRODUCTS INC.
Age: 8 and up
Price: $8.99
Category: General Games

What Is It?
In this simple dice game, two or more players try to be the first to gain 10,000 points, and may risk “losing it all” on each turn as they strategically decide whether or not to roll for more points.

What We Thought
There’s not much to this game — a score pad, a shaker cup and six dice — but it can be a lot of fun! The hardest, and potentially most frustrating, point is at the very beginning, when each player must secure 500 points by their roll(s) in one turn to get on the scoreboard. I had to wait a few rounds to be a part of the scoring game, but the nice thing is that things can change quickly! A roll of three pairs, for example, boosts a player’s status by 1,500 points.

Why They’ll Want It
The name alone sparks curiosity, so kudos to the manufacturer for keeping this classic alive and well. It’s simple, which may be frustrating to those who anticipate more involved games, but the fact that it’s easy to learn makes it a great pick-me-up-and-play game at a party or casual social gathering. Want to add a little more participant involvement? Try getting everyone to yell “Farkle!” when a player loses points. — Julie Jones, 10/2/07

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Name: Dynasties
Company: JOLLY ROGER GAMES
Age: 10 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Squint Junior
Company: OUT OF THE BOX PUBLISHING
Age: 8 and up
Price: $16.99
Category: General Games

What Is It?
In this family-oriented game, players use transparent shape cards to build simple pictures and then other players guess what the picture might be. Kids can learn how to create images from shapes and improve their perception skills. Adults just like the challenge. This game received Learning Magazine´s 2007 Teachers´ Choice Award for the Family.

What We Thought
The family who tested it for ToyDirectory has a 6-year-old who is just starting to learn to read, and now she wants to play Squint Junior every day! The unexpected bonus of the game is that the game is actually improving the little girl’s reading skills. Her parents also appreciate that it’s an easy game to clean up.

Why They’ll Want It
“Squint was very easy to learn and very entertaining for almost all ages — kids to very old people,” Dad assured TDmonthly Magazine. “It´s a great game.”  — Alison Marek, 8/6/07

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Name: Ministers Chess — Third Edition
Company: CORINTHIAN GAMES LTD.
Age: 6 and up
Price: $32.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: The Amazon Hop: A Madcap Jungle Adventure Game
Company: MOMS ON EDGE LLC
Age: 3 and up
Price: $24.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Volangulary: The International Vocabulary and Language Game
Company: VOLANGULARY LLC
Age: 5 and up
Price: $29.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Go Fish for Wildlife: Sea Creatures
Company: BIRDCAGE PRESS
Age: 5 and up
Price: $9.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Speed Limit
Company: ENGLISH TIGER GAMES
Age: 6 and up
Price: $9.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: The Authentic DaVinci Dilemma
Company: RUMBA GAMES INC.
Age: 14 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Pitch-a-Story!
Company: IMAGINE THIS COMPANY INC.
Age: 10-18
Price: $29.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Discovery Edition WordSpot
Company: FRONT PORCH CLASSICS
Age: 8 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Happy Retirement
Company: MARTY'S GAMES CORP.
Age: 8 and up
Price: $29.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: The Horse Race Game
Company: BOARDWALK DESIGN INC.
Age: 8 and up
Price: $38.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Codebreakers
Company: DOUBLESTAR LLC
Age: 7 and up
Price: $19.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Yamodo! Volume 1
Company: IDEA STORM PRODUCTS, LLC.
Age: 10 and up
Price: $19.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: You've Been Sentenced!
Company: McNEILL DESIGNS FOR BRIGHTER MINDS LLC
Age: 8 and up
Price: $24.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Letter Hold 'Em
Company: ON THE SPOT GAMES
Age: 12 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: I Spy Eagle Eye
Company: BRIARPATCH INC.
Age: 5 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Syzygy
Company: SYZYGY
Age: All Ages
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

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Name: Crackernomics
Company: KSA INTERNATIONAL
Age: All Ages
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Seismic
Company: ATLAS GAMES
Age: 10 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Agon: The Mysterious Codex (PC Version)
Company: VIVA MEDIA
Age: 10 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

What Is It?
Our hero, Professor Hunt, is on a mission to find mysterious lost board games and mark his path with a strange stone to show the way for others. The quest for the truth will lead players to surprising discoveries, challenging puzzles and amazing characters. In three thrilling episodes, the quest for Agon takes players from London ´s British Museum, north to the Polar Regions and south to Madagascar.

What We Thought
Agon is one of the cleverest and exiting adventure videogames I have ever played. Exploring the Museum building in search of clues and hints begins the game and foreshadows the excitement of the coming adventure. Players must “borrow” keys from a sleeping guard, comb through old books for clues, and translate messages from Morse code. The 3-D graphics in this game are amazing. It was a lot of fun for my 10-year-old daughter and me to work together to unfold the clues and link them in order to get to the next level.

Why They’ll Want It
Agon is a great game to play together with your children, as you help each other solve the series of mysteries. Players will need to take notes, write down key combinations, and keep track of some important clues. The more you progress, more you will be willing to play. Supreme graphics and sound effects will take players to different parts of the world and make them feel the thrill of adventure. Even though my daughter doesn’t speak English and lives an ocean away, with my guidance she is still able to play and progress to the next exciting level.  — Alex Sormaz and Alison Marek, 12/11/06

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Name: BubbleBrain
Company: PATCH PRODUCTS INC.
Age: 10 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Cluzzle
Company: NORTH STAR GAMES
Age: 8 and up
Price: $29.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Diner Dash
Company: BRIGHTER MINDS MEDIA
Age: 5 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Gift of Enlightenment
Company: VERITAS PRODUCTIONS
Age: 14 and up
Price: $39.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Bananagrams
Company: BANANAGRAMS
Age: 7 and up
Price: $14.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Sixth Sense
Company: SIXTH SENSE GAMES
Age: 16 and up
Price: $16
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Word Sweep
Company: INTELLINITIATIVE INC.
Age: 10 and up
Price: $29.95
Category: General Games

