COMMENTARY: Skylanders Swap Force Takes Over Times Square

Fans get in on the video game action.

Fans get in on the video game action.

On October 10, Skylanders fanatics united in New York City for the Skylanders SWAPtoberfest! A life-size world of Skylands was created right in the middle of Times Square. I joined hundreds of kids as they checked out all-things-new at Skylanders and prepared for the highly anticipated release of the new Skylanders Swap Force video game. Kiosks were set up, alongside a Skylands ship, for fans to play the new game in advance of its official launch. Skylanders Swap Force game footage was also featured on the Times Square jumbotron, so fans and passersby were able to watch the action! Kids, parents, and bloggers participated in Swaptober-themed events: Eating candy corn and cupcakes; greeting the costumed characters of the SWAP Force; and learning to play the new video games, which released in North America on October 13. I don’t want to brag, but after about 40 minutes of hogging the video game kiosk (stealing the time from actual children with no shame), I am pretty much a Skylanders boss!

I love that the Skylanders brand is so extensive, offering something for kids of all ages and interests.

SWAP Force takes over Times Square

SWAP Force takes over Times Square

Even better is the fact that all you really need to get started in the Skylanders realm is a Swap Force Starter Pack. This set includes a video game, a portal of power, a collector’s poster, three trading cards, three character sticker sheets with secret codes, and three Skylanders figures. There is also a starter pack available in the Dark edition; it includes a video game, a portal of power, a mega character collector poster, five sticker sheets with secret codes, five trading cards, and five Skylanders figures.  These starter packs also come in Giants and Syro’s Adventures editions. The technology and inspiration behind the new Skylanders video game make it an absolutely unstoppable force. I was able to speak with several of the video game designers who shared with me that the evolution of the game is only beginning—Skylanders is just getting started! All of the designers that I spoke with are parents, and one mommy/designer shared with me that this is the first game that she’s been a part of that she is happy to share with her children. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Big Rewards for a Little Bit of Cash

Sometimes kids deserve a special little treat—whether they refrain from crying at the dentist, got an extra star on their homework assignment, or behaved well on a long shopping trip, it’s nice to reward them for good behavior. Candy is a cheap, instant, and enjoyable treat, but we all know kids can do with a little less sugar (and, in turn, fewer painful dentist visits!).  There are some great inexpensive toys with lots of play value that will help reward kids for good behavior without breaking the bank or causing cavities.

ABSW Telepods Jedi vs Sith Multi-PacksAngry Birds Star Wars Telepods, from Hasbro, are sold in two-figure packs for less than $10. Kids can teleport the collectible figures right into the Angry Birds Star Wars II app, from Rovio Entertainment, on iOS and Android devices. Each figure has a unique QR code on the bottom, so kids can distinguish their characters from their friends’, even if they have the same ones. With more than 30 figures to collect, Hasbro also has compatible play sets at higher price points. With both virtual and physical play, Telepods is a great choice for a quick treat that will keep kids engaged for a long time. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Power Rangers Toys Power Up for 20th Anniversary

When I was a kid, I was in love with the Power Rangers, from Saban Brands. I was a huge fan of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series in the ’90s and I was even The Red Ranger one year for Halloween (They were all out of The Pink Ranger costumes and Kimberly was my favorite, so I had to compromise). I recently re-watched some episodes of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers when the series was on Netflix, and you know what? I still thought it was great in all of its ’90s glory.

However, the lucky kids of today get to obsess over two Power Rangers series of their own—Power Rangers Super Samurai and Power Rangers Megaforce. Power Rangers Super Samurai, which began airing in 2011, is about a new generation of Power Rangers that must master the mystical and ancient Samurai Symbols of Power, which allow them to control the elements of Fire, Water, Sky, Forest, and Earth. Aided by their devoted animal Zords and guided by an all-knowing mentor, these Power Rangers battle the dark forces of the Netherworld and a mysterious Warrior out to destroy.

