Behind the scenes at The Today Show

At the Today Show talking toys with Willie Geist and Steve Harvey

At the Today Show talking toys with Willie Geist and Steve Harvey

Last night I had odd dreams that were both a combination of Downton Abbey (I still feel so upset about the season’s ending)  and worrying that some of the prototypes (especially the last flying toy) wouldn’t work. By three in the morning I had Maggie Smith commenting on the series of spy toys we had on. Not the best night’s sleep.

Right before the segment with the Hot Wheel Car Maker

Right before the segment with the Hot Wheel Car Maker

This morning seemed very, very quiet. Maybe because it was soooo cold outside–it just seemed more laid back than usual. Since we were showing prototypes, there were no kids scheduled to be on the segment with me. That also made the green room less lively.  (Everyone did perk up when the Jeopardy teen champ came in.)  My mom, fresh back from her adventure through South America, was with me–which is always great. There was a guest there speaking about a 21 day cleanse. The whole idea made me hungry.

The segment was fun. You can watch it here. Willie Geist is fantastic and as a Dad with two young children, he’s totally in the toy zone. Steve Harvey was guest co-hosting today and was a total sport–trying out the Spy Net Lie Detector Toy from Jakks Pacific and flying one of the Atmospheres from Spin Master. Special thanks to Cara from LEGO and Rachel from Spin Master for coming in to make sure that they’re prototypes worked on camera. All the toys we showed today are featured on my blog posts from last week.

Love this picture because Steve is still playing with the toy!!

Love this picture because Steve is still playing with the toy!!



Sign of the times: Cabbage Patch Kids now have Hair Extensions

I guess it was bound to happen– hair extensions are not just for celebrities anymore. While pricey extensions used to be a well-kept secret, celebrities are now even talking openly about using them.  (On a side note, I found it interesting that hair extensions also get  “color”– makes sense that your extensions should match your own hair color–but still it was an eye-opening sight to see such locks on a head form in the VIP room at the Rita Hazan Salon in NYC. I also wondered if you had to belong to a VIP head, to get your extensions their own appointment in the VIP room…but I digress).

But yet I was still surprised when the latest Cabbage Patch Kid arrived this morning…it’s called the Pop ‘N Style Kid with three differently styled hair extensions that just pop in. The doll is now made by Jakks Pacific. cabbagepatch

I didn’t play with too many dolls as I kid but I do remember I had a doll where if you pushed a button in her back and yanked on her hair–it would grow. I just asked my mother the name…she can’t recall either but reminded me that I had several of them because I just couldn’t get the concept that if you cut the doll’s hair it wouldn’t grow back.  In my own defense, I recall the commercial kept repeating “it grows hair!”

I have a sense that our testers are going to enjoy these dolls–stay tuned.

Star Wars Kites…the force is not with them

Sadly the new Star Wars kites from Jakks Pacific did not test well with any of our families. All reports agreed that the instructions were poor and that it took way too long to put the kites together (one group had difficulty with pieces breaking).  The family that got their kite in the air  commented that the age range of 6 & up was unrealistic for participating in putting the kite together.  (That didn’t surprise me–most 6s will need help with even the most basic kite). I’m really sad–since these kites looked stunning. We hope there is a re-design…since the concept was great.

Top Trends from Toy Fair 2009: Jakks Pacific Eye Clops MiniProjector

images-2We’re eager to test this new mini projector from Jakks Pacific that you can use with your DVDs, your MP3 player and Video Games.  We like the idea of being able to create your own outdoor movie theater.  With a suggested retail of $99– it promises to project up to 70″ and fit in the palm  of your hand. If it works, it will be a hit with our tween testers.

Top Trends from ToyFair 2009: Jakks Pacific Star Wars 3D Kites

I have to confess–we’re huge Star Wars fans here so we were really psyched to see Jakks Pacific’s new line of 3D kites that feature Luke’s X-Wing, Darth Vader’s Tie Fighter and Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon.  So cool!  We can’t wait to test them–each include a 15′ tail.   Suggested retail wil be $24.00.  And if you can think warm weather (the temp is dropping rapidly here in nyc)…there also promises to be Star Wars inflatables for the pool. If you’re a SW fan, these will have great appeal ($39.99).  Jakks Pacific also has a new line of collectable marbles (they’re making a come back…apparently)…they look neat. They come with little stands–at $3.99 each, not sure how these will appeal to parents.  They may find a great audience in the SW’s collectors – of course they’ll never never take them out their packaging.

Sarah Palin's Favorite Toy….

big-buck-hunter1Would probably be Jakks Pacific upcoming home edition of  Big Buck Hunter.  Just like the arcade game, you’re good to go shooting Bambi from the comfort of your sofa with your toy rifle…maybe Governor Palin would like to invite New York’s Junior Senator Kirsten Gillibrand over as well.

Trends from Toyland: EyeClops BioniCam

attcdae11.jpgOne of my favorite toys last year was Jakks Pacific’s EyeClops, a magnifier that you can hook up to your tv and see anything really up close (your skin, the rug, anything that you can reach or bring to the EyeClops).  Seeing your skin that blown up is really, really interesting (and delightfully gross).  Everyone wanted to play with this product when we tested it.

This year the company is bringing out Eye Clops BioniCam that allows you to move around and capture images at 100x, 200x or 400x magnification.  You can record the images and  view them on the color LCD screen.  Best yet, you  can then take them back to your television or computer and look at the images on a larger screen.  When hooked up to the computer you can print or email your discoveries.  Fun for science projects! (Yes this is another USB opportunity!)  The suggested age range is 6 & up–but I think it will be most enjoyed by the 9 & up crowd.  Suggested retail is $79.99.

We look forward to testing this one!

Eye Clops: So gross and so cool

eyeclops1.jpgWhen we received Eye Clops (Jakks Pacific $49.99) during the summer, it was at the end of a very long day of toy testing. I know that sounds like fun, but after several hours of screening games with poor directions–it can get a little tired.
Anyway we plugged the Eye Clops into the tv and followed the suggestion to put the device (that magnifies up to 200X) up to fabric we had in the room–the sofa, a sweater, etc. — the fibers looked like something out of “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”…but the coolest and grossest thing we did was to try it out on our skin. The smoothest skin to the naked eye became a sea of scales–with some odd variations in coloring. Let’s just say I called the dermatologist the next day!

While kids are having such a great time finding new things to use the Eye Clops on–they are having a hands on science experience that’s fun and interactive! And because kids can see the results on a large tv, it really does allow younger kids to explore the concept of magnification that would usually happen much later in an intro lab situation.

Eye Clops received an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award. For more information visit