Princess & the Frog: Princess Tiana Just One Kiss Doll

Disney's Princess Tiana

Last week I talked about this doll as one of the top five hottest toys in toyland on the TODAY Show.  But because I only had two minutes to discuss five toys, I didn’t have time to demonstrate why this particular Princess Doll is so much fun.  Watch our toyportfolio.com video and you’ll see the interactive/light up features of this talking doll.

Right after my segment, I got an email from Disney–reminding me that there were less expensive Princess Tiana dolls…so true.  You can get your Princess fix for under $16.  The Just One Kiss doll retails for $24.99–and I already see lots of price gauging. There are plainer Princess Dolls–but we have not personally seen or tested them–I do see some complaints on line about the quality of the least expensive version–but we can’t confirm. We’re thrilled that Disney is featuring the first African-American Princess.  If you’d also like a book, we’d recommend Princess and the Royal Ball by Natasha A. Tarpley/illustrated by James Finch)–a full review is on our site.

 

In honor of the day…13 Great Games (all under $20!)

Rec_ABCBeautyWhile we usually like lists of five or a dozen, we realized today’s list of 13 Top Games Under $20 was meant to be!  Happy Friday the 13th.  Read our reviews at www.toyportfolio.com.

The games included are:

Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It Game (I Can Do That Games)

Rainbow Race (International Playthings)

Scrabble Slam Card Game (Parker Brothers)

Appletters (Bananagrams)

Yamslam (Blue Orange Games)

Pairs in Pears (Bananagrams)

eeBoo Fairytale Game (eeBoo)

Ring-0 Flamingo (Gamewright)

Uno Moo! (Mattel)

Too Many Monkeys (Gamewright)

I Spy Flip 5 Games (Briarpatch)

Dr. Seuss Super Stretch ABC Game (I Can Do That Games)

Curious George Discovery Beach Game (I Can Do That Games)

Cir*kis vs. Blokus

We just tried out the new Cir*kis from Hasbro.  Much like the strategy game Blokus (originally with Educational Insights but now distributed by Mattel), Cir*kis has a grid platform and you play with plastic pieces.  Blokus is much more straightforward and fun to play.  See our full review.  Cir*kis is more complicated–you’re not blocking your opponent but making your own circles and stars and keeping track with pegs.  It’s just not as elegant a game.

Pick of the Day: Mattel's MindFlex

mindflex

Mattel's MindFlex Game

The first time we saw this game was at toy fair.  Now in all fairness, when we go to toy fair, we’re a pretty silly group.  So when the demonstrator for MindFlex at the Mattel showroom was trying his best to show us this super cool toy, we kept distracting him.  At one point, he even seemed a little anxious about not being able to perform his toy demonstrator duties.

He wore a headgear that had two clips that he attached to his earlobes.  From there he told us that he could control the little blue ball with his mind-making it go up and down and through the obstacle course.  To be absolutely honest here, I was sure we were being punked.  I kept looking around to see if this was a joke.  They assured me that it was for real–and that normally when people allow the guy to do his thing it really works.

Ok, ok…sometimes we don’t behave well.  I wrote down the toy as  something we’d love to see but then I stopped thinking about it.  Last month while I was at the Today Show, Dave– one of the best stage managers ever– showed me a clip of his son working the MindFlex. ( What would we all do without our iphone video clips?)  Anyway…he could not say enough great things about this toy.  How it appealed to both of his boys and that it  helped with working on concentration as a skill.

With that great recommendation, we asked for one to be sent right away.  Sure enough this is one of the coolest toys we’ve tested, period. We’ve added it to this year’s Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award List.

The other amazing aspect of the toy is that it appeals to tweens, teens and adults.  My dad, a spry guy in his late 70s, also took a run at the toy.  He was surprised , as was every adult that has tried it, that he could make it work.  It really is so futuristic — makes me wonder what kind of toys I’ll be reviewing down the road.

So if you’ve seen an ad or a commercial – know that this is for real and loads of fun.  The platform has interchangeable parts so that you can challenge yourself and others to different obstacle courses.  Such a great design aspect–making this a more open-ended play experience. And if you’re looking for something to buy a video game addicted teen, here you go.
Click here to read our full review…and watch the video.

 

Five Great Color Concept Toys/Games for Preschoolers

If you’re working on color concepts in your house, playing games can be a fun way to reinforce the concepts.  Here five favorites:

Candy Land Castle Game (Milton Bradley)

eeBoo Preschool Color Memory Game (eeBoo)

Hot Wheels Color Shifters Blaster (Mattel)

Color Wonder Paper and Markers (Crayola)

Lego Duplo (Lego Systems)

Complete reviews are on our site www.toyportfolio.com

Barbie Doll'd Up Nail Digital Nail Printer

Barbie Doll'd Up Nail Digital Nail Printer

Barbie Doll'd Up Nail Digital Nail Printer

I’m not sure why this product captured my interest so much, but as soon as I saw it at toy fair, I really wanted to try it.  While I was particularly tom-boyish during my middle school years, I did have one set of nail decals–they were of an apple that progressively gets closer to the core as you go from your thumb to your pinky. Very old school.  So maybe that’s where my interest comes from.  I’m also oddly fascinated by the elaborate nail designs that many women sport in new york–they really are like moving pieces of art.

