Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978
More Articles Browse All Articles >>


Play
Learn
Play
You are in:  Play | The Great Outdoors

The Great Outdoors

Outdoor toys aren't limited to balls and bikes anymore. These Parents' Choice award winners highlight the great selection of outdoor products that offer opportunities for kids to dig in the sand, build the ultimate fort, paint the sidewalk in 3D or drive their own sport coupe. Of course no outdoor list would be complete without a few balls and bikes too, but these winners are anything but ordinary.
Radio Flyer #74W Sport Coupe Radio Flyer #74W Sport Coupe
Ages: 1 - 3 yrs.
Radio Flyer, Inc., $79.00

The Red Sport Coupe features an electronic lights and sound dashboard. This car has a cup holder, a clicking key, clicking gearshift, and honking horn that make for wonderful play features. The door even opens and closes so kids will feel like this is the real thing. Sturdy chrome push handle is great for parents but goes down to resemble a rear spoiler when the child is in control. There is even storage room behind the seat, great for a jacket or sack lunch. When your child is ready to coast, they can slide their tired feet onto the innovative "stow away" footrest. Product Description

2 in 1 Garden Cart and Wheelbarrow 2 in 1 Garden Cart and Wheelbarrow
Ages: 1 - 6 yrs.
MGA Entertainment, Inc., $39.99

With its cute red and white canopy, this flower cart looks like something you'd see Aunt Bee using in Mayberry. While the packaging says that this toy is for children 2 and up, we found that small toddlers quickly lost interest with it. With that said, this is a toy that children will grow into and enjoy at a slightly older age. To really have fun with it, a child needs to be old enough to understand what a flower cart is and old enough to make believe. In the meantime, young toddlers will enjoy pushing the cart around and digging in the dirt in their backyard.

CAT 3-in-1 Dump Truck CAT 3-in-1 Dump Truck
Ages: 1 & Up
MEGA Brands, Inc., $39.99

Toddler truck and construction enthusiasts are sure to enjoy the CAT 3-in-1 Dump Truck. The unique design of this durable dump truck allows kids to play with it in three ways: they can push it around and play with it as a standard dump truck, lift the dumping bin to reveal a seat to use it as a ride-on, or stand behind the truck and use the handle on the dumping bin to walk behind it, making it a unique "walker" for toddlers taking their first steps. In either position, the truck is solid and sturdy.

Little Tikes Cozy Cruisin Wagon Little Tikes Cozy Cruisin Wagon
Ages: 1 & Up
The Little Tikes Company, $59.99

Well-designed and well-constructed, the high seatbacks increase the comfort level of older riders as well as the safety of younger ones. This roomy wagon includes two built-in cup holders and a handle that folds for easy storage. We loved the wet/dry storage area that can be used to keep snacks and drinks cold, or to store gloves, toys, or other items.

Mini Kick Scooter by Micro Mini Kick Scooter by Micro
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
Kickboard USA , $79.99

This sturdy, quality-constructed (did I mention easy-to-assemble) scooter looks and feels just like its big cousin, the Maxi Kick Scooter. Its unique three-wheeled design increases stability and balance which are crucial for younger riders. Little ones can now improve their balance, coordination and gross motor skills while keeping up with the big kids. Furthermore, I am impressed by how seriously Micro takes child safety; its "Ten Safety Rules" are not only included in the box, but are illustrated and detailed on the box as well.

Radio Flyer #540G Little Miss Flyer My 1st Scooter Radio Flyer #540G Little Miss Flyer My 1st Scooter
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
Radio Flyer, Inc., $49.00

Radio Flyer's Little Miss Flyer My 1st Scooter allows your little girl to scoot in bright pink style. The two front wheels provide stable steering capabilities that make this a great first scooter. The design includes an extra wide base for maximum stability so your child can develop a sense of balance, safely and comfortably. The rear wheel has a cover making this a safe ride. With just the push of a button, the fold-down handle will hug the base making storage and portability easy. Product Description

Also look for the Radio Flyer My First Scooter



Ultimate Classic Trike Ultimate Classic Trike
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
Radio Flyer, Inc., $129.99

The Radio Flyer Ultimate Classic Trike is a classic tricycle with a few 'new and improved' features. It has a removable parent push bar which enables an adult to push, steer, and maneuver the trike while a young toddler is learning to ride, building a young cyclist's skill and confidence. Once the toddler is able to safely ride on his or her own, the bar easily detaches. A small foam storage area (keys, wallet, phone, etc) attaches to the adult push bar. Additional features for the toddler include a hidden storage area under the cross bar, ringing bell and streamers, and an adjustable seat.

Little Tikes Drive, Chip & Putt Golf Trainer Little Tikes Drive, Chip & Putt Golf Trainer
Ages: 2 - 6 yrs.
The Little Tikes Company, $24.99

The Little Tikes Drive, Chip & Putt Golf Trainer is fun introduction to golf for the youngest PGA hopeful. The set includes 2 balls, 2 clubs with storage on the base and the flags are removable for putting practice.

