We were really blown away by the Hasbro Play-Doh 3-D Flash Art. It wasn’t until I tested it with two high school students (both having just finished AP Physics) that I fully appreciated how cool this toy is and how useful it would be in any science class. Watch the video and you’ll see how art is a beautiful display of science! Read our complete review.
Last year we’d have to say that Mattel’s Matchbox Rocky pretty much ran over Hasbro’s Tonka’s Talkin’ Chuck. Rocky just did so much more. (Watch the video of these two head to head.) This year we’ll have to see how the new Tonka Rumblin’ Chuck- who promises to do many more tricks (including moving side to side as if he’s ready to line dance)…will compare to the farting Stinky Garbage Truck from Mattel. We’ll be interested to test both of these interactive trucks when they arrive..for now you can check out their prototypes from Toy Fair. Click here to watch Rumblin’ Chuck.
Here’s Stinky…to watch him in action, click here to view our video.
Remember the old middle aged man from Operation. The big red nose. Kind of strange if you think about it too long. In any case, this year’s versions…Shrek and Ironman. Apparently if you have a multi-million dollar movie coming out you can get your own version of Operation. Sorry…no Brad or Angelina versions.
Last year we had two talking trucks, Chuck and Matchbox Rocky. Take a look at this updated version of Chuck–he’s bigger and has more tricks. Look forward to trying this one with our testers. Watch our video.
I grew up playing Monopoly with my brothers. Truth be told my involvement in any given round was pretty brief. They were both older, I would trade away all the good properties…and I would be out of the game in what always seemed like minutes. To make matters worse, they had a rule that the loser always had to put the game away–so when they were done, I was left to put the pieces away. When I got older and could play with my friends, my math anxiety would usually kick in and I would never want to be the banker…but still there was some math to be done. I was a big fan of collection the railroads. When I first met my husband, I tried playing Monopoly with him. I quickly discovered he learned Monopoly from the same school as my brothers!
So when I had my kids, I determined to create a kinder and gentler Monopoly environment. We would be thoughtful and supportive….ok, so that lasted for about ten minutes. I quickly found that my kids loved the wheeling and dealing that their father and uncles enjoyed. The games were always loud…often ending in some tears (and a family meeting about feelings and good sportsmanship). I always wonder if other people play Monopoly quietly–or if that’s just our family. We’re pretty noisy in general.
If I look back on my Monopoly experiences, it’s a wonder really why I feel fondly about the game – but I do.
So when they roll out new versions, I’m always game. Unfortunately, I haven’t really loved many of the “improvements”. The last few years have brought an electronic scorer–taking away the wonderful math experience of paying for properties. Whether you could always do the calculations in your head (like my friend Lisa)…or needed a little paper…this was part of the game.
This year we got Championship Edition Monopoly…it comes with a trophy –and a nameplate that can be changed as the names change. Now I don’t know about you–but in any of the houses I grew up in, this is just asking for a dispute. Even if your kids can share the title, I also really don’t like the score pad where you tally up the value of your properties. I much prefer looking at what you have and adding it up…the score pad complicates the whole experience.
For 2010, Hasbro is rolling out two new versions. One is Monopoly Revolution Edition ($34.99, available for fall 2010) – You’ll see that the game board is now round and looks ever so Apple-like. The round electronic game unit keeps track of where you are on the board and promises to have song clips including “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang and “Drive My Car” by The Beatles. Ok, this may be fun–but it’s not really Monopoly. Keeping an open mind though.
Then there’s Monopoly U-Build ($19.99, available for fall 2010)…here you’ll notice you are building your own board. This version inspired by the original looked like it could be fun. The big selling point to parents is that the size of the board that you build will determine the length of your game play – so if you only have 30 minutes to play, you can customize the board accordingly…that’s a fun concept.
A couple of years ago we tried the latest version of the Easy Bake Oven. I tried it with two 9 year olds (a boy and a girl). After thirty minutes of making mac and cheese that didn’t taste very good, one of them said “we could have done this in the microwave in about two minutes and it would have tasted better!” That was pretty much when I was over Easy Bake Ovens. I do have disclaim that I LOVED my Easy Bake Oven…it was so empowering to be able to make something all on my own. I looked forward to using my Easy Bake Oven or my friend Jeannie Parker–it was on our list of things to do in between playing super heroes (where we would often end up fighting over who would be Wonder Woman).
So I wasn’t surprised that the new rollout for Easy Bake are things you can make in the microwave. (They still have the oven.) Picking up on the current craze for decorating food (there were at least eight different kits last year from various toy companies)…these new kits are meant to focus the activity on the decorating rather than creating the actual cake.
Sign of the times.
I don’t know why this made me laugh–but some how I thought My Little Pony was silly enough (yes, yes, enjoyed by millions, but still there’s something about the never-ending pink rococo plastic fantasy settings that always gets me thinking about archeological digs centuries from now..and what they’ll think about such design and the civilization that played with them.) Click here to watch our video.
My Little Pony has now become a merpony…no kidding. So now the merponies have there own new underwater castle. From the press release, you’ll see why this was the next obvious evolution for My Little Pony:
Located in the heart of the sea, this magical castle is an underwater dream come true for the MERMAID PONIES. Each pony will love to explore this nautical treasure with lights and sounds . Discover PINKIE PIE’S secret shell bedroom that really opens and closes or take a pony for a ride on the “magical” seashells that allow her to “swim” around the castle. The MERMAID ponies will love to “splish and splash” on the waterslide or hang ten on the “real” waves with the tubular surf boards.
The Castle will retail for $39.99 and be available next Fall.
We’re happy to report that Baby Alive doesn’t scare us as much this season. (If you’ll recall last year’s Baby Alive Learn to Potty won our Ugliest Doll Award). This year Baby Alive is happy to just be bouncing and babbling. Watch our video.
Celebrating her 30th birthday this year, the little strawberry smelling doll is hoping to capture the attention of another generation. The pr person taking us through the new line shared that she had a Strawberry Shortcake doll when she was little. One of those generational markers when you realize that you’re a bunch older than most of the pr people in the room. In fact, I was distracted thinking about how old all the pr people were when we started the toyportfolio!
In any case, Hasbro is hoping that if you played with Strawberry Shortcake as a child, you’ll want to bring it home to your own kids.
If you’ve followed our reviews over the years, you know I have a soft spot for everything Star Wars. It is the one exception to our rule of no toys with aggressive or violent themes (hey, it’s fantasy).
One of the coolest toys we saw at Hasbro’s preview is from the Star Wars line…but we can’t talk about it until the 12th. In the meantime, there is a new lightsaber that is pretty cool. The General Grievous Lightsaber will retail for $34.99 and will be available in August. Take a look at both videos…one explains how it comes apart and the other demos the movement. I’m getting used to using my iphone video for giving you sneak peaks. Thinking maybe I should get a FLIP for toy fair.
Two quick videos to look at: