Behind the scenes at The Today Show

At the Today Show talking toys with Willie Geist and Steve Harvey

At the Today Show talking toys with Willie Geist and Steve Harvey

Last night I had odd dreams that were both a combination of Downton Abbey (I still feel so upset about the season’s ending)  and worrying that some of the prototypes (especially the last flying toy) wouldn’t work. By three in the morning I had Maggie Smith commenting on the series of spy toys we had on. Not the best night’s sleep.

Right before the segment with the Hot Wheel Car Maker

Right before the segment with the Hot Wheel Car Maker

This morning seemed very, very quiet. Maybe because it was soooo cold outside–it just seemed more laid back than usual. Since we were showing prototypes, there were no kids scheduled to be on the segment with me. That also made the green room less lively.  (Everyone did perk up when the Jeopardy teen champ came in.)  My mom, fresh back from her adventure through South America, was with me–which is always great. There was a guest there speaking about a 21 day cleanse. The whole idea made me hungry.

The segment was fun. You can watch it here. Willie Geist is fantastic and as a Dad with two young children, he’s totally in the toy zone. Steve Harvey was guest co-hosting today and was a total sport–trying out the Spy Net Lie Detector Toy from Jakks Pacific and flying one of the Atmospheres from Spin Master. Special thanks to Cara from LEGO and Rachel from Spin Master for coming in to make sure that they’re prototypes worked on camera. All the toys we showed today are featured on my blog posts from last week.

Love this picture because Steve is still playing with the toy!!

Love this picture because Steve is still playing with the toy!!



Calling George Jetson and Luke Skywalker: We have your toys

When I found out that Think Fun’s new Laser Maze comes with a real laser, I felt as if we were now truly in a new century of toys. There are many “laser-like” toys on the market.

Laser Maze from Think Fun

Laser Maze from Think Fun

Spin Master’s new super-cool looking Laser Defense System, for example, features a high intensity LED light, not a laser.  Laser Maze is similar to other classic brain teasers from Think Fun where the challenges become increasingly more complex (the game comes with 60). The game play is to move the pieces so that the laser bends off the mirrors and splitters on the game pieces to hit the target. We look forward to testing it.

My other futuristic favorite toy so far is the grapefruit-sized AtmoSPHERE from Spin Master. The orb-like flying toy promises to respond to motion. So once you activate it, you will be able to control where it goes by moving your hands around it. While not quite Luke Skywalker’s first lesson with his lightsaber, it is pretty amazing. We look forward to trying this one too.

Atmosphere from Spin Master

Atmosphere from Spin Master James Bond would love these spy toys

There have been spy toys in the past, but this season’s batch will make you think that Q has quit his gig for MI5 and set up shop in toyland. With high-powered real audio and visual capturing capabilities, these “toys” pose real privacy issues. But just looking in terms of technology and design…they’re pretty amazing. (Of course, these are all prototypes and we have not tested any of them with kids yet.)

Spin Master has taken control of the Spy Gear line from Wild Planet and given it a real “spy like” make over.  We were intrigued by the Laser Defense Network ($19.99). Here you set up the devices to create a red beam of light.  If someone breaks the red line by passing through, an alarm will sound. Their Spike Mic Launcher includes an audio mic dart that you can shoot off onto a wall and grab 30 minutes of sound. (We don’t recommend projectile toys as a rule but we thought the design/function were worth a mention). The Panosphere 360 Spy Cam really got our attention.

Spin Master's Panosphere 360 Spy Camera

Spin Master’s Panosphere 360 Spy Camera

The small probe like device (close to the size of a tennis ball) can be rolled into any room and then allows you to capture video (and sound) with a full panoramic 360 degree view.  The software platform will enable users to access different perspectives each time they look at a video.  Amazing if it works.

Spy Net Let Detector from Jakks Pacific

Spy Net Let Detector from Jakks Pacific

Now once you’ve captured your spy…you’ll want to test whether the information he’s giving you is reliable.  To assist with your interrogation, you may want to consider Jakks Pacific’s new Spy Net Lie Detector.  (At first I thought this was the name of the evil company  in the Terminator movies–but that’s Sky Net). The three biometric sensors scan your body for temperature and brain activity – all meant to help determine the veracity of a statement. There is a free downloadable APP (of course there is) to help with the questions.

We will be testing these toys and posting our reviews to


Not your father’s trading cards…Spin Master’s New Redakai

3D is everywhere — so it’s not that surprising that it will make its way to a new set of trading cards from Spin Master.  They will start at $5.99 for a set of 11 in the Fall when the show launches on the Cartoon Network.  I’m still waiting for the moving wizard cards from Harry Potter (there are trading cards but the wizards don’t move…yet!)

Another cool day at toy fair 2010!

We had another big day at Javits today. I went in a dress (since I thought I was doing tv) and carrying tv shoes (there’s no way you can do Javits in tv shoes!)

We started at LEGO…always one of our favorites stops, visited with STEP 2 to see lots of fun new outdoor toys, International Playthings (super cute new toys from Calico Critters), Spin Master (lots of flying toys) and at Creativity for Kids we met the inventor of Shrinky Dinks!

My iPhone died right as we got to Spin Master–which was too bad since there were lots of fun things to tape there.  Oh well. I did bring my charger–but alas the one that plugs into my computer, not an outlet. Pretty lame on my part.  Below is a picture of Kate from International Playthings trying to find an adaptor so that we can charge my phone using the crank radio from their Ecotronics link. Unfortunately there wasn’t one that worked with my phone, but I was really so grateful to Kate for the effort!

Kate from International Playthings

Trends from ToyFair 2009: Spin Master's GloDoodle

glodoodle_lifestyle_hiresWe’re eager to test Spin Master’s new Glodoodle ($19.99/available this fall)…It promises to be a light up drawing platform.  Much like the classic Magna Doodle in design (with a stylus) or last  year’s  Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award winning Glow Station from Crayola that is now available in a travel size. You can draw on this board and then with a push of the button the image is suppose to clear completely.  Maybe because I grew up making long car trips — I always wanted something that I could play with in the back seat.   I know it would have cut down on the number of shoving fights with my brothers.  I guess in an era of built in DVD players in the car, it’s not the same issue–but it’s still nice to have a creative outlet that works after dark.

Trends From ToyFair 2009: SpinMasters Air Hogs Switchblade

airhogsswitchblade2Last year we spent way too much time flying Spin Master’s little Havoc Helis around our office. We got pretty good at it too–so we’re pretty psyched that they have new flying machines!  The Switchblade promises to take off like a UFO and transform in the air–into a hig powered aircraft.   We’ll have to go outside for this one…field trip!