Can you say Spartacus?

One of the most innovative pretend settings of the season is Playmobil’s Arena. Complete with lions, trap doors and the original “stadium seating” this is a large setting that also comes with a play mat to extend the area of play. As with most Playmobil sets, the Arena will require an adult involved in the building. There are lots of pieces and no one expects your five year old to be able to do the building independently. One parent we spoke with plans on having the whole thing built and under the tree ready to go for Christmas morning. That’s one approach (if you haven’t left everything else to be wrapped)…but I much prefer making the building project a parent/child event. Depending on the age of your child, you may be doing more of the building–but putting it together is part of the experience. It also reinforces that not everything is instantaneous…projects can take some time. Not a bad concept to share with your kids.

If a more modern pretend setting is more your thing, we also liked the new Playmobil Hospital (but it was not tested for lead content). This multi-level hospital has all of the wonderful attention to detail that Playmobil is well known for including wheelchairs, gurneys and a baby nursery.

OTP Platinum Awards on Today Show tomorrow

Just got back from setting up our toy segment for the Today Show tomorrow morning. Rockefeller Center was packed with all the people waiting for the tree lighting–an event that seems to get bigger and bigger every year. We have so many great toys to talk about–and only about 4 minutes to cover just a small portion of our Platinum List (complete list is on our site at As hard as this season has been because of the lead/safety issues, it’s always fun to see our award winners ready for tv the night before. While we don’t make any of these toys or sell them, after a year of searching for the “best”, we do get a certain sense of pride about them. The studio was packed with cooking segment people, holiday table decoration people, producers, art directors and the amazing crew that puts it all together. It’s a dance of boxes, props and people — that happens every afternoon like clockwork!