Hard not to smile, right? Calico Critters from International Playthings, stay tuned.
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.
We started the day at LEGO – always fun. LEGO Duplo is the line designed as an entry point for older toddlers and preschoolers. New for 2010: a bigger bucket–we consider this basic gear for preschoolers.
The big new theme is a farm…
LEGO’s Julie Stern, always a pleasure to work with– took us through the showroom. Watch the video.
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.
Yesterday I walked past a display of silverware that was in the form of the Empire State Building. It reminded me of a great game to play with your kids that will keep them busy on a cold winter’s day.
Challenge your kids to build the tallest building using their LEGO Bricks! For younger kids this will be about adding more bricks until the structure falls down. But for older kids this can also become a real hands-on experiment–how do you make the structure more stable? What do we need to add to the base to make it less tippy. If you’re really into the building why not make your own city of skyscrapers. What kind of buildings do they think should be in the city? A sports arena, a shopping mall, a grocery store…always fun to hear what they want on their list. Matchbox cars and trucks can also be used to populate the city. Be sure to take pictures–you’ll be happy to chronicle the challenge. You can also have them create a book with the pictures–something that can be sent to Grandparents or shared on-line. Either way, I like encouraging kids to create their own structures from materials they have around the house.
Get a box or a basket…and ask your kids to find things that are blue (or any other color that you’d like) and bring them to the basket. You can also make this part of cleaning up toys…can you find all the yellow pieces first and put them away? Making a game out of cleaning up is half the battle.
For games and activities to play with your child 4-8, check out the original Read It! Play It!
If you’re looking for a high tech learning toy this season, we high recommend Leapfrog’s TAG and TAG Junior reading systems. Both marry technology with collections of award winning books. Do they replace reading a book with your child? Of course not–but they will encourage your kids to explore and “read” books on their own.
Full review and shopping info for both
We’d skip their My Pal Scout–this is designed to be an interactive pet for toddlers. We found him to be less than huggable and the skills he’s meant to teach are better taught with real life experiences. All of the current interactive, downloadable dolls on the market pale in comparison to the old Actimates from Microsoft. Their original Barney really became Barney for little children. It was truly magical to watch kids interact with this doll. This doll doesn’t compare.
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.