Buying a Dollhouse: What you need to know

December 7, 2009

Read Joanne’s article on buying dollhouses–front page of our site today….www.toyportfolio.com.


Pick of the Day: Push Along Cat or Dog from ImagiPlay

November 20, 2009

At $14.95 each, these cute  wood cat and dogs–are just right for a safe and green toy for toddlers.  To read the full review, click here.  We love the cat, dog and the Hybrid Car…all from ImagiPlay.


toyportfolio.com: Top GREEN Toys for 2009

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.

Trucks

Eco Trucks (Sprig Toys)

Dump Truck (Green Toys)

Playmobil Recycling Truck (Playmobil)

PushAlong Hybrid Car (ImagiPLAY)

Building Toys

Plan Toys Build ‘n Spin (Plan Toys)

Citiblocs (Citiblocs)

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)


Five Fantastic Construction Toys

November 5, 2009

Construction toys should be part of every* child’s toy experience.   You’ll find that kids develop preferences to building materials–go with it.  Our advice is always to start with smaller sets –building your child’s confidence about what they can do rather than frustrating them with a bigger set.

Here are five of our favorites. Click on the toy name to read our full review from    www.toyportfolio.com

Lego Star Wars Collection Lego Systems

Plan Toys Build n Spin (Plan Toys)

Wedgits Pink & Purple Activity Tote (ImagAbility)

Lego Racers (Lego Systems)

Citiblocs (Citiblocs)

*Here’s my daily plug about bringing home building sets to girls…it’s important for their math skills down the road.  We want them to excel in math and engineering…it starts with building with construction toys.


Thinking Green Toys

November 5, 2009

Looking at all of the nominees for our Green Toy List!  So happy that there are so many choices this year!


Ecotronics Mr. Robot Head….fun in the dark

October 19, 2009

ecophotoI’m always looking for toys that work in the dark.  Maybe because when I was little we would go to FAO in NYC and then on the way home in the car, my brothers and I were always disappointed that we couldn’t enjoy our new toys in the backseat.

As a professional toy reviewer, I’m also amazed by the number of toys that say they’ll work in the dark, but don’t.

So that brings me to the wonderfully novel and silly Ecotronic Mr. Robot Head from International Playthings.  First, it’s red–an attribute that always does well here. We love red…so this deliciously red cube already had us smiling.  CRANK up the back (no batteries required–hence the name Ecotronics) and then touch the stylus to the top….

Crank Up the action on Mr. Robot Head

Crank Up the action on Mr. Robot Head

Watch our  video with the lights on.

Watch our video in the dark.

Read our full review at toyportfolio.com.  ecofront


Behind the Scenes at the TODAY SHOW

October 13, 2009
The whole gang during the segment

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. Picture 10

And here’s a pic with Natalie after the segment is over….To watch the segment, click here.

Natalie Morales and Stephanie Oppenheim

Natalie Morales and Stephanie Oppenheim