This winter has been a brutal one for New Yorkers (and I’m not even sure it’s over yet). I for one was more than willing to load up on the cold weather gear, donning a new bubble coat, an oversized infinity scarf, and fingerless gloves with mitten covers in a concerned effort to keep out the cold and stave off the flu. Long johns were even necessary on a few of the more brutal days this year. Though most adults are eager to be as warm as possible during the winter months, it can be difficult to get kids to bundle up willingly. My niece and nephew whine and whine about putting on their winter’s finest: “The zipper pinches my chin!,” “I can’t breathe!,” “I can’t see with this hat on,” etc., etc. A good way to combat the incessant complaining and layering reluctance is to let kids make their own cold weather accessories. [Read more...]
It’s Saturday night (undoubtedly after a long work week). A friend is throwing a huge party for the big game, or a birthday, or just because, you know, it’s Saturday. So you set off on an adventurous evening, teeming with excitement, even braving the seasonal elements if necessary. Your friend welcomes you with a cheery embrace, but as you look around the room, you come to the realization that you don’t know a single soul.
You know the moment. How do you make your way into a conversation without coming across as anything but your cool, confident self? Luckily, there’s a saving grace for these types of scenarios: party games. [Read more...]
Last Friday marked my niece Courtney’s eighth birthday, and what was she hoping for most? An iPod. Now, in my opinion, an 8-year-old doesn’t have much business with an iPod, but kids today are getting into electronics at a much younger age. Though part of Courtney’s argument for “needing” an iPod was, “everyone has one except for me,” the first thing she did when she got it was personalize it. Before even putting a song on it, she slapped a peace-sign sticker right on the back of it—10 minutes out of the box (hence why 8-year-olds probably shouldn’t have iPods). But, this was her way of making it her own.
For parents buying their children expensive devices such as smartphones, iPods, or even portable gaming devices like the Nintendo 3DS or the PS Vita, there are some awesome products on the market that will allow kids to dazzle and personalize their devices without placing a never-gonna-come-off, gooey-backed sticker on said device.
Plugy, from Hashy, is a universal 3.5mm plug that fits snuggly into all standard headphone jacks. Plugys come in more than 40 different styles, including zoo animals, robots, and glow-in-the-dark options. Plugy has something for everyone, including a rainbow, Eiffel Tower, and an apple stem, and allows kids to take their smart device to a more personal level in a not-so-permanent way. Plugys are made of rubber and will not break when inserted into the headphone jack. They even protect the device from rain, dust, and sand when earphones are not plugged in. Plugys are available on amazon.com and from Hanging Mobile Gallery. For more information on Plugys, email plugyUSA@gmail.com. [Read more...]
There are so many games on the market that get the gears moving in your brain, including Scrabble, Bananagrams, Trivial Pursuit, and Boggle. But what about those of us who didn’t major in English in college or don’t have a plethora of interesting facts stored away for a rainy day? MindWare has the answer… or well, answers.
Cirplexed! is a 360-degree game of strategy that doesn’t include numbers, facts, or words. Each tile features quarter circles of different colors. Each player creates his or her own game board by drawing and placing tiles, in an attempt to create the most single-color circles. It sounds simple, but even at 23 years old, I could only match about eight circles total. Though the game is designed for two to six players, it can be played solo, as well, to put your brain to work when friends and family members aren’t around.
As a kid growing up in the 1990s, I remember one of the coolest novelty-type items I had was a pair of glasses that reflected rainbow peace sign holograms in the dark black lenses. Today, the fun of holograms is being taken to a whole new level by Goliath Games.
After seeing Goliath’s new product line for this year at American International Toy Fair, I was taken around to the back of the exhibit to see the grand finale: HolograFX. A new augmented reality app accessory, HolograFX turns a smartphone or iPod Touch into a special effects holographic magic show. Each HolograFX box comes with 20 tricks, a free downloadable app, and stage to create a magic show with holograms.
In the trick that was demoed for me at Toy Fair, kids can place an image of the “corpse” of Siren Electra inside the “reanimation chamber.” Then, after a little bit of magic, a holographic image of Siren-come-back-to-life climbs out of the chamber and moves and speaks on the stage. In addition to the pre-loaded hologram images included in the set, kids ages 7 and up can become a hologram themselves! It was by far the coolest thing at Toy Fair, and I was jealous I grew up with holographic glasses instead of being able to turn myself into a hologram when I was a kid. This toy truly feels like a toy of the future.
HolograFX won’t be in stores until late summer, but the set can be preordered by clicking here.
For more commentary from Marissa, check back each Monday afternoon. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!
Feld Motor Sports’ Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam, the touring monster truck property, which performs in front of 4 million spectators annually, has signed multiple new licensees, including two new toy partners.
