Toy Fair 2010: Crayola = Fun

Crayola's Model Magic!

Based on our visit at Crayola, there’s a lot of promisingly fun  products rolling out this year. Happily these toys will start arriving soon. For reviews, check our website www.toyportfolio.com.

Chalk News. You know I’m all a huge fan of their chalk. This year there are new super sets of 3D Chalk (one features Toy Story). I love this stuff. But what’s really new is a chalk making set.  Looks like our kind of craft kit- we’ll have to see how it works.  They also have a spiral top for chalk. My brothers will tell you, I really stink at the spining top thing but even I think I can make this one work. Watch the next post for a demo of the spiral chalk top.New Chalk Sets from Crayola

Model Magic. How cute is this new set where you can make little pieces to add to forms.

New Model Magic Sets

Also big, things that Glow in the Dark. During our visit to their showroom, the lights were being turned off repeatedly to show off more glow-in-the-dark sets.  I have a sense some will be more successful than others -but we’ll put them all to the test as they come out.  We gave their Glow Station an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.

Glow Station...larger glow-in-dark toy!

New Crafts for Tweens. They have a new line called Pop Art Pixies,  featuring  four tweens (that look like they’re related to the Fashion Angels) – each has a theme.  One likes to recycle, one likes to decorate…you get the idea. Some of the kits looked like they would be great fun for 9-12 year old crafters. Stay tuned. I particularly liked the look of the recycle kits – and will be interested to see how our testers react.

Tween Craft Sets

Amazing On-line Program. You send in a picture of your child, they create a cartoon image based on that photo, you then customize your own coloring book adventure featuring your now “cartoon” child.  LOVE this.  You get the code for this site when you buy a certain size box of crayons (hey, who doesn’t need a new box of Crayola?).  This new platform will launch officially in the fall–but we’re working out details for making it available to our readers soon.


Update on Doodle Track Cars

You know how much we love the Doodle Track Cars…the folks at Daydream Toy just let me know that the interactive site is now launched–so that you can customize your own tracks.  You go to www.doodletrackcar.com and click on Design and Print a Track. Next week they will have a Halloween theme posted.  Lots of kids will enjoy customizing their own track–but my favorite is a huge piece of white paper and making your own track.  Either way, this is an affordable must have for kids 4 & up that love all things cars! Watch the video.

Best Green Toy of the Week: Citiblocs (Addictive on the coffee table)

Sometimes we get toys that are marketed to kids and yet we find that almost every grown-up that comes near them  just starts playing with them.  Since playing is good at any age, I feel it’s very important to write about these types of products.  You may remember that the magnetic building sets that burst onto the market several years ago had that appeal – making them a great choice to just have  on the coffee table for some open-ended play time for anyone so inclined. Research also indicates that type of activity for adults is great for keeping those brain neurons firing.

This year’s winner in this category is Citiblocs by Citiblocs.  At first you might think a box of equally- sized precision cut wooden pieces wouldn’t be that enthralling – at any age…but once you get building, it’s just fun to see how many different variations you can make.  The pieces are very smooth and are made of Radiata Pine from certified renewable forests in New Zealand – making them not only fun, but onto our Green Toy list as well.

Each set comes with ideas for building…they are marked 3 & up, we’d say more like 5 & up and & up and & up!

One of our tester moms (an architect) — LOVED this product.  Somehow we knew she would.

Pick of the Day: Scratch Art's Wacky Scratch Deluxe Activity Kit

SCR3424 We’ve always been big fans of Scratch Magic from Scratch Art Co. – it’s a fun craft activity that’s easy to explore and works for a range of ages.  You start off with a black sheet and with the enclosed wooden stylus–you scratch off the black to reveal the print or colors hidden beneath the blank overlay.  You can draw your own design or use the enclosed stencils.  This deluxe set, Wacky Scratch Deluxe Kit $15.99,  comes with sixteen drawing boards (trust me you will want to try this yourself), stencils and three frames for displaying your work.  They also make travel sized sets—  useful and easy to take along when you need your kids to be entertained, sitting down and quiet (at least for a little bit!). You can also buy this bigger kit and break it up into small sets to dole out as you go.  Also a good to choice to have in your office for when your kids drop by and you have some work to do.

Playmobil Underwater Adventure a Huge Hit

“Wow” was how the review started from one of our testing families.  Our tester parent sent us the following review after watching her kids enjoy this setting : “The complete set with the large boat, submarine, small  boat, diving cage, deep sea diving bell. etc. etc is just incredible.   Each set individually or all of them together provide innumerable  opportunities for pretend play.  The figurines and all of the  accessories provide EVERYTHING a child needs to act out nautical  stories.  I am amazed by the level of detail in each set.”

