How pink can you go?

Anyone who grew up with me knows that I wasn’t a huge pink person. After two boys, my mother was really ready to cover me in pink. The more lace and ruffles the better. I was a complete disappointment in this department. I have always preferred more tailored things. There was also my “it has to come from the army/navy store” or I won’t wear it phase. Smith carpenter pants, work boots, flannel shirts– just what everyone always dreams of for their daughter! It wasn’t until I had my own two boys that I realize my mother’s longing for pink was not such a terrible thing. I have since apologized (many times). I also do gravitate to pink things a lot more. So I know I approach the issue of “pink” with a lot of baggage. But this week, we just received Scholastic’s new book “My Big Pink Book of Everything.” The subtitle is, can you guess….”An early-learning book full of delightfully pink things.” The cover is complete with a pink feathered crown, feathered slippers and other pink and purple accessories, food (that would be candy and a cupcake). I know a lot of little girls would enjoy pouring over the pages. The book looks a lot like a DK book with lots of colorful pages done with photographs of familiar objects. I’m trying to stretch myself to enjoy the pages of hair accessories, makers, key chains, etc. I was doing pretty well until I got to the double page spread entitled “My busy day”. This page includes the following: sweeping, cooking breakfast, washing, pushing a carriage, making cake and planting a flower. What decade is this book from? This is an early-learning book to what? Would the same early-learning book for boys have the same “busy day”? We all know the answer.

Planning a Pirate Party?

Just in, and really cute– Pin the Parrot on the Pirate game from eeBoo.  If you’re planning a pirate filled birthday bash-this variation on Pin the Tail on the Donkey will be a great party game. Comes complete with a green bandanna — the goal here is to take one of the “parrot” stickers and land him on the Pirate’s shoulder.

A box of rocks, really

It was close enough to April 1st when I opened this box– so I figured maybe it was an April Fool’s Joke.  Maybe it was for a movie promotion. But no, it really is a box (or really a canister) of rocks.  The product name is Stonees from a company named Zabazoo.  It comes with 50 Canadian rocks (smaller than a walnut in squarish and triangularish shapes) that have been painted. I’m all for open-ended play–but this really seems to push the envelope.  Are they green because they’re rocks? Does the paint negate their greenishness? Pet Rocks revisited?  Thoughts? Comments?

Pink LEGO kits, oh my…

LEGO kits were one of the few toys I really did play with as a kid. My mother will tell you that I spent most of my time figuring out new ways to put them away…a little puzzle unto itself. Not as creative an exercise as one would hope for–but still, it was challenging. And perhaps because I had older brothers there was nothing unusual about the fact that I played with LEGOs. When I look back on it, I realize that most of my other friends who were girls did not do a lot of construction sets.

So when we started the toyportfolio I was particularly looking forward to trying out my LEGO skills once again. I have to tell you, it’s still a lot of fun. I’m not sure how I feel about the new pre-sorted bags that make the “oh man, where is that one little piece” search a thing of the past.

The first batch of new LEGO kits just arrived. A happy day around here – vehicles, city stations and Duplo sets for beginners.

But there is also a new tub of PINK LEGO bricks…oh my. The label on the front has two seemingly female figures (they have long “blockish” hair), a pink vehicle, and a small structure with a white picket fence. There are also instructions for making a horse (of course).

In the early 90s, pink building blocks were a big thing (not at LEGO) but at their competitors at the time. I found the themes most upsetting (a stable, a house and a mall). Why were girls not being inspired to build skyscrapers, arenas? The whole gender agenda lead to our Gender Free toy list that we put together every year.

While the prospect of pink bricks doesn’t thrill me (although I do have to admit, they are very appealing for their eye-catching uniqueness)–there is also something to be said for the research that indicates that kids benefit from playing with construction toys. Having hands on experiences with spatial relationships helps kids excel in math. Don’t we also want that for our daughters? So, I suppose — if this is the only way we can get girls to build, it has its value. I just believe that the themes need not be so limited to the spheres of home, stables, and shopping. In fact, just a tub of colorful LEGO bricks that also includes the two shades of pink here–would be fun for anyone to play with.

I’ll be interested to see how parents and kids respond when we have them tested.

So cool: WowWee's new FlyTech Butterfly

flytech-butterfly-pink.jpgI’m always on the look out for toys that fly–that don’t hurt. As a professional toy tester, I do feel a responsibility to stick my fingers near the propellers (as I think most 8 year olds would) to see if it hurts. Most really do! For the past few years I’ve been a huge fan of the Kid Galaxy planes–they work, easy to launch and very satisfying. I still like those a lot. This week we received Wow Wee’s new Fly Tech Butterfly ($24.99). While I’m not big on gender specific toys, this pink and purple butterfly really works. Much like the Kid Galaxy launcher, you hold down the button until the wings really start to flutter–aim and there it goes! It’s really easy to use (the age label is 6 & up). The launcher takes 3 AAA batteries.

Interestingly all the boys loved playing with it but said they wouldn’t because it was sooo pink.  There is also a yellow and orange butterfly (is that less gender specific or is it the butterfly itself that makes it gender specific?) We didn’t have one the day we tested this product with kids.  I wonder if a blue butterfly would have sparked the same reaction from our boy testers. Would girls play with a blue butterfly? This would make an interesting research project.

In either case, the company also makes a mosquito! My suggestion, have a fly off–which flies further.

Going Green in Toyland: Barbie BCause

barbie-bcause-tote.jpgFirst of all, doesn’t it just sound better that it’s April? The weather has been so rough in much of the country, the promise of spring seems more welcomed than ever.

With Earth Day just around the corner (April 22nd), the roll out of green products has begun. I love that Barbie has gotten into the Green groove. You can buy a Barbie that wears a t-shirt that says “Think Pink, Live Green” (a child size version of the shirt also exists).  Also new is an attractive line of Barbie BCause accessories that are made of  re-purposed Barbie clothing scraps. The accessories include notebooks, bags, diaries, etc. They look a lot like Coach in styling. A really nice concept.