Power Rangers Megaforce is the 20th season of Power Rangers, coinciding with the series’ 20th anniversary. This season features Gosei, a supernatural being who has protected the earth for centuries with his robotic assistant Tensou. When evil Warstar aliens begin a massive invasion, the Gosei calls upon the Power Rangers Megaforce to form the ultimate team. When morphed into the Power Rangers, the five teenagers gain superhuman strength and mastery over martial arts.

In light of the recent news of Saban extending its agreements with both Nickelodeon and Bandai America to keep the Power Rangers franchise alive, here are some great licensed toys from Bandai America that celebrates this new season of the Power Rangers series, as well as the brand’s 20th anniversary: [Read more...]

K’NEX Introduces Four New K’NEX Education Building Sets

Ideal for classroom and home use, K’NEX Education sets offer hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning for kids ages 9 and up. The new K’NEX Education sets are designed for small groups of students (between three and four kids), and bacsoon_logoteach concepts through problem solving, discovery, exploratory learning, and critical thinking. As kids build, they will have to use each other as a resource for investigating, discussing, and evaluating each scientific and design principle in action. These four new sets include: Simple Machines, Solar Energy, Wind and Water Energy, and Force and Motion.

Simple and Compound Machines – Offering hands-on learning the K’NEX Education Simple and Compound Machines Building Set is designed to expand upon middle school students’ knowledge of simple machines concepts. Students will be able to investigate, explore, and experiment with the K’NEX simple machine models as they analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information. The included teacher’s guide features student inquiry sheets and worksheets for the models highlighted, and asks questions and presents challenges that can be used to help students think more deeply about the concepts involved.  The set includes 332 K’NEX parts. [Read more...]

VTech Launches Online Milestones Guide for Parents’ Reference

VTech has launched their educator-approved Milestones guide. Milestones is a resource to help parents select toys based on the individual needs of kids ages 0 to 9. Parents are able to determine which toys and games are appropriate at each age and developmental stage, so they can make better toy selections.

The Milestones online guide focuses on three key areas of development:

  • Language & Cognitive Development: Encourages language immersion as a key to kids’ cognitive and emotional growth
  • Physical & Motor Development: Highlights how kids exercise their gross and fine motor skills, honing the brain pathways for smooth, purposeful physical movements
  • Social & Emotional Development: Explores how kids develop relationships, learn to read other people’s emotions, and how to control their own

The milestones in these key areas help identify a kid’s particular stage of development and can help parents make informed decisions about which toys are appropriate.

 

Toy Boarders Snowboarder Series Releases for the Holidays

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Mindtwister USA will release AJ’s Toy Boarders Snowboarder Series 1 just in time for the Holidays. There are eight new Snowboarder poses in Snow Series 1 that emulate real snowboard tricks, including the popular Big Air and Railslide figures. Toy Snowboarders are hand designed and molded with attention to detail and style. Each individual Toy Snowboarders pack comes with 24 toy boarder riders; there’s three each of the eight different riders. Toy Snowboarders are recommended for kids ages 6 and up.

 

COMMENTARY: Be a Rock Star—Through Play!

From the ages of 9 to about—oh I don’t know—now, few things got me more excited than hearing a Spice Girls song. I remember the days of standing in front of my mirror with a hair brush belting out all of Britney Spears‘ greatest hits. Everyone—whether you have an extreme case of stage fright or, like myself, were a diva-beyond-compare since the age of 5—loves the fantasy of being a rock star. It takes a lot of guts and gall—and boy does it seem glamorous.

