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November 16, 2000|AARON CURTISS, aaron.curtiss@latimes.com

Turbo Twist Fact Blaster

* What it does: Offers a durable, portable electronic quiz show for kids in topics ranging from history and sports to music and science. The device, which looks like a beefy flashlight, shoots questions at kids, who twist a dial to the correct answer. Because it keeps track of progress over time, Turbo Twist can ratchet up the difficulty on successive games.

* Price: $39.99

* Availability: Retail toy stores such as Zany Brainy, specialty shops such as the Discovery Channel Store and online at www.amazon.com

* Manufacturer: Leap Frog

* Niche: Kids ages 6 to 14 whose parents want them to think while they play

* The good: Turbo Twist covers a whole range of subjects--including math and spelling--that use the LeapLink system to update game content and monitor a child's progress. Parents can get an online assessment of junior's performance over time as well as order new quiz questions. Turbo Twist offers considerably more expansion options than many portable learning toys.

* The bad: The screen is small and includes an awkward interface to boot. Although younger kids might enjoy thumping Turbo Twist's end to register their answers, it doesn't offer much refinement for older kids.

* Bottom line: A challenging, reasonably priced game for kids who don't mind boning up on their geography during play time.

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