US Toy Bubble Sword ($4.99) This product has the benefit of requiring no batteries. The wand is a massive sword that dips into a long sheath full of bubble soap. The bubbles were large and long lasting. The real benefit was the parental relief provided by switching briefly from bubble toys that look like real guns to toys that look like real swords. My testers initially loved this. Awesome was the universal verdict. Until they realized there were no batteries. Also, the sword snapped almost instantly.
Toysmith Voice Activated Microphone ($14.99)
This is yet another battery-operated product. But unlike most of its cousins, the likelihood of slopping soap everywhere is next to none. You simply dip the blower into a tub of soap, flip a switch, and then scream into the top of the "microphone," at which time great, big bubbles pour out along with your vocal track. This blower serves the dual purpose of producing both outstanding bubbles and also revealing that your children know all the lyrics to Bobby Brown songs.
Ja-ru Fun Bubbles ($4.99) I wanted to hate this product. It, too, was battery-operated. Its extra-large bubble reservoir guaranteed spillage. It looked like an Uzi. But the thing produced three consistent streams of magnificent bubbles shooting out in every direction, requiring infrequent reloading and never misfiring. My testers—or, as we like to think of them around here, the kids—raved nonstop. The manual-labor-to-bubble ratio was amazing. No frustration, no tears, no stripped tongues. OK, so it ain't your grandma's bubble blower. But if I had to have just one lingering bubble to last me all year, this would be the blower to produce it.