Really? Words that rhyme with snot

I have to say that usually I am a huge fan of Harriet Ziefert’s work….which is why I was surprised by the content of one of her new books, Crab Cab (the latest in a series of flip books).  This vivid pop art book  works on words that rhyme.  The  first page shows a girl with two smaller characters — they all have blue snot running out of their noses…”snot” is tied to “tot”…ok…so keep going and then you’ll find an image of a “hot pot” paired with “snot pot” that depicts a witch dripping snot into her pot.  I agree with School Library Journal’s comment that “Children will be instantly attracted to the bold, colorful pictures in these books”..but do you really need a picture book that focuses on snot?

Top Trends from ToyFair 2009: Jakks Pacific Star Wars 3D Kites

I have to confess–we’re huge Star Wars fans here so we were really psyched to see Jakks Pacific’s new line of 3D kites that feature Luke’s X-Wing, Darth Vader’s Tie Fighter and Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon.  So cool!  We can’t wait to test them–each include a 15′ tail.   Suggested retail wil be $24.00.  And if you can think warm weather (the temp is dropping rapidly here in nyc)…there also promises to be Star Wars inflatables for the pool. If you’re a SW fan, these will have great appeal ($39.99).  Jakks Pacific also has a new line of collectable marbles (they’re making a come back…apparently)…they look neat. They come with little stands–at $3.99 each, not sure how these will appeal to parents.  They may find a great audience in the SW’s collectors – of course they’ll never never take them out their packaging.

Sarah Palin's Favorite Toy….

big-buck-hunter1Would probably be Jakks Pacific upcoming home edition of  Big Buck Hunter.  Just like the arcade game, you’re good to go shooting Bambi from the comfort of your sofa with your toy rifle…maybe Governor Palin would like to invite New York’s Junior Senator Kirsten Gillibrand over as well.

Top Trends from Toyland 2009: Walk like an Egyptian….

4240As we walk the aisles at Javits, we quickly discovered a new trend in toyland.  All things Egyptian are big again.  Most looked really promising.  The highlight for us was the new Playmobil Egyptian themed playset complete with a Pyramid (that opens up with lots of hidden compartments inside), a Sphinx, a Royal Ship and other really wonderfully executed accessory sets.  They’ll be available for the holidays. We also saw Hieroglypics Blocks from Uncle Goose that looked right on target for kids interested in all things Egyptian. e28pic21We look forward to testing both.

Good news from Toy Fair!

I just finished covering Toy Fair 2009…and there’s lots of good news that I’ll be writing about for the next few weeks as previews of products we look forward to testing.  Maybe because we went with such low expectations…but we found lots of creative and innovative new products that are in the works for the new year.  While it’s always interesting to see what actually makes it to the toy shelves–at least we can report that there are really good choices. So as I’m now surrounded by a pile of thumbdrives…I will start making our list of the toys we’re eager to see and those that are so silly we have to share them with you!

Trends from Toy Fair 2009: Confessions of a Toy Reviewer…

We just got back from Hasbro’s showroom and their roll out for 2009.  Their old showroom space (the one you see in the movie BIG…is now a Home Depot).   They rented space this year in the Times Center.

The space was big but still it’s just not the same experience.  Toy Fair used to be heavy on the glitz. Each big new toy would have actors that would act out a scene related to the product.  The Barbie show room had life size women dressed up as all the new Barbies of the season (really).  The reveal would come on a moving stage and there would be smoke and a tremendous amount of pink…pink lighting, pink carpet, pink costumes, pink jewels!   And for years the actor who looked like Robin Williams was a staple of our toy fair experience.  I wonder where he went?

There would also be collectibles for the press of special toy fair editions of Matchbox cars,  Star Wars…you name it. And the press kits used to be heavy and given in big totes with the brand names boldly printed.  Today we got a thumb drive in a little plastic envelope. That’s it. No toys, no samples, no chocolate even…just a thumb drive. Makes sense…but it’s still a little sad.

So we start the process and as always I’ll be updating you on all the new products that will compete for those scarce toy dollars this year—I just needed to share how things have changed.

Pick of the Day: Sandra Boynton's Blue Moo

bluemooSo good!  By now most of you know that I really dread the days we review children’s audio.  So much of it is painfully preachy–or about bodily functions.  I get the importance of potty training…really I do, but how many songs, if any, need to focus on it?  This is why I’m delighted to share this wonderful collection from Sandra Boynton and her partner Michael Ford.  (I also apologize to my niece Ali–who had told me I really needed to listen to this weeks ago!) Here’s our full review:

I just want to give Sandra Boynton and Michael Ford a huge hug for coming through with a wonderful collection of witty music that is performed by a really interesting mix of performers including John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting, Patti LuPone, Neil Sedaka, B.B. King and Davy Jones of Monkey fame. Highlights include Davy Jones singing “My Personal Penguin”…it’s just so nice to hear his voice again and sing a song that’s fun…and Patti LuPone singing the Rabbit Tango as only she could! The collection is right on target for kids without being about going to the potty or about your three year old’s responsibility to the global community. It’s happily and beautifully smart, intelligent and entertaining.

We’ve added Blue Moo to our Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Audio List.

Pre-Toy Fair Buzz: Little Kids Nascar Bubble Racers

littlekids_nascarbubbleracerdale Start your engines!  Little Kids, the maker of all things bubbles, is introducing new battery operated Nascar Bubble Racers.  The concept seems right on target for fans of all things Nascar…and then there’s the added bonus of bubbles… They also are introducing No-Spill Bubble Blitzers…for some reason I just love saying Bubble Blitzers…say it a few times and you’ll see what I mean.  These are promised to come with “Bubble Booster Technology”…so that there is a continuous feed of bubble solution to the wand.  There are purists that believe that the point of bubbles is to actually make the bubble happen the old fashion way—I take a more moderate position, knowing that sometimes it’s just so much fun to make a ton of bubbles all at once.  littlekids_bubbleblitzer

Inventive Teen: Maddie Bradshaw


While I know a lot of grown ups looking to re-invent themselves, I was  struck by 13 year old Maddie Bradshaw, the founder of Snap Caps.  Now a million dollar plus business, these cheerfully decorated bottle caps are sold in 400 stores…with 40,000 necklaces sold each week…pretty impressive at any age.

So we asked Maddie a few questions…..

What gave you the idea to make Snap Caps?

I wanted magnets for my locker.  I used my Uncle Sam’s bottle caps from his coke machine to create my designs.  After I gave them out to friends, I decided to figure out a way to wear them.

Have you always wanted to be in the toy business?

I have wanted to own a business since the 2nd grade.   Some of my first sales were in local toy stores.  I love Learning Express.

Who inspires you the most?

Albert Einstein

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Immigration lawyer or a patent attorney.


Pre-Toy Fair Buzz: Little Tikes Bumble Bee Buggy

little-tikes_bumble-bee-buggyThis cheerful looking Bumble Bee looks promising to us and at a suggested retail of $39.99 it’s a well-priced active toy for older toddlers and preschoolers.  One of our pet peeves at the moment is that most ride on/ride ins don’t really steer.  Kids have to literally pick up their ride on and change directions.  With four caster wheels, this one should respond well.  Stay tuned….