Massive LEGO MAN on the beach

Why does the concept of something  little becoming really big always fascinate?  Check out the video of an 8′ tall LEGO MAN wash up on the beach in Florida. You can read more about local reaction here from Baynews9.

We reached out to the folks at LEGO – they said: “That activity is not sponsored or endorsed by The LEGO Group or its affiliates.”  Turns out it is the work of a Dutch artist.

Either way, it’s great fun.

Lions, Tigers, and Bears…for real

This weekend I had owned up to my husband that I have had a recurring nightmare- that a lion was in my childhood backyard in the Catskills.  All analysis aside,  I also realized that it was one of the dreams that I wasn’t sure was just a dream for a long time.  In all fairness, we  did have a very large bear walk across the front yard.   So when I heard the news this morning that there are wild animals loose in Ohio…I simply looked at my husband and said “see!”

Today Show: Barbie and a “tramp stamp”

On the Today Show this morning there was a segment that  discussed a Barbie doll that had a tattoo on her back.  One expert wondered if she had a tramp stamp (we couldn’t really see if she did).   At first, the panel wondered if the doll was really a Barbie from Mattel.  While the issue has stirred up strong opinions all day on the blogosphere, the use of tattoos in toyland is not really all that new.

Temporary tattoos are common at children’s events and you can buy many kits from reputable companies that offer themed tattoos.  So I was a little surprised by the uproar.

This new Barbie is for real.  She’s called Totally Stylin’ Tattoos Barbie. The set includes a Barbie and 40  temporary tattoos that kids can place on Barbie or themselves.

Would this make our list? No.  We’re not big on tattoos or role-playing wearing one. Some of this is generational and some of it is just a matter of personal taste. Tattoos fall in the realm of grown-up decisions…and much like our opposition to breast-feeding dolls, we don’t think that young children need to role play all aspects of being an adult. On the other hand, there are many young moms with tattoos that may have no problem with this type of role play.

I should note that  Barbie with a tattoo bothers me much less than a  Barbie that has a light-up bustier top (a la Katy Perry) – and I mean literally lights up.  Watch our video of her. Somehow this seems less empowering to me.

Barbie's shirt (stars) light up


Why I love Instagram

For a couple of months I’ve been really loving the photos posted by some of my relatives via the app Instagram. I was amazed by their artistic ability–and the energy, spirit, and whimsy of the photos. So besides spending time on Twitter for the last few weeks, I decided to try Instagram with my iPhone. I love it.

Here are my reasons for recommending that you try it:

1. It’s really easy to use. If you can take a picture with your smartphone, you’ll be fine. You can either take a picture within the Instagram APP or you can use your phone’s camera and import into Instagram.

2. Once you have your picture–the fun begins. You can use any of their filters. For a while I was pretty much hooked on the 1977 filter that made me feel like I should put on a Velour sweater and the BeeGees. Trust me, if you were alive in 1977, you’ll use it and say–hey, that is what the world looked like.  I’ve now branched out to use other filters: Kelvin, Amaro, Earlybird, Sufro, Lomo II, etc.  It gives your photo a much more professional look. I just feel freer to take pictures.  I can play with the filters without having to take a course in Photoshop or devote more than a few moments to the process.

3. All of the above is fun–but here’s what I really love about Instagram.  It really allows me to travel the country, the world, and even my own neighborhood via a worldwide group of photographers. Some are professional…and I enjoy seeing the shots that will probably be seen shortly in Travel & Leisure or Architectural Digest, but I equally enjoy looking at pictures taken by regular folks. You can use the search engine to find almost anything. I realized that I was fascinated by images of Ferris Wheels–there are literally thousands of pictures of them – in all kinds of light, in all parts of the world.  (Much like twitter, you can hashtag your images to make them searchable to others.)

4. Every so often I take a little stroll somewhere (some of the best work seems to be from Japanese photographers) or look at something (flowers, insects from Brazil).

5. Global reach. Now I know we have other ways to reach out and feel part of the global community–but actually seeing what captures someone’s attention in a place I’ve been to or probably will never see with my own eyes–feels like a treat. I also don’t need to know the people or really interact (there is a space for comments–but it isn’t the focus of the site).

6. What are you capturing? My own pictures seem to be a mix of New York City, flowers, fashion, and toys. Not too surprising.

So if you haven’t tried it, take a look.



Doctors report ADHD diagnosis possible in preschool

When I posted our list today of the Best Toys for Kids with ADHD on our website, I had no idea that the American Academy of Pediatrics would report its new findings that ADHD can be diagnosed and treated in children as young as 4. The group had, in the past put the threshold at age 6. Notably the nation’s leading association of pediatricians suggested that these children did not necessarily need to be placed on medicine, but that identification and treatment could be started at this age.

I’d recommend taking a look at the findings on the APP website.

Here’s an article about the findings from the LA Times.


Best Toys for Kids with ADHD 2011

Buying toys for the kids in your life should be fun.  Yet, we often hear that toys purchased for kids with ADHD don’t always go over very well–games are too frustrating, construction sets have too many pieces and directions…all leading to frustration for everyone.

We have updated our tips for buying toys for kids with ADHD– what to look for and, perhaps more importantly, what to stay clear of when you’re shopping.  This handy list is on our website at along with a specific list of toys we’d recommend. The list is meant as a starting point–you’ll see that there is a theme in each category for what is more likely to be hit. If you find certainly toys that work–we’d love to hear from you.

And to help well-meaning grandparents and other family members make wise choices–we’d suggest sharing the tips and list with them as well.


Getting Ready!

Halloween is fast approaching which for many means decorating, candy & costumes. For us, it signals that our season will soon be in full swing. Folks that usually think what we do is kind of silly–are now interested in what we found from our testing during the course of the year. We have a really full list of award winners this year that we look forward to talking about. We’ll be looking at the topic in all different kinds of ways –age, budget, high tech, low tech, green…you get the idea.  If you have particular question or list you’d love to have, let us know!

I’ve been spending more time on twitter lately–finding the format both challenging and interesting. You can join the discussion with me, my twitter name is toyportfolio.