Little Tikes Makin' Mudpies Little Tikes Makin' Mudpies
Ages: 2 & Up
MGA Entertainment, Inc., $39.99

Little Tikes Makin' Mudpies is an outdoor kitchen set ideal for creative kids who love to be messy. It includes both a working sink (when an adult fills it with water) and a working mixer. Children add the dirt and creativity to end up with pies, cakes, & cookies made of mud.

Air Pogo - The Pogo Swing
Ages: 3 - 10 yrs.
HYPERGEE, Inc., $115.00

A pogo stick? A tire-swing? Both. This swinging, jumping, twisting, floating contraption makes a Joey out of anyone - under 90 lbs. This meets and exceeds US safety standards.

The Original Fortamajig
Ages: 3 - 12 yrs.
The Happy Kid Company LLC, Sugar Mountain PR, $49.95

The concept is nothing short of brilliant. 24 Velcro loops are sewn at well-positioned points throughout this 8x8 foot square of brightly colored nylon ripstop. Use the loops to attach to stable objects (chairs, deck railing, table legs, tree branches) to configure and reconfigure a variety of play structures. With no pieces to lose, break, or replace, this highly inventive product is durable, washable, and easy to store. Packaged as a tote-bag carrying-case, the Fortamagig is a perfect travel companion.

Gaz-zuds Gaz-zuds
Ages: 3 & Up
Funrise Toy Corp., $16.99

All kids love bubbles, so what could be more fun than a bubble war with guns that actually shoot bubbles?? Child testers had so much fun with the Gaz-zuds bubble guns that the neighborhood children came out to see what all the commotion was about. Simply dip the tip of the gun in a dish of bubbles, point, and shoot, to release a cascade of bubbles and foam. The "guns" can also be used to create bubble artwork in the yard, which is especially fun when combined with colored bubbles!

Pretend & Play Fishing Set Pretend & Play Fishing Set
Ages: 3 & Up
Learning Resources, $27.99

The Pretend & Play Fishing Set is a tackle box filled with a fishing rod with a magnetic hook, fisherman's vest, three fish, three worms, a net, and a write and erase activity book. The worms are squiggly and slightly squishy, the fish have big open smiling mouths. The vest and tackle box give the set a realistic look and feel. The fisherman's log (activity book) lets young rod 'n reelers record the size and weight of their catch. Everything stores neatly in the tackle box.

Red Bullet Balance Bike Red Bullet Balance Bike
Ages: 3 & Up
Chicco USA, Inc., $49.99

For those contemplating a balance bike, note that The Red Bullet was a breeze to put together. We assembled it in 15 minutes, with an eager 3-year-old "helping" to do it. It is lightweight, making it easy for young children to handle. In addition, its compact size makes it easy to fit in the back of the car to take to the park. If you are in the market for a balance bike, we recommend this one.

Sack Racing Sack Racing
Ages: 3 & Up
ALEX, $19.99

On your mark, get set, go! Children had tons of fun racing to the finish in these colorful nylon sacks. Sturdy enough to hold the weight of a ten-year old, the woven handles provide support younger children might need. Each sack set comes with two different animals: frog and monkey or rabbit and kangaroo. When the games are over, these sacks can be used to carry toys, beach towels, or a worn out racer to the car.

Crayola 3D Sidewalk Chalk Crayola 3D Sidewalk Chalk
Ages: 4 & Up
Crayola, LLC, $9.99

You have to see this to believe it. This unique twist to the traditional sidewalk chalk, mesmerized our testers. The stencils, contrasting colors of chalk, and 3D glasses transform ho-hum sidewalk sketches into dazzling driveway drawings. Wearing the 3D glasses, children watch their creations come to life as they "pop" off the sidewalk. It’s affordable, fun, and will challenge children to find new ways to use the 3D effect.

Backyard Safari Outfitters Lazer Bug Vacuum Backyard Safari Outfitters Lazer Bug Vacuum
Ages: 5 & Up
$19.99

Your budding bug collector will never tire of this excellent bug finding tool. Before it was even out of the box, our testers were jumping with excitement to try it out. From the microscope to the "laser" pointer, they were exclaiming over every little aspect of it, and they couldn't wait to catch their first bugs. The accompanying pamphlet had children screaming with pictures of tarantulas and ladybugs. They immediately started searching the neighborhood in order to check off the bugs on the list. Children will want to search deep, dark corners of the basement and garage with the "scope" (a little red laser light on the front of the vacuum), and they might even scare bug-fearing parents with what they find. The bug vacuum is very easy to use, almost like a miniature dust buster. It came with an extra reservoir, so once the first was full, it could be removed and replaced. Bugs can be set free with a simple twist of a dial on the side, but not before being carefully studied under the magnifying glass that also serves as the "escape hatch" for the bugs. We can't recommend this toy enough, especially for a family with natural bug enthusiasts.