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Name: Dreamblade Starter Set
Company: WIZARDS OF THE COAST
Age: 13 and up
Price: $29.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Tumblin' Dice
Company: NASH GAMES
Age: All Ages
Price: $59.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Clever Catch
Company: SCOTT RESOURCES
Age: 4-7
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Big Sunday Strategy Football Board Game
Company: THE RANDOLPH ROSE GROUP
Age: 8 and up
Price: $39.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: The Hold-it! Game Card Organizer
Company: INNOVATIUM INC.
Age: All Ages
Price: $20
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Around the World - the Ultimate Global Board Game
Company: AROUND THE WORLD LLC
Age: 8 and up
Price: $26.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Antarctica
Company: SAVITA GAMES INC.
Age: 8 and up
Price: $49.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Always Play Fair
Company: ALWAYS PLAY FAIR LLC
Age: 6-12
Price: $19.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: ArtShark
Company: BIRDCAGE PRESS
Age: 8 and up
Price: $24.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Qolf
Company: BONFIT AMERICA INC.
Age: All Ages
Price: $24.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Name: Putt Poker
Company: DREAM PLAY LLC
Age: 12 and up
Price: $29.99
Category: General Games

What Is It?
Game fans can test their dexterity and strategy by putting a golf ball onto a 17” x 36” game mat printed with poker card values. Instructions are included for three levels of play for Texas Hold ‘Em, 5-Card Stud and 7-Card Stud. No betting is required. The matt can be rolled up for easy travel. A golf ball and scorecards are included, but the putter must be provided separately.

What We Thought
I’m neither a golf nor a poker fan, but as soon as my opponent and I rolled out the printed mat and grabbed our “putter” (a cardboard mailing tube), we were hooked. Getting the ball onto any score card proved to be a challenge for both of us, even though we were playing by the game’s “amateur” rules. Our scorecard was pretty much filled with nils, but that just made us try harder (and our coworkers cruelly mock our pathetic efforts). The challenge of the play made it fun and we were sorry to see the game end.

Why They’ll Want It
Putt Poker is a great game for family and friends. Almost anyone can play because even if you don’t score at all, you’ll still have a blast trying to figure out how to control the ball better and actually get a score. The worse you are, in fact, the more valuable the game, because you’ll get plenty of exercise chasing your wayward ball. — Alison Marek, 11/17/06

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Name: Parlay
Company: REAL DEAL GAMES
Age: 9 and up
Price: $14
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this TDmonthly's Toy Expert review.

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Name: What's GNU
Company: THINKFUN
Age: 5-8
Price: $15
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this TDmonthly's Toy Expert review.

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Name: Twisted Fish
Company: McNEILL DESIGNS FOR BRIGHTER MINDS LLC
Age: 10 and up
Price: $9.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this TDmonthly's Toy Expert review.

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Name: Santa´s Trivia Game
Company: b EQUAL
Age: 6 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this TDmonthly's Toy Expert review.

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Name: Panzer Grenadier - Airborne, Introductory Edition
Company: AVALANCHE PUBLISHING
Age: 10 and up
Price: $19.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Name: Verticon Air Battle Arena
Company: WILD PLANET
Age: 6 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Name: Logicolors
Company: GEFFNER - PLAY & LEARN
Age: 6 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Name: Giza
Company: FUN FACTORY GAMES
Age: 8 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Name: Petfolio
Company: WESKEL GAMES
Age: 3-6
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Name: Roll 'n Multiply
Company: EMINES
Age: 8 and up
Price: $24.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review.

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Name: Zingo! Heroes
Company: THINKFUN
Age: 4-8
Price: $16.99
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this TDmonthly's Toy Expert review.


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Name: Exploring Our United States
Company: GEFFNER - PLAY & LEARN
Age: 6-8
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this special TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Name: UglyDoll Card Game
Company: GAMEWRIGHT
Age: 6 and up
Price: $10
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this special TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Name: Wordzzo
Company: WESTWIND GAMES
Age: 7 and up
Price: $9.95
Category: General Games


Please click here to read this special TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Name: Cardformers
Company: RAINBOW GAMES INC.
Age: 4 and up
Price: $20
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this special TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Name: I’ve Never … The Game of Truth
Company: INI, LLC
Age: Adult
Price: $19.99
Category: General Games

What Is It?
Let’s make this perfectly clear: this is an adult game that rocks. It’s based on the old drinking game of the same name, but brought to a professional level, with slick board and funny cards to draw from. In a nutshell: players roll the dice, moving along the board. When a player lands on “Draw an I’ve Never Card,” that player draws a card from the pile and reads the question aloud. “I’ve never toilet papered someone’s house.” If True: You’re a wimp, take a big drink. If Not True: Free Ride. The cards can get very suggestive. After the player answers the question and moves according to the card, the next player goes. To win: first player to the “Finish” line. If you lie and get caught: Imaginative punishments can be doled out.

What We Thought
So, perfect game for a New Years Eve party, right? First thing: the youngest player begins the game. Everyone claimed to be the youngest player, even a grandmother of eight. After we got that sorted out, we handed shot glasses to everyone (size of drink is user established) and got the big gallon bottle of vodka out. We were ready. First draw for a woman doctor? “I’ve never had sex while at work?” Obviously we had to clarify other doctors, patients and cadavers. She answered false (if true, she would have moved forward) and had to squeal like a pig. And so it went: cheating on exams, cheating on spouses, drinking, quacking like a duck and one big ol’ lie: we can’t say what, but we knew the guy in college and he fibbed big time. We made him get spanked by his wife. (We agreed that the wife was a little too enthusiastic about it.) A good drunken time was had by all.

Why They’ll Want It
Hey, it’s really fun. And you get to drink a lot. And you talk about sex. And there’s even a “strip” version (none of us were brave enough, or going through a divorce enough to try it). This is a particularly handy game because most of the time, no one can think of a good drinking game, and even if they do, they can’t always remember the rules. This takes care of all of that, plus makes the game more entertaining. Grab the game, grab a bottle, grab some people and play!
--TDmonthly Staff, 1/30/2006


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Name: Quelf
Company: WIGGITY BANG GAMES
Age: 6 and up
Price: $34.99
Category: General Games

What Is It?
Bearing the slogan, "Random has a new name," this unusual family, friend and party game challenges players to escape from the unusual land of Quelf. But it´s not easy. As characters move down a topsy-turvy, colorful brick road surrounded by pink blimps and peculiar creatures, players must answer bizarre questions and meet peculiar demands in order to advance. For instance, "How many fingers and toes combined do four one-legged weathermen and three blind, armless, retired submarine commanders have?" one player may be asked. Another may be told, "For the remainder of the game, every sentence that you speak must end with the words: ´Hear me, for I have spoken.´ If you forget, pay the penalty." The game has 720 cards, 8 game pieces, a game board, 2 pencils and a pad of paper, 1 dice and 1 timer as well as 1 giant invisible harpoon.

