10 Must-have Toys for 2012


LeapPad2 Learning Tablet

The LeapPad2 library includes more than 325 apps to make learning fun and engaging. Image courtesy LeapFrog
The LeapPad2 library includes more than 325 apps to make learning fun and engaging. Image courtesy LeapFrog

LeapFrog is known for its kid-friendly approach to educational and interactive toys, and this year's LeapPad2 learning tablet doesn't disappoint. In addition to app-filled fun (there's a library of more than 325 apps, games, e-books, music and foreign language lessons that can be downloaded), the LeapPad2 also borrows some features from grown-up tablets, including front-and-back cameras.

There are two other LeapFrog tablets to consider this year. The LeapsterGS is LeapFrog's newest gaming system (educational gaming of course), and don't forget the Leapster Explorer, which was on the 2011 list of must-have toys.

All are compatible with earlier generations of LeapFrog cartridges and apps.

If you're looking for a tablet more like your own Android, iOS or Windows-based version, those are available as well for the pint-sized posse. Look for the Tabeo (from Toys "R" Us), the Kurio 7 (from Techno Source) or the MEEP! (from Oregon Scientific), and finally take back your iPad.

Author's Note: 10 Must-have Toys for 2012

I have to admit that while I was reviewing all these awesome toys there was one that I found myself coming back to one again and again. Which one, you ask? Nope, not the Furby. The MEEP! from Oregon Scientific. If I were 6 years old, I'd want one. (I'd take one as an adult, too.) First, it's ruggedized. Anyone who has ever met me -- or stood anywhere near me -- knows that I am a klutz and every product I purchase should come standard with some sort of padding for its own (and, honestly, my own) safety. But take the suite of parental controls out of the picture and what you have is pretty similar to all the adult-marketed Android devices on the market. This tablet is packed with the standard tablet goodies (7-inch [17.8-centimeter] touchscreen, camera, WiFi, SD card support, etc.), games, apps, e-books, a chat program, and educational activities -- and you can buy accessories such as a steering wheel, joystick and drum pad.

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