A toy in the age of terrorism

As I’m sitting here listening to the new terror threats, this toy was jogged from my memory. The new Security Scanner with Free Secret Agent Glasses is part of the spy line from Wild Planet. Your kids can practice airport security procedures.  Gone are the days I suppose when airport toys just meant toy airplanes. We haven’t tested this toy–and while the whole concept makes me incredibly sad, for some kids–role playing what happens at the airport may be comforting.  Security Scanner with Free Secret Agent Glasses

The price wars begin in toyland with a less than great deal from TRU

Today Toys R Us announced that it would offer consumers 10% back on purchases.  As with most retail offers, it has a time limit. You have to use AFTER Christmas and BEFORE January 31st.  AND the max rewards is $50.

The time frame seems a lot like ice in January to me…unless of course you’re still in diaper zone and could use the 10% discount for stocking up on diapers.  Thoughts?

Are all licensed toys junk? and the Partridge Family

We don’t think so- yet this is a question we’re asked all the time by reporters.  The truth is many licensed toys are more like merchandise–not meant to have more than a fleeting time in your child’s life.  Having a piece of the hottest movie or tv show can be really satisfying even if the toy itself may not be amazing. (I would have defended my Partridge Family lunchbox and trading cards to the death).

Partridge Family Trading Cards

Partridge Family Lunch Box--I had this one!

That said, to reject all licensed products just because they are “licensed” would mean missing out on a lot of really great toys. Read Joanne’s article that features many of this year’s top picks in this category.

Mattel’s response to Prop 65 postings on Amazon

One of our readers pointed out that there were California Prop 65 warnings on several Mattel track sets on Amazon.  Prop 65 requires companies to provide notice that their product may contain certain chemicals that are known to cause cancer or birth defects.  Two of our current award winners were posted with such a warning. So we asked Mattel for a statement.

From Mattel:

Recently several of our Hot Wheels products: Hot Wheels Color Shifter Blaster, Hot Wheels Color Shifters Stunt Set and the Hot Wheels Tub Racers Playset were incorrectly listed on Amazon.com as requiring a California Proposition 65 warning. These warnings were posted in error and Amazon.com is working to correct this information immediately. Mattel is committed to providing safe, engaging play experiences for kids of all ages.

Thanks to our reader for pointing this out! If you’d like to read more about the history and current requirements of Prop 65, click here.

Pick of the Day: LeapFrog Tag Interactive United States Map

I was an absolute map and globe geek as a kid.  Thanks to my Dad’s love of maps, we each got our own atlas when we reached a certain age (I think I was nine).  As with his atlas, we were encouraged to keep a record of our travels in our atlas.  Yep–we got to add our “lines” as we called them directly onto our maps!  It was very exciting to see new lines on our state, USA, and world maps as I got older. I know that this new interactive map would have been brought home as something to explore together!  Read our complete review!

Pick of the Day: Calico Critters Country Tree House

Calico Critters Hedghogs- Amazing!

Even though I absolutely shunned my own colonial dollhouse (sorry Mom)…I really have always loved the Calico Critters (International Playthings)  and their houses over the years. The collections always feature what look like storybook animal families and miniature settings that fit them.  I am absolutely obsessed with the Hedgehog family (see pic). This year they have a new Country Tree House that has lots of levels and features. Read our complete review.

Calico Critters Country Tree House

Pick of the Day: I Spy Little Wheels and Little Animal Puzzles

Looking for a great way to build your child’s patience and ability to stick with a task?  Puzzles are a wonderful way to connect and talk about problem solving skills.  Give your child some strategies–“can we find all the flats?” “all the pieces that are green?”

The idea is to find puzzles that will build confidence. Save the 1,000 piece puzzles for you!  Some kids take to puzzles very easily–for others they are just pure frustrating…that usually means the puzzle is too hard.  This set from Briarpatch comes with four puzzles.  Our suggestion — take on the pieces out for one puzzle at a time and leave the rest in the box!  Read our complete review and shopping info on our site.

Also be sure to visit  Jean Marzollo’s website  (the author of the I Spy series). It’s chock full of activities for kids that are fun (and not a waste of their time or minds!).