What We Thought
The game includes five differently colored stacks of cards that each stand for a different kind of activity. Our favorite was the red stack, that involved players going around the circle trying to remember a different boy band that hadn’t been said yet or a one syllable word that starts with the letter W. Less enjoyable cards were the yellow ones, or stunt cards, which demanded players do something silly like “pretend you’re a mute prison guard with your legs glued together” or “do the hula dance while singing a hula song.” Sounds funny, but is probably more of a howl for kids age 8 and under. Still, the other cards fell somewhere in between silly and intellectual and proved entertaining for all.

Why They’ll Want It
The board is colorful, the character pieces are humorous and every third card or so drawn brought a chuckle to at least one player. The game play was long enough to enjoy over a solid evening without dragging on interminably and cards were challenging enough that movement up the board was possible, but not so facile as to be a no-brainer. Also, the directions were easy to understand and easy to implement so that game play could get started soon after taking pieces out of the box.
-- Vanessa VanderZanden, 1/30/06


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Name: Isolate
Company: EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS INC.
Age: 6 and up
Price: $19.99
Category: General Games

What Is It?
Each player is given 4 tiles of either red, green, yellow or blue to place on the board, touching other tiles on at least one side. Then, players move by sliding rows of tiles either vertically or horizontally. This game of strategy challenges players to isolate their colored tiles from other bordering tiles. In so doing, they can remove their pieces from the board. The first player to remove all of his or her four tiles, wins.

What We Thought
The directions were easy to follow, with detailed images to guide players through game play. The plastic pieces slid easily in the grooves on the board during game play and fastened tidily in the bottom of the board for easy storage. It only took about 20 minutes to complete one game, which meant more opportunity for rematches so that multiple players had a chance to win at a single sitting. In addition, players could learn quickly what strategies worked best and use that knowledge to improve during future games. All in all, Isolate is a handy little game, nice for passing the time between conversation and is small enough that it can be brought along on car trips.

Why They’ll Want It
Isolate is so simple to pick up, it nicely rounds out any game player’s collection. It’s perfect for evenings when players want to have a little fun, but don’t want to commit to a long bout of competitive strategizing. It will force players to think in a new, visual way, without taxing their brains after a long day of work or studying. In addition, all members of the family can play this game together, since the game doesn’t require knowledge of facts or trivia.
-- Vanessa VanderZanden, 1/30/06


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Name: Speed Spell
Company: BECKY'S HOME CIRCLE
Age: 8 and up
Price: $12
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this special TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Name: BuyWord
Company: FACE 2 FACE
Age: 8 and up
Price: $27
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this special TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Name: The Ladybug Game
Company: ZOBMONDO ENTERTAINMENT
Age: 3-7
Price: $11.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read this special TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Name: Quiddler
Company: SET ENTERPRISES INC.
Age: All Ages
Price: $12
Category: General Games

What Is It?
A fast word game played with cards, Quiddler is designed for 1 to 8 players. Each game consists of 8 hands. The first hand is played with 3 cards, and a card is added during each hand until the players begin the final hand with 10 cards each. The object of the game is to combine an entire hand into words of two or more letters, drawing and discarding on each turn. The first player to have an entire hand of words goes out.  Bonus points  are given for the longest words and the most words made by players in each round. The average play time ranges between 20 and 40 minutes

What We Thought
Even small words count, so the youngest players can win by deftly combining their cards. The game moves quickly in the early hands, then requires a bit more concentration as the number of cards increases. Quiddler combines a bit of Scrabble, a bit of rummy and a lot of fun.

Why They’ll Want It
Kids will want this game because it’s a fun way to compete against their friends to find out who can compose the cleverest words most quickly. They can challenge words and look up meanings, adding to their vocabulary, without having to invest in a long-playing word board game.  Quiddler is a deck of 181 cards, so it’s transportable enough for long trips or boring visits to relative’s houses, or just a fun way to liven up a slumber party without toting around a heavy game.
-- Alison Marek, 10/24/05


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Name: Toads Of Fun
Company: DAD'S INK LTD.
Age: 4-8
Price: $14.95
Category: General Games

What Is It?
It’s a board game with a toady theme. You get a toad of a different color, and when your turn comes around, you spin not one, but two spinners (one’s numbers, the other’s colors). You then find a lily pad that matches the spun color, and a number on the lily pad. So far, so toady. If there are flies where you land, catch them and put them on your home “log.” First one to fill their log with six flies, wins. But … there are some catches. You can get dumped into the pond. The dreaded bumblebee or another toad can send you back to your log, and if this happens, your flies go back to the lily pads, and you have to start over.

What We Thought
Well, it was pretty easy to grasp the game, when the family sat down to play (with a 6 and an 8 year old). We spun, we caught flies, we got dumped in the pond, we lost our flies, someone won. We played another game, and had some more toady fun. It was a pleasant game that occasionally got bloodthirsty when one of the boys knocked the other’s toad about. We got into a discussion about the differences between toads and frogs, amphibians and reptiles, and one of the boys (the older) wanted to play the game with real toads. A good time was had by all, and it was voted as a keeper.

Why They’ll Want It
It’s a deceptively fun game, and one of the few games that can truly span the 4 to 8 year old gap. Normally what’s good for a 4 year old is too young for the 8 year old, or what’s fine for the 8 year old is too tough for the 4 year old. Toads of Fun was great for everyone. Its very simplicity makes it addictive. It’s all about the spinners, and the tides of the play can change at any moment, so there’s nothing predictable about it. Good for the whole family.
--TDmonthly Staff, 10/18/05


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Name: Infinifield
Company: INFINIFIELD INC.
Age: 8 and up
Price: $29.99
Category: General Games

What Is It?
Infinifield is an abstract strategy game for 2 to 4 players, ages 8 to adult. Players use their creativity and imagination to build a two- or three-dimensional board from 24 blocks for every round. Then they use logic and strategy skills to chase and eliminate opponents´ pawns in a fast-paced game. Infinifield was invented and produced by an 8-year-old boy (now 10) and his father as a homeschooling project. It won a Parents´ Choice 2005 Silver Honor Award.

What We Thought
The best part of the game is selecting how to set up the playing field so that the largest quantity of blocks touch one another. This allows for multiple moves between players and produces a more challenging game. Also, the further away from one another on the board players set up their pieces, the more moves a round will tend to have. One necessary aspect of the game, to keep players from coming to a standstill, is that one board piece is taken away after each move.

