SmartLab's new kits

We had high hopes for Smartlab’s Blast-Off Rocket Racer–where you mix baking soda and vinegar to propel your racer. Unfortunately–there really is no good way to bring the two pieces together (the one that stores the baking soda and the vinegar)…without it spilling.  I really like this type of kit where kids have hands on science experiences that are fun–but this one is a bit too hands on. On the other hand we got very strong reviews for their new Custom Motorcycle StudioOur 11 year old tester really stuck with this kit and enjoyed drawing his own customized motorcycle with the help of the small light table that comes with the kit, the acetate overlays and frames (also comes with colored pencils).  Most drawing sets on the market focus on fashion and are targeted to girls–this is a great set for kids that love drawing great detail but need some help getting started.  Our tester was really pleased with what he was able to create.  A good choice to have at the office if you have a child visiting.

My favorite new action figures…Ugly Dolls

img_0369It’s a beautiful Spring day here in NYC–finally!  I’m cheered by the weather but completely bummed out that my mother tripped yesterday. Nothing is broken – also good. So shouts out to her to feel better quickly. Yesterday (before lunch) we had just congratulated ourselves on getting the office cleared from the last massive batch of toys we’ve received this past month.  We are busy notifying award winners for spring..humming along…

So today’s UPS delivery brought many, many new boxes…and the first one I opened contained new Ugly Doll Action Figures from Ugly Dolls.  These little plastic versions of their plush counterparts made me smile instantly….They twist at their middle…I planted mine in my container of grass (no mowing required here.).

Your kids will want them (and truth be told they make great office toy too!). There are 12 action figures in the first collection. The boxes don’t tell you which figure you’re getting -so there is that element of surprise as well (depending on your child this will either be fun or tear producing).

Pick of the Day: Little Tikes Drive, Chip & Putt Golf Trainer

Golf anyone? Little Tikes Drive, Chip & Putt Golf Trainer is the latest in the golf toys for the preschool set.  One of our testers with two kids (2 and 4) reported that both kids enjoyed the toy–obviously the 4 year old had better control of the clubs.  She said that both had fun hitting the ball on the arm–and that the toy was sturdy enough to take all the swinging!  I love that she also used the box as another golf opportunity–by cutting a small hole in the box, the boys then took turns trying to hit the ball in.  Of course anytime you have clubs in the mix, adult supervision is a must if there is more than one child at play.

Need to sit down? Check out the Elia Mini Chair

2chairsAt toy fair this year there was a booth that caught my attention…while most booths are chockful of game/ dolls/toys/electronics/candy…this booth had a chair.  I was at the very end of toy fair–I’m pretty “toyed” out by then, but I stopped.

The cardboard chair from had a very modern appeal.  It comes undecorated (left) with big bold stickers (a la Marimekko)…that also looked like fun (and something a parent wouldn’t mind having around).  Our testers really enjoyed working on the chair….the directions were easy to follow and one of our testers was delighted that the chair is reversible giving her more options about decorating!  She and her mom are thinking about decoupage.  Their site has lots of creative ideas for decorating. The chair holds up to 200 lbs. – impressive.  Michael Gross, the President (and an architect/engineer), also points out that the chair is completely recyclable. Michael’s background is evident in the construction and design of the chair.  We’ve seen many cardboard products in the past – many with extensive pre-printing on them – making them more like 3D coloring books.  What I really liked about this chair besides the design–was the open-endedness of the project.   The chair retails for $34.99.  The site also indicates that a table is in the works.  eliaminichair1

Egg Drop: Add this to the Really? Book list

31z4uxvaal_sl500_aa180_Egg Drop, written and charmingly illustrated by Mini Grey, is about an egg that wants to fly.  He doesn’t listen to all the chicks that advise him to wait. So he travels and ultimately ends up at the top of a tower….and he jumps off…only to discover that he’s not flying but falling.  Splat! He can’t be put back together again…but don’t worry, he doesn’t go to waste–he’s served as a fried egg. Really?

I guess this  speaks to waiting, a tribute to Humpty Dumpty…and I guess not jumping off of towers.


Captain Kirk wouldn't be happy…

41e2pn2jybl_sl500_aa280_I’m sorry to report that the promising new Star Trek Enterprise and Klingon Bird-of-Prey from Tyco RC really don’t fly very well. Since we are such Trekkies around here–we gave these multiple tries to see if by some chance we did something wrong…but they just didn’t work. Our younger testers were also disappointed with the actual  material – on the box it looks like you’re getting a solid plastic model.  The toys are  made of  thin styrofoam  (the kind  they use for toy gliders) and one kit broke when our tween tester inserted the propellers into his model.  The directions were not particularly clear. Very sad–we were really excited about this line–the first to feature a flying Enterprise.

Where the Wild Things Are – Too Scary?

imagesWhen President Obama read the classic Where the Wild Things Are at the Easter Egg Hunt today–he really got into the spirit of the book–and, in fact, several kids according to news reports started crying.

Not that I feel good about kids crying–but it reminded me that when my parents brought this book  home to me, it had to be banished from my bedroom.  It was way too intense for me.

Crayola 3D Chalk…what makes it 3D?

One of our testers who really liked the 3D Chalk kits just raised a great question…is there something in the chalk that makes it 3D or will the 3D glasses make all chalk 3D…we posed this question to the folks at Crayola…

“Yes, the 3D glasses will work with any Crayola chalk and out sidewalk
crayons.  The ones that come with the Crayola 3D Sidewalk Chalk Kit allow for the best results
because we paired warm and cool colors together.”

Al Roker had a fun time with these glasses on our outdoor toy segment last year…click here to watch the segment.