If you’ve ever been at a big trade show, you know that after a day or two–you start craving real air, real food, real anything. Something about concrete floors (badly covered with carpeting), horrible concession food and the din of the crowds that makes you want to find a tree and hug it. So I was happy to have a little nature (albeit plastic) retreat in the miniature at Safari Ltd. - they are the masters of making really small animals.
We visited briefly with Safari’s President, Ramona Pariente- who was very gracious even though we were in the final hours of the show and by our own admission a little slap happy to be approaching the finish line.
You’ve probably seen their line in museum, gift and specialty stores. I’m not sure why but this collection of super small animals makes me so happy. What is it about miniature things that seem so fun?
Of course these small animals are just right as props for dramatic play whether it’s in combination with blocks or just on their own. The line is so extensive, that you’re bound to be able to find the animals, fish, bugs or birds that capture your child’s interest. Designed for kids 3 & up, these are wonderful to collect and play with!
We stopped byPlaymobil today and visited with Michelle Winfrey. Last year you’ll remember we gave the Playmobil Egyptian setting our Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award. Each year we wonder what will be the big new theme. This year, there were several new sets that I think will be a hit with our testers. The two biggest sets are the Dragons - complete with Castles that can connect by a bridge. It made me think of that portion of the original Shrek movie. (Of course here the dragons are not trying to court Eddie Murphy, but hey it’s pretend so I guess anything’s possible!). You can take a closer look by watching our video with Michelle.
Playmobil's Fire Fighter Sets
The next set that really caught our attention was the Fire Fighters. What we love about Playmobil is the attention to detail in planning a series. As you’ll notice in our video of the Fire Fighters series, there’s not only a really cool looking fire station (complete with pole), there are two different fire trucks, a fire chief’s truck and a fire boat.
Declare the day a beach day. Have kids prepare a picnic–and picnic like food. Take out the beach towels. While throwing on bathing suits can be fun, it’s even more fun over your pjs. Sometimes doing something really silly–can change the tone in your house. Truth be told–often the parents need a reset button.
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.
From the new Stack’n Surprise Blocks Line by Fisher-Price. I’m always being asked for the best new little vehicles for older babies and toddlers. This little yellow and blue dump truck is just right for this stage. It comes with two blocks that have little “faces” that pop up when placed on the truck. Good for rolling and exploring.
“Wow” was how the review started from one of our testing families. Our tester parent sent us the following review after watching her kids enjoy this setting : “The complete set with the large boat, submarine, small boat, diving cage, deep sea diving bell. etc. etc is just incredible. Each set individually or all of them together provide innumerable opportunities for pretend play. The figurines and all of the accessories provide EVERYTHING a child needs to act out nautical stories. I am amazed by the level of detail in each set.”
This set is right for the bathtub…this family also plays with it on “land”…
If you have a child that likes to pretend with miniature settings…this is one to consider!
As always Barbie is in touch with pop/cultural trends. In the past, she’s been a teacher, a vet, a pediatrician…but for this year–she’s aspiring to go with the glitz and glamour of hosting her own cooking show. Move over Rachel, Martha, Giada…there’s a new chef in town. Set ($24.99) comes with camera, demo table, lights, oven and refrigerator. Where’s the make up and hair stylist? We actually like this smart and savvy take on Barbie!
Our activity suggestion: have your young chefs tape their own cooking shows. While they’re having fun, they’ll also be researching a menu to cook (reading, planning)–do some measuring (math) in the process and practice their presentation skills. At the end of the day, you’ll have a snap shot of your school age kids that you’ll treasure.