What an amazing two months we’ve had working with over 200 families in 24 states (with seven sets of twins) in order to conduct the first TODAY Show/toyportfolio.com Toy Review. Tomorrow I’ll be on to share the results for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. A special thank you to all the families that participated and gave us their feedback on the toys they reviewed! I hope you’ll tune! To read all the results, please visit www.toyportfolio.com.
I’m always on the look out for craft kits that are good for a rainy day like today (where isn’t it raining?)
The new Paper Bead Jewelry Set from Creativity for Kids is a very satisfying kit with lots of pretty paper to work with. Plenty for a play date or siblings to share. Read our full review at www.toyportfolio.com .
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.
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.
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 toyportfolio.com.
1. Scum Drum Garbage Game. The game play here is to collect all the garbage. We couldn’t make this up if we tried. Pieces promise to “tumble through the sewer pipe!”
2.Scatter Brainz – Sticky brain-like darts. The game play is to collect them all. Play pieces include: Coma Toes, Stinkin’ Rich, Darting Death, Nano-Neurotic. (Also good luck explaining neurotic to your 8 year old.)
4. Little Mommy Doll with simulated poop in the potty. Some things should be left to your child’s imagination.
For toys worth your child’s time, take a look at our list of 2012 Platinum, Gold, Blue Chip and SNAP (Special Needs Adaptable Product Awards) at www.toyportfolio.com.
We had a fun segment on the Today Show talking about some of our Platinum Award winners. It’s always painful selecting the 10 toys to show (turns out we actually had 11!). As we pulled up to the show, Martin Freeman was already at the door – surrounded by photographers and people looking for autographs. I prayed that as my mother and I climbed out of the very high SUV we would not fall with all of those cameras so near by. We exited the car gracefully. You can watch the segment below.
While I was getting hair and makeup done, I tweeted that there was a hobbit in the building. Just as I finished, Martin Freeman walked out of his dressing room behind me. I smiled. He returned my smile. My grandmother always used to tell me “it doesn’t cost anything to smile” – he got the same lesson along the way. He was very friendly to everyone. Until I see The Hobbit next week, to me he is still Watson from the BBC Sherlock series. I’m a huge fan.
We had lots of kids for this particular segment. They all were terrific while they waited for our time in the studio. In fact, we were brought upstairs and then the schedule got moved around a bit. They were amazingly well-behaved and calm as they waited even longer out in the hallway. Here are some of their pics.
This was the first time I was doing a segment with Willie Geist, the new host of the 9 o’clock hour. He’s great…and with two young kids, he’s in the toy zone.
Happily we got to talk about some of our favorite toys of the year from Fisher-Price, Wonderworld, Hasbro, North American Bear Co., LEGO, Playmobil, Marbles, The Brain Store, LeapFrog, Silverlit and Mattel. All of our Platinum Award winners are broken down by age with full reviews at www.toyportfolio.com.
After the segment, Willie took a picture with Joanne (who has been part of the WG fan club from his Morning Joe days).
It was a very good day…and I am forever grateful to my mother for taking a risk and starting the toyportfolio with me. She is the most generous mentor and business partner. Our adventure through toyland together is one of the great gifts of my life.
LEGO Systems has a brand new Alien Mothership that offers builders a really unusual build. The addition of a new gear at the middle allows the center of the spaceship to spin. LEGO has also added an alien sound piece to the mix. Great fun! Watch our video.
Remember asking this question as a kid? Or hearing it from the backseat of your car now that you’re a parent? Wonderopolis.org is a wonderful new site that poses such questions (and answers) every day. The site (the brainchild of the National Center for Family Literacy) is geared for parents and kids to explore together. Educator and Today Show Correspondent Jenna Bush Hager is getting the word out about the site and their programs for the summer. Read my interview with Jenna at www.toyportfolio.com.
The rain this morning made me hopeful that Spring can’t be that far away. And for some reason…when I think Spring…I think scooters. As I’m writing this I realize that many people probably don’t go directly to scooters…but hey, I play with toys.
I’m looking forward to testing the newest scooter from Razor USA…this one has a piece of chalk in the back. Wondering how it will work…without the chalk breaking. Last year they had a “spark” off the back end…something our testers enjoyed as a novelty. Even though this has been given an edgy name, it’s called the Graffiti Action Scooter, this is a kinder and gentler scooter that will probably appeal to a different audience. Stay tuned.
Each year there are certain concepts that just seem to be in the air at toy fair. This year we are already seeing certain themes emerging for 2011.
Banana Splits, Taxis and Toilets…