Remember Dream Date?

Do remember those commercials for the game Dream Date?  I remember thinking when I got older I could play Dream Date…somehow when I was old enough I was so firmly planted in the battle for equal rights- that this game never made my holiday wish list. So I laughed a bit when I just got a press release for the new Fundex game Electronic Dream Phone.

From the release:

The fun begins with the ring of the phone as girls make calls to a dream team of 24 teen boys, hoping to find their secret admirer through a process of elimination. Using the hand-held phone, a girl will choose a boy’s picture card from her hand, and call his number. The selected boy, a friend of the “secret admirer”, will drop hints about where the girl’s admirer does NOT hang out, what he does NOT like to eat, and even what he would NOT be wearing. Players must pick up clues from the boys and search the game board to find out who the secret admirer is NOT in order to ultimately determine who he actually IS! When a girl thinks she has found the “dream guy,” she calls him up. If he says, “You’re right!” the player has found her true crush – at least until the start of a new game. The game changes each time it is played, with new clues and a different admirer to identify.

The Dream Phone is being sold exclusively at all Justice Stores (formerly Limited, too!) nationwide for the holidays! http://www.shopjustice.com/girls-clothing/fun-games/toys-games $29.90 Retail

How dreamy….

Top high tech toys 2009

V Tech's Kidizoom Digital Camera Plus

Here are our some of favorites of the season– click on the name of the product to read our complete review at www.toyportfolio.com

For younger children:

LeapFrog Counting Candles (LeapFrog)

Two great cameras for 3s and up to enjoy:

Kidizoom Digital Camera Plus (V-Tech)

Disney Pix Jr Digital Camera (Disney)

If you have a child totally into cars, you need to look at:

Doodle-Track Cars (Day Dream Toys)

For kids  8 & up:

MindFlex Game (Mattel)

Nanos (Hexbug)

Eye Clops Night Vision Binoculars (Jakks Pacific)

For really advanced builders:

Mindstorm (Lego)

Best Wishes to Byrant Gumbel

I was so sadden today when I heard the news that Bryant is being treated for lung cancer.  When I started doing segments at the Today Show Bryant was the co-host.  While he had a reputation for being tough, Bryant was nothing but warm and encouraging.  I often did segments with him about children’s books–and he was always so amazingly well-prepared.  If I dropped a message point that I had put in the notes for the segment, Bryant was always there to provide it.  I remember one of the first segments I did included an Eyewitness book about the history of Greece.  The lay out of the book was like a newspaper–he said something about “at least they had newspapers–I suppose there’s no videotape”…he was teasing me…but I was so  nervous, I didn’t get it until I was onto the next book.

He is such a wonderful interviewer–he knows how to allow his guests to share their information without taking over.   Our segments  felt like conversations.  I know it sounds silly, but after a segment when Bryant would say “nice job Steph” — it made my day!  I wish him well as he goes through his treatments.

PETA weighs in on the Best & Worst Toys

We look at toys all year long…we’re always writing about  new trends and new ways of sorting the toys (gender-free, green, multi-cultural, price, high-tech, etc. ). When we first started  toyportfolio.com  we had a Top Ten Worst Toy List — a list that probably didn’t make us too many friends in  toyland…but was a favorite with feature reporters. Our worst list came to mind when we received word of the  new PETA list – naming Naughty and Nice Toys for 2009– yet another perspective on toyland.  Take a look at their list.

I wonder whether the organization is in favor of all the fake animals…zhu zhu hamsters, furreal pets, etc?

Buying a Dollhouse: What you need to know

Read Joanne’s article on buying dollhouses–front page of our site today….www.toyportfolio.com.

CPSC begins probe: Are Zhu Zhu Hamsters Safe?

After the consumer group, Good Guide, raised issues about their finding on the level of antimony in the Zhu Zhu hamsters, the government agency is beginning a probe on the issue. Cepia LLC, the manufacturer of the Zhu Zhu Hamsters, is standing by the safety of their toys.   Read the story from Reuters.

If you can't find Zhu Zhu Hamsters…Don't Panic

Alternatives to Zhu Zhu Hamsters

Zhu Zhu Hamsters are getting all the media coverage (yes, I participated in some of it), but they are certainly not the only really special novelty toys of the season.  Here’s a list of other toys that may just do the trick!

Other cute animals that have a little extra something.

Yakety Yaks (Mary Meyer)  Each of these animals make a noise.  There is a pig, a monkey, an owl, a lamb, a bear and dogs.  They don’t run around like Zhu Zhus but they are pretty cute on their own. Read our review.

Kota & Pals Stompers (Hasbro) –   These little dinos are seriously fun–they not only roar they walk.  Read our Review. Watch our video.

FurReal Friends Newborn Puppy (Hasbro)- This a very sweet little puppy that wags his tail and makes little barking sounds. This is one of many in this line–there are dogs, cats, a panda, a bear.  We like the dogs the best. (In interest of full disclosure -we’re not big cat people.) We also have not received safety verification forms on these little guys–so there is no official review on our site.

Two other really cool novelty toys that should not be missed:

Hexbug Nanos (Innovation First) -Each of these small robotic bugs come in a test-tube like container.  We see that the price has come down since we first reviewed them–they are now $7.99.  Turn them on and they really are like little bugs!  They come in lots of colors and are fun to pull out of a pocket or bagpack.  Read our full review.
Watch our videos:

Zhu Zhu Hamster play with Hexbug NANOS

Mr. Robot Dances with Hexbug NANOS

Doodle Car (Day Dream Toys)- We love these super cool cars that follow lines you draw with a washable marker.  Pretty cool. Company also has seasonal downloads of roadways you can print and use with their cars. Read our full review Watch our video.

Zhu Zhu Hamsters: Group Questions their Safety

The consumer group Good Guide has raised issues about the safety of the Zhu Zhu Hamsters.   To read more about our take on them, read our article Zhu Zhu Hamster Pets: What You Need to Know about the Hot Little Critters.   We have not received a signed  safety verification form from Cepia LLC for the Zhu Zhu Hamsters.  (Hence we can not consider them for an award from our Unlike Good Guide we do not do independent testing–we do require companies to sign a safety verification form. However we do not look at the wide range of chemicals/minerals/toxins that Good Guide indicates it looks at on their site.