Squinkies are squishy, thumb-nail-sized collectibles that double as pencil eraser toppers. These tiny toys come in the form of people or animals encased in clear plastic "gumballs". Play sets, like the Squinkies Tea Time Surprise (starting at $10, Amazon) set we tested in our Squinkies Tea Time Surprise review, are designed to dispense these "gumballs" when young collectors insert a plastic coin and turn the knob. The Tea Time Surprise set includes two plastic coins and five Squinkies.
Once given the Tea Time play set, our eight-year-old child tester quickly busied herself with unwrapping and exploring it. During the Squinkies Tea Time Surprise review, she got a kick out of the gumball vending feature and discovered a way to "store" the plastic coins in the coin return slot. She did comment that the little tokens would be easy to lose, though. Luckily, as one parent mentions in a review on Amazon, regular U.S. pennies and dimes also work in a pinch.
The young toy connoisseur participating in our Squinkies Tea Time Surprise review was pleased with the cute factor of the included Squinkies, but seemed to have some difficulty opening and closing the plastic spheres they came in if they weren't aligned just so. All in all, this toy was a hit.
We found only a dozen or so Tea Time Surprise reviews online, where it is sometimes called the Squinkies Twisters Teapot, but they were positive overall. The most common complaint concerned the size of this toy. Adults, like one who posted a review on Amazon, grouse that it will store only a half dozen Squinkies, but kids don't seem to mind this limitation. If the child you're buying for has a large collection of Squinkies, you may want to consider a play set with more storage. The Squinkies Cupcake Surprise Bakeshop (starting at $25, Amazon) and the large version of the Squinkies Gumball Surprise (starting at $18, Amazon) will hold 15 plastic-encased Squinkies each, while the Squinkies Palace Surprise (starting at $14, Amazon) displays up to 96 Squinkies without their capsules.
Squinkies are only growing in popularity, and seem to be sticking around. Look for new collections to launch this summer, including Hello Kitty, Barbie, and Disney Princess Squinkies for girls and Hot Wheels and Cars 2 Squinkies for boys.
If you're seeking educational toys or classic appeal, Squinkies may not impress you. Kids love them, however. Since testing the Tea Time Surprise play set with our 8-year-old toy expert, she and her two siblings have acquired more than 30 additional Squinkies and a Palace Surprise play set. Luckily for their parents, Squinkies come with a modest price tag. The Tea Time Surprise play set starts at $10, standard 16-piece Squinkies bubble packs cost just under $10, and Squinkies Share N Wear charm bracelet sets will only set you back around $5.