COMMENTARY: Go! Go! Sports Girls Promote a Healthy Image for Girls

After struggling with self-image for many, many years, I feel that relaying the importance of confidence to a younger generation of girls is of the utmost importance. Young girls see and hear older women discussing hatred toward their bodies and the latest on fad diets; it’s such an unhealthy message to send. In a world where most “girl” action figures and dolls are stick-thin, and every famous tween girl looks ill-fed, a break in this trend is always quite refreshing. Go! Go! Sports Girl products offer girls products with a positive image to encourage healthy minds and bodies. The line was created after Jodi Norgaard had a disappointing shopping experience with her 9-year-old daughter, unable to find anything “stylish” that didn’t bare a stomach or involve high heels. Norgaard’s company, Dream Big Toy Co., aims to empower young girls with its motto “Dream Big and Go for It.” It seems that similar specialty toy companies have started to take notice, creating lines with a related approach.

ellaDream Big Toy Co. created Go! Go! Sports Girls as a fun and educational way to promote self-appreciation and the benefits of daily exercise, healthy eating and sleeping habits, self-esteem, and overall healthy life skills among girls ages 3 to 12, regardless of race and socioeconomic class. The Sports Girls are age and size appropriate, and most importantly, they do not encourage an older or overly mature image. The image is innocent with a strong message to girls about appreciating and being true to yourself. [Read more...]

Kids Preferred Expands Buildex Wooden Line with Rescue Vehicles

carKids Preferred, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of plush toys and gifts, will showcase the expansion of its Buildex wooden construction toy offerings. The new emergency rescue vehicles, in particular, each offer to build vehicles in two different ways from the same high-quality parts. Each vehicle in the set has two different options for building, creating, and playing.

This new generation of toys was designed to encourage children to develop 3-D thinking and an appreciation for construction, movement, and design. The collection utilizes Grid-Lock, a unique construction system which allows strong and safe assembly without the need for glue and tools. [Read more...]

Universal Studios Brings Monster High: Frights Camera Action to Life

monsterhighWhen Monster High‘s Draculaura is led to believe she’s the rightful heir to the vampire throne, she and her best ghoulfriends are whisked away to Transylvania for a royal coronation to die for. But they soon discover the hunt for the queen is not over yet. The Ghouls must locate an ancient artifact known as the Vampire’s Heart in order to discover the identity of the true Vampire Queen. Mattel‘s new line of Monster High: Frights, Camera Action! dolls features Hauntlywood versions of favorite glam ghouls ready for their Black Carpet debut. The dolls feature “gore-geous” accessories.

The film is an adventure that will lead them from the Tower of Londoom, to a haunted river boat in New Goreleans and finally to the glamorous boo-vie lots of Hauntlywood. Monster High: Frights, Camera, Action! comes to Blu-ray Combo Pack including Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD with UltraViolet on March 25, from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

COMMENTARY: USAopoly Gives Classic Games a Licensed Twist

You may love Monopoly, but it’s okay to admit that sometimes you get a little tired of playing the same game over and over again. Games become classics because they span generations, and they’re well-designed and challenging. In a way, they can become timeless. But you can only force your grandma to mortgage all of her properties and hand over all her piles of pastel-colored money so many times before enough is enough. Her little thimble token—and your interest and passion for the game—has been defeated.

USAopoly has solved this problem by taking our favorite classic games and slapping a license or five on them, making each edition more appealing and unique to the players. Properties include The Smurfs, The Wizard of Oz, My Little Pony, and many, many more, to appeal to all generations, collectors, and fans. The great thing about these licensed games is that they give your traditional family favorites a big twist—and turn it into a whole new game! So if you’re tiring of the same old games in your closet, these would be some great additions to your next family game night.

drwho_mn_3dbt_webI’m not one who’s all about sci-fi shows and aliens and such, but I have to admit that I find BBC‘s Doctor Who series highly addicting—and The Doctor has quite the cult following that will back me up on that. Now fans can travel through time and space with their favorite Doctor with USAopoly’s Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition of Monopoly.  Two to six plays ages 8 and up can buy, sell, and trade iconic episodes, spaceships, and landmarks, spanning billions of years across the Doctor Who universe. The Poison Sky, A Good Man Goes to War, The Daleks, and the Arc of Infinity are all able to be purchased by time travelers. [Read more...]

Spin Master’s Paw Patrol Helps Boost Nickelodeon’s Ratings

paw-patrol-post-2Spin Master‘s Paw Patrol helped to tip the scales in Nickelodeon‘s favor, making it the children’s TV network leader in the battle between Disney and Nickelodeon for kids share, according to a report on Bloomberg News. The battle between these two large players grew even more after last year’s debut of Disney Junior, a channel aimed a preschoolers watching Nick Jr.

Nickelodeon cited Nielsen data that reported it averaging 918,000 viewers a day among kids ages 2 to 11 in the fourth quarter through December 15 compared to The Disney Channel’s 874,000 viewers. According to the Bloomberg News article, the ratings shift, is accelerating ad sales for Viacom, which posted its best quarterly growth in at least two years last month. The battle between the largest players in children’s TV intensified last year after the debut of Disney Junior, a channel aimed at preschoolers who watch Nick Jr.

COMMENTARY: Cardboard Playhouses Help Kids Think Inside the Box

It’s almost Christmas, and for me, that means logging onto Netflix and making sure that a DVD of the 2004 film, Millions, is in the mail in time to reach me by next Wednesday. If you’ve never seen Millions, you should totally make it part of your holiday viewing, as it is a wonderful movie. Directed by Danny Boyle (of Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire fame), it’s not a saccharine-fest like a lot of other Christmas-themed fare; however, it is set around Christmas and packs messages about the importance of charity and human kindness, and of the power of familial love. Watching it reminds you of what the holidays can, and should, be about.

