February 18, 2010
Crayola Spira Chalk Blaster
Check out our video of Crayola’s new spinning chalk top…looks like fun and even more fun to say if you pretend you are Tina Turner in Mad Max…Spira-Chalk Blaster!!! Click here to watch our video. Our review will be posted on our website, http://www.toyportfolio.com. If you’re not in cold weather like we are here in New York City–and looking for a fun chalk set, we’d recommend their current 3D Chalk Sets. With all of the cold weather we’ve had recently, the thought of being in a warm enough climate for chalk…sounds really good!
Thanks to Susan and Stacy for demonstrating the spinning top!
February 18, 2010
Crayola's Model Magic!
Based on our visit at Crayola, there’s a lot of promisingly fun products rolling out this year. Happily these toys will start arriving soon. For reviews, check our website www.toyportfolio.com.
Chalk News. You know I’m all a huge fan of their chalk. This year there are new super sets of 3D Chalk (one features Toy Story 3). I love this stuff. But what’s really new is a chalk making set. Looks like our kind of craft kit- we’ll have to see how it works. They also have a spiral top for chalk. My brothers will tell you, I really stink at the spining top thing but even I think I can make this one work. Watch the next post for a demo of the spiral chalk top.
Model Magic. How cute is this new set where you can make little pieces to add to forms.
New Model Magic Sets
Also big, things that Glow in the Dark. During our visit to their showroom, the lights were being turned off repeatedly to show off more glow-in-the-dark sets. I have a sense some will be more successful than others -but we’ll put them all to the test as they come out. We gave their Glow Station an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.
Glow Station...larger glow-in-dark toy!
New Crafts for Tweens. They have a new line called Pop Art Pixies, featuring four tweens (that look like they’re related to the Fashion Angels) – each has a theme. One likes to recycle, one likes to decorate…you get the idea. Some of the kits looked like they would be great fun for 9-12 year old crafters. Stay tuned. I particularly liked the look of the recycle kits – and will be interested to see how our testers react.
Tween Craft Sets
Amazing On-line Program. You send in a picture of your child, they create a cartoon image based on that photo, you then customize your own coloring book adventure featuring your now “cartoon” child. LOVE this. You get the code for this site when you buy a certain size box of crayons (hey, who doesn’t need a new box of Crayola?). This new platform will launch officially in the fall–but we’re working out details for making it available to our readers soon.
November 17, 2009
Green toys used to mean a recycling truck here or there…or a paper maker, but now there are many toys that are either manufactured with a green mandate or promote a positive green message to kids. The biggest trend are dolls made from organic materials–not all created equal in our book. Green shouldn’t have to mean scratchy or boring in design or color. Happily we received many that found the right blend of green and whimsy! The other big category — trucks…many made of recycled materials – were a real draw to our testers. Then there are the throw back toys–my personal favorite, the wind-up FM Radio.
Here’s the list of our Top Green Toys for 2009. Complete reviews on our our site, www.toyportfolio.com. Click on the toy name to read our rating/review.
Eco Trucks (Sprig Toys)
Dump Truck (Green Toys)
Playmobil Recycling Truck (Playmobil)
PushAlong Hybrid Car (ImagiPLAY)
Plan Toys Build ‘n Spin (Plan Toys)
Dolls and Dollhouse
blabla Dolls (blablakids)
Organic Joobles (Fair Indigo)
Earth Mates (Mary Meyer)
Plan Toys Green Dollhouse (Plan Toys)
Other Green Toys of Interest
Crayola Crayon Maker (Crayola)
Elia Mini Chair (eliafun.com)
Ecotronics Radio (International Playthings)
Ecotronics Mr. Robot Head (International Playthings)
November 10, 2009
Finding arts and crafts activities that will appeal to both boys and girls can be challenging since so many kits are so gender-specific.
Here are three from our Platinum List that will appeal to everyone!
Creativity for Little Kids Finger Paints (Creativity for Kids)
Crayola Crayon Maker (Crayola)
Money Monster Banks (Creativity for Kids)
November 2, 2009
If you’re working on color concepts in your house, playing games can be a fun way to reinforce the concepts. Here five favorites:
Candy Land Castle Game (Milton Bradley)
eeBoo Preschool Color Memory Game (eeBoo)
Hot Wheels Color Shifters Blaster (Mattel)
Color Wonder Paper and Markers (Crayola)
Lego Duplo (Lego Systems)
Complete reviews are on our site www.toyportfolio.com
June 18, 2009
Move over face paint–that’s so old. Crayola is rolling out a new line of Henna Body Art for kids. Thoughts?
May 28, 2009
It’s back! Last month I showed everyone had to make Crayon Muffins on the Today Show from old crayons…one of my favorite activities that I used to do with my mother as a kid. Those are still fun to do–but it does involve an oven and you do have to be really careful about the hot tins, melting crayons, etc.
We were happy to see at Toy Fair that Crayola was bringing back their Crayon Maker (a former Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award winner)…this time with a huge improvement in design…you can see the crayons melting in the chamber (the old design had a solid piece of plastic). The heating element is a 60W bulb (the tapered kind). I sort of wish the bulb was included–since not everyone has one of those bulbs hanging around the house but I can imagine the shipping issues would be too complicated. There is a warning on the box that the bulb is not included…a plus. I really have a problem with the small print warnings on some products- you get the product home, everyone is psyched and then you find you don’t have an essential element.
Just like the original — you load up your old crayons into the chamber–it heats up and voila you get new crayons! The chamber does not open until the tray has cooled–a very important safety feature.
There’s something so happy and life affirming to have new crayons…the possibilities of what you might do with them always struck me (and sometimes meant I was staring at a blank piece of paper). I also realize that I still feel happy when I open a new box of crayons (the smell especially)…does that mean I’m forever 8?
April 13, 2009
One of our testers who really liked the 3D Chalk kits just raised a great question…is there something in the chalk that makes it 3D or will the 3D glasses make all chalk 3D…we posed this question to the folks at Crayola…
“Yes, the 3D glasses will work with any Crayola chalk and out sidewalk
crayons. The ones that come with the Crayola 3D Sidewalk Chalk Kit allow for the best results
because we paired warm and cool colors together.”
Al Roker had a fun time with these glasses on our outdoor toy segment last year…click here to watch the segment.
April 6, 2009
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.
March 11, 2009
My mother is giving a speech today at the University of Maryland for her new book, Stanley Hayami: Nisei Son…go mom. Apart from writing 50 plus children’s books and parenting books, my amazing mother has written this book–based on the diary of a young man who was sent ( along with 120,000 other Americans of Japanese descent ) to internment camps during World War II. Stanley then served in the Army–and died serving his country. My mother has taken this primary source and brought his story to life with such clarity and emotion, that people are moved to tears when they “meet” Stanley. I recently heard her speak at NYU–and again I marveled at how my mother is such a gifted story teller. I also highly recommend Dear Miss Breed–the story of a dedicated librarian who became an incredible and consistent source of support to so many children and their families sent to camps during WWII.
All of this is by way of my saying that my mother and I usually play with window markers and crayons together. So I’m proud that she’s off giving another speech–but I miss that she’s not here. I have just tried out Crayola’s new Window Crayons. At first I felt a little awkward coloring on our office windows by myself–but I’ve loosened up…and have created a garden of flowers and grass. Try it, it’s liberating.
If you’re ok with kids drawing on windows/sliding doors–this is a REALLY FUN activity. At only $4.99–it’s a great buy. Comes with five colors.