Face of the Day: From Steiff

February 17, 2010

A bear to love from Steiff

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.


Toy Fair Previews: Operation

February 14, 2010

Remember the old middle aged man from Operation. The big red nose. Kind of strange if you think about it too long. In any case, this year’s versions…Shrek and Ironman.  Apparently if you have a multi-million dollar movie coming out you can get your own version of Operation.  Sorry…no Brad or Angelina versions.


Trivial Pursuit goes Vegas

February 14, 2010

Trivial Pursuit Goes Vegas

To appeal to a poker obsessed nation, Trivial Pursuit will have a  gambling/betting component for 2010.  You can bet on whether someone will know the answer.  Seems like an unnecessary complication–but may really make this classic more appealing to some.


What’s It All About Alfie?

February 13, 2010

If you get the movie reference, then chances are you probably remember the original learning toy, Alfie. For a generation that grew up with the Robot on Lost in Space, it was a pretty cool concept for a  toy. Hasbro is reintroducing Alfie at this year’s International Toy Fair in New York, and his reappearance I’m afraid pretty much sums up the feeling of an industry that faces a shrinking audience, a global recession and, oh yes, and still recovering from a little pr problem over safety issues.

I don’t know why but as soon as I saw Alfie, I kept thinking of the Godfather quote “go to the mattresses”… In addition to Alfie, there were lots of other familiar faces at both Hasbro and Mattel. Strawberry Shortcake, now a sophisticated 30 years old, has been up-sized, and is positioned to appeal to moms who played with the original. Monopoly, Battleship, Twister, Sorry, Life have all been reworked (often cleverly–sometimes tortured) into new variations–once again to appeal to that sentimental place in our toy-buying hearts.

If technology worked last year, chances are you’ll see it again with a slightly new look. Talking trucks, motion-activated rodents, RC cars that flip, virtual pets…they’re all back.

So while this may not be a breakthrough year of innovation (do you blame anyone for not betting the farm this past year on something untried?) — you will find lots of solid choices that may give you a strong sense of deja vu.


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.


Strawberry Shortcake is Over the Hill

February 1, 2010

Celebrating her 30th birthday this year, the little strawberry smelling doll is hoping to capture the attention of another generation.  The pr person taking us through the new line shared that she had a Strawberry Shortcake doll when she was little.  One of those generational markers when you realize that you’re a bunch older than most of the pr people in the room.  In fact, I was distracted thinking about how old all the pr people were when we started the toyportfolio!

In any case, Hasbro is hoping that if you played with Strawberry Shortcake as a child, you’ll want to bring it home to your own kids.


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)