Toy Fair 2010: Crayola's new Spira-Chalk Blaster

Crayola Spira Chalk Blaster

Check out our video of Crayola’s new spinning chalk top…looks like fun and even more fun  to say if you pretend you are Tina Turner in Mad Max…Spira-Chalk Blaster!!!   Click here to watch our video.  Our review will be posted on our website, www.toyportfolio.com.  If you’re not in cold weather like we are here in New York City–and looking for a fun chalk set, we’d recommend their current 3D Chalk Sets.  With all of the cold weather we’ve had recently, the thought of being in a warm enough climate for chalk…sounds really good!

Thanks to Susan and Stacy for demonstrating the spinning top!

Toy Fair 2010: Crayola = Fun

Crayola's Model Magic!

Based on our visit at Crayola, there’s a lot of promisingly fun  products rolling out this year. Happily these toys will start arriving soon. For reviews, check our website www.toyportfolio.com.

Chalk News. You know I’m all a huge fan of their chalk. This year there are new super sets of 3D Chalk (one features Toy Story). I love this stuff. But what’s really new is a chalk making set.  Looks like our kind of craft kit- we’ll have to see how it works.  They also have a spiral top for chalk. My brothers will tell you, I really stink at the spining top thing but even I think I can make this one work. Watch the next post for a demo of the spiral chalk top.New Chalk Sets from Crayola

Model Magic. How cute is this new set where you can make little pieces to add to forms.

New Model Magic Sets

Also big, things that Glow in the Dark. During our visit to their showroom, the lights were being turned off repeatedly to show off more glow-in-the-dark sets.  I have a sense some will be more successful than others -but we’ll put them all to the test as they come out.  We gave their Glow Station an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.

Glow Station...larger glow-in-dark toy!

New Crafts for Tweens. They have a new line called Pop Art Pixies,  featuring  four tweens (that look like they’re related to the Fashion Angels) – each has a theme.  One likes to recycle, one likes to decorate…you get the idea. Some of the kits looked like they would be great fun for 9-12 year old crafters. Stay tuned. I particularly liked the look of the recycle kits – and will be interested to see how our testers react.

Tween Craft Sets

Amazing On-line Program. You send in a picture of your child, they create a cartoon image based on that photo, you then customize your own coloring book adventure featuring your now “cartoon” child.  LOVE this.  You get the code for this site when you buy a certain size box of crayons (hey, who doesn’t need a new box of Crayola?).  This new platform will launch officially in the fall–but we’re working out details for making it available to our readers soon.


Done!

We’ve completed another toy fair season!  I do have to say that the toy industry has become a much greener place. In the old days, we would have had suitcases full of press kits and binders. Now we have a few bags (made of recycled material I might add)  mostly filled with flash drives.  Now that I have my iphone as my trusty notebook of what we see, I’m fine with the lack of paper images.

While this is not the most innovative year in toyland..and there is a definite lack of technology…there will be  many new wonderful products to write about for 2010.  We will start posting reviews on our site, www.toyportfolio.com, as the products start rolling in.

Wackiest Toy of the Day: SplatBack!

splatback!

Just as I was leaving Javits today, there was a crowd at one booth.  I was really ready to go and had very little battery left in my iphone, but I had to know what the buzz was all about.

Here’s what I found…people throwing down splat balls that would completely flatten and then over the course of a few seconds reform into their original shape.  I’ve never seen them before. I just visited their website www.splatback. com and apparently they sell these toys in vending machines–so maybe you’ve all seen them already–but in any case, they were pretty cool. There is a woman in the video asking about safety-and she is assured by the vendor that they meet all safety requirements.  Note, we haven’t tested these yet or gone through our safety verification process, but I think they’re pretty neat.  Watch the video, it’s really short..but you’ll get the idea.

Trying to remember which Star Trek series had a shape shifter…

Toy Fair 2010 Preview: Playmobil – get ready to build!

