Toy Fair 2010: Crayola’s new Spira-Chalk Blaster

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!

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Toy Fair 2010: Crayola = Fun

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.New Chalk Sets from Crayola

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.



Barbie Glitterizer…really.

February 14, 2010

Barbie Glitterizer

Now before we get carried away with all of Barbie’s professional aspirations, you have to take a look at this toy, it’s called the Barbie Glitterizer.  You place decals on your Barbie…they have a sticky surface that attracts the glitter. Place your Barbie in the chamber and glitterize.  Don’t you wonder what the aha moment was for this product…did someone dream of Barbie in a phone booth, she had just come from the craft store, there was an opened bag of glitter…there was a gust of wind.

In any case, this is one of the funniest Barbie activity kits ever. Watch the video.


Crunch Art…so good!

February 3, 2010

Just got word that Little Kids will be updating the Crunch Art line – one of our favorites!  Looking forward to seeing what they did with the addictive craft–if you ever did a hook rug, this is easier but somehow feels related.


Toy Fair Previews: Easy Bake…with no oven

February 3, 2010

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.


Barbie Nail Design Studio: Shortage of Refill Cartridges

December 29, 2009

There has been a lot of interest in the Barbie Nail Design Studio since we first reviewed it earlier in the season. Reports now that there are not enough refill cartridges to go around…not good.  For a demonstration of the machine, watch our video.


Pick of the Day: Zebra Mix Cookie Baking Activity Set

December 13, 2009

Making cookies is part of the holidays–and I’ve discovered you either fall into one of three camps on the whole make your own:

1. CAMP ONE –  you buy store bought, have learned that if you put them in the microwave you can achieve some of that fresh from the oven warmth. (If you’re rolling your eyes at this you clearly belong in Camp 2.)

2. CAMP TWO– Homemade from scratch- You know who you are–the thought of using a mix seems downright immoral, unethical–for wimps.  I applaud you guys but it’s not my thing.  My entire family mourned when one of our neighbors moved away – and took her weekly delivery of fresh baked cookies with her. Yet, there was no grand rush to do it ourselves.

3. CAMP THREE – You’re a middle-of-the-roader. You like the idea of homebaked but you don’t have the time or inclination to join Camp 2.  In fact, every time I look at the big Kitchen Aid mixer–I pause and think of the pair of really amazing shoes that could be purchased instead.  Whie  I am well-knowned for my home baked cookies – they are I must admit  courtesy of the flat brick from the kind folks at Tollhouse.  The innovation of the brick from the roll was one of the best things that happened in the world of pre-made dough…really.

Last year when Nestle had a slight problem  with their pre-made doughs (something unfortunate like E. coli) my younger son looked really crestfallen–no cookies?  When I suggested we could make them from scratch, he took a double take “you know how to do that?”  With that gauntlet thrown down, I bravely walked where this mom had not be in a very long time…the baking aisle.  And while we completely enjoyed the experience of adjusting the recipe as we made several batches (we left a key ingredient out of batch two–who knew that leaving out the baking soda could make a difference)  – we agreed — the Tollhouse brick was still our favorite.  It’s kind of like really enjoying Heinz ketchup or JIF peanut butter to fancier versions.

So when we first received the Zebra Mix Cookies Activity Set (Zebra Mix) –we were curious but I didn’t feel I could be completely impartial when it came to cookies, toys yes…but cookies?  So we quickly dispatched the kits to two of our clutch family testers.  They LOVED them. 

One family wrote:

“Literally the friendliest step by step instructions! I was able to leave the kitchen while the kids stirred and poured, I was only needed for entering the cupcakes into the oven and for mixing the icing. The instructions are in the form of a map which made following the instructions so easy for the girls…So instructions and packaging was great but most importantly TASTE! The cupcakes tasted great! ”  Both families loved some of the kits come in Zebra printed metal lunchboxes–that all the kids wanted to use immediately.

So could you make cookies for less at home, of course. The kits range from $14.95 to about $22. But if you’re looking for a fun project or birthday present that may spark an interest in baking…these kits are worth considering. Click here to read our full review.