February 14, 2010
We saw the Sing-a-majigs at toy fair preview last month and we weren’t allowed to talk about them. It’s like being told what your best friend is getting for their birthday — and not being able to tell for weeks. So we were really excited today to see them again.
I thought maybe we had romanticized them…yes, at this point you can say–it’s a toy, get over it. But hey, this is what we do for a living. So when a really fun and innovative toy comes along–we get excited.
I’m happy to report that these cute little dolls (that will retail for a reasonable $12.99 each) are just about the best thing going. They babble to each other, they sing together and perhaps most remarkably they harmonize! AND they’re easy to make work.
Watch the video.
January 21, 2010
Just got back from Mattel and Fisher-Price’s pre Toy Fair preview….lots of fun things to report –but I’m waiting for the list about which toys/pictures can be shared now. Most of the showroom was under embargo until Toy Fair starts.
December 1, 2009
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.
November 30, 2009
I got to catch a lot of tv this holiday weekend–and started to see the waves of toy tv commercials. Some reminded me of toys that did not win awards from us…and that we needed to post more reviews!!
When we first saw TRIO at toy fair we were all excited. We love open-ended building sets and really get psyched when a large toy company gets behind a new system–making the access to it more affordable. Unfortunately TRIO did not fare well with our testers. The product is marked for kids 3 and up – so we enlisted one of our hard core DUPLO builders–thinking this would be the most likely audience. He had the same trouble we did manipulating the pieces. Unlike DUPLO, it’s hard to pull the pieces apart. We then tried them with a four year old builder–and had the same reaction. We hope the folks at Fisher-Price work on the “pull” factor. The pieces are pleasing–but too frustrating for the intended audience. Our recommendation is to stick with a basic DUPLO bucket at this age.
November 2, 2009
Finding toys for toddlers can be super challenging! They’ve outgrown their baby toys–but not quite ready yet for more complex toys geared to preschoolers. The toys need to match their new found mobility and desire to do things again and again!
Here are just five of my favorites:
Little People Load ‘n Go Wagon (Fisher-Price)
Step 2 Basic Rhythms Piano (Step 2)
Playskool Clipo Creativity Table (Playskool)
Schylling Color Roller (Schylling)
Rollipop Toddler Starter and Advanced Sets (Edushape)
The full reviews are on our site, www.toyportfolio.com.
October 13, 2009
The whole gang during the segment
I actually love doing segments with lots of kids. I think it adds to the energy of the piece – but I do have to say last night I had this momentary thought “eight babies!, really?!…what were you thinking!”
The kids had a long wait until it was time to go into the studio–and one thing I’ve learned over the years, never show kids toys long before they go on air – especially when you’re talking about babies and toddlers. To expect them to be engaged with toys for more than 10 minutes in any given setting, just isn’t reasonable in real life, much less in a tv studio with so many people, lights and cameras around. So we had some other related toys for them to play with in their separate “green room”…but at a certain point, they all started moving about the lower concourse — to say this particular group of kids were cute, is an understatement. The kids were all in what I call that “cupcake” stage where they are just full of pure joy. (At least at that moment!)
Once we got to the set, I was happy. The kids and their parents were engaged with all the toys we had selected. (You can hear them throughout!) Doing segments with Natalie is also fun because she’s in the middle of this zone with her two sons…so she gets it.
This is a picture of Matthew (4 months old)…enjoying hanging out on the Infantino Twist & Fold mat.
And here’s a pic with Natalie after the segment is over….To watch the segment, click here.
Natalie Morales and Stephanie Oppenheim
September 24, 2009
If you’re looking for a game that will be fun to play with your older baby (8 months) and younger toddler…bring home the new Stack’ n Surprise Count ‘n Build Snail Pail. It’s just right for fill and spill games. In the beginning you’ll be doing most of the stacking…but filling is a great deal of fun for sitting up babies. The pieces are just the right size…and the clear container makes is fun to see where they go! For a full review, visit www.toyportfolio.com. This set won an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.
September 16, 2009
The new Dora the Explorer Dance Around Dora (from Fisher-Price) dances, twirls, dances on her toes and sings. She even encourages kids to dance with her–also fun. I’m usually not a huge fan of Dora dolls…a bit too plastic for us–but she’s such a huge hit with the preschool crowd, we always take a look. When Dora goes up on her toes–her body expands underneath. Now part of my job is to stick my finger where most kids might…so as her body returned to its original size, I put my finger in the space and sure enough, she pinched me! Not horribly–but something to be aware of. Watch the video.
September 16, 2009
Kai-lan’s heart literally changes color with her different emotions. She’s like one big mood ring! Watch the video.
September 13, 2009
Hasbro’s Fur Real Friends Biscuit My Lovin Pup is one of our favorite toys from last toy season. He’s still hanging out with us in the office and is always a favorite for our visiting toy testers (young and old). So we decided to introduce him to Playskool’s new Monty T-Rex. I was alittle worried about Monty–thinking his roar would be over the top scary for our testers. So we sent him to the same family that tested Fisher-Price’s Spike the Ultra Dinosaur. As you may recall, our five and three year old testers made Spike their house pet…and now they report that Monty has become the spouse of last year’s dino (they have renamed him Lizzy). They actually LOVE that Monty will roar back at them. They also report that Monty is easier to make work than Spike. (Spike is controlled with a remote control–Monty works by touching one of his touch points to activate walking, roaring, chomping, etc.) So you’ll have to decide if this type of safe scare is right on target for your child–or whether this toy will end up at the back of some closet. Watch the video.