RipRider 360 RipRider 360
Ages: 5 & Up
Razor USA, LLC, $99.99

Our testers couldn't get enough of the many twists and turns the RipRider 350 can perform. As the young riders perfected their techniques, they set up obstacle courses. After they mastered the simple turns, they devised increasingly more complex "gates" creating a greater need to spin to complete the turns. The racecourse drivers dubbed it a very cool 21st century Big Wheel. And no one in the group was too old for a ride.

Maxi Kick Scooter Maxi Kick Scooter
Ages: 6 - 10 yrs.
Kickboard USA , $149.99

Urban or Suburban, the new Maxi is the perfect mode of modern mobility for kids ages 6-10 Swiss-designed with a unique lean-and-steer mechanism, the Maxi gives kids the feeling of "surfing the sidewalks." Light weight, yet durable enough to be used every day, the Maxi really curves and carves. Product Description

Hyper Dash Hyper Dash
Ages: 6 - 12 yrs.
Wild Planet Entertainment, Inc., $19.99

Known as Hyper Dash, this electronic action game for kids aged six and up comes with a "tagger" as well as five "targets". Targets can be arranged in any space (as long as it is not too big), and the hand-held unit calls out a target that the kids have to run to and "tag." Four different levels of play keep the kids running for hours: level one calls out the colors they need to tag, level two throws numbers into the mix, level three adds special commands such as Double Strike, Triple Strike, Reverse, Double Reverse, and the final level features Compu-Strike (math problems that involve addition and subtraction). No two games are ever the same.

Freeze Ball Freeze Ball
Ages: 6 & Up
Wild Planet Entertainment, Inc., $14.99

Freeze Ball is a combination freeze tag/dodge ball game. The "ball" is actually a soft, numbered cube, like an over-sized die. Players wear wristbands in the shape of numerals, and when the ball lands with one of their numbers on top, they race to the ball, call out "Freeze!" to the other players, and try to throw the ball to tag one of the other players. (The ball is very soft - it would be virtually impossible to injure someone with it.) A player who is tagged gives up a number to the thrower, but if the ball misses, the thrower gives a number to the target player. The winner is the one who collects all the numbers from the other players.This is a high-energy game and sticks to the things kids love best - running around (while yelling, naturally), reversing course, running some more, trying to move while trying not to be caught moving, trying to tag, trying not to be tagged.

Air Hogs Wind Chaser Air Hogs Wind Chaser
Ages: 8 & Up
Spin Master Toys, $29.99

There is something about kite flying that brings out the child in all of us. This eye-catching kite is provides hours of outdoor activity for the whole family. The string release mechanism makes launching simple and fun. Our young fliers tested the kite’s limits on windy spring days. Staying aloft was a pleasure. And unintended crashing was no fun at all. All in all, this wind chaser is certainly worth a try.

Boochie Boochie
Ages: 8 & Up
Gamewright, $34.99

Boochie is a fun new ball game that can be easily played by both parents and kids, indoors and out. In the game, players throw the 12-sided boochie ball, then take turns throwing their smaller bean ball and rings, trying to get as close as possible to the boochie ball. The game comes with a wrist-worn scoring disc complete with iconic Gamewright instructions about how (over your head, between your legs, eyes wide shut) to throw next.

Fuze Wheel Writer Fuze Wheel Writer
Ages: 8 & Up
Skyrocket Toys, $35.00

The Fuze Wheel Writer mounts to a bike's rear wheel spokes and produces twelve different images with bright red LED lights as the wheel spins. One of those images includes a real-time speedometer showing how fast the rider is going. Other images include a flame, skull and crossbones, spider and spiral pattern. The device is very easy to install and is designed to work with bike wheels 20" and up with standard spoke spacing.

Ground Force Drifter Ground Force Drifter
Ages: 8 & Up
Razor USA, LLC, $299.99

Our testers were very excited about this item, and they weren't disappointed. Assembly is easy, and it takes only fifteen minutes to get the toy from box to use. It comes partially charged, which means kids can use it immediately. Our testers loved it, and everyone had a blast riding and "drifting". It develops hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, reflexes, and other physical skills.

The Wave G2 The Wave G2
Ages: 8 & Up
Street Surfing, LLC, $99.99

The Wave G2 is a street board that gives riders the sensation of riding a skateboard, surfboard, and snowboard all at once - and without having to leave the neighborhood. With the improved design, practice and all appropriate safety equipment, riders can learn to do "360s" carve downhill runs, and even ride uphill. In order to stop, the rider must place pressure on both toes so that the front edge of the board touches the ground.


Share This

What Makes a Good Toy?

Award-Winning Toys

Media Ratings Television Ratings Movie Ratings Video Game Ratings

Mailbox
Sign Up
Our news & features delivered to your inbox.