Toy Fair 2010 Preview: Playmobil – get ready to build!

February 17, 2010

Playmobil's Dragon

We stopped by Playmobil today and visited with  Michelle Winfrey.  Last year you’ll remember we gave the Playmobil Egyptian setting our Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.  Each year we wonder what will be the big new theme. This year, there were several new sets that I think will be a hit with our testers.  The two biggest sets are the Dragons – complete with Castles that can connect by a bridge. It made me think of that portion of the original Shrek movie.  (Of course here the dragons are not  trying to court Eddie Murphy, but hey it’s pretend so I guess anything’s possible!). You can take a closer look by watching our video with Michelle.

Playmobil's Fire Fighter Sets

The next set that really caught our attention was the Fire Fighters. What we love about Playmobil is the attention to detail in planning a series. As you’ll notice in our video of the Fire Fighters series, there’s not only a really cool looking fire station (complete with pole), there are two different fire trucks, a fire chief’s truck and a fire boat.


Pick of the Day: Lisa LeLeu’s Super Star Theater

December 14, 2009

If you have kids that are into performing, here’s a big ticket item from Lisa LeLeu that is very special. Click here to read our complete review. My apologies to the company–this award winning toy got lost in the shuffle when we switched over to our new website!


Pick of the Day: Leapfrog’s TAG and TAG Junior

December 11, 2009

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

TAG Reading System

TAG Junior Reading System

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.


Top high tech toys 2009

December 9, 2009

V Tech's Kidizoom Digital Camera Plus

Here are our some of favorites of the season– click on the name of the product to read our complete review at www.toyportfolio.com

For younger children:

LeapFrog Counting Candles (LeapFrog)

Two great cameras for 3s and up to enjoy:

Kidizoom Digital Camera Plus (V-Tech)

Disney Pix Jr Digital Camera (Disney)

If you have a child totally into cars, you need to look at:

Doodle-Track Cars (Day Dream Toys)

For kids  8 & up:

MindFlex Game (Mattel)

Nanos (Hexbug)

Eye Clops Night Vision Binoculars (Jakks Pacific)

For really advanced builders:

Mindstorm (Lego)


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.


If you can’t find Zhu Zhu Hamsters…Don’t Panic

December 6, 2009

Alternatives to Zhu Zhu Hamsters

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.

Kota & Pals Stompers (Hasbro) –   These little dinos are seriously fun–they not only roar they walk.  Read our Review. Watch our video.

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:

Zhu Zhu Hamster play with Hexbug NANOS

Mr. Robot Dances with Hexbug NANOS

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.


Pick of the Day: Creativity for Kids Felt Fashions Messenger Bag

December 2, 2009

If you have a school aged girl on your list this holiday season, take a look at Creativity for Kids’ Felt Fashions Messenger Bag. Here’s an easy to do craft project that girls will enjoy both doing and using! The felt pieces are fun to design with – and easy enough for 7 and up- for a full review  and shopping info visit toyportfolio.com.