We all know from reading the news that not all roads to rock stardom are as shiny, bright, and full of great shoes as we all hope for them to be. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t still love the fantasy. With the upgrade of technology being incorporated into toys, kids’ fantasies of being a rock star are becoming truly, well, spectacular. Here are some great toys that will get kids—and kids at heart—up in front of that mirror belting into a hairbrush.

superstarThe Barbie Build ‘n Play Super Star Stage, from Mega Bloks, allows girls ages 5 and up to build their own two-story stage that features real lights and sounds that move to the music. The set comes with approximately 290 pieces, including sparkling blocks for a touch of extra glimmer. The Super Star Stage has three songs that will get kids up and dancing. Super Star Barbie, Raquelle, and Teresa figures are included with tons of fabulous accessories to make their rock show glam, including microphones, guitars, a DJ booth, a keyboard, and an elevator with a spinning feature. [Read more...]

Arklu Introduces New Lottie Dolls

lottie.nautical

Lighthouse Keeper

Lottie, from Arklu, is a new, innovative fashion doll for girls ages 3 to 9. The key point of difference from other fashion dolls is that Lottie’s body is childlike. Her dimensions (with the exception of her head) are based upon those devised by leading British scientific academics to reflect the average proportions on a 9-year-old girl.

Lottie has lots of dressable fun, is flexible and poseable, and can stand on her own two feet. Her hair is saran nylon, which is less likely to knot and is silky to the touch. Lottie’s motto is Be Bold Be Brave Be You.

The six new Lottie dolls feature Lottie dressed in detailed outfits specific to the theme. These dolls include Pandora’s Box, Lighthouse Keeper, Pirate Queen, Robot Girl, Kawaii Karate, and Butterfly Protector. Other dolls include Spring Celebration Ballet, English Country Garden, Branksea Festival, Pony Flag Race, Autumn Leaves, and Snow Queen. [Read more...]

Schylling Named Exclusive Distributor of Turbospoke Classic

Schylling will be the exclusive distributor for the launch of the Turbospoke Classic this month in the U.S. and Canada. Turbospoke Classic, is the new pocket-money-priced bicycle noise maker, from Turbospoke. Developed on their original “card in the spokes” design, Turbospoke Classic has a universal fitment and uses durable sound cards to make any bike go zoom. Kids can fit a Turbospoke Classic to their bikes and slide in one of the two sound cards, and they’re ready to ride. As soon as the wheel turns, the noise begins, and the harder that kids pedal, the louder it gets.

The compact design allows more than one Turbospoke Classic to fit on a bike, providing big volume and tunable sounds. Small adjustments to the location and angle of the Turbospoke Classic make a big difference. Turbospoke Classic has blended a retro look with a clean design. It is a standalone product and can also be used in conjunction with Turbospoke products.

Toys “R” Us Announces New tabeo e2

849623 Tabeo 2 Blue FrontToys “R” Us has announced that next month it will debut tabeo e2, the next generation of its Wi-Fi Android tablet for kids that launched during the last holiday season. Designed by the kids authority, the upgraded, 8-inch, multi-touch screen tablet is bigger and faster than the original tabeo and still provides content that kids love and safety features parents desire. tabeo e2 offers access to thousands of free apps in the tabeo App store and comes preloaded with dozens of premium apps carefully selected to entertain and educate kids ages 6 to 11. Featuring enhanced technology, such as the Android Jelly Bean 4.2 operating system, Bluetooth, and a dual-core 1.0 GHz processor for faster performance, tabeo e2 also includes improved parental controls and high-impact screen protection. tabeo e2 will be available in three colors exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and online at tabeo.com beginning in October.

Designed to provide users with an even more compelling tablet experience, tabeo e2 has been engineered specifically for kids of the digital generation. The larger 8-inch multi-touch screen displays more than 16 million colors with an advanced screen resolution. That, combined with a faster dual-core 1.0 GHz processor and quad-core graphics processing unit (GPU), lets users switch between browsing the Internet, watching movies, and playing games quickly and easily. tabeo e2 is also Bluetooth-enabled, allowing it to work with all Bluetooth wireless speakers and accessories.

tabeo e2 will be available in a blue, pink, or clear custom-made protective case. Every tabeo e2 also comes complete with one micro USB cable and one specially designed charging pin to ensure easy connection to a computer or wall outlet for charging. [Read more...]