Delicious! These blabla kids elephants just make you smile. We love the whole collection of animals and girl/boy dolls- just right for toddlers and preschoolers (and their parents!). For a complete review and shopping info visit our site by clicking here.
Ugly Dolls have been around for a while but we thought that they deserved a special shout out this year. The new cast of 2010 Ugly Dolls arrived on a day this summer when were swamped with toys that we just didn’t think kids would play with for very long. As soon as the Ugly Dolls got unpacked, everyone wanted one. They appeal to both young and old (and we count ourselves on the older part of that spectrum!). In fact when we have kids in for testing days–they all want to go home with an Ugly Doll. I think that says something about the inviting whimsy of these soft, huggable zany creatures. If you’re shopping for a hard to buy for tween or teen, Ugly Dolls are usually a welcomed gift. For a review of this year’s dolls and shopping info, visit www.toyportfolio.com.
If you have a child into blocks and mini-pretend settings, be sure to check out Plan Toys new line of wooden Planimals. They are beautifully crafted and just right for adding more dimension to your child’s pretend play. There are three sets (Australia, Africa and Polar). Read our complete reviews by clicking here for Australia, Africa, and Polar.
I told Al Roker yesterday that I had a little crush on this toy, to which Al expressed some concern for me – but I really do love this pretend toy! Most concept toys are so boring or they have that same sweet woman’s voice (I think she’s related to the annoyingly perky GPS woman). The folks at Leap Frog have a male actor saying “open” “shut” or “off” “on” -every time you take the lid off the pot or put it back on. But instead of just saying it the same way…you know the guy has some theater background…the tenor of his voice changes. It’s just funny and very welcomed. I do wish that when you put the pieces of food in the pot that the pot recognized them–that would have been very cool, but probably would have made the toy super expensive. Fill and spill toys are always a hit with sitting up babies and young toddlers–so this toy is right on target without the sound effects. I’m not in love with the songs it sings…but the open/shut gets me every time. Watch our video. Read our complete review at www.toyportfolio.com.
Just got back from set up. We’re going to have lots of kids on the set–many under three so we’ll see how the segment goes. My little friend Harper, who ran the segment last time is making a return appearance – this time along with her little brother. I’m the opposite of W.C. Fields–I love having kids on the set–it gives new meaning to the concept of “anything goes.”
I’m really happy with the collection of toys we’re showing tomorrow but I always feel terrible about all the other amazing toys on our list that aren’t getting their moment on air. As usual we’ve packed in as many as we can for four minutes! Happily this year we have tons of streaming video on almost all of our award winners.
Got uptown this afternoon just in time to catch the last float from the Columbus Day Parade. I’ve lived in NYC for over twenty years and I don’t think I’ve ever really attended this parade so it was fun to see it.
I know they keep saying the economy is in rough shape–but you’d never know it from the crowds around Rockefeller Center! The city is full of tourists. The holidays can’t be too far away when they open the ice skating rink (see below).
Now that Fisher-Price no longer has Elmo, the big push for this season in the novelty doll category will be Dance Star Mickey. He made our Platinum Toy Award List– hey, he’s Mickey, he’s pure novelty and he dances. We just got a press release indicating that his rollout commercial will be tonight during ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Makes sense and to bring more things into cultural sync, he will be in the commercial with Donny Osmond. The fact that Mickey does Michael Jackson’s moon walk also seems right since if you grew up in the late 60s, you probably watched both the Jacksons and Osmonds at some point (both had their own cartoons).
Every time I turn on the tv, there’s a new report of where bug bugs are now…forget tacky hotels, they’re now everywhere it seems (stores, movie theaters). The old expression “sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite” doesn’t seem like a cute little thing to say to your kids as you turn off the lights. I’m itchy just thinking about it.
The game is still fun (if you can get over the current hype about the real bugs). Comes with a bed that’s just hopping with bed bugs, literally (the bed is motorized so the bugs really do move about). The youngest player calls out a color and then it’s a free for all where all players are trying to get those colored bugs out of the bed with a tong.
Wonder if the current epidemic will help or hurt the sales of this classic game.
After two very intensive weeks of looking at what seemed like a boat load of plastic toys…I finally decided we were ready for a treat. We opened the box from blabla kids. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against plastic toys per se – many are on our top list this year- but there’s something really special about this collection of dolls. They’re both deliciously retro and fresh in design and spirit.
Take a look at just two of the new dolls that we’re reviewing this morning.
This morning at the Today Show was great fun. You can watch the segment by clicking here. I was worried that I only had two kids coming on the show with me. I usually have between eight and ten kids demonstrating our picks on the set. I always like the energy of having kids there–their reactions say volumes more than my talking about the details! So this morning I had 3 year old Henry and 3 year old Harper. Both were enjoying the water table on the set–sharing well and doing what kids do at water tables–they explored all the buckets (many with holes) and they got a little wet while they spilled and filled the center post of the toy.
Right as the segment started, Harper wanted to see the bug things I was showing to Ann. And from that moment on — it was really Harper’s segment. I loved it. She was really into seeing the bugs and I’m not sure it came through but she wanted everyone to know about a grasshopper she had seen recently. She then decided to play a little bit with the water table–and then she needed to visit her Dad, the wonderful Art/Set Director for the show…she got a hug and then came back to the set. Henry continued to play at the water table with his Dad even when Ann crashed the big Titan Airplane right into the table! No tears–he just kept on playing!
While we didn’t get to all of the products I had brought, it was a fun segment thanks to Ann and two really cute three year olds!
For all of the details about the products from this morning, visit www.toyportfolio.com.
When I saw this toy at Toy Fair, I was psyched. Little Tikes made a teeter toy years ago so I was happy to see it back in the line. I used to love teeter toys as a kid — it is a toy that involved having a good friend. Someone that would not give you too rough a ride, calm it down if it was going too fast (clearly you can see that I had issues). Rollercoasters were never my thing – a good teeter ball ride was as adventuresome as I got. Lame, probably–but just how I’m wired.
I sent a sample of the new Teeter Ball to one of our go to tester families…they have two boys, 6 and 3, and they like active play. Last year they were big on water/sand toys–not afraid of water, dirt, mud, etc. either– my kind of family!
While the boys enjoyed the toy, their dad gave the toy low marks when it came to putting it together. While he said you didn’t need a power drill, he had one and used it where screws were required. The most challenging part was “attaching the yellow ring and the inflatable purple ball.” He warned that this could pose a problem for people not comfortable putting things together. I’m certainly in that category. While I know that lots of people do have power drills and are far more handy than I am with putting things together, I really question from a consumer point of view why such effort and skill should be necessary for a toy. I appreciate the cost-cutting opportunity that at-home assembly provides, but I can’t imagine that such assembly engenders a great deal of good will. For $69 it seems to me the toy should either come good to go or without a huge amount of effort.
Our family also noted that the toy did not hold the boys interest for long stretches of time. I think that’s true of most teeter toys–they’re the type of toy you run to on the playground…take a turn and then go onto the next activity.
So be forewarned, almost all of the big plastic toys we have received this year required a power drill and a certain comfort zone in reading complicated directions (and making inferences from the picture on the box).
I was happy to read that the older brother waited for his little brother to get back on his seat when he fell off …that’s a very good sign that while the toy may not be a home run, these boys already have a lovely relationship.