Why They’ll Want It
The game challenges players to think several moves ahead, improving their tactical reasoning abilities and strategic thought. The lightweight plastic board blocks are easy for little hands to lift and smooth enough that they won’t cause injury. They can withstand spills, and if thrown, won’t be very harmful.
-- Vanessa VanderZanden, 9/26/05


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Name: Make ‘N’ Break
Company: RAVENSBURGER
Age: 8 and up
Price: $29.99
Category: General Games

What Is It?
Players get 10 wooden building blocks, a timer ticking per the number rolled and a card showing players what to build in that time. When the time is up, players total the points on their completed building cards and collect tokens. After four rounds, the one with the most points is the winning builder. The game comes with an expert version as well.

What We Thought
For such a simple concept, this game is surprisingly addictive! Players try to make as many matches to the formations they see on the cards they draw before the timer ticks down, so while players try to beat one another, they wind up racing themselves to become more adept at placing blocks in the right order. Though it may seem easy, many formations are quite complicated to complete by the time the clock winds down.

Why They’ll Want It
This intense game can be played by kids of any skill level. The “pass” feature means that no one can whine “but I get stuck with all the trickiest cards!” and get away with it. The game is quick, mentally-stimulating, and in an age of video game overkill, is more hands-on fun than clicking a computer mouse at a screen during Tetris.
-- Vanessa VanderZanden, 9/26/05


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Name: Picture + This
Company: ACT GAMES
Age: 12 and up
Price: $29.95
Category: General Games

What Is It?
Two teams (or two players) compete in this challenging game to get to the end of the board first by solving picture clues. Players take turns guessing a place, cliché, person or entertainment-related concept (such as a movie title or lead character) based on the combination of cartoon images depicted on the game cards. For each clue that the card holder has to give to stuck teams, the guessing team gets docked an additional point when they guess the right answer, with a maximum of five points per answer.

What We Thought
This entertaining game is most fun when played “party-style,” with every woman shouting out answers for herself and a new card reader on each turn. Players quickly begin to understand that, strategically, it’s sometimes better to work out the clues in one’s head rather than blurting out guesses haphazardly. This is a fun, fast-paced game that evokes plenty of laughs.

Why They’ll Want It
The cartoons on each game card are easy to see, though the answers can be a trick to solve. The game has cards that range in difficulty, and because they’re dual-sided, the stack should last a number of plays before bonus card packs are required. It exercises not oft used brain muscles that are fun to stretch.
-- Vanessa VanderZanden, 9/26/05


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Name: Kazink!
Company: JAX LTD INC.
Age: 7 and up
Price: $18.95
Category: General Games

What Is It?
Players are each dealt three cards. When it is a player’s turn, he/she discards his/her card, placing his/her poker chip on a corresponding game board square. When all of the squares of one suit are covered, that player can choose to crown his/her chip or can place the crown on someone else’s chip. Players win by completing two rows (three chips in a row) of triple-stacked chips of in their poker chip color.

What We Thought
This game of strategy and skill requires a calculating mind, yet can still be fun for all ages. The game has enough chips for two or three players (or teams of players) to enjoy anywhere from a 20-minute to an hour-long match. Competition grows more intense as more chips stack up on the board and players are left with fewer board options. In addition, the inclusion of three special types of cards — crown cards, wild cards and double-up cards — keep the game play interesting.

Why They’ll Want It
It doesn’t take long to get down to game play after reading the instructions, yet it does take multiple rounds to understand the finer strategic nuances. In other words, this game can be enjoyed by family members for years to come. Conveniently, the board folds up into a manageable size, just at little bit smaller than 8” x 11”, so it’s no problem to pack for weekends away or to store at home.
                                                -- Vanessa VanderZanden, 9/26/05


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Name: Don't Quote Me - TIME For Kids Edition
Company: WIGGLES 3D
Age: 10 and up
Price: $6.95
Category: General Games

What Is It
This travel trivia game challenges kids to identify books, films, people, places, and things using quotes and multiple choice clues. Broken down into five different kinds of questions per trivia card, this educational game touches on history, geography, and the arts. Players win by moving their magnetized peg around the small board first.

What We Thought
The questions allow players of varying skill levels to compete. The compact travel board with a magnetic lid keeps the game pieces together and the bright colors used to highlight the game board and trivia cards offer a pleasing design. It may require booster sets of trivia cards down the road.

Why They’ll Want It
It keeps kids informed, entertained, and most of all, occupied during long trips. Kids will enjoy guessing the answers to the questions and parents will have fun aiding in their child’s learning. At the low price of $6.95, the easy to pack game is also quite affordable.

Wiggles 3D Inc.´s ToyDirectory Listing
-- Vanessa VanderZanden, 8/19/05


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Name: Travel Blokus
Company: EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS INC.
Age: 5 and up
Price: $19.95
Category: General Games

What Is It?
A travel version of Blokus -- winner of Dr. Toy’s Best Children’s Vacation Products 2003 -- the game is simple to play. Each player takes turns placing variously shaped pieces on the board, touching corners with at least one other piece of their own color. The goal is to cover as much of the board as possible, at the same time minimizing the area of a player´s remaining pieces. The player with the smaller area when no more moves are possible wins. Although four players can compete against each other with the full-sized game, the travel version is designed for two players.

What We Thought
It look literally 30 seconds to learn the rules of the game. It didn´t seem like a challenging game at first glance: After all, what is so difficult about putting shapes on a board? But as you play, you realize there are certain strategies to choosing and placing the pieces to block your opponent from putting down their pieces, or expanding your options to place your next piece. Each game took less than 10 minutes which is perfect for on-the-go. If needed, you can even save your board while jumping out for a quick fast-food break! The box is ingeniously designed in such way that you can pack up within a minute and get back on the road.

Why They’ll Want It
Travel Blockus is a game for all ages. Children and adults can develop different levels of playing strategy depending on their spatial planning capabilities. The best part is that the rules are simple! Players don´t have to read 15 pages of instructions to set up the game. The game is short and is perfect for quick breaks while traveling.

Educational Insight´s ToyDirectory Listing

-- Raywon Wang, 8/16/05



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Name: NAMiTS Junior
Company: NAMiTS LLC.
Age: 3-8
Price: $9.95
Category: General Games

What Is It?
There are four different color-coded kinds of cards that ask children to name items that share a common feature, such as all things with buttons or things that are shaped like a circle. Other times this open-ended game has kids make up stories or share their knowledge of a specific topic. There are no winners or losers.

What We Thought
This simple game is a fun conversation-starter and creates talkative children, aiding in building their vocabulary. Most adults will find this rudimentary game enjoyable only in the company of young kids as a way to bring them out of their shells. By far the biggest crowd-pleaser for any family is bound to be the “Clap out the names of different … Stores, Opposites, Insects, Meals” card. It’s a truly ingenious feat trying to guess what others are clapping. It would have been nice to have a few more abstract cards, like this one, thrown into the game. Also, it would be nice to see versions of NAMiTS in foreign languages, which would be useful for players of all ages.

