Today Show Toy Test “Elves” with Natalie Morales and Stephanie Oppenheim
We had a blast yesterday at the Today Show. The show asked that we put many of our Platinum Award winners of 2013 to the test with “elves” on the plaza. With huge candy canes and the Rockefeller Christmas Tree in the background (not to mention the North Pole like temperature!), it was the perfect backdrop for this holiday tradition.To read about all the toys featured, click here. To see all of our award winners in all categories visit www.toyportfolio.com.
Not sure we really talked about Playmobil’s Cargo setting sufficiently. The plane is super big and the cargo ship is amazing, but it’s the actual shipping containers and crane that deliver the complete experience. The sets are not inexpensive, but they really do combine to make a wonderful pretend setting. For more details on the specific sets, visit www.toyportfolio.com.
I find it confusing to have toys for preschoolers where you make “food” but you can’t eat them – especially when they look so pretty. I get the whole pretend aspect of this toy and that many kids (including some of our testers) enjoy this product, but maybe because I was the kid that would have tasted it for sure, it makes me wonder about the wisdom of such a toy. While I do have a soft spot for Play-Doh extruder accessories, I generally prefer Play-Doh as an open-ended experience – after all, what’s better than making Play-Doh snakes?!
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
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!!
Hasbro has a lot of Monopoly news this season. First they retired the iron play piece which feels right to me. I’ve never known anyone hollering to be the iron. So here’s the replacement…a cat. If you’re a cat person, I suppose, this will be a great addition. For me, I’ll stick with the doggie.
The new play piece for Monopoly…the cat.
Also new for 2013, the Despicable Me 2(click thru to watch the trailer-it’s really fun) version to coincide with the launch of the movie this July. Comes with off-the-chart cute minion pieces (they had to glue them down at toy fair so that they wouldn’t walk out of the showroom. In the good old days, they would have given us a sample, but I digress). Personally, I’d take any one of the minions over the cat! I like that both versions are classic Monopoly sets where a person, rather than a electronic device, is the banker.
When I found out that Think Fun’snew Laser Maze comes with a real laser, I felt as if we were now truly in a new century of toys. There are many “laser-like” toys on the market.
Laser Maze from Think Fun
Spin Master’s new super-cool looking Laser Defense System, for example, features a high intensity LED light, not a laser. Laser Maze is similar to other classic brain teasers from Think Fun where the challenges become increasingly more complex (the game comes with 60). The game play is to move the pieces so that the laser bends off the mirrors and splitters on the game pieces to hit the target. We look forward to testing it.
My other futuristic favorite toy so far is the grapefruit-sized AtmoSPHERE from Spin Master. The orb-like flying toy promises to respond to motion. So once you activate it, you will be able to control where it goes by moving your hands around it. While not quite Luke Skywalker’s first lesson with his lightsaber, it is pretty amazing. We look forward to trying this one too.
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 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.)
Next to glow-in-the-dark toys, glitter glue is on my personal top hit parade of great playthings. There’s just something so satisfying about glitter glue. We just got in the new line of Carnival Glitter Glue from eeBoo. Each of the 4 tubes look like peppermint sticks with two tones. At $5 a pop, this is a fun activity craft that won’t break the bank.