Millions is also a celebration of a child’s imagination, and one of my favorite parts of the film is near the beginning, when one of the main protagonists, 7-year-old Damian, is sitting in his backyard kingdom that’s made out of discarded cardboard boxes. Thanks to Boyle’s whimsical direction, the viewer gets to experience how something as simple as a box fort can become a source of great play potential: At one point, Damian’s entire universe trembles as a nearby train thunders by. He also has one-on-one chats with various Catholic saints, who drop by for darkly humorous interactions, and to relay messages about the boy’s recently deceased mom.

Calafant, Cardboard playhouseIt was because of Millions that I wanted to put together a list of cardboard playhouse toys. Now if you’re like me, you got your first taste of them when you were younger, shortly after a new refrigerator, TV, or bathroom fixture was unpacked at your family home. Today, anyone can still acquire a large box from pretty much anywhere and use it for playhouse-building; however, clean surfaces, such as the ones on the following products, do present an advantage for decorating. There’s another reason why I chose them: They all utilize recycled cardboard, meaning they take something that might otherwise end up in a dump and turn it into a item that creates enjoyment. Since it’s the holidays, if you’re going to give a present that encourages a child’s creativity, why not one that’s friendlier for the whole planet, which serves as every kid’s playhouse? [Read more...]

Google’s Zeitgeist Releases Top 10 Trending Toy Searches for 2013

Google has released its annual Zeitgeist—a “spirit of the times”—which gives us a chance to remember the people, places and topics that got us talking, and ultimately searching, before a new year begins. The list of top toy searches features new toys such as Minions and Palace Pets, but also old favorites, such as Play-Doh. Here are the top 10 trending toy searches this year:

  1. Pokémon
  2. Play-Doh
  3. Digimon Fusion
  4. Minecraft Toys
  5. Minions
  6. Palace Pets
  7. Paw Patrol
  8. Pacific Rim Toys
  9. My Little Pony
  10. Disney Planes

The 2013 Zeitgeist site provides more than 1000 top-10 lists of popular and trending searches from 72 countries, making it the most comprehensive and global list to date.

Magicforest Distributes New Moulin Roty Nighttime Shadow Puppets

magicforestFrench toy company Moulin Roty has cast a light on its Les Petit Merveilles line of Nighttime Shadow Puppets. Instead of reading from a storybook, parents and kids can use these puppet sets with themes of Castles, Paris, Circus, and Dinosaurs to create magical tales for sweet dreams. Magicforest, the exclusive U.S. distributor of Moulin Roty toys, will showcase the entire collection, plus the Nighttime Shadow Theatre, at its booth at the American International Toy Fair.

Different than hand puppets made by a flashlight and a camping tent wall, these artistic puppets entice storytelling and hand coordination, and serve as an outlet to express feelings. The puppets are made from black cardstock that is laser cut into various shapes. The Paris Shadows set features the Eiffel Tower, an airplane, the moon, and a sleepwalker. The nine-piece Castle Shadows includes a dragon, a fairy, royalty, and a witch. The Dinosaur Shadows is a pack of 10 puppets featuring a stegosaurus, a brachiosaurus, and more prehistoric shapes. The Nighttime Circus Shadow puppets include 11 different figures, including a lion, an elephant, and a strongman. The puppets are designed for kids ages 3 and up.

COMMENTARY: Nightmarish Christmas Gifts Delight Burton Fans This Season

While my folks are tuning into the Hallmark channel for the sappy Christmas movies that make them cry year after year, and my niece and nephew obsess over Buddy from Elf, I’m still stuck on a classic Christmas favorite that is often misappropriated by Halloween: The Nightmare Before Christmas. The movie isn’t called A Dream Before Halloween. For me, that’s enough reasoning to say it is, in fact—no matter how creepy—a Christmas movie.

Nightmare Before Christmas MonopolyUSAopoly will bring this cult classic into homes this holiday season in a whole new way with Monopoly: The Nightmare Before Christmas Collector’s Edition. Players can buy, sell, and trade iconic movie locations, such as Jack’s Tower, Oogie Boogie’s Casino, Sally’s Alley, Dr. Finkelstein’s Laboratory, Town Square Fountain, and (my favorite) Spiral Hill. This completely customized game features imagery of all the greatest characters from the film, with Jack and Sally front and center, as well as six collectible pewter tokens, including Jack’s Skull, Sally, the Mayor’s Hearse, Oogie Boogi, Zombie Duck, and Evil Teddy. Just like the classic, this game is designed for two to six players ages 8 and up and is sure to please all Nightmare fans. [Read more...]

Hot for Spring and Holiday Travel—Customizable Flip Flops

Maui_Flip_Flops_W_Pink_Bloom_2__10997.1375240005.451.416Every now and then a non-toy item permeates space in toy stores due to its trendiness, appeal to kids, and, typically, its toyetic nature. Something about it makes it fun and kids have to have it.

Enter Lollz Flip Flops, from Wavewearco. Available in child and adult sizes, these flip flops allow users to customize their footwear with super easy snap-on/snap-off Lollz accessories, which include bows, flowers, buttons, etc. The company even encourages its customers to design their own Lollz for a unique look, with suggestions such as gluing on rhinestones, or painting them. The Lollz snap on and off easily, but stay on very securely.

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The idea for the line came from the owner’s personal experience. He couldn’t understand why his daughters insisted on bringing so many pairs of sandals on vacation, taking up precious space in their luggage. They insisted that their footwear had to complement their outfit. And so Lollz were born. With Lollz, kids can bring one pair of flip flops, and several accessories to change their style as they wish, even on the go.

 

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