A fun Summer Craft

I’m always on the look out for craft kits that are good for a rainy day like today (where isn’t it raining?)

The new Paper Bead Jewelry Set from Creativity for Kids is a very satisfying kit with lots of pretty paper to work with. Plenty for a play date or siblings to share.  Read our full review at www.toyportfolio.comIMG_0184 IMG_0185.

Fairies Meet Disco

Kit comes with three lights to decorate.

Kit comes with three lights to decorate.

I’m a sucker for toys that work in the dark which is why I was super excited to try  Creativity for Kids new Color Changing Flower Lights. The kit comes with three plastic globes that have three different light settings. One is a disco ball effect that seems perfect for the fairies in your realm.  Read our full review at toyportfolio.com. Watch our video http://bit.ly/WPdOcI.

Marbles and Bugs…just my kind of toys

I’m delighted to find that Hape has expanded the Quadrilla marble run line (a Platinum award winner from 2006). Here’s the new Xcellerator. These are pricey sets but the type of toy that will be handed down.

Xcellerator by Hape Toys

Xcellerator by Hape Toys will retail for $149

The design is so appealing. It looks like the track will provide for lots of speedy runs. We haven’t tested this particular set yet.

On the flip side of old-fashioned marble runs– take a look at Hexbugs Nano V2 from Innovation First. My mother thinks I’m obsessed with Hexbugs. I used to love capturing bugs as a kid–so that’s probably where the interest comes from. Now, instead of just having bugs on regular flat tracks, the new versions are designed so that they can move around tubed tracks that can be put in a vertical positions. How cool is that?  Hope it works!!  (As with most of my blog posting during Toy Fair, we are previewing the toys rather than reporting on toys we’ve tested yet.)

HEXBUG Nano V2 Set by Innovation First

HEXBUG Nano V2 Set by Innovation First

New Twist on a Classic: Make Your Own Hot Wheels Cars

Hot Wheels Toy Maker from Mattel

Hot Wheels Toy Maker from Mattel

Anyone who has enjoyed playing with Hot Wheels will appreciate the promise of this new activity toy from Mattel. We look forward to testing the Hot Wheel Toy Maker that will comes with two molds, 10 wax sticks and graphics for customizing the cars. The company says the cars will work on most tracks– we’ll be sure to try it out.

GoldieBlox’s Debra Sterling on a Mission

images-2Sometimes it feels like the toy industry has been overrun by less than highbrow ideas. For example, this year we received trash toys (where the play pattern is to collect simulated trash cans), fart producers (more on that later) and simulated animal dung. Which is why when I heard that a female Stanford engineering graduate started a toy company with the mission to encourage girls  to consider engineering and other math related careers,  I got very excited.  Read my interview at  toyportfolio.com with Debra Sterling of GoldieBlox.

Fine Arts Contest for Kids from Colorforms

To celebrate its 60th anniversary, Colorforms is having a  fine arts contest for kids 3 to 12.


Here are the details from their press release:

What began as an offbeat idea for creative expression of art students Harry and Patricia Kislevitz in their bathroom quickly became a playful, imaginative medium for children of all ages to harness their creativity and build language and problem-solving skills. From the discovery that their roll of flexible vinyl material would stick to semigloss surfaces, the Kislevitzes created a play set featuring basic geometric shapes in bright, primary colors.

“For sixty years, Colorforms has inspired creative, open-ended play rooted in colors and shapes and this contest celebrates the artist roots of the brand,” says Bob Moog, University Games, president. “ This contest is about celebrating and encouraging a lifelong passion for the arts.”

Running from April 1 through September 15, the contest is designed for kids, ages 3-12. There are few limits on the contest, other than the art is no bigger than 30” x 40” and not heavier than 5 lbs, for the sake of contest logistics.

One of three art camp scholarships will be awarded to the contest winners, along with a collection of Colorforms products to a winner in each age group. There will also be a special $500 US Treasury bond prize for the best use of Colorforms Stick-OnsÔ as an art medium.

For the 9-12 year old age group, the camp scholarship includes tuition at a nationally renown fine arts camp, including travel expenses. For the winners under age 9, a day camp scholarship will be awarded for use in the winner’s hometown.

Families can learn more about the contest at www.facebook.com/colorforms <http://www.facebook.com/colorforms> or at www.ugames.com/colorforms/ArtCampContest.asp <http://www.ugames.com/colorforms/ArtCampContest.asp>

A fun way to teach your kids to say thank you…

Kids love getting gifts…writing thank you notes, not so much.  To the rescue..Letterlearning.com. A site that offers cards for all occasions for kids including thank you notes, birthday cards, Mother’s day (hint!)  and blank cards for just dropping a note (fast becoming a lost art!).

We especially liked the cards with lines on them–very helpful for kids to keep their message from running all over the page! There are also cards with word jumbles and color-coded pictures to fill in.

behind the scenes at the Today Show

Stephanie practicing her bird calling technique

So I was preoccupied this morning with demonstrating the bird calling whistles for Backyard Safari. One requires filling it with water–it makes the BEST noise, but it does drip and if you don’t have the right amount of water in it–it just doesn’t do its thing. Ali took video of me practicing. Click here.

If you missed the segment this morning you can watch it by clicking here. I did the segment with Ann–we got through a lot of products…but I didn’t get to say everything I wanted to about all of them..so read the article and the reviews of the products featured  – it’s all on our website: www.toyportfolio.com.


Crayola’s Color Wonder Metallics!

Crayola's New Color Wonder Metallics

I love Crayola’s Color Wonder. It’s really magical.  You take a clear pointed special marker on the special paper–and voila, color emerges. The markers also don’t stain.  All in all–a great product.  So we were really excited to get the new metallics –and they deliver.  (Some metallics are dull–these are really pretty and vibrant). Watch our video.

The Metallic set comes with five markers, 18 sheets of paper and stencils.

Pick of the Day: Artisands Party in a Box

We’re totally  in when there’s a new sand art kit. So even though we are pretty “toy-ed” out by this time of year–when these kits arrived, we were game.  We thought the geometric patterns were fun to explore as well as the more typical scenes.  Our testers agreed!! Read our full review.