I’m a sucker for toys that work in the dark which is why I was super excited to try Creativity for Kids new Color Changing Flower Lights. The kit comes with three plastic globes that have three different light settings. One is a disco ball effect that seems perfect for the fairies in your realm. Read our full review at toyportfolio.com. Watch our video http://bit.ly/WPdOcI.
I find it confusing to have toys for preschoolers where you make “food” but you can’t eat them – especially when they look so pretty. I get the whole pretend aspect of this toy and that many kids (including some of our testers) enjoy this product, but maybe because I was the kid that would have tasted it for sure, it makes me wonder about the wisdom of such a toy. While I do have a soft spot for Play-Doh extruder accessories, I generally prefer Play-Doh as an open-ended experience – after all, what’s better than making Play-Doh snakes?!
What do you think?
Last night I had odd dreams that were both a combination of Downton Abbey (I still feel so upset about the season’s ending) and worrying that some of the prototypes (especially the last flying toy) wouldn’t work. By three in the morning I had Maggie Smith commenting on the series of spy toys we had on. Not the best night’s sleep.
This morning seemed very, very quiet. Maybe because it was soooo cold outside–it just seemed more laid back than usual. Since we were showing prototypes, there were no kids scheduled to be on the segment with me. That also made the green room less lively. (Everyone did perk up when the Jeopardy teen champ came in.) My mom, fresh back from her adventure through South America, was with me–which is always great. There was a guest there speaking about a 21 day cleanse. The whole idea made me hungry.
The segment was fun. You can watch it here. Willie Geist is fantastic and as a Dad with two young children, he’s totally in the toy zone. Steve Harvey was guest co-hosting today and was a total sport–trying out the Spy Net Lie Detector Toy from Jakks Pacific and flying one of the Atmospheres from Spin Master. Special thanks to Cara from LEGO and Rachel from Spin Master for coming in to make sure that they’re prototypes worked on camera. All the toys we showed today are featured on my blog posts from last week.
Hasbro has a lot of Monopoly news this season. First they retired the iron play piece which feels right to me. I’ve never known anyone hollering to be the iron. So here’s the replacement…a cat. If you’re a cat person, I suppose, this will be a great addition. For me, I’ll stick with the doggie.
Also new for 2013, the Despicable Me 2 (click thru to watch the trailer-it’s really fun) version to coincide with the launch of the movie this July. Comes with off-the-chart cute minion pieces (they had to glue them down at toy fair so that they wouldn’t walk out of the showroom. In the good old days, they would have given us a sample, but I digress). Personally, I’d take any one of the minions over the cat! I like that both versions are classic Monopoly sets where a person, rather than a electronic device, is the banker.
Today was the first day of Toy Fair at the Javits Center. Saw lots of terrific toys and games that I’ll be writing about during the course of the year. For some reason, there are certain “are you kidding?” toys that stand out. This one certainly got me to stop.
It’s the new 2-in-1 iPotty with Activity Seat for iPad from CTA Digital. Kudos for the clever name. While the yuck factor comes to mind, I know a lot of people (well beyond toilet training) who take their electronics into the bathroom with them (you know who you are) — and at least this product has the benefit of a protective cover for the iPad. From my experience with such products, the splash guard in the actual seat looks inadequate for boys. There is also a pink version for girls.
I know there’s the argument that this will keep kids on the seat – there’s also something to be said for not always multi-tasking, don’t you think?
When I found out that Think Fun’s new Laser Maze comes with a real laser, I felt as if we were now truly in a new century of toys. There are many “laser-like” toys on the market.
Spin Master’s new super-cool looking Laser Defense System, for example, features a high intensity LED light, not a laser. Laser Maze is similar to other classic brain teasers from Think Fun where the challenges become increasingly more complex (the game comes with 60). The game play is to move the pieces so that the laser bends off the mirrors and splitters on the game pieces to hit the target. We look forward to testing it.
My other futuristic favorite toy so far is the grapefruit-sized AtmoSPHERE from Spin Master. The orb-like flying toy promises to respond to motion. So once you activate it, you will be able to control where it goes by moving your hands around it. While not quite Luke Skywalker’s first lesson with his lightsaber, it is pretty amazing. We look forward to trying this one too.
Hard to believe that LEGO Mindstorms were first on our Platinum Award list in 2007. This year LEGO is rolling out a revamped version of the robotics kit for a new generation of kids. Knowing how essential smart phones have become, the new design enables them to operate their robots via their phones. The set comes with 17 suggested builds with three different levels of programming. Comes with a hefty price tag ($349.99) — but if you think of this as an after-school program in robotics, it seems more approachable. We look forward to testing this product.
I’m delighted to find that Hape has expanded the Quadrilla marble run line (a Platinum award winner from 2006). Here’s the new Xcellerator. These are pricey sets but the type of toy that will be handed down.
The design is so appealing. It looks like the track will provide for lots of speedy runs. We haven’t tested this particular set yet.
On the flip side of old-fashioned marble runs– take a look at Hexbugs Nano V2 from Innovation First. My mother thinks I’m obsessed with Hexbugs. I used to love capturing bugs as a kid–so that’s probably where the interest comes from. Now, instead of just having bugs on regular flat tracks, the new versions are designed so that they can move around tubed tracks that can be put in a vertical positions. How cool is that? Hope it works!! (As with most of my blog posting during Toy Fair, we are previewing the toys rather than reporting on toys we’ve tested yet.)
Anyone who has enjoyed playing with Hot Wheels will appreciate the promise of this new activity toy from Mattel. We look forward to testing the Hot Wheel Toy Maker that will comes with two molds, 10 wax sticks and graphics for customizing the cars. The company says the cars will work on most tracks– we’ll be sure to try it out.
Sometimes it feels like the toy industry has been overrun by less than highbrow ideas. For example, this year we received trash toys (where the play pattern is to collect simulated trash cans), fart producers (more on that later) and simulated animal dung. Which is why when I heard that a female Stanford engineering graduate started a toy company with the mission to encourage girls to consider engineering and other math related careers, I got very excited. Read my interview at toyportfolio.com with Debra Sterling of GoldieBlox.