Why They’ll Want It
This deck of brightly colored cards will occupy young minds on long road trips. The compact playing cards are looped on a plastic ring, guaranteeing that they won’t spill all over the car. The product encourages a creative mind and advances English skills. Players can make up their own rules if they decide to turn the game into a competition.

-- Vanessa VanderZanden, 8/16/05



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Name: Reading Roadway USA
Company: LEARNING RESOURCES INC.
Age: 8 and up
Price: $19.95
Category: General Games

What Is It?
Using over 100 trivia questions relating to different geographical regions across the continental United States, this unique board game builds reading comprehension skills while educating kids about U.S. history and culture. The board game depicts a map of the United States with six differently colored regions that players move across using different colored plastic cars. Each of two to four players compete to answer reading comprehension questions, gaining game pieces shaped either like a mug, pennant, T-shirt, cap, or bumper sticker. The player that wins four game pieces and manages to make it back to his or her home region first, wins.

What We Thought
Used as an educational tool in schools or tutoring groups, this game will both entertain and captivate young minds. However, when used for family play, parents may need to act as readers rather than players due to the nature of the questions. Although the rules state that readers can join in on guessing answers to questions, the game is fairer when readers refrain from doing so. Also, because there are only two or three question cards per state, bonus packs may be required after a few rounds of play.

Why They’ll Want It
The game gets shaken up when players spin a tornado, which can allow them to take game pieces from winning players, leveling the field of play. The bright game board and game pieces are visually exciting and the icons on the game board are cleverly designed. Kids don’t have to wait until it’s their turn to shout out answers, keeping them enthralled throughout the game.

-- Vanessa VanderZanden, 8/16/05



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Name: DaVinci’s Challenge
Company: BRIARPATCH INC.
Age: 8 and up
Price: $24.99
Category: General Games

What Is It
This ancient game challenges either two players or two teams to create and see patterns in the pieces they place on the giant symbol in the center of the game board. One side has black wooden pieces and one side has white — both must try to form one of nine patterns when it is their turn to play, or they can try to block the other team from forming a pattern. The game become more complex as more pieces appear on the board, as multiple patterns can be made with one move. If a team does not note that they have made a pattern on their move, the other team is under no obligation to point out the symbol for them.

What We Thought
Like chess, this game requires a good deal of concentration. Moves become a strategic operation, and the atmosphere can become quite intense. It forces players to be on guard, as they try to protect their patterns while attempting to squelch the patterns of the other team. It’s fun, it’s thought-provoking and it’s relatively easy to play. The only drawback is that only two people can play, or two teams, which makes it difficult for odd numbers of players to enjoy the activity. While it has a sufficient number of double-sided score pads, players will need to make copies when they get near the end of the stack.

Why They’ll Want It
The back story of the game is quite interesting. The main symbol, called the Flower of Life, the Language of Silence and the Language of Light, has shown up everywhere from Ephesis, Turkey in the first century to Nikko, Japan in the 14th century on building walls and in artistic pieces. Leonardo DaVinci studied the symbol extensively, and with Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code” being one of the most read books in recent memory, this game will no doubt receive a lot of attention.

Briarpatch´s ToyDirectory Listing

-- Vanessa VanderZanden, 7/29/05



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Name: Baffle Gab
Company: DISCOVERY BAY GAMES
Age: 8-Adult
Price: $29.95
Category: General Games

What Is It?
This word game can be enjoyed by the whole family. Five word cards drawn from a pile that includes nouns, verbs and adjectives are placed face up on the table for all to see. The sandtimer is turned over in the center of the table, allowing any number of players one minute to form a story that includes as many words as possible from the five on the table. Bonus points are given to players who are able to put all five words in one sentence, and all words in a sentence that is not completed by the time the sand runs out from the timer will not be counted.

What We Thought
The game leads to silly stories and bizarre sentences that can often be best described as abstract poetry. While it encourages young minds to experiment with vocabulary they may not be entirely comfortable with, adults will put five words in one sentence in a minute with little challenge. Still, older players can make up their own rules, using more than the suggested five words, to make a more competitive game. No matter what the age, it’s still no easy feat to string together a number of unrelated words into one coherent statement, and the resulting tales are laugh-inducing.

Why They’ll Want It
The game allows kids to be creative while learning new vocabulary. It asks them to structure complex sentences quickly, and it provides an opportunity for parents to share in the learning process while having fun. Best of all, the game’s theme character is a dog named Gabby, which gives the game heart.
-- Vanessa VanderZanden, 7/28/05


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Name: Bag of Bonz
Company: BAG OF BONZ
Age: 4 and up
Price: $20
Category: General Games

What is It?
Bag of Bonz is something you’d find in the Games aisle of your local toy store, not next to the rawhide in the neighborhood pet store. Made of a durable, resin material, these 28 bone-shaped dominoes are the perfect treat for the domino aficionado. In addition to the resin set, the bones also come in a camouflage resin set, a ceramic set, and a bronze set

What We Thought
Why play dominoes with those traditional (and might I say boring) dominoes of yesteryear when you can shift gear and use Bag of Bonz bone-shaped dominoes set? The dominoes are a must have for both long-time domino fans and children looking to learn the game. Stored in a black velveteen bag, the dominoes can be packed up easily and transported with you wherever you go, which makes life so easy. What’s more, the dominoes come with rules for two games: the Bonz “Train” Game and the Bonz Dominoes Game. Personally numbered with a serial code, these bones are a collector’s treat!

Why They’ll Want It
As parents yearn for simple diversions for their children – and children yearn simply for fun – Bag of Bonz is the perfect fit.

--Andrew Robinton, 4/15/05



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Name: 10 Days In Africa
Company: OUT OF THE BOX PUBLISHING
Age: 10 and up
Price: $19.99
Category: General Games

What Is It?
10 Days in Africa by Out of the Box Games is a strategy game where players plot their journey across the continent of Africa. Each player gets two trays of card-holders with spaces numbered for days 1-10. Then cards are shuffled and laid next to the board. Players draw cards and eliminate or replace them in the holders. Transportation cards and country cards facilitate connections from one country to another and the player able to successfully travel all 10 days throughout Africa wins! 10 Days in Africa is also the 2004 winner of the "Best Smart Play" award from Dr. Toy.