Ridemakerz, creator of the vehicle customizing experience, has partnered with Monster Jam to bring kids a new way to build, create, and play with customizable Monster Jam trucks. A line of interlocking Monster Jam Xtreme Customz construction vehicles will be available at retail this fall.
Revell Inc. is launching a 1:25-scale model kit of one of the world’s most famous Monster Jam trucks, Grave Digger. The Grave Digger Snap-Tite Model Kit features authentic graphic decals and replica plastic parts that snap together for easy assembly. Monster Jam fans and hobbyists will have the opportunity to replicate the Grave Digger Monster Jam truck design.
In addition, Rico Industries/Tag Express’ line of Monster Jam novelty and souvenir products are currently available at Walmart. Sky High will launch Monster Jam back-to-school products this summer, and CSS Industries will introduce Monster Jam Valentine and Easter products next year.
Kids and parents gathered around as Parents’ Choice award-winning singer/songwriter, Genevieve Goings of Disney Jr.’s Choo Choo Soul took the stage. Under a light snowfall, kids danced along in puffy coats and animal hats as Goings sang original songs about each new Little People character’s personality. [Read more...]
Debbie Sterling creates a construction toy designed with girls in mind
What do Bob the Builder, Jimmy Neutron, and Bill Nye the Science Guy have in common? They all love engineering—and they are all male. Similarly, the construction aisles of toy stores are geared primarily toward boys, with blue and black boxes lining the shelves. Fear not, those of you with lady parts, GoldieBlox is here to inspire girls to tinker their way into the male-dominated world of engineering.
Debbie Sterling, who earned her degree in engineering from Stanford University, decided to create Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine, a construction toy specifically designed for young girls, two years ago. At one of Sterling’s “idea brunches,” where she and friends would get together to share their ideas over breakfast, the wheels started turning for the CEO when a fellow female engineer explained how playing with her brothers’ hand-me-down Legos influenced her. Having grown up with only a sister, Sterling was never exposed to construction toys as her parents never thought to venture into the boys’ toy aisles. “That morning, it hit me like a lightening bolt. I was sitting in that room and realized this is my life calling, as corny as it sounds,” she says. [Read more...]
National Wildlife Federation (NWF), publisher of Ranger Rick children’s magazine, is releasing a new magazine and related app for a younger age group.
Ranger Rick Jr. will feature specially designed content for children ages 4 to 7. The magazine is designed for beginning readers and is packed with intriguing animal facts and photography. A new character, Ricky Raccoon, will guide children through the 36-page magazine, with the first issue set to release in December.
Every issue will feature Green Time, a page of activities aimed to get kids outside so they can experience wildlife in their own neighborhoods, and Ever Wonder, which will answer kids’ elusive questions about nature.
Though the magazine focuses primarily on photos and activities rather than text-heavy articles, Ricky and Pals gives adults the chance to read fictional stories about Ricky Raccoon to children.
A subscription to Ranger Rick Jr. will include 10 issues of the magazine. Ranger Rick Jr. will also be available for purchase on newsstands, and digital editions of the publication are available for the Nook at bn.com and Kindle at amazon.com.
The app, Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures, is a storybook app designed for iPads. Kids can make their way through animal adventures using the explore, create, and play options. The first app in the series will focus on lions, as Ricky Raccoon appears with his pal Lars the Lion to take children on an animated trip through the grasslands.
With the Interactive Photo Story kids can discover interesting facts about lions while watching videos, looking at animated infographics, and listening to animal sound effects. In Photo Safari, kids can count the lions in Lars’ pride while snapping photos along the way. With Trail tales, kids can write fill-in-the-blank ad-lib type stories, and with the Animal Builder they can create their own hybrid animals.
Every page is designed to have hidden elements kids can touch and discover in addition to the games, facts, and images. “We wanted to be informatie but we wanted to build play and creativity into it,” said Lori Collins, editor-in-chief of Early Childhood Publications.
The interactive app will be available for purchase in the iTunes App Store this week.
There is a softer side to all kinds of fictitious creatures: from Yetis, aliens, and trolls, to dragons, human-devouring plants, and purple dinosaurs.
Tom Kopian, artist and creator behind Creatures of Delight, a line of specialty, handcrafted monster toys, works with a small team and his 11-year partner, Stewart Buffaloe, to make one-of-a-kind creatures using a variety of molds and his patented latex-fiber blend material.
The creatures are a combination of creepy and cute and appeal to a broad demographic. Though the line is composed mostly of traditionally scary, fictional monsters, their vibrant color palettes and bright-white smiles make them appeal to girls as much as boys. “I think essentially the toys are gender neutral. They are rough and tough monsters, so it can be a boy thing, but girls like some of the cuter pieces like Snarl, Floyd, and the Grudges. It is not definitively a boy or girl thing,” Kopian explains. [Read more...]