Elmo, The Duggars, and Lisa VanderPump- oh my!

This morning my mother and I headed uptown to do a segment on the Today Show about the season’s hot toys. Let’s Rock Elmo is one of the toys we’re going to talk about. My overriding concern going uptown was the massive zit on my face.  Don’t you think at a certain age that you should get a pass on acne?  My hitting the Halloween candy hard last week probably didn’t help the situation…but still, I do believe that there should be a time limit on the whole adult acne thing.

The good news is that the AMAZING makeup artist Christine waved her magic brushes over my face (in other words spackle was used) and the zit was gone. Seriously–it’s pretty magical. My hair is done–all is good. The kids started arriving for the segment.

The Duggars graciously agreed to let two of their daughters join us. The Duggars were on the Today Show to announce that they were expecting baby #20!  Michelle Duggar and I had a  conversation about our respective cravings during pregnancy. I wondered if they changed over time.  I take my hat off to her–I can’t imagine twenty trips down that road.  She has a very calm core– also necessary to run a household with that many kids!

Our segment was bumped so we were scheduled to post-tape. So we had the kids in the studio, turning the toys on…but then it was decided  to have us back live on Thursday instead-so off we go.

So before we left, I went to the ladies room. And then Lisa VanderPump joined me as I was waiting my turn. She was very friendly.

I’ll own up to it, I am a RHWBH watcher. I don’t want to – but then I can’t stop myself.  It’s the sheer genius of Bravo programming. That’s probably a whole other blog posting. Anyway, I marveled at the seriously high Brian Atwood leopard print pumps she was wearing.  I’ve tried them on (not in the leopard print) –and while I think I look pretty silly in them, they looked great on her.  They make my Jimmy Choo’s look like they’re from the children’s department. For the record, most of these shoes are not in keeping with my feminist roots or my desire not to be crippled, but I also do enjoy being taller. So maybe I’m more a height-ist than a feminist.  I just always wonder whether  anyone finds these shoes comfortable?  In any case, Lisa looked terrific and was on the show to discuss her new book about entertaining.

We then went to visit the wonderful Richard Davies at ABC Radio to talk toys!

So even though I didn’t get to discuss the hot toys of the season on the Today Show yet, it was still a fun day.  The nexus of Michelle Duggar and Lisa Vanderpump–now that’s pretty intense. Tune in Thursday morning in the 9 o’clock hour to see our segment!





We’re getting ready for our annual trip uptown to see Richard Davies at ABC Radio Network.  Richard was one of the first members of the mainstream press to take a chance on the toyportfolio when we first started.  Each year we go up to the ABC studios with a collection of NOISY toys.  It’s radio after all–so the noisier the better!  Last year Richard started doing podcasts of his interviews – so now this also means there is video tape–calling for more toys and oh yes, some hair and makeup.

Radio -especially shows that are going to be edited always invite a much more laid back feeling to them.  The video camera is another aspect – you have to sit up straight–you can’t poke your mother in the same way you would if no one was looking.  No wacky faces. In other words you have to behave more.

We probably have too many toys in our bag–many are talking all on their own. The snake is hissing, Mickey is asking us to dance along!

Our morning at ABC Radio with Richard Davies


ABC's Richard Davies trying MindFlex

When we first started the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, one of the first major media placements we got was with ABC’s Richard Davies.  For that first interview, Richard traveled down to our office (a corner of my apartment) and did the interview at my dining room table with a cassette player and microphone.  Our interview was peppered with my son Adam (a toddler at the time) breaking out of the other room and running up to Richard.  He was fascinated with the microphone and Richard is the kind of guy kids relate to right away.  Ever since that first interview, the holidays don’t happen without going to talk to Richard (we now go to his studio).

Richard knows toys and kids–so our conversations are always fun and informed.  He doesn’t look at us the way many adults do when we say we play with toys for a living.  He gets what we do. Each interview session  always starts with a catch up on our respective kids (a conversation that has moved from their favorite toys and video games to what high schools, what colleges, and first jobs, oh my!).

Today there were many more people there–so as everyone was getting the technical aspects of the webcast going, I had Richard try out the new MindFlex– a very futurist toy.  Regrettably we didn’t put this on video–because it was really fun to watch Richard try his hand, or should I say mind, with this new toy. To see our demo, click here.

During the interview, I started talking about having several of the interactive toys play together and that I’ve had a good time filming them interact.  Richard thought I was crazy…and my mother sort of agreed that my new fascination with filming these toys together is a little out of control.

After any interview, you always have regrets about what you didn’t say.  And as much as I do like mixing it up and experimenting with different platforms for discussing toys, I do take toys and play seriously.

What I didn’t say today–is that I think what we do has more meaning than ever before.  Dollars are tight and as much as we all want to delight our kids with toys, the days of filling up the cart without care are over.  We started the toyportfolio during the recession of the early 90s…and our mission remains the same.  We do try all the new toys so that we can save parents time and money.  Our reviews are informed by our backgrounds in child development–so not only do we recommend products that work and that are engaging–but we give the underpinnings about why this particular type of play is important to your child’s development.  OK, there I said it.

Richard commented “you used to be so serious.”  During the past few years with all of the safety issues surrounding toyland, I was extremely serious.   This year, things are almost back to normal in toyland.  So maybe that reflects some of my silliness today–although I was completely vindicated once I shared my videos with Richard and his gang — after all toys dancing together is pretty funny stuff.  My favorite youtube video so far is   Rocky the Talking Truck Makes Friends.


Joanne in the ABC Studio

So we were delighted to be Richard’s first “webcast” guests for his new show, Shopping for Kids,  that will air on-line  (more details to come).  Of course this meant that we needed to be “camera” ready and that we could bring toys that did not make noise.  In the past, we only brought things that made “good radio”–the more noise  the better. We wish Richard the best with his new show!