Gadgets 78

Published on December 2nd, 2005 | by Greg


Board Games and Blasters

Have you ever wanted to be able to make smoke rings? You know, without the hazards of cancer-sticks, or having to actually work at it? We have- and so when we heard about the Zero Blaster, a gun that actually shoots smoke rings, we couldn’t wait to try it out.

A company called ZeroToys took this idea and turned it into a small line of products, from their mini model to their neon-colored larger pistols with lights and sounds. All of the toys use their non-toxic fog fluid, and you fill a chamber in the gun with the smoke, then pull the trigger to fire harmless smoke rings. You can change the diameter of the rings with a little practice, and change the speed as well. It’s pretty much foolproof, and looks really cool in the dark or in UV light. Unfortunately, it’s a little too difficult for most kids under 13 to use, as you can’t shake the gun, and it’s not easy to refill the gun with fog fluid. The rings only go about 10 feet before disappearing, but it’s a lot of fun to watch them hit other people or objects and vanish in a puff of smoke- without the smell, fire hazard, or carcinogens of a cigarette. The ZeroBlaster is $20, and the smaller model is only $7. Extra bottles of fog are $4.

While we’re talking about great gifts for the Christmas season, don’t forget the family favorite: board games. Two recent board games from Patch Products would fit nicely in a stocking or under the tree- Etc. and Domination.

In Etc., players take turns creating/guessing the answer to an acronym and a specific phrase. For instance, a card will have the letters BB, and ask for the answer to the phrase “Yogi’s Sidekick” (Boo Boo) or “Your Spine” (backbone). Get it? It’s pretty simple, and works best in a group, but you can test yourself on them. There are plenty of clever cards, but you probably won’t want to play for more than 20 minutes. Etc. is a unique addition to other word games, and at $15, won’t break the bank.

The game Domination is a bit more interesting- a strategy game using dominoes to capture territory. There is some luck involved, as you only have so many dominoes in your rack, but a fair amount of skill and planning as well. It’s not Go, but it’s a good balance. A game can go pretty quickly, and it’s addictive- for a wide variety of ages, 10 and up, even Dad will enjoy this one. Domination is one of the better simple strategy games we’ve seen in a while (right up there with Cathedral, which shares some of the same ideas), though at $30 you’ll probably want to think carefully before buying it.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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