This set is right for the bathtub…this family also plays with it on “land”…

If you have a child that likes to pretend with miniature settings…this is one to consider!

Pick of the Day: PushAlong Dog from ImagiPLAY

This friendly PushAlong Dog from ImagiPLAY is just right for toddlers that love have wheel toys but are not ready for cars that have small parts. He doesn’t make any sound–also a welcomed novelty these days!  There’s also a really cute yellow duck, greencar, and red cat in this line. All $14.99.

Top Ten Green Toys

With Green Day hours away, we are certainly pleased with the trend in the toy industry to go green.  It seems like every week there are new organic doll collections, toys made of recycled materials, and toys/games that have an empowering (but not obnoxiously heavy-handed) green agenda.  More good news-the packaging also seems to be more friendly to the environment-with fewer toys trapped in a sea of plastic.

Here is our current list of top ten green favorites–happily the list keeps growing!

blabla dolls (blabla)

Earth Mates (Mary Meyer)

My Natural Collection (Hosung NY)

Organic Joobles (Fair Indigo)
Recycling Truck (Green Toys

Recycling Truck (Playmobil) ptru1-4866605reg1

Eco-Trucks (Sprig Toys)
Busy Bugs (Mudpuppy) fp_busy_bugs1
Green Dollhouse (Plan Toysimages-1
Elia Mini Chair (eliafun.com) eliaminichair11

My favorite new action figures…Ugly Dolls

img_0369It’s a beautiful Spring day here in NYC–finally!  I’m cheered by the weather but completely bummed out that my mother tripped yesterday. Nothing is broken – also good. So shouts out to her to feel better quickly. Yesterday (before lunch) we had just congratulated ourselves on getting the office cleared from the last massive batch of toys we’ve received this past month.  We are busy notifying award winners for spring..humming along…

So today’s UPS delivery brought many, many new boxes…and the first one I opened contained new Ugly Doll Action Figures from Ugly Dolls.  These little plastic versions of their plush counterparts made me smile instantly….They twist at their middle…I planted mine in my container of grass (no mowing required here.).

Your kids will want them (and truth be told they make great office toy too!). There are 12 action figures in the first collection. The boxes don’t tell you which figure you’re getting -so there is that element of surprise as well (depending on your child this will either be fun or tear producing).

Need to sit down? Check out the Elia Mini Chair

2chairsAt toy fair this year there was a booth that caught my attention…while most booths are chockful of game/ dolls/toys/electronics/candy…this booth had a chair.  I was at the very end of toy fair–I’m pretty “toyed” out by then, but I stopped.

The cardboard chair from eliafun.com had a very modern appeal.  It comes undecorated (left) with big bold stickers (a la Marimekko)…that also looked like fun (and something a parent wouldn’t mind having around).  Our testers really enjoyed working on the chair….the directions were easy to follow and one of our testers was delighted that the chair is reversible giving her more options about decorating!  She and her mom are thinking about decoupage.  Their site has lots of creative ideas for decorating. The chair holds up to 200 lbs. – impressive.  Michael Gross, the President (and an architect/engineer), also points out that the chair is completely recyclable. Michael’s background is evident in the construction and design of the chair.  We’ve seen many cardboard products in the past – many with extensive pre-printing on them – making them more like 3D coloring books.  What I really liked about this chair besides the design–was the open-endedness of the project.   The chair retails for $34.99.  The site also indicates that a table is in the works.  eliaminichair1

Our favorite dogs…

Now that Bo has happily arrived at the White House…here are some of favorite toy dogs just in case bringing home the real thing isn’t in the cards…

Biscuit was on our Platinum List last year and still keeps us company in the office.  He’s extremely sweet but still pretty pricey.

New for Spring, from the same Furreal line is a smaller and much more affordable Lil’ Patter Pup.  If  the Gabor sisters were going to have a  toy dog, this would be it…of course that dates me…so if you’re Paris Hilton…you get the idea. There is a Shih-Tsu and a Pomeranian…both bark and unlike Biscuit, they do walk!  At $29.99 they are  a good buy.

We also still love Lucky–who is bigger than Lil’ Patter Pup and does many of the same tricks as Biscuit. Lucky is from Zizzle.

And if a low tech pup will do the trick, we love the new Spot from Kids Preferred. This oversized delicious doll is $29.99.

And if you’re looking for a great book on dogs…I’m biased but I highly recommend my mom’s Have You Seen Dogs?