Is your toddler addicted to your iPad & iPhone?

Today’s toddlers and preschoolers have a new addiction. Forget the boob tube and those pesky videos – now we’re talking about little fingers that are incredibly adept at navigating  APPS  on your pricey iPad and/or  iPhone.

What’s a toy maker to do? How can they compete with such amazing graphics?

Wasn’t it bad enough that video games have rob them of the tween market?

Here’s the industry response to date…

1. The “Can’t beat them, join them” approach.  It seems like everyone has an APP  for your child. Barbie, Leapfrog, Hot Wheels, Thinkfun….everywhere we went at Toy Fair…there was an APP we needed to “let our readers know about.” (Except of course for the dizzying number of embargo dates). And yes, we will have to start taking a closer look at all of these toy related APPs.  I haven’t gotten to play with it yet, but I do have to say that the Barbie Fashionista APP–looked really appealing (this coming from someone who really didn’t play with Barbies).

Barbie's Fashionista APP

2. “This is not your father’s iPad” – really. Toy makers are rolling out there own versions of iPad inspired tablets for your child.  LeapFrog and VTech will  go head to head with their platforms.  Are they cheaper? Yes.  Will your child be satisfied? Maybe.  As with any of these toys, they just don’t have the sizzle of the real thing (which is why toy companies are hedging their bets with approach #1.)  We will have to take a look at each of these products to review the content (remember that?) and whether the interface is pleasing.  I have a sense that if your toddler or preschooler is already schooled in your gadgets, this is going to be a hard transition.  On the other hand, if you start here–you may get to play with your gadget without the constant refrain of  “my turn!”

Vying for attention (all to be released later this year):

LeapFrog Explorer Tablet

LeapPad Explorer Tablet (LeapFrog)- Promises to come with a 5″ screen and leverages the library of games and content from this educational toy company.  It will also come with a built in camera. Suggested retail will be $99.99.


InnoPad (VTech) -Also features a 5″ touch screen, promises educational games, ebooks,  USB port, a headphone jack.  Suggested retail will be $79.99.

We’ll have to take a look. Sadly, both companies have moved away from partnerships with traditional publishers –leaving the ebook experience to the domain of mostly licensed materials. On this point alone, you may want to invest in a Color Nook–if you don’t want to go the bigger bucks on an iPad.  Technology only goes so far.  The CONTENT is still what should rule the day. We want our kids enjoy reading quality picture books no matter the format.  Disney Princesses and Scooby Doo are fun–but they shouldn’t replace children’s books as part of your child’s daily experience.

3. The “Ok, you can play,  but please don’t break it” approach. Handing  off  your  expensive toys to a toddler or preschooler is a balancing act between achieving calm (at the grocery store, at the restaurant, in the car, etc.) and the possible damage that came come to such gadgets from liquids (those pesky sippy cups) or a plain old “oops” moments. For those parents, Fisher-Price hopes to be of assistance with their new Laugh & Learn I Can Play Case that puts your smart phone into a bigger case with easy-to-grab handles. We look forward to trying this case–will little fingers find the case too intrusive? Of course your 3 year old will find this way too babyish.

Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn I Can Play Case

What’s IN and What’s OUT in toyland 2010

Our list of What’s In and What’s Out in Toyland for 2010.  Every year there are trends that emerge in toyland. Last year there were dinosaurs everywhere…this year they have been replaced by bugs. Elmo is no where to be found (he’ll be relaunched next holiday season by Hasbro), and like everything else in our world these days, toys have also gone 3-D. We’re not sorry to see some the OUT toys go bye-bye and the same is true of many of the IN toys. This is more our observation from a year of testing rather than an thumbs up to either list.

Toys that Are Out for 2o1o                   Toys that Are IN for 2010

Cute Hamsters                                                 Hamster Ready for Battle

Barbie al natural                                             Barbie with an (video) implant

Hannah Montana Doll                                  Justin Bieber Doll

Wireless Controllers                                      No Controllers

Elmo                                                                 Dance Star Mickey

Scrabble                                                           Scrabble Flash

Avatar Toys                                                     Anything Iron Man

Hand Held Electronic Toys                         Your Smartphone

Remote Controlled Dinosaurs                    Remote Controlled Bugs

Friendship Bracelets                                     Toy Handcuffs

Dolls that Wet                                                Dolls with simulate

Rococo Plastic Toys                                      Wooden Toys

Bubbles and Chalk                                         3-D Bubbles and Chalk

Polly Pockets                                                    Zoobles

Zhu Zhu Pets

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For a list of the toys we do recommend–visit where you’ll find all of our Platinum, Gold, SNAP (special needs adaptable products) and Blue Chip Award winners.

Toy Fair 2010: Hasbro Preview/ STAR WARS

If you’ve followed our reviews over the years, you know I have a soft spot for everything Star Wars. It is the one exception to our rule of no toys with aggressive or violent themes (hey,  it’s fantasy).

One of the coolest toys we saw at Hasbro’s preview is from the Star Wars line…but we can’t talk about it until the 12th.  In the meantime, there is a new lightsaber that is pretty cool.  The General Grievous Lightsaber will retail for $34.99 and will be available in August.  Take a look at both videos…one explains how it comes apart and the other demos the movement.  I’m getting used to using my iphone video for giving you sneak peaks.  Thinking maybe I should get a FLIP for toy fair.

Two quick videos to look at:

How it works video.

Demo of movement.