I Can Be…Barbie Gymnastics Coach

Barbie is not the gymnast herself this time–but the coach – a welcome and empowering message for girls.  Set comes with Barbie’s kid sister Kelly who spins on the balance beam (a fun feature).  Of course there is a hairbrush, a medal and Barbie’s purse (with a bottle of water).  Will be a hit with young gymnasts in training…

Great new RCs for Preschoolers: Kid Galaxy Strikes Again

A perfect puzzle for Spring: Mudpuppy's Busy Bugs

fp_busy_bugsThe actual Busy Bugs puzzle from Mudpuppy is really stunning…for some reason the artwork on the box doesn’t really convey how attractive this puzzle really is even though it’s the same image.  Kids will enjoy working on this oversized (2′ by 3′) floor puzzle that illustrates how busy all the bugs are in the garden. Comes with 24 large, sturdy pieces–lots’ to talk about as you work on this one.  Suggested retail $17 (3 & up–but of course 3s and 4s will need help to begin).

Crayola Beginnings Baby Drop and See

We got mixed reviews on the new Crayola TaDoodles Drop & See. This three level ball run is designed so that your toddler needs to push a lever at each level to release the ball to the next level.  The toy is marked 9 months and up and that’s where the problems arose for our testers.  Our nine month old testers could not make the levers work.  In fact a play group with mostly 18 month old toddlers also had difficulty. The biggest complaint is that the toy falls over easily–unless it’s against a wall which is hard to make happen when you’re talking about a toy for on the go toddlers.  Nothing like asking a toddler to only play with something in one location!

Even without the falling over issues, our older toddlers had problems making the red cat lever operate. Our testers were creative — suggesting that the levers should be bigger and that the base should be wider to address the tipping issue. Everyone liked the concept but all had suggestions on how to “fix” the toy to make it better.

The testers that were 2+ could make the toy work–and even our younger testers enjoyed making the balls go from level to level with help…but still, we think the age label is too off the mark to make this one an award winner.

Pick of the Day: Tonka Wheel Pals Round-About Railway

099941418512_main200One of the hardest categories to fill each year are small vehicles that are safe for the 3 and under crowd.  Many parents just hope for the best and give their kids small Hot Wheels, Matchbox and wooden trains–the problem with them of course is that they do have small parts that are potentially dangerous.  Playskool’s new Wheel Pals line is meant to answer that issue.  The cars are  small in scale – with everything safely anchored.  Our testers loved the new Round About Railway. If you’re looking for a setting that your toddler will enjoy (and not sit on)…look no further.  You put the train at the top of the setting and then your child can either hit the plunger (which activates the train sound)…or just push the train down the track. The vehicle moves slowly enough so that your toddler can track the vehicle, a plus. We thought the Railway works much better than the Fold ‘n Go Garage (we found that some of the ramps did not lock in sufficiently well).

This seems to be the year of really fun plush doll collections! We just got in the Lubies from Rocket USA.  Each of the round animals comes in a box marked top-secret. The animals to select from include: a bear, a cow, a dog, an elephant (shown), a polar bear, a penguin, a cat and a pig. The elephant is my personal favorite.  I would have loved a little sound in them…maybe a chime…but then they would not have appealed to the 7 & up collector that the company seems focused on.  As soon as we took enough of them out the box, our testers started throwing them.  So it’s really a plush/ball? We’re giving the collection an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award.  They retail for $8.99-$9.99.

I Can Be…Barbie Pet Vet

31heojufbdl_sl500_aa280_1The new Barbie Pet Vet has arrived.  The set comes with a pony (with a splinted leg), a kitten, one fish (pink of course), carrots (for the horse I assume), a laptop, a scale, a pink vet’s bag…and what’s that…oh yes, a really oversized hairbrush in the corner…just in case. All pinkness aside, I actually like this set–she looks ready for work in her no-nonsense yet fashionable brown boots.

Pick of the Day: Ring-o Flamingo


Hooray! We have a new silly fun game to tell you about!  Ring-o Flamingo from Gamewright is really lots of fun to play.  The first thing that our testers loved was the game board.  You lock in the pink flamingoes and the two alligators into the board that fits into the box. The game play involves the concept that one of the flamingoes has gone overboard and you have to fling the flamingo a lifesaver as quickly as possible before the alligators get the flamingo!  Watch out, you don’t want to get a lifesaver around the neck of one of the alligators.  Now here’s the really fun part, each player has a life boat that is loaded with lifesavers–that you “fling” onto the game board. So it’s sort of like play ring toss…but you’re all playing at once.  The key is learning how to be far enough away from the board so that you hit the flamingoes repeatedly.  The more flamingoes you save the more points you get…and win.  Points are deducted if you save the alligators.  Fast paced and fun for all ages. We’re giving this one an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award!