Playmobil's Dragon

We stopped by Playmobil today and visited with  Michelle Winfrey.  Last year you’ll remember we gave the Playmobil Egyptian setting our Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.  Each year we wonder what will be the big new theme. This year, there were several new sets that I think will be a hit with our testers.  The two biggest sets are the Dragons - complete with Castles that can connect by a bridge. It made me think of that portion of the original Shrek movie.  (Of course here the dragons are not  trying to court Eddie Murphy, but hey it’s pretend so I guess anything’s possible!). You can take a closer look by watching our video with Michelle.

Playmobil's Fire Fighter Sets

The next set that really caught our attention was the Fire Fighters. What we love about Playmobil is the attention to detail in planning a series. As you’ll notice in our video of the Fire Fighters series, there’s not only a really cool looking fire station (complete with pole), there are two different fire trucks, a fire chief’s truck and a fire boat.

Face of the Day: From Steiff

A bear to love from Steiff

Needed to share this face with you right away! So cute and amazingly soft. More to follow on this  classic handmade line of huggables from Steiff.

Mattel CEO Bob Eckert picks his favorite toy

Mattel CEO Bob Eckert

I thought this was an interesting press event. The CEO of Mattel, Bob Eckert,  would announce his favorite pick of the newly rolled out toys at Toy Fair.  Seemed almost like being asked to pick a favorite child.  How do you decide such a thing? A gut instinct? A favorite brand team? The size of the marketing budget?

I gave this some thought after we were told of the event yesterday (it happened today). Mind you, we don’t have any budgets on the line when we pick our top winners of the year. Yet both Joanne and I have personal favorites – we quietly root for them as we send them off to our family testers.  Even though we don’t make or sell any of the toys we review, we do get very attached.  Each year we have a few that truly stand out, but one?  Almost impossible.

So what did I think Mr. Eckert would select? My money would have been on the harmonizing Singamajigs, the Dancing Mickey Mouse or the big Ape that flips –both had the most “sizzle” in the showroom.  (Mickey also has Donny Osmond associated with him.)  Or maybe the Barbie that is a video camera – she wins for having the most creatively placed use of technology in toyland (the camera is in her chest).

I was wrong. Mr. Eckert’s personal favorite is their new preschool electronic toy called iXL.  The hand-held toy promises to have six-in-one smart devices designed to both be educational and entertaining (including a Story Book, Game Player, Note book, Art Studio, Music Player and Photo Album). It will retail for $79.99/ licensed software sold separately for $24.99.

We’ll be interested to see how our testers react to the iXL.  It will be available in July.  The thing with these types of toys -  it’s hard to tell from the prototypes how they’re going to work in the hands of kids.  Will the screen be engaging enough? Will the games be age appropriate? Can kids manipulate the toy independently and happily? If you give your child this $79 toy, will they leave your iPhone alone? These are the types of things we’ll look at when reviewing the  iXL.

Not to be cynical as to the driving force of his pick,  but Mr. Eckert did mention in his release that  “[they] have invested more research and development dollars into iXL than any other product in our 2010 Fisher-Price product line and it definitely shows.”

Stay tuned.

Toy Fair 2010: Star Wars LEGO: So good!

Star Wars LEGO: Hans Solo being placed in carbonite

If you are a big Star Wars LEGO fan, you’ll be really excited to see the new sets scheduled for 2010.  We asked LEGO’s Julie Stern to take us through the new sets so that you could take a look.   Watch the video.  You’ll hear both my mother Joanne and brother James (noted Tech expert and founder of jamesgames.com) on this video. We’re a noisy bunch.

Oh no! Hans! We'll save you!

On this  second video you can see James’ reenactment of Hans Solo being taken away after being frozen in carbonite.    It’s this attention to detail that we really appreciate.  If you watch this video, you will have a glimpse into my childhood!  You can also hear my mother in the background laughing.