We’re Calling It: FOAMO Will Be the Hottest Toy of Summer 2021
- Value: 15/20
- Functionality: 19/20
- Ease of Use: 20/20
- Aesthetics: 18/20
- Bubble Power: 19/20
Last summer, as parents everywhere fought to come up with ways to entertain their kids sans summer camps, screens or Chuck E. Cheese, one toy came up again and again as a pandemic sanity-saver: bubbles. Yes, as in a 99-cent tube of bubbles. Before long, parents graduated to bubble gloves, mega bubble wands, bubble lawn mowers—anything that’d entertain their kids outside with iridescent orbs of soapy water. At the same time, we collectively started turning our backyards into mini amusement parks, creating outdoor movie nights, inflating bounce houses or buying up mini pools. So really, Little Tikes’s latest toy for summer 2021 is the natural evolution of those trends: a pop-up foam party for kids.
Aptly named FOAMO, the gadget looks like a Blippi blue-and-green projector for kids, only it sprays mountains of micro bubbles. And I don’t care how old you are, how fresh your blowout is or whether you’re wearing a bathing suit, you’ll have FOMO the minute you see kids start to jump in it. It’s frivolous, ridiculous fun—and after the year we’ve all had, we could all use it.
Pro: It Takes Minutes to Assemble
Setup is simple—so easy, in fact, that we went from unboxing to knee-deep in foam in less than 15 minutes (and yes, I timed it). The design itself is brilliant: Everything packs into a plastic storage tub, which doubles as the basin for holding soapy water when it’s in use. I had braced myself for plenty of fighting with metal rods and cursing under my breath (aka my tried-and-true strategy for assembling anything, be it kids’ toys or IKEA furniture), but this was intuitive. You pop together the tripod, lock in the blower, attach the pump to the bottom of the storage bin, and fill it with water and the included FOAMO solution. And while I know the law of diminishing returns will be at play, seeing the look of unbridled glee on kids’ faces as the foam starts pouring from the machine is pretty dang rewarding.
Con: It’s Pricey
At $180 for the machine and $20 for each .75-gallon refill bottle, FOAMO isn’t something you buy on a whim on a Tuesday. But considering that renting a foam machine for a party costs $250 to $1,000, it’s a far cheaper alternative. (It may not be as intense as the froth-shooting Foam Daddy, sure, but it will supply plenty of foam to entertain your pod for the day.) And given the cost of a trampoline, Power Wheels car and other backyard splurges, it’s not too bad.
One bottle of the solution lasted us a little over an hour, though we realized that we could easily get away with stopping the machine every 15 minutes or so and letting the kids play with the foam until it deflated, then starting it back up again, to extend its lifespan. FOAMO recommends following a 5:1 ratio of the water to the solution, but when we tried a seven or eight-to-one mix, we still had plenty of high-quality bubbles.
Pro: It’s the Ultimate Party Starter
Another win for this gadget? I’m not running out of breath, blowing bubbles nonstop to entertain the kids. In fact, I can sit back with a glass of rosé and watch them enjoy making foam snowmen and smashing through bubble walls.
If you’re planning a birthday party or Fourth of July cookout with your family, it easily becomes the main event. You don’t need a bunch of other activities to keep everyone entertained.
Con: You Might Want the Kids to Wear Goggles as They Play
OK, so the one challenge of little kids and bubbles is keeping suds out of their orbitals (and mouths, because why do kids try to eat everything?!). While the solution is non-toxic, hypoallergenic and biodegradable, getting it in your eyes is still annoying. The company recommends rinsing your eyes with water for 10 to 15 minutes if that happens. We found that a quick rinse with water was all that was needed, then the kids were darting back into the foam to, you know, smash suds into their eyes all over again. You can also give them goggles to wear as they splash around.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering: Thankfully, the foam didn’t leave any filmy residue behind, and everything was easily cleaned with the spray of a water hose.
The Bottom Line
This is the kind of surprise you bust out at a party that everyone talks about for months afterward. And may inspire you to start your own FOAMO rental service, because apparently there’s big money to be made in that field.