Needed to share this face with you right away! So cute and amazingly soft. More to follow on this classic handmade line of huggables from Steiff.
Zhu Zhu Hamsters are getting all the media coverage (yes, I participated in some of it), but they are certainly not the only really special novelty toys of the season. Here’s a list of other toys that may just do the trick!
Other cute animals that have a little extra something.
Yakety Yaks (Mary Meyer) Each of these animals make a noise. There is a pig, a monkey, an owl, a lamb, a bear and dogs. They don’t run around like Zhu Zhus but they are pretty cute on their own. Read our review.
FurReal Friends Newborn Puppy (Hasbro)- This a very sweet little puppy that wags his tail and makes little barking sounds. This is one of many in this line–there are dogs, cats, a panda, a bear. We like the dogs the best. (In interest of full disclosure -we’re not big cat people.) We also have not received safety verification forms on these little guys–so there is no official review on our site.
Two other really cool novelty toys that should not be missed:
Hexbug Nanos (Innovation First) -Each of these small robotic bugs come in a test-tube like container. We see that the price has come down since we first reviewed them–they are now $7.99. Turn them on and they really are like little bugs! They come in lots of colors and are fun to pull out of a pocket or bagpack. Read our full review.
Watch our videos:
Doodle Car (Day Dream Toys)- We love these super cool cars that follow lines you draw with a washable marker. Pretty cool. Company also has seasonal downloads of roadways you can print and use with their cars. Read our full review. Watch our video.
The weather is a little zany here in nyc…windy, oddly warm, sun, then no sun…in any case it made me think of the really playful collection of Les Deglingos. Everyone that comes into our office reaches for them…they have a folk art feel–but are edgy all at the same time. The mixture of textures are fun for little fingers to explore. Read our full review.
In seasons past, ELMO is the toy we get all the calls for -someone in desperate need for the latest version of the original Tickle Me Elmo Doll. We have particular fondness for the original – Joanne brought Elmo on the TODAY Show – Bryant Gumbel loved it–and played with it for the entire show.
This season, ELMO is being completely ignored. A smaller, perhaps cuter critter has grabbed the imagination of children and media outlets everywhere -even though ELMO tells jokes this year as well as any Borscht Belt comedian. Oh and yes, he’s still throwing kisses…it could break your heart. Watch our video.
The Zhu Zhu Hamsters have scurried their way into first position as the “hot-completely sold out” toy of the season. Today’s article by Stephanie Rosenbloom in The New York Times will certainly help fan the craze. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a hot toy. The toy industry has been battered the last few years by serious issues about toy safety and a shrinking audience as kids leave toyland earlier and earlier. And even though the little creatures are not from one of the major toy companies (they are produced by Cepia LLC), everyone in the toy biz should be pretty happy. These little guys can drive parents into the toy stores–and if you can’t find a Zhu Zhu–you’re bound to buy some other toys. The media is also happy to have a light story to report on – rather than announcing rolling toy recalls.
We did not receive our required safety verification from the manufacturer Cepia on these little critters so we can not give them an official Oppenheim Toy Portfolio award –but given all the hype we thought we should give them an unofficial review.
This is what you need to know:
they are pretty cute
they make a variety of sounds (including mooing like a cow and crowing like a rooster)
they don’t cost a fortune (retail ranges from $7.99 to $9.99)
they are easy to activate -by touching them on top
they have wheels that go back and forth (which can hurt if you put your finger right next to them)
watch out for long hair getting caught in the wheels
they do not require feeding
unlike many virtual creatures of late, they won’t die if you don’t take care of them
there is no cage to clean
unlike the real thing, they also won’t eat their young!
Two toyportfolio.com videos of the Zhu Zhu Creatures
With budgets tight, it’s important to bring home things that really count – and there is no reason to break the bank! Here are some of our top picks for 2009 — all under $20. Read the full reviews on our site.
Sassy Crib & Floor Mirror (Sassy)
Infantino Wall Mounted Mobile Mirror (Step 2)
Stack ‘n Surprise Blocks Blockity-Pop Caterpillar (Fisher-Price)
Baby Deglingos Dog, Rabbit, Hedgehog or Cow (All New Materials)
Satin Ears Bear Security Cozy (North American Bear Co.)
Infantino Spiral Spin Top (Step 2)
Kids Preferred Nutbrown Hare or Peter Rabbit Hand Puppet (Kids Preferred)
Bright Starts Bees & Blooms Balls (Kids II)
Earlyears Zippy Zoomer (International Playthings)
Leapfrog Counting Candles (Leapfrog)
While I was shopping yesterday… the store was playing the theme from Knots Landing. I started laughing. The young woman offering to help me asked me if I knew what the song was from…”Yes, but you’re not old enough to!”…. She laughed…I gave the whole background…Knots Landing…spin off…Dallas…
There are more moments like this as we get older—generational markers– where you realize that you’re in a business meeting and that no one knows the reference to the original Batman tv show. Of course we get this with our kids. My boys only knew Paul Newman from salad dressing (sad–and prompted a Paul Newman mini-movie marathon).
In any case, Steiff, best known for producing the first “Teddy” bear…after President Roosevelt – has missed a few generations of kids. As a very young child, I had a Steiff pony…really one of my all time favorite toys. I’ve written about him before–but he was really magical. He had wheels so I would have great adventures with him in our playroom…zooming around. Here he is on the day I got him…(with my brother).
Since we’ve started the toyportfolio–my mother and I would pass the Steiff booth at toy fair. We would always discuss my pony and the little teddy bear that sat near the kitchen window. Sadly –both were destroyed by the fire that took our family home. We would stop and look but not go in–knowing that Steiff was really more about collectors and not something for our testers.
So we were pretty excited to receive a decidedly soft teddy bear from Steiff…it came in a lovely box – complete with the signature metal button in his ear. The company has a renewed commitment to making dolls that are affordable ($28 and up)…so we’re looking forward to seeing the new products. Of course there are still going to be deliciously over the top little treasures like this bunny …complete with a cashmere sweater (yes, she’s pretty price..over $100)…but still…
With Green Day hours away, we are certainly pleased with the trend in the toy industry to go green. It seems like every week there are new organic doll collections, toys made of recycled materials, and toys/games that have an empowering (but not obnoxiously heavy-handed) green agenda. More good news-the packaging also seems to be more friendly to the environment-with fewer toys trapped in a sea of plastic.
Here is our current list of top ten green favorites–happily the list keeps growing!
My Natural Collection (Hosung NY)
Just got an email announcing the arrival of a new Ugly Doll- Winkolina. These dolls continue to be a huge hit with tweens and teens. They may be leaving toyland earlier and earlier–but they still want their Ugly Dolls!
Now that Bo has happily arrived at the White House…here are some of favorite toy dogs just in case bringing home the real thing isn’t in the cards…
New for Spring, from the same Furreal line is a smaller and much more affordable Lil’ Patter Pup. If the Gabor sisters were going to have a toy dog, this would be it…of course that dates me…so if you’re Paris Hilton…you get the idea. There is a Shih-Tsu and a Pomeranian…both bark and unlike Biscuit, they do walk! At $29.99 they are a good buy.
And if a low tech pup will do the trick, we love the new Spot from Kids Preferred. This oversized delicious doll is $29.99.
And if you’re looking for a great book on dogs…I’m biased but I highly recommend my mom’s Have You Seen Dogs?