Calico Critters – A Classic that appeals to the iphone generation

Calico Critters were first launched in Japan way back in 1985. They arrived in North America  in 1993 and are currently distributed by International Playthings.  (They’re known in other countries as Sylvanian families). No matter the name, these small animal collections are enjoying a resurgence with the “iphone generation” of preschoolers and early school age kids.

Calico Critters Ice Cream Truck

Calico Critters Ice Cream Truck

Unless your heart is stone cold, you have to admit that Calico Critters are seriously cute. Even for a preschool generation that lives on fruit ninjas and can navigate youtube like pros, there’s something appealing to actually holding a Calico Critter in your hand.  Our testers also love that they come in families.  For kids that like to pretend in miniature (as opposed to whole body pretending) – Calico Critters will say whatever they want them to say.  There are no bells and whistles here – which is why they’re probably still so popular.

Here’s a link to our most recent reviews of their Border Collie FamilyIce Cream Truck, and Treehouse.




Play-Doh Sweets to Make…but not to eat.

I find it confusing to have toys for preschoolers where you make “food” but you can’t eat them – especially when they look so pretty. I get the whole pretend aspect of this toy and that many kids (including some of our testers) enjoy this product, but maybe because I was the kid that would have tasted it for sure,  it makes me wonder about the wisdom of such a toy. While I do have a soft spot for Play-Doh extruder accessories,  I generally prefer Play-Doh as an open-ended experience – after all, what’s better than making Play-Doh snakes?!

Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe from Hasbro

Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe from Hasbro

What do you think?

Breast Milk Baby Doll

New to the US market, this Breast Milk Baby doll will allow your child to simulate breast feeding. Thoughts?

Here’s how it works. According to the company’s press release…

The Breast Milk Baby simulates the breast-feeding process by including a fashionable halter-top that a young girl can put on like a vest and when she brings the Breast Milk Baby doll’s mouth up to the pretty flower decoration on the vest the doll makes a soft, suckling sound. The two flowers on the halter are positioned where the nipples would be and when the mouth of the doll is brought close to the embedded sensors in the flower, the baby makes motions and suckling sounds.

Pick of the Day: Calico Critters Country Tree House

Calico Critters Hedghogs- Amazing!

Even though I absolutely shunned my own colonial dollhouse (sorry Mom)…I really have always loved the Calico Critters (International Playthings)  and their houses over the years. The collections always feature what look like storybook animal families and miniature settings that fit them.  I am absolutely obsessed with the Hedgehog family (see pic). This year they have a new Country Tree House that has lots of levels and features. Read our complete review.

Calico Critters Country Tree House

Pick of the day: blabla kids Elephants

Blabla Kids Elephants

Delicious!  These blabla kids elephants just make you smile.  We love the whole collection of animals and girl/boy dolls- just right for toddlers and preschoolers (and their parents!). For a complete review and shopping info visit our site by clicking here.

Pick of the Day: Plan Toys Planimals

If you have a child into blocks and mini-pretend settings, be sure to check out Plan Toys new line of wooden Planimals. They are beautifully crafted and just right for adding more dimension to your child’s pretend play.  There are three sets (Australia, Africa and Polar).  Read our complete reviews by clicking here for Australia, Africa, and Polar.

Pick of the Day: Leap Frog Cook & Play Potsy

Leap Frog Cook & Play Potsy

I told Al Roker yesterday that I had a little crush on this toy, to which Al expressed some concern for me – but I really do love this pretend toy! Most concept toys are so boring or they have that same sweet woman’s voice (I think she’s related to the annoyingly perky GPS woman).  The folks at Leap Frog have a male actor saying “open” “shut” or “off” “on” -every time you take the lid off the pot or put it back on. But instead of just saying it the same way…you know the guy has some theater background…the tenor of his voice changes.  It’s just funny and very welcomed.  I do wish that when you put the pieces of food in the pot that the pot recognized them–that would have been very cool, but probably would have made the toy super expensive.  Fill and spill toys are always a hit with sitting up babies and young toddlers–so this toy is right on target without the sound effects.  I’m not in love with the songs it sings…but the open/shut gets me every time. Watch our video. Read our complete review at

Get ready for the doll wars….

An amazing new collection of dolls just arrived called Dollie & Me from Madame Alexander. They cost $29.99 – incredible. Additional clothes are available for both the doll (and girls). The two sample dresses we received were very holiday-ish…there are also “school outfits” and pjs. The clothes range from 2T to 16.  They range from $34 to $62. They’re all are very special and much more reasonably priced than American Girl.