Really?…a Text Messaging Game

I’m happy that my 21 year old intern started laughing when she saw this game. It’s called LOL: The TEXT MSG GAME!  The game says its for kids 8 & up.  The game play is basically Scrabble–but instead of making real words, you make TEXT words/phrases.  I love that when I talk to most people of a certain age and they use text abbreviations, they say the whole expression out loud.  Thoughts?  We will try it with some hard core texters–but as a people, is this the word play we want to encourage?  At the moment, it certainly would be a generational slap down.

Pick of the Day: Gender Free Stroller from Corolle

It’s hard to find a non-pink stroller which is why we were really delighted when this green/blue  umbrella strollers arrived from Corolle. There is also a pink/red version that’s cute–but in terms of newsworthy–this  combo is a great option. If we want our sons to grow up being involved dads–role playing with dolls is equally important to them as it is for little girls. The mechanism for opening the stroller is not something your kids will do–but this lightweight stroller is just right for strolls outside.

I think I’ve written about this before — or maybe I just still feel so guilty about it–but I broke my first doll stroller by take a little ride in it myself.  The salesman at Alexanders kept telling my Mom that it was clear that I sat in it. I stood there silently as my mother defended my honor. I was three.   Ok–I’m prepared to finally let this go. It’s been a while.

Pick of the Day: Crayola's Crayon Maker

It’s back!  Last month I showed everyone had to make Crayon Muffins on the Today Show from old crayons…one of my favorite activities that I used to do with my mother as a kid.  Those are still fun to do–but it does involve an oven and you do have to be really careful about the hot tins, melting crayons, etc.

We were happy to see at Toy Fair that Crayola was bringing back their Crayon Maker (a former Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award winner)…this time with a huge improvement in design…you can see the crayons melting in the chamber (the old design had a solid piece of plastic).  The heating element is a 60W bulb (the tapered kind). I sort of wish the bulb was included–since not everyone has one of those bulbs hanging around the house but I can imagine the shipping issues would be too complicated.  There is a warning on the box that the bulb is not included…a plus. I really  have a problem with the small print warnings on some products- you get the product home, everyone is psyched and then you find you don’t have an essential element.

Just like the original — you load up your old crayons into the chamber–it heats up and voila you get new crayons! The chamber does not open until the tray has cooled–a very important safety feature.

There’s something so happy and life affirming to have new crayons…the possibilities of what you might do with them  always struck me (and sometimes meant I was staring at a blank piece of paper).  I also realize that I still feel  happy when I open a new box of crayons (the smell especially)…does that mean I’m forever 8?

Toys R Us acquires FAO

I loved visiting FAO as a kid and watching my brothers work all the latest new car sets, robots, romote control toys that were out on display.  My brothers loved the interactive aspect of the store.  I was always so overwhelmed by the space and noise–that watching them always seemed like the best course of action.  My mother would take me to look at all the dolls–really just too many to make a decision.

"The magic wand doesn't turn anything into anything else…"

The best part of my job is that sometimes people say things like this to me…with all seriousness.  This morning we are looking at the new Wave & Learn Magic Spelling Wand from Learning Curve. Once my intern got over the disappointment of the lack of actual magic….we looked at the purpose of the toy.  It’s meant to teach kids the sounds that letters make and teach them how to make three to five letter words.  We seem to be having battery issues…stay tuned.

Pure silliness!: Klutz's Invasion of the Bristlebots

This time of the year with all of the toys pouring in for review, it takes a really unique product to make me laugh out loud!  I just took a look at Klut’z new toy/book – Invasion of the Bristlebots.  Imagine an oversized head of a tooth brush–attach a motor– and then imagine that someone thought of lots of silly things you could do with two of these little creations.  You can paint, you can add cut outs, you can race…you get the idea.  We have not gotten a safety certificate yet on the toy portion of this toy…but I wanted to share.

Pick of the Day: Scratch Art's Wacky Scratch Deluxe Activity Kit

SCR3424 We’ve always been big fans of Scratch Magic from Scratch Art Co. – it’s a fun craft activity that’s easy to explore and works for a range of ages.  You start off with a black sheet and with the enclosed wooden stylus–you scratch off the black to reveal the print or colors hidden beneath the blank overlay.  You can draw your own design or use the enclosed stencils.  This deluxe set, Wacky Scratch Deluxe Kit $15.99,  comes with sixteen drawing boards (trust me you will want to try this yourself), stencils and three frames for displaying your work.  They also make travel sized sets—  useful and easy to take along when you need your kids to be entertained, sitting down and quiet (at least for a little bit!). You can also buy this bigger kit and break it up into small sets to dole out as you go.  Also a good to choice to have in your office for when your kids drop by and you have some work to do.

Playmobil Underwater Adventure a Huge Hit

“Wow” was how the review started from one of our testing families.  Our tester parent sent us the following review after watching her kids enjoy this setting : “The complete set with the large boat, submarine, small  boat, diving cage, deep sea diving bell. etc. etc is just incredible.   Each set individually or all of them together provide innumerable  opportunities for pretend play.  The figurines and all of the  accessories provide EVERYTHING a child needs to act out nautical  stories.  I am amazed by the level of detail in each set.”

This set is right for the bathtub…this family also plays with it on “land”…

If you have a child that likes to pretend with miniature settings…this is one to consider!

Step 2's Water Quarry

I grew up playing in a sandbox–it was right next to the hose which meant that floods were a great part of the fun. My two older brothers  always seemed to tell the best stories–that required swift action that often resulted in mud!  My mother’s only complaint about our adventures was that a good number of her good spoons ended up in the mix.

So when we both saw Step 2 ‘s new Water Quarry – that included vehicles, water and sand…we were very excited. (Of course there is a self-aware moment that most people probably don’t get as excited as we do when we see a new toy–but that’s part of the job description.)

One of our testers is here with the toy set up–but not yet in use.

simonquarry

You can see that there are lots of play possibilities here–the roadway, the ramps, the digger…all seem good.  Both families that took a whirl with this toy had almost the same reaction.  It’s wonderfully messy and right on target in terms of play for the 2-4 year old crowd.  If you don’t like mess-this toy is not for you. (No judgement here…but if you’re not happy with a lot of water, mud, etc….you know certain toys are not going to be a good choice to bring home.)

Both families wanted this toy to work–the kids initially loved the concept and enjoyed exploring both portions of the toy. They liked pouring water down the ramps. One parent also commented that she liked that the red piece fits like a lid so you could close up the toy from the elements.

However….they both reported the same problems with the design…the green roadways do not stay flush with the red road–so the cars get stuck at each point. The bigger ramp also fell off from time to time.They also wish the lower section was higher up so the kids could get to the sand without kneeling…(I would have just sat in the container).

At $99, both families felt that while this was fun–it needed some tweaking before they would recommend it to others. We agree–the concept is fresh, fun and right on target for the age group…we hope the company will address these design issues for their next sand toy!