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Hottest summer toys for 2012

Michelle Maffei is a freelance copywriter covering a variety of topics both online and in print, from parenting to beauty and more. Combining her two favorite loves, writing and motherhood, she has found joy in even the most challenging ...

Cool entertainment for kids

As soon as the mercury rises, your kids head outside for some warm weather fun with the latest summer toys. But, will the toys in your backyard keep them active and sneak in a little learning in the process of play? Before your kids are struck with summer boredom with last year's toys, be sure to pick up the seven hottest summer toys for 2012 before they're gone!

"Summer means tons of fun outdoor play and keeping kids physically active," shares Laurie Schacht, mother and toy expert, The Toy Insider. "From cool ride-ons, to some of the best in water toys... and even sneaking in some outdoor toys that will help them discover (stealth learning), it's just the best season to play." So, before you head to the toy store, check out some of The Toy Insider's top picks for the hottest season of the year.

Razor FlashRider 360

RAZOR USA

This isn't the three-wheeler you remember riding as a kid; the Razor FlashRider has a 360-degree turning capacity, sparks and even drifts. But, with this many tricks packed in one active ride, you'd better be sure your kiddos ages 6 years and older are strapped with a helmet before showing off their inner daredevil.

Retails for around $100.

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Twin Force Hydro Sweep

TOYQUEST

For 2012, kids expect toys to do more, even if it means simply giving an old favorite summer toy a new twist; and that's exactly what the Banzai Twin Force Hydro Sweep does for the oversized squirt gun game. Your youngsters can view and shoot up to 25 feet around corners with a targeting scope and rotating barrels. Or, take down two opponents at once with split-barrel action that shoots in opposite directions. There's no doubt that this water toy equals tons of cool fun.

Retails for around $18.

Water Blaster

HASBRO

This is the answer to any Super Soaker-loving kid's dream: the popular Nerf line of water blasters makes it easier to soak friends longer — and faster — with a 35-ounce water clip and an automatic spraying action. The Lightningstorm Water Blaster also comes equipped with a detachable shield to help protect your kiddo from opposing blasts, but with a 25-foot spraying distance, your youngsters may never come close to getting soaked from their friends! Retails for around $25.

GeoSafari Plankton Net

EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS

Just because your kids are on summer break, it doesn't mean your youngsters have to take a break from learning. This season, 2012 toys like the GeoSafari Plankton Net, turn fun into learning by simply dragging the net through the water and collecting plankton in ponds, lakes and oceans. Your kids can then examine the creatures in the removable transparent bottle attached. Comes complete with a plankton identification chart to guarantee your kids will soak up some science while soaking up some fun. Retails for around $25.

Bubble Turbine

IMPERIAL TOY

The Super Miracle Bubbles Bubble Turbine takes bubble blowing to another level with a battery-operated bubble gun. This 2012 toy lets your youngsters create bubbles in tons of shapes and sizes, without the risk of hyperventilating while having a blast with this outdoor toy. Retails for around $13.

Chalk Factory

ROSEART/MEGA BRANDS

These sweet-shaped outdoor toys guarantee hours of fun without blowing your summer fun fund. This set of four sidewalk chalks are fashioned in shapes like a slice of pie, donut, cake and cupcake and create the rich, vivid colors you've come to expect from RoseArt. Retails for under $5.

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Tropical Island Resort

STEP2

Let your youngsters get whisked away by fun with summer toys that incorporate water and little figurines in the Step2 Tropical Island Resort. This island-themed water table lets little hands pump, splash, slide and float with fun figures, animal characters and even a mini sail boat for wet, outdoor play.

Retails for around $80.

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