Zoom, Zoom! Creativity for Kid’s Cardboard Coupe and Cardboard Racer

Pretend play is really important to developing your child’s language skills and her imagination. Giving them props for pretend play can be as easy as a basket of your old clothes or some work supplies (post-its are always a favorite). Some kids like to pretend in the miniature (these are the kids that walk around with small action figures, animals, cars)…other kids LOVE using their whole bodies to act out their own scenarios.  These are the kids that rather be the superhero rather than play with a little plastic representation.

You know pretty quickly which kind of pretender you have in your house.

If whole body pretending is your child’s preference, take a look at two new craft kits from Creativity for Kids. There is the Cardboard Coupe (think love, peace and the VW Beetle) or the Cardboard Racer (bright red and ready to go really fast!).  Obviously you’ll have to help with putting this together–and the decorating will also be a joint project, but then you’ll have a car for your child to “ride” around in. We’re giving both cars an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award.

Nature at Toy Fair courtesy of Safari Ltd.

In the middle of Toy Fair...a gentle bear.

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. Wilderness in the miniature

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!

Nature (really tiny) from Safari Ltd.

Toy Fair 2010 Preview: Playmobil – get ready to build!

Playmobil's Dragon

We stopped by Playmobil 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.

Snow Day!

Snowed in? Cranky?

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.

Buying a Dollhouse: What you need to know

Read Joanne’s article on buying dollhouses–front page of our site today….www.toyportfolio.com.

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.

 

Pick of the Day: Kota & Pals Stompers from Hasbro

Kota & Pals Stompers: Triceratops

Kota & Pals Stompers: Triceratops

I’ve been playing with this fun little dino all summer.  Unlike the BIG Kota from last season, this little guy actually walks!   For a demo and full review, visit the website today www.toyportfolio.com.

Pick of the Day: Blockity-Pop Dump Truck

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.