Usually when we get a toy, we have lots of time to try it with various kids and families and we don’t have to return it.  For this machine, we agreed to try it quickly and return it since there are limited samples.  Sadly when the toy arrived, I discovered that the toy is only PC compatible.  I’m a MAC person living in a predominately MAC world — so I needed to enlist my son Matthew (and his PC) to help me install the software and test the nail design studio.  His friend Daniel–who usually builds all of the advanced LEGO and K’NEX sets for us–was also part of our team.   We also decided to tape our trial runs–with the agreement that none of us would be shown on the video tape…it seemed like a fair deal.  Who could blame two teenage boys for not wanting to be taped with a Barbie nail salon…and I wasn’t have a great hair day…so we were all happy.

I can’t tell you how much fun we had.  We had several failed attempts…you really do need to read the directions to make sure that you have all the steps in order.  There was so much laughing –  interrupting our video attempts several times.   Our failures really inspired them to help me get it right…and then we all got excited about the possibilities…there are over 1,000 plus possibilities with this machine.  Like Jorge Posada* of the New York Yankees, I kept adding more and more white nail polish so that we could try it again!

Ultimately-do I think anyone needs an expensive digital nail printer?  Not really.  But if you’re techy  and looking for something different and fun, this machine is fun and it does work.

If you’re planning on using this for a group, I suggest you really know how it works ahead of time so that you’re up and running and in the groove…it’s fun as long as it works!

Here’s how it works (or watch the video).  Follow the instructions for setting up the printer ( just like an ordinary printer, you must install the software on your computer, load the ink, etc.). You can either use your own nail polish as a base or use their white polish.  Let that dry and then add a layer of Pre-print polish–it’s clear.  You then put your finger in the machine and take a picture of your nail.  This is where the alignment issues arose.   (I was sticking my finger too far into the machine, so it was printing on my finger, not my nail.)   Once you get that step down, you remove your finger from the machine and then you can play around with the software to design your own nail design.  This part is lots of fun — there are seasonal designs, classic Barbie motifs, fruits, sweets, cupcakes and you can even import your own designs. You then re-insert your finger and then push print…the design is printed on your finger! They provide top coat to seal the design.

Adding the white coat that comes with the printer

Adding the white coat that comes with the printer

Given the current climate, it feels off suggesting that anyone spend this much on this type of product. In the past, this machine would have definitely made our Big Ticket Item List for those over-the-top kind of gifts.  The machine is marked 8 & up…and while most girls are aging out of Barbie earlier, I’m sure this will be a hit with tween, teens and their moms.  In fact, I suspect that many 20 somethings would LOVE being invited to try this machine out.

You'll need a PC computer to work with the printer

You'll need a PC computer to work with the printer

We went with the Classic Barbie Head

We went with the Classic Barbie Head

To see the finished product…one nail with Barbie’s Head, one with an “S” and one with a pineapple….

Watch Our Video

*Major league catchers often put white nail polish on so that their pitchers can see their signals better.

Oh by the way, the band-aid on my finger is not from this toy.  In fact one of the reasons I insisted on trying this myself is that you do have to stick your finger in a machine…so I wanted to do it before I suggested that any child do the same. It doesn’t hurt at all and, in fact it’s very cool.

Pick of the Day: Stack 'n Surprise Count 'n Build Snail Pail

41viaooCcKL._SL500_AA280_If you’re looking for a game that will be fun to play with your older baby (8 months) and younger toddler…bring home the new Stack’ n Surprise Count ‘n Build Snail Pail.  It’s just right for fill and spill games.  In the beginning you’ll be doing most of the stacking…but filling is a great deal of fun for sitting up babies.  The pieces are just the right size…and the clear container makes is fun to see where they go! For a full review, visit www.toyportfolio.com. This set won an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.

Rocky the Talking Truck and Monty T-Rex Dance it Out!

Talking Truck dances with Roaring T-Rex….watch the video.

So after I got done video taping these guys, I went back to work in the other room.  But it turns out they didn’t need me to keep going…here are two photos taking about 20 minutes apart…they are quite able to entertain themselves…and move about! In the second photo it looks like Monty is leading a Congo line!

dancingtoysdancingtoy2

Matchbox Rocky the Talking Truck Makes Friends

Matchbox Rocky the Talking Truck

Matchbox Rocky the Talking Truck

Decided to introduce Matchbox Rocky the Talking Truck (click here for full review)…to some of our friends in the office. Watch the video.