Behind the scenes at the Today Show

We arrived to find an extremely busy and crowded green room.  The boy band, The Wanted, was there getting ready. I was told that Colton from American Idol was also there. Rosie was upstairs getting ready for The Professionals segment. (Hey, I’m a former lawyer-doesn’t that count?)  And yes, there  was the 40 pound cat – that was unfortunately sharing the curtained off area where our toy testers were gathered. Only problem, I’m super allergic.  So I stayed clear of the cat– who was really, really big!

Our testers started arriving. We had many today including twins (I got to hold Grace throughout most of the segment), sisters, brothers and best friends…all testers for the toyportfolio.

Today's Ann Curry with some of toy testers before our segment.

We headed upstairs to the studio for a “tease”–the part where they say “and coming up”….and you see the guest.  We were waiting in the hallway outside of the studio when Ann Curry came by and was really wonderful with the kids.  I’m not sure they really took in all that she was saying to them–but it was great advice about being proud of who you are, standing tall.  After she left we played some games to make the time fly.  Remember how hard waiting was when you were 9?

When we got into the studio, the older kids got busy with the science kit we brought from and the building sets we had from Lego, Magformers, and LaserPegs.

Savannah Guthrie and Grace take a look at the games we brought along!

Many of our older toddlers and preschoolers found the Little Tikes Garden Discovery Center very interesting–each climbed in at one point!  Leaving the babies on the outside.  One of the babies got away–and found her way under the science toys.  I looked down while Savannah was asking me a question and lo and behold there was baby Grace with a piece of paper in her mouth. I removed the paper and scooped her up– and thankfully she was happy doing the rest of the segment with us! It was the first time I did a segment with Savannah– two former lawyers having fun with toys!  She was great and handled the controlled chaos with good humor! I’m also happy I had on my relatively high Jimmy Choo shoes.

After the segment, there’s always a mad dash to get out of the studio quickly!  Here are two of our happy testers  right after we were done.

To read our reviews and ratings, visit,

Lego tester Dante and his mom Jill

Brianna really loved the wooden mower from Manhattan Toy.

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 read the article and the reviews of the products featured  – it’s all on our website:


Fans of the show Mythbusters- here’s a great game

The new Mythbusters Game from Zimzala Games

Fans of the Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters will  love this new game based on the hit show that puts myths to the test by trying them whether it’s by catapluting a car or blowing something up.  I love that this show celebrates science and makes it fun.  It’s a great show to share with your kids (or in my case, a show that they shared with me!)

Many games from tv shows are a disappointment but this one from Zimzala Games delivers.  The concept is to get the trivia questions correct so that you get to launch Buster the dummy on the cataplut (how fun is that!).  At first we didn’t get many questions right–so there was no launching but we were enjoying the questions and often surprising answers so much that we didn’t really care.  For kids that are video gamers– this may be one of those few games that you can entice them away from their controller with — at least for a little while!

Watch our video demo!

Bed Bugs- in toyland

Bed Bugs (the game!)

Every time I turn on the tv, there’s a new report of where bug bugs are now…forget tacky hotels, they’re now everywhere it seems (stores, movie theaters).  The old expression “sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite” doesn’t seem like a cute little thing to say to your kids as you turn off the lights.  I’m itchy just thinking about it.

Bed Bugs are also in toyland!  This week I got a new updated version of the classic game Bed Bugs (now from Patch Products). The game was first released by Milton Bradley in 1985.

The game is still fun (if you can get over the current hype about the real bugs).  Comes with a bed that’s just hopping with bed bugs, literally (the bed is motorized so the bugs really do move about). The youngest player calls out a color and then it’s a free for all where all players are trying to get those colored bugs out of the bed with a tong.

Wonder if the current epidemic will help or hurt the sales of this classic game.

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.

Cir*kis vs. Blokus

We just tried out the new Cir*kis from Hasbro.  Much like the strategy game Blokus (originally with Educational Insights but now distributed by Mattel), Cir*kis has a grid platform and you play with plastic pieces.  Blokus is much more straightforward and fun to play.  See our full review.  Cir*kis is more complicated–you’re not blocking your opponent but making your own circles and stars and keeping track with pegs.  It’s just not as elegant a game.

If you like word games, check out Word On the Street…

wordonstreetIf word games are your thing, you’ll enjoy the new twist provided by Word on the Street by Out of the Box.  Read our complete review. We’re giving this one an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award.  Loads of fun for the 12 and up crowd.

In honor of the House Vote on Health Care…Consensus Junior

Last night at eleven o’clock democracy was in action.  The House took a historic vote on health care reform–broadcast on all the cable shows. For a brief moment, the procedure of law making had spilled over from CSPAN to a larger audience.  No matter how you come out on health care reform, the picture of all of our law makers battling it out all day and finally taking the vote has to make you pause.  Warts and all, it’s a pretty amazing country to live in.

I’m not just feeling patriotic today–there is a toy connection here, I promise.


Consensus Junior Edition by Mindlogic

Consensus Junior Edition by Mindlogic is a fun, engaging game that is all about consensus building (with a little language thrown in).  How’s that for a concept in a nation that usually trumpets individuality?  Read our complete review of this newly award winning (Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award) game. Six Great Games to Play with Your Kids

Here are six  great games to think about for the holidays. The complete reviews of these award winners are on our site,

Active Fun Games

Dr. Seuss Super Stretchy ABC Game (I Can Do That Games)

Boochie (Gamewright)

Pure silly fun

Feeding Frenzy (International Playthings)

Ring-0 Flamingo (Gamewright)

Concepts and Strategy Games

eeBoo Color Dominoes (eeBoo)

Double Shutter (Blue Orange)