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 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

Crayola 3D Chalk…what makes it 3D?

One of our testers who really liked the 3D Chalk kits just raised a great question…is there something in the chalk that makes it 3D or will the 3D glasses make all chalk 3D…we posed this question to the folks at Crayola…

“Yes, the 3D glasses will work with any Crayola chalk and out sidewalk
crayons.  The ones that come with the Crayola 3D Sidewalk Chalk Kit allow for the best results
because we paired warm and cool colors together.”

Al Roker had a fun time with these glasses on our outdoor toy segment last year…click here to watch the segment.

It's Friday…time for Play-Doh!!!

6105076n1ol_sl500_aa280_I’ve discovered over the years – you either love or hate Play-Doh.  I just had a really good time trying out the new Spaghetti Factory ($9.99)…It’s similar to the “hair” makers of the past.  (If you haven’t played with Play Doh since you’re a kid–then you will have no idea what I’m talking about.)  In both cases you fill the toy with Play-Doh and you press down on the mechanism and the Play-Doh comes out in long “spaghetti-shaped” strands.  If you have a child with special needs and you’re working on building strength in your child’s hands–you may want to give this one a try.  You’ll want to attach the pasta machine to the table surface for added stability.

The base has molds for making other shapes…my mother made a lot of ravioli and bow ties–but for me it all about pushing down the plunger and making the spaghetti come out.

Trends from Toy Fair 2009: It's BACK, Crayola's Crayon Maker

03-9000_crayonmkr_trayupCrayola’s Crayon Maker (a former Oppenheim Toy Portfolio  Platinum Award winner) is making a come back. It’s smaller than the original unit which seems fine and best yet, the dome is now clear so that you can watch the crayons melt.  Not sure why this process was hidden before behind blue plastic. With all the talk of repurposing products, I love the idea that old crayons that would normally be thrown out become brand new crayons your kids will enjoy using. We’re looking forward to testing the new version.

Inventive Teen: Maddie Bradshaw


While I know a lot of grown ups looking to re-invent themselves, I was  struck by 13 year old Maddie Bradshaw, the founder of Snap Caps.  Now a million dollar plus business, these cheerfully decorated bottle caps are sold in 400 stores…with 40,000 necklaces sold each week…pretty impressive at any age.

So we asked Maddie a few questions…..

What gave you the idea to make Snap Caps?

I wanted magnets for my locker.  I used my Uncle Sam’s bottle caps from his coke machine to create my designs.  After I gave them out to friends, I decided to figure out a way to wear them.

Have you always wanted to be in the toy business?

I have wanted to own a business since the 2nd grade.   Some of my first sales were in local toy stores.  I love Learning Express.

Who inspires you the most?

Albert Einstein

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Immigration lawyer or a patent attorney.


Klutz's Bead Loom Bracelets Book

My brother Tony was really the expert on all things bead loom.  In fact, he had all those summer craft things down so well- my pitiful lanyard chain always looked meager compared to his twelve strand snaking creations!

I always perk up when a bead kit or book comes into the office. Maybe this will be the magical kit. My creations will finally look like the cool kids at Camp Winston…anyway.

This week we received Klutz’s new Bead Loom Bracelets book by Anne Akers Johnson.  As with most Klutz titles, it is beautiful to look at with handsome illustrations/photos…just makes you want to get beading.  The book is marked 8 & up which is usually pretty unrealistic when you’re talking about anything but the most basic beading projects–but that’s how most kits/books are marked–so we discount that as a rule.

Sydni, our trusty  and experienced 12 year old tester, gave this book several tries — she too wanted to love it. In the end she found  the projects way too difficult. She noted that she had trouble keeping the string in place. She also suggested that the author should have tried easier projects to start– before graduating to more difficult patterns.