What We Thought
This game is intriguing to anyone who enjoys traveling and planning adventures. A definite amount of strategy and planning goes into placing each card, and plotting one´s trip. Geographical facts, like population and square footage are detailed on each card, for those who enjoy a bit of trivia.

Why They’ll Want It
With a full colored map of Africa, this game is an absolute geography lesson. It challenges even the most experienced traveler. Navigation is the key to the game and anyone who has ever found themselves inspired by Indian Jones will want to investigate this geographical game of distant lands.


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Name: Bella's Mystery Deck
Company: MINDWARE
Age: 10 and up
Price: $14.95
Category: General Games

What Is It?

Bella’s Mystery Deck is a set of 52 illustrated mystery cards, each telling the story of a different mystery that Bella and her dog Noche have solved. At the end of the story, kids can try and solve the mystery, but if they get stuck, the mirror card will decipher the answer written on the bottom of the card. Bella herself is a modern-day Nancy Drew with a Latina twist. Many of the mystery cards have a word or two in Spanish written into the text.

What We Thought

This is a great way to analytically challenge young minds with the art of mystery solving. The characters and dialogue are entertaining but the mysteries are concise enough for shorter attention spans.

Why They’ll Want It

Since Bella calls herself a “Chicana,” children of Latino decent may identify with her amusing anecdotes of the “barrio” more than other famous sleuths like Encyclopedia Brown or Nancy Drew.

--Rosette Gonzales



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Name: Alphabet Lotto
Company: USBORNE PUBLISHING
Age: 2-6
Price: $12.95
Category: General Games

What Is It?

Part of the “Farmyard Tales Games” series from Usborne Publishing, Alphabet Lotto is a kid-friendly educational game for up to 4 players, and specifically designed for youngsters ages 2-6. The game consists of four brightly colored Lotto boards with letters on one side and pictures on the other. There are 36 letter cards, one for each of the letters on the boards, as well as 36 picture cards. The cards offer games of varied difficulty according to the age and stage of each child.

What We Thought

Enhancing pre-reading skills such as word and picture matching, featuring colorful cards of farmyard animals, as well as contents that can be adapted to varied difficulties depending upon the children, Alphabet Lotto is a friendly, inviting, and intellectually stimulating game.


Why They’ll Want It

Kids will surely have fun and learn valuable pre-reading skills, such as word and picture matching, with Poppy and Sam and the animals from Farmyard Tales. Parent’s notes are included to offer insight in helping children learn that words and reading can be fun. Alphabet Lotto is recommended for homeschoolers, and is a welcome addition to preschool and kindergarten curriculum enrichment resource collections.



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Name: Wall Street Spin
Company: FUN SPIN
Age: 9 and up
Price: $29.95
Category: General Games

What is It?
Wall Street Spin by Fun Spin (ToyDirectory) is a board game that lets you “play” the market without risk.  Mastery of complicated stock market jargon is not required to take a spin on this pretend version of Wall Street. Just as Monopoly taught people how astute property development creates revenue, Wall Street Spin gives players an entertaining introduction to smart investing.

What We Thought
The game is challenging, but easy to master, so families can enjoy playing it together. It bridges the generation gap, teaching kids how to value and invest money.

Why They’ll Want It
Kids will find the cool board and colorful pieces engaging. Plus, how fun would it be to acquire all of Dad’s hard-earned assets! Parents will love it because it teaches children valuable lessons about saving money. No more misspent allowances!

     
         --Karen Grafe



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Name: Teams of Enemies
Company: BIG TOE GAMES INC.
Age: 12 and up
Price: $29.95
Category: General Games

What is It?
Teams of Enemies
by Big Toe Games (ToyDirectory) is a trivia game where teams keep changing and, in the end, only one player wins. With each round, new captains and teams are picked to answer challenging questions about nine different categories, including movies, music, and sports.

What We Thought
Big Toe Games has a hit with this game that requires players to build bridges while getting ahead of the group. Another unique aspect of the game is that there isn´t just one trivia game but five separate games that probe players’ brains.

Why They´ll Want It
All the brain-bending questions combined with a dog-eat-dog scoring mentality makes the game not only a test of knowledge but also of strategy.

--Nancy Tan



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Name: Oops
Company: BAREFOOT BOOKS
Age: 3 and up
Price: $9.95
Category: General Games

What is It?
Oops challenges players to build a pyramid shape with the wooden balls provided. Sounds easy, right? The tricky part is building the shape while keeping the identically colored pieces separated. Balls are joined in pairs and can only be stacked on the cherry-wood base in one specific order for successful completion. Good luck!

What We Thought
This is a brain-teaser that will promote problem-solving and logical reasoning skills in any player.

Why They´ll Want It
Players can solve the puzzle repeatedly, and once they are comfortable, they can advance to Oops Again, Channel Craft´s more challenging version of this puzzle.

--Nancy Tan



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Name: Don't Quote Me
Company: WIGGLES 3D
Age: 14 and up
Price: $34.99
Category: General Games

What is It?
Players compete to identify the speakers of pop-culture quotes in five categories: “The Arts,” “Leaders,” “Sports,” “Pop Culture” and “Life and Literature.” Individual players or teams get three points for any quote they can identify without a clue; two points go to players who can tell the speaker with a one or two word hint; and players receive one point if they can choose the speaker from among three choices.

What We Thought
Powered by great quotes, speakers’ biographies and a competitive play format, Don’t Quote Me is a romp through pop culture history.

Why They’ll Want It
In a sound-bite era, Don’t Quote Me provides the perfect party-game fix for lovers of legendary repartee and wit.

--Jeremy Loudenback



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Name: Scramble Squares
Company: b. dazzle, inc.
Age: 4 and up
Price: $7.95
Category: General Games

What is It?
Scramble Squares by b. dazzle (ToyDirectory, ToyShow) is a challenging puzzle that requires players to unscramble the nine square pieces into a perfectly matching picture. Sound easy? Try it and you may think otherwise. The puzzle comes educational facts about the puzzle´s subject matter.

What We Thought
This brainteaser takes puzzles to a new level. Scramble Squares is a great way to practice attention to detail and logical reasoning for people of all ages.

Why They´ll Want It
You can redo the puzzle again and again because you can´t memorize where each piece goes, making the game a new challenge every time.

--Nancy Tan



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Name: Buzzword
Company: PATCH PRODUCTS INC.
Age: 10 and up
Price: $19.98
Category: General Games

What Is It?
Buzzword is a challenging brain twister that requires players to discern familiar catch phrases that utilize a given keyword. For example, for the buzzword "over," what kind of answers do you come up with? “Oversee.” “Overtime.” “Over-the-hill.” “Hand over fist.” It's not as easy as it looks -- especially with only 45 seconds to answer 10 clues and an opposing team waiting its turn to steal your points. The game comes with 400 sets of clues on 200 cards, 10 scoring cards, sand timer, scoreboard and marker.

