Let's Go Out and Play

Tuesday, June 28, 2005; Page C13

What's so great about a Slip 'N Slide, a kids' ice cream maker and a skateboard?

A lot of old favorites were among the toys selected for this year's KidsPost Summer Toy Test. But all of these classics had a fun new twist, and our testers (11- and 12-year-olds from Janney Elementary School in Northwest Washington) went wild for them.

The Slip 'N Slide included a sort of obstacle course. Maybe having to hop over the hurdle and quick-step through a series of doughnut-hole-type spaces made the belly flop at the end all the more sweet.

"Yaay, Noura, nice one!" yelled Zoe Anderson, 10, applauding Noura Jaber, also 10, as she galumphed over the obstacles and crashed into the back end of the inflated yellow slide.

The testers also gave thumbs-up to the Play & Freeze ice cream maker. It's a blue plastic ball with a metal compartment for mixing cream, sugar and any flavoring. We used vanilla and crumbled Oreos, then sealed the compartment, stuffed in some ice and rock salt and tossed the ball from kid to kid for 20 minutes. Ta daa ! -- sweet, creamy cookie-flavored ice cream. Tasty and fun!

There was high praise, too, for the Pumgo Push-Free Cruiser -- no tester had seen a skateboard quite like it. You power it by alternately pumping each end of the board up and down with your feet. That winds up a springy mechanism under the board that moves the wheels and pushes you along.

Cole Montgomery, 11, an expert on regular skateboards, found the Pumgo challenging, but soon he and Robin Smith were zooming along smoothly. "Cole, I got it," said Robin, 11. "Just lean forward."

But tinkering with the classics doesn't always lead to success. The Funflatable 2 in 1 Kite , a combination kite and inflatable water toy, was a klunker. The plastic kite wings ripped and the heavy contraption never stayed aloft, despite the light breeze.

One of the testers' favorites was Tek Tag . Each player straps a battery-powered "pod" on his upper arm. Players try to protect their pods while smacking their opponent's. The pods register each clean hit. In one mode, players start with five "lives" and the count goes down each time the pod is struck. When it reaches zero, the pod makes a humiliating beep that means: "Loser!"

"It's exhausting!" said Victoria Woodall, 11, giggling her way through a vigorous Tek Tag slap-fest.

All of this year's toys got kids moving. Maybe that's because testers armed with the powerful Super Soaker Flash Flood Blasters were everywhere. Even those trying out flying discs and a yo-yo had to dash to avoid being ambushed by the water guns, capable of nailing targets 30 feet away or dumping 16-ounce tanks onto close-by victims.

The weather was so hot, Elliott Smith, 10, simply asked Tevin Adams, 11, for a drenching: "Squirt me, Tevin, squirt me!"

-- Fern Shen and Scott Moore

© 2005 The Washington Post Company