Hot Wheels are always fun. This year the big track of the season is the relaunch of a classic…the Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Track (Mattel). This closed, clover leaf track is an opportunity to crash your favorite Hot Wheels. Watch our video from Toy Fair. Now if you’re really old school, you’ll remember that the fun of Hot Wheels was making your track as long as possible…down the staircase was always the best. There were a few loops – but making your own system was the point. Closed tracks are a novelty – since there isn’t much to do besides watch the cars go. This track is a little better in this department since you are always feeding the system with new cars. Stay tuned. We’ll have a complete review at www.toyportfolio.com once we receive a set
Last year we’d have to say that Mattel’s Matchbox Rocky pretty much ran over Hasbro’s Tonka’s Talkin’ Chuck. Rocky just did so much more. (Watch the video of these two head to head.) This year we’ll have to see how the new Tonka Rumblin’ Chuck- who promises to do many more tricks (including moving side to side as if he’s ready to line dance)…will compare to the farting Stinky Garbage Truck from Mattel. We’ll be interested to test both of these interactive trucks when they arrive..for now you can check out their prototypes from Toy Fair. Click here to watch Rumblin’ Chuck.
Here’s Stinky…to watch him in action, click here to view our video.
Imagine a piece of paper that you can play like a guitar, a drum set…sounds pretty cool. WowWee, always on the cutting edge of fun tech toys, is bringing out a new line call Paper Jamz. The line will include paper thin instruments (six guitars, six drums and an amplifier) that uses what they call Active Graphic Technology. We didn’t get to play with the prototypes at toy fair, but we hope to have samples to try by early Spring. The products will retail from $14.99 for the amp and $24.99 for the drums and guitars.
What some parents may really love..there is volume control AND you can plug in earphones so that your rock-musician-in-training can rock out without driving you crazy!
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 had a neighbor when I was growing up who was most proud of her plastic flamingos. Of course, some people (who shall remain nameless) had great fun moving those flamingos from time to time throughout the neighborhood. Hey, it’s more humane than tipping cows.
As a result, I’ve always had a fondness for the plastic flamingo. This pair is from Playmobil.
Hard not to smile, right? Calico Critters from International Playthings, stay tuned.
Chalk News. You know I’m all a huge fan of their chalk. This year there are new super sets of 3D Chalk (one features Toy Story). I love this stuff. But what’s really new is a chalk making set. Looks like our kind of craft kit- we’ll have to see how it works. They also have a spiral top for chalk. My brothers will tell you, I really stink at the spining top thing but even I think I can make this one work. Watch the next post for a demo of the spiral chalk top.
Model Magic. How cute is this new set where you can make little pieces to add to forms.
Also big, things that Glow in the Dark. During our visit to their showroom, the lights were being turned off repeatedly to show off more glow-in-the-dark sets. I have a sense some will be more successful than others -but we’ll put them all to the test as they come out. We gave their Glow Station an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.
New Crafts for Tweens. They have a new line called Pop Art Pixies, featuring four tweens (that look like they’re related to the Fashion Angels) – each has a theme. One likes to recycle, one likes to decorate…you get the idea. Some of the kits looked like they would be great fun for 9-12 year old crafters. Stay tuned. I particularly liked the look of the recycle kits – and will be interested to see how our testers react.
Amazing On-line Program. You send in a picture of your child, they create a cartoon image based on that photo, you then customize your own coloring book adventure featuring your now “cartoon” child. LOVE this. You get the code for this site when you buy a certain size box of crayons (hey, who doesn’t need a new box of Crayola?). This new platform will launch officially in the fall–but we’re working out details for making it available to our readers soon.
We’ve completed another toy fair season! I do have to say that the toy industry has become a much greener place. In the old days, we would have had suitcases full of press kits and binders. Now we have a few bags (made of recycled material I might add) mostly filled with flash drives. Now that I have my iphone as my trusty notebook of what we see, I’m fine with the lack of paper images.
While this is not the most innovative year in toyland..and there is a definite lack of technology…there will be many new wonderful products to write about for 2010. We will start posting reviews on our site, www.toyportfolio.com, as the products start rolling in.