What We Thought
This is a great activity for family game nights or get-togethers with friends. Team competition and time constraints make the game exciting, as well as a mental workout.

Why They’ll Want I
Buzzword is a combination of quick wit and synaptic firing that’s fun for the whole family.

-- Nancy Tan



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Name: Penguin Pile-Up
Company: RAVENSBURGER
Age: 5 and up
Price: $19.98
Category: General Games

What Is It?
Ravensburger
´s Penguin Pile-Up is a fun new twist to games such as Topple because, instead of colorful disks, the game uses the most loveable Antarctica animal: penguins! Players attempt to balance their penguins on the shifty iceberg without making any of them fall into the “icy water” below. The game comes with a game base, iceberg with flag, 24 penguins and game rules.


What We Thought
Penguin Pile-Up is a great game to play alone or as a group. It involves concentration and balance that would challenge even the most coordinated of adults. Penguin figurines do require assembly, but this is also an amusing activity to do with the entire family before play.


Why They´ll Want It
The stacking game is tons of fun, and it’s even better with penguins!


-- Nancy Tan



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Name: ShanJari
Company: FUNADDICTS
Age: 5-Adult
Price: $24.95
Category: General Games

What is It?
ShanJari is an African word meaning "line." It’s also the name of FUNaddicts strategy game that stretches the Tic-Tac-Toe concept into four-or five-in-a-row sequences requiring players to think critically about their next move. The game comes with 1 game board, 60 game pieces with bag, 2 sequence markers, 2 sequence cards and rule sheet.


What We Thought
The multi-player format makes ShanJari a great family game. With different levels, the game can become increasingly difficult as players learn to maneuver their pieces around the board to outwit their opponents.


Why They’ll Want It
World cultures are a hot topic these days and this game is a breath of fresh air from a far-away continent.


--Nancy Tan



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Name: Basari
Company: OUT OF THE BOX PUBLISHING
Age: 10 and up
Price: $19.99
Category: General Games

What is It?
The bustling bazaar is reimagined as a board game in Out of the Box’s Basari. As players haggle and barter with one another to earn gemstones, they accumulate points. After three rounds, the player with the most points gains victory.


What We Thought
Basari will turn your youngster into a seasoned wheeler-and-dealer faster than you can say, “Sold!” The game requires shrewd strategy skills and, most of all, a quick wit to weigh the best deal. Aimed at 3-4 players, the game is best played with a full cast so every player has ample opportunity to negotiate with a wide range of offers.


Why They’ll Want It
Constant banter and negotiating makes sure every player is in on the fun. And, at only 30 to 45 minutes, Basari is a game you won’t have to wait hours to finish.


--Jeremy Loudenback



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Name: Polygon
Company: JAX LTD INC.
Age: 7 and up
Price: $15.99
Category: General Games

What is It?
Polygon by Jax Ltd., Inc (ToyDirectory) is a strategy board game that requires players to create scoring number combinations through laying down numbered tiles. The game comes with a play board, 49 polygon tiles, die, game instructions and score sheets.


What We Thought
This is a complicated game that expands players’ ability to think ahead and critically look at the board for optimal moves. It is also a fun activity for families to play together.


Why They’ll Want It
Polygon offers mathematically inclined players a chance to outwit their opponents.


--Nancy Tan



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Name: Infinity Feng Shui Fortune Telling Game
Company: EMPRESS3 PUBLISHING
Age: 8 and up
Price: $29.99
Category: General Games

What is It?
Infinity Feng Shui Fortune Telling Game by Empress3 Publishing (ToyDirectory) deals with the ancient Chinese study of the relationships between humanity and the earth´s environment. In this kit, players learn to sharpen their intuition and psychic ability to predict the answers to questions and wishes. It also gives them a chance to explore spirituality and maximize their life force (called "chi"). The game comes with a gameboard, five dice, a compass and instructional cards.


What We Thought
This game simplifies the practice of Feng Shui as a fun game that is sure to amaze partygoers with its accuracy. People of all ages can appreciate the Feng Shui philosophy and learn from its long tradition.


Why They’ll Want It
Interest in Feng Shui continues to grow in North America. This game offers laypeople a fun way to learn more about this rich Chinese tradition.


--Nancy Tan



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Name: Dread Pirate
Company: FRONT PORCH CLASSICS
Age: 8 and up
Price: $99.95
Category: General Games

In Dread Pirate, Front Porch Classics newest release for the 2003 Holiday season, players move cast-metal playing pieces, roll knuckle bones (dice), vie for doubloons and jewels and move around on an aged map as they savor the pirate’s life.

After opening up a wooden chest and unfurling a detailed treasure map, players are launched into the wonderfully imaginative world of marauding outlaws and hidden booty.

Dread Pirate comes housed in an authentic wooden treasure chest, and with its characteristic dedication to pre-electronic gaming experience, Front Porch leaves no stone uncovered in creating an authentic and wondrous playing experience for younger players as well as their parents.



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Name: Cityscape
Company: OUT OF THE BOX PUBLISHING
Age: 8 and up
Price: $29.99
Category: General Games

Four players match wits as they build their dream-city skyline. Each player tries to create their vision in the 16-block city area by trying to determine how many buildings are visible from a certain vantage point and how to make landmarks like the tallest building and multiple buildings of the same height.

Cityscape is a game that represents the best in multi-player competition. This is truly a game for players 8 and up because it challenges the mind of young and old. There is no wonder this game is raking in the accolades across the industry.

This wooden game with fantastic European craftsmanship will be played often and is handsome enough to stay out on display even when not in use. Retailers will find Citscape easy to move out the door anytime of year, especially the during the holiday season.

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Name: Fire & Ice
Company: OUT OF THE BOX PUBLISHING
Age: 8 and up
Price: $29.99
Category: General Games

Controlling one island will win you a battle, but in Fire & Ice, players must control the board to win the war. Two players are forced to use 3-D reasoning in a 2-D world by positioning their pins in certain patterns to control as many islands as possible. The catch is that every move you make creates a new move for the competition.

This game is addictive from the very start. It is as if Tic-Tac-Toe went 3-D. The logic is like chess but the execution is in a world of its own. This is a must have game for any age! Fire & Ice is never tiresome, and the game is mathematically proven to have a winner every game.

