NAPPA 2003: Tech Toys for Ages 8 and Up

By Ellen Metrick

What's a Tech Toy? It's a toy in which a microchip or electronic circuitry is key to the item's function and play value. Which ones are worth taking home? Here are this year's NAPPA winners:

Air Boom Box, Wild Planet, $14.99;, 800-247-6570; ages 8 and up. This ingeniously designed radio is an inflatable vinyl tube with plastic speaker ends. The controls of the radio are flush to the surface of the tube and are very sensitive to the touch of bare skin on the pads. No pressure is needed to turn the radio on, change channels or change the volume.

Total Meltdown, Radica USA Ltd., $24.99;, 800-803-9611; ages 8 and up. Demanding quick thinking and response skills, this game challenges you to prevent a total computer meltdown by completing four activities before time runs out. The added pressure of flashing lights, a ticking clock and verbal warnings creates an exciting, hair-raising race against time.

Ellen Metrick is a toy specialist with the National Lekotek Center

Read more about National Lekotek Center, NAPPA's new toy expert.