Barbie reads Torah

February 25, 2010

Tefillin Barbie

One of our testers just made me aware of Tefillin Barbie.  This was not one of the official new Barbie professions, but I love the concept.  She is pricey: with tallit, tefillin and gemara she is $130…the Torah scrolls are an additional $40.


Say it 3X fast: Criss Cross Crash Track

February 22, 2010

Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Track

Hot Wheels are always fun.  This year the big track of the season is the relaunch of a classic…the Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Track (Mattel).  This closed, clover leaf track is an opportunity to crash your favorite Hot Wheels. Watch our video from Toy Fair.  Now if you’re really old school, you’ll remember that the fun of Hot Wheels was making your track as long as possible…down the staircase was always the best.  There were a few loops – but making your own system was the point.  Closed tracks are a novelty – since there isn’t much to do besides watch the cars go.  This track is a little better in this department since you are always feeding the system with new cars.  Stay tuned.  We’ll have a complete review at www.toyportfolio.com once we receive a set


Toy Trucks will go head to head: Tonka’s Rumblin’ Chuck versus Mattel’s Stinky Garbage Truck

February 22, 2010

Hasbro's Tonka Rumblin' Chuck

Last year we’d have to say that Mattel’s Matchbox Rocky pretty much ran over Hasbro’s Tonka’s Talkin’ Chuck.  Rocky just did so much more. (Watch the video of these two head to head.)  This year we’ll have to see how the new Tonka Rumblin’ Chuck– who promises to do many more tricks (including moving side to side as if he’s ready to line dance)…will compare to the farting Stinky Garbage Truck from Mattel. We’ll be interested to test both of these interactive trucks when they arrive..for now you can check out their prototypes from Toy Fair.  Click here to watch Rumblin’ Chuck.

Here’s Stinky…to watch him in action, click here to view our video.

Mattel's Stinky Garbage Truck


Mattel CEO Bob Eckert picks his favorite toy

February 16, 2010

Mattel CEO Bob Eckert

I thought this was an interesting press event. The CEO of Mattel, Bob Eckert,  would announce his favorite pick of the newly rolled out toys at Toy Fair.  Seemed almost like being asked to pick a favorite child.  How do you decide such a thing? A gut instinct? A favorite brand team? The size of the marketing budget?

I gave this some thought after we were told of the event yesterday (it happened today). Mind you, we don’t have any budgets on the line when we pick our top winners of the year. Yet both Joanne and I have personal favorites – we quietly root for them as we send them off to our family testers.  Even though we don’t make or sell any of the toys we review, we do get very attached.  Each year we have a few that truly stand out, but one?  Almost impossible.

So what did I think Mr. Eckert would select? My money would have been on the harmonizing Singamajigs, the Dancing Mickey Mouse or the big Ape that flips –both had the most “sizzle” in the showroom.  (Mickey also has Donny Osmond associated with him.)  Or maybe the Barbie that is a video camera – she wins for having the most creatively placed use of technology in toyland (the camera is in her chest).

I was wrong. Mr. Eckert’s personal favorite is their new preschool electronic toy called iXL.  The hand-held toy promises to have six-in-one smart devices designed to both be educational and entertaining (including a Story Book, Game Player, Note book, Art Studio, Music Player and Photo Album). It will retail for $79.99/ licensed software sold separately for $24.99.

We’ll be interested to see how our testers react to the iXL.  It will be available in July.  The thing with these types of toys –  it’s hard to tell from the prototypes how they’re going to work in the hands of kids.  Will the screen be engaging enough? Will the games be age appropriate? Can kids manipulate the toy independently and happily? If you give your child this $79 toy, will they leave your iPhone alone? These are the types of things we’ll look at when reviewing the  iXL.

Not to be cynical as to the driving force of his pick,  but Mr. Eckert did mention in his release that  “[they] have invested more research and development dollars into iXL than any other product in our 2010 Fisher-Price product line and it definitely shows.”

Stay tuned.


Barbie Video Girl: Barbie is the Video Camera

February 15, 2010

Barbie Video Girl

When they first brought us around the corner at the Mattel showroom to look at Barbie Video Camera, I looked around thinking perhaps we were being punked.  No, it’s real.  Barbie is a Video Camera.

Barbie’s video camera is in her chest.  Maybe this was inspired by Ironman?

Barbie Video Camera: Camera in her Chest

Now you don’t have to be a teenage boy to see the humor of this placement. While we had just been taken through all of Barbie’s careers-it seemed to be balanced by the location of this camera. While we tell men to look at a woman’s eyes, not her chest…here you really do want to look at the chest to get the best video.

Barbie has a LCD screen in her back and will plug into both PCs and MACs. I do think watching the world from Barbie’s point of view could be fun and kids will probably enjoy the $50 video camera interacting with their other dolls. I just wish I could have been a fly on the wall when they came up with this one and the Glitterizer.  It does almost seem as if it’s an episode of Seinfeld…where one of them would suggest an outrageous idea – and some unsuspecting executive would say “yes!!”


Strong Multi-Cultural Choices at Barbie

February 14, 2010

Barbie Basic

Happily there are more multi-cultural choices in the world of Barbie. I have a sense that the Barbie Basic line is more for adult collectors (all shown in a little black dress) than for kids…but there are a whole range of dolls available in this line. The dolls were part of a fun ebay auction when real designers came up with their own version’s of LBD for Barbie.

Here’s another grouping…

One of favorite collections from last year, So In Style Barbie,  is also continuing. Created by Mattel designer, Stacey McBride, these dolls celebrate our diversity by featuring dolls of color. You can see Ms. McBride talk about the series on this video. I love that she also made mentoring part of the line. The first sets all included a big doll and a little doll (big sister/little sister).  Bravo to Ms. McBride!  Below, some of this year’s new collection. I’ve been trying to interview Ms. McBride about the collection–I hope we get a chance to talk soon.

New So in Style Dolls from Mattel


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.