Once you play this game you’re hooked. Retailers should make this game available as a sample to play on the sales floor. There are those that will be addicted to playing it and will give the game as a gift if only to have more competition while traveling to see friends and family.

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Name: Rigamarole
Company: RIGAMAROLE
Age: 16 and up
Price: $29.95
Category: General Games

Fans of Cranium, prick up your ears: Rigamarole (ToyDirectory) is the latest board game aimed at the bulging party-game demographic. Players circle round the board tackling categories that demand a multitude of different skills.

Cards in five categories—Word of Mouth, Stage Fright, Sensory Perception, Uncommon Knowledge and the final challenge, Hidden Talents—test players with challenges like creating a 60-second story without using the letter E or guessing fictional characters like Rapunzel and Holden Caulfield. Word games, Charades, clever challenges and more await the daring.

At the end of the game, the first player or team to garner enough points may take a stab at the Hidden Talents category to seal the victory and claim bragging rights.

Clearly aimed at an older audience, Rigamarole is likely to delight those bored with the simple scope of Cranium. Rigamarole is a challenge no self-respecting party game aficionado should pass up.

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Name: Hit the Deck
Company: FUNDEX GAMES
Age: 6 and up
Price: $3.99
Category: General Games

Hit the Deck is a fun and challenging card game for the whole family. By discarding matching colored or numbered cards, players compete to be the first player with no cards in their hand. But be careful, things turn exciting when word cards like “hit the deck” show up and the last player to slap the discard pile has to draw four additional cards.

A fast-paced variation on the time-tested classic Uno, this card game is great with 4-6 players who love a challenge. Be sure to take off any jewelry you may have on your hands because this game can get fast and aggressive. Hit the Deck is a great addition to the family game night.

Hit the Deck’s low price point is appealing to the budget conscious and the game itself is fun for all members of the family. This game can be a great “hand-sell” item as an add-on purchase.

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Name: Time Control
Company: THOMPSON INDUSTRIES
Age: 14 and up
Price: $24.95
Category: General Games

The world will end in five minutes. A top scientist must gather his agents and send them back into the past in order to destroy his enemies and save the future. Is this a new summer Hollywood blockbuster? A state-of-the-art video game, perhaps? Thompson Industries’ (ToyDirectory) intensive new board game Time Control is for fans of time travel and serious gaming.

Using individual boards that depict various time periods—Today, Yesteryear and Distant Past—each player moves to attack his or her opponents on the various planes using time-traveling agents such as Scientists and Brawlers.

Once a player has developed three or more “problems” in a particular time-period, due either to attacks on the agents or simple acts of “fate,” he or she has lost the ability to control time there. The last player to remain with at least one agent intact is the winner, and can claim to have saved the future.

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Name: Gobblet
Company: BLUE ORANGE GAMES
Age: 7 and up
Price: $29.95
Category: General Games

Gobblet, the first offering from Blue Orange, presents a new wrinkle on the age-old classic tic-tac-toe. This deceptively complex board game pits two players against each other as they vie to line up four pieces in a row.

As the players take turns placing birch pieces of varying sizes on the board, tic-toe-toe takes a left turn: Smaller pieces may be gobbled up by larger pieces. The rules of the game are easy enough to be understood by kids ages 7 and up, but once the game is afoot, Gobblet yields enough complexity to keep parents interested and challenged.

Gobblet comes housed in an attractive wooden box, a welcome relief from the garish plastic construction that dooms many a board game to garage sale status after only a few plays. Gobblet has earned more then 10 prestigious awards, including the Dr.Toy Best new Game award.

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Name: Phase 10
Company: FUNDEX GAMES
Age: 8 and up
Price: $3.99
Category: General Games

Phase-10 by Fundex Games (ToyDirectory) is a fun-filled card game of strategy. Following a simple set of rules players race against each other to compile one of 10 “phases” (combination of cards such as 7 cards of the same color) before the others and thus move to the next round. The first player to complete all the phases wins the game.

Not since Uno has there been such a great family game. Whether playing a fast game with 2 players or a longer and livelier round with 6 players, this is a card game that everyone will love. Finally, a card game that doesn’t get old.

As consumers move to the lower price-point impulse buys, retailers would do well to stock this great title for family fun. Coming in under $5.00, moms, dads, teens and grads will find this card game hard to resist.

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Name: Fresh Trax
Company: ORIGINAL HUCK DOLL NSM
Age: 8 and up
Price: $20
Category: General Games

Players race each other across Fresh Trax’s 3-D board game by moving their skier or snowboarder figurine through a series of ski lifts and downhill trails. Using the special die, “Trail Cards” and “Lift Cards,” the game can get unpredictable as the players try to cross the finish without someone stealing their “Fresh Trax” card.

For snowboarders and skiers, young and old, this new board game from Huck Doll (ToyDirectory) is the way to get that fresh powder rush anytime of the year. The game is true to the sport, using phrases such as "Sick board slide" and "Gaper day" normally known only to only die-hard snowboarders and skiers.

Fresh Trax is a little piece of winter fun any day of the year.

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Name: Snatch
Company: SPIN MASTER TOYS
Age: 8 and up
Price: $15
Category: General Games

Addiction, fits of screaming and outbursts of frustration—Snatch has all the hallmarks of a great word game. Spinmaster’s sleek production of this new game has devotees of classics like Scrabble and Boggle in a word, er, world of fun.

Players place an assortment of letter tiles face down on a table and take turns flipping them over. As soon as a player can make a word from the exposed letters in the middle, he snatches the tiles and assembles a word.

The real mayhem ensues when other players wrest control by blurting out new words using the original word plus additional letters. For example, “urn” can quickly morph into “runt” with a fortuitous “t.” Points are scored as the game progresses: 1 point for a 2 to 3 letter word and an additional point for every extra letter.

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Name: Circa Games to Go
Company: FRONT PORCH CLASSICS
Age: 8 and up
Price: $9.95
Category: General Games

Front Porch Classics have summer gaming needs covered with their Circa Games to Go: Poker, Chess, Checkers and Backgammon. Each game comes in a sturdy tin travel box, with a rulebook, dice, game board and playing pieces or deck of cards for poker.

The pieces are plain and sturdy, and the game boards (measuring only about 6”x 6”) have a comfortably worn look, imbuing them with the feeling of a family game that’s stood the test of time—just what the company’s products are intended to be.

These travel-sized classic games would be ideal for backpacking, road trips, or just toting down to the local coffee house to while away an afternoon in caffeinated—and air-conditioned—summer bliss.

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In the Mailbox...
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