My favorite toy…so far/ sing-a-majigs

Fisher-Price's Sing-a-majigs!

We saw the Sing-a-majigs at toy fair preview last month and we weren’t allowed to talk about them. It’s like being told what your best friend is getting for their birthday — and not being able to tell for weeks.  So we were really excited today to see them again.

I thought maybe we had romanticized them…yes, at this point you can say–it’s a toy, get over it. But hey, this is what we do for a living. So when a really fun and innovative toy comes along–we get excited.

I’m happy to report that these cute little dolls (that will retail for a reasonable $12.99 each) are just about the best thing going. They babble to each other, they sing together and perhaps most remarkably they harmonize!  AND they’re easy to make work.

Watch the video.

Barbie and Nicole Kidman

All 126 of Barbie Professions!

I really love that the big push for Barbie this year has been her professions over the years. Yes, I think they could have used the word pediatrician instead of kid doctor and veterinarian instead of pet doctor…but in general we’ve always been big fans of Barbie when she’s not just stylish but using her brains!

So this year Barbie had a contest- for fans to pick her 125th profession. The winner:

Anchorwoman Barbie.  Love it.  I just thought it was funny that they put her in a similar pink (Chanel inspired) jacket as Nicole Kidman’s character in Time to Kill-where she aspires to be a tv anchorwoman. Both are sporting bangs.  Take a look.

There was apparently a HUGE push on-line to make the profession Computer Engineer…so being the smart marketers that they are…the 126th profession (coming out this year as well) is Computer Engineer Barbie.  Love her glasses!

Computer Engineer Barbie

Toy Fair Previews: Operation

Remember the old middle aged man from Operation. The big red nose. Kind of strange if you think about it too long. In any case, this year’s versions…Shrek and Ironman.  Apparently if you have a multi-million dollar movie coming out you can get your own version of Operation.  Sorry…no Brad or Angelina versions.

Toy Fair Previews: Hasbro's Talking Chuck Truck

Last year we had two talking trucks, Chuck and Matchbox Rocky. Take a look at this updated version of Chuck–he’s bigger and has more tricks. Look forward to trying this one with our testers.  Watch our video.

Trivial Pursuit goes Vegas

Trivial Pursuit Goes Vegas

To appeal to a poker obsessed nation, Trivial Pursuit will have a  gambling/betting component for 2010.  You can bet on whether someone will know the answer.  Seems like an unnecessary complication–but may really make this classic more appealing to some.

toyportfolio: Toy Trends 2010

With the pre-toy fair events behind us, we start the hunt for the best toys of 2010 tomorrow in earnest. Thousands of exhibitors, both large and small, present their new toys at the International Toy Fair in NYC. When I started covering toy fair, the big guys were all at the Toy Building at 23rd Street and Broadway.  We would try to schedule our appointments so that we could walk our way down the building. The elevators – always a scary event were full of buyers, toy makers and reps…and when I first started, they all seemed to smoke. It was really gross.  Of course, this was also the era of showbiz at toy fair. There were life size women that became Malibu Barbie…complete with pink shag rugs, moving stages and spotlights. If Hasbro was introducing a new pirates toy, you could count on  pirates carrying on a sword fight in the showroom.  There was plenty of sizzle!  Now it’s just a trade show–all of the actors are gone. The toy building is being converted into condos. Even Matchbox has stopped giving out special toy fair editions (very sad). In any case…here’s what we see as the emerging trends.

Retro is In

Strawberry Shortcake, Alfie, Monopoly, Life, Twister–are all major players at toy fair this season. Monopoly now comes with a board you build yourself or here’s  a break through, a round play board (see below) as part of Monopoly Revolution. Pretty revolutionary–it takes two million dollars to pass go!  The new versions of Twister no longer have that wonderfully smelly plastic mat.  Many of these versions look like fun.  And let’s face it with the Twister brand, you’re probably more likely to try it than if it had a whole new name!

Life Celebrates its 50th Anniversary!

Monopoly Revolution

Licenses Prevail

If there’s a successful franchise, you’ll see it everywhere. Ironman is back  full force and Star Wars has captured the hearts of a whole new generation thanks to the Clone Wars. But we wonder whether Weebles really needed to incorporate the Hulk and Spiderman?

Weebles now with the Hulk and Spiderman

Battle of the Battling

There will be a battle for your child’s battle dollars between Spinmaster’s Bakugan and Hasbro’s Beyblade. This will be determined by the nearest 8 and 9 year old near you!

Hasbro's Beyblade

Zhu Zhu Pets are Challenged- Last year’s run away hit is being challenged by Hasbro who wants part of that rodent action and is introducing a competing line of motion activated pets called Furry Frenzies.

Furry Frenzy to Compete with Zhu Zhu Pets

Sushi and Microwavable Easy Bake food

Food is big in toyland. Last year we got at least a dozen different food related kits including a motion activated birthday cake (Leapfrog). This year the trend continues with Sushi Ottomans ( and perhaps one of the biggest sign of the times, Easy Bake Kits for the microwave. It’s as if maybe enough kids mentioned in a focus group that they could make the same food in 2 minutes in their microwave!

Retro Dolls

Barbie is all about looking back at her past careers and Strawberry Shortcake, now 30 is a little big taller!

Barbie Student Teacher 1964

What's It All About Alfie?

If you get the movie reference, then chances are you probably remember the original learning toy, Alfie. For a generation that grew up with the Robot on Lost in Space, it was a pretty cool concept for a  toy. Hasbro is reintroducing Alfie at this year’s International Toy Fair in New York, and his reappearance I’m afraid pretty much sums up the feeling of an industry that faces a shrinking audience, a global recession and, oh yes, and still recovering from a little pr problem over safety issues.

I don’t know why but as soon as I saw Alfie, I kept thinking of the Godfather quote “go to the mattresses”… In addition to Alfie, there were lots of other familiar faces at both Hasbro and Mattel. Strawberry Shortcake, now a sophisticated 30 years old, has been up-sized, and is positioned to appeal to moms who played with the original. Monopoly, Battleship, Twister, Sorry, Life have all been reworked (often cleverly–sometimes tortured) into new variations–once again to appeal to that sentimental place in our toy-buying hearts.

If technology worked last year, chances are you’ll see it again with a slightly new look. Talking trucks, motion-activated rodents, RC cars that flip, virtual pets…they’re all back.

So while this may not be a breakthrough year of innovation (do you blame anyone for not betting the farm this past year on something untried?) — you will find lots of solid choices that may give you a strong sense of deja vu.