COMMENTARY: Life-Size Plush Seems Like the Real Deal

Everything seems bigger when you’re a kid. Rooms, yards, playground equipment—it all just seemed so much larger back then. Revisiting childhood places and beloved toys of yesteryear can often be as amusing as it is perplexing, when making the comparison between how you perceived the same thing as a child versus now as an adult. I think that’s one of the things that makes childhood so special: It’s a finite amount of time to see the world from below and feel tiny. One of my great desires as a kid was to have a life-sized stuffed animal. Not a life-sized cat, bird, or bunny. I’m talking a life-sized elephant, lion, bear, camel—something enormous. I just wanted to be able to curl up on it and be engulfed. I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid either. Here are some great, life-sized plush products that will not only make kids feel like they’re up close and personal with nature, but will make an awesome Christmas morning scene under the tree.

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Melissa and Doug actually has a “giant stuffed animals” section online, featuring animals including a cheetah, a lion, an elephant, dogs, a penguin, and my favorite: the giraffe. The giraffe stands more than 4 feet tall, towering over kids with realistic markings and authentic facial features. Even as kids get older, this giraffe can transition into a decorative element of a bedroom without taking up much space. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Making a List and Checking It Twice

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s that time of year again. Time to deck the halls, brave the malls, trim the tree, visit family—and if you’re a kid, it’s time to get serious about that Christmas list.

As we get older, our wish lists shift to more practical items, or fewer (and often more expensive) indulgences. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday that my list included such fantasies as a horse like the one from the Billy and Blaze book series, an RV (a real one), a ride-on car, and other obnoxious requests.

Not everything was ridiculous or out of my parents’ price range, however. One Christmas I was delighted when Santa brought me a coveted doll that I’d had my eye on for months. Another year, Barbie’s shoe store made it down the chimney, to much jumping around and “YESSSS!!!”-ing. And the year that presents filled a shiny new Radio Flyer red wagon and overflowed all over the floor goes down as one of the most memorable of all.

Times have changed, and so have the requests of kids as they add, edit, erase, and perfect what may be the most important document of the year before carefully addressing it to the North Pole and sending it off to the big man himself. Here are a few gifts, old and new, that are sure to excite and delight the kids of today as they did us kids of yesteryear.

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The red wagon from my Christmas past was a simple, classic steel wagon that I thought was just the best ever. Now, Radio Flyer’s Build-a-Wagon offers customers the chance to design their wagon to their own unique specifications. Through the website, users can choose from the classic steel-and-wood design or modern plastic, quiet-ride or rugged rubber tires, and accessories including canopies, umbrellas, seat pads, and an MP3 player. [Read more...]

Long Island Newsday Picks Up the Toy Insider’s Hot 20 List of Holiday Toys

Check out Long Island Newsday’s slideshow of the Toy Insider’s Hot 20 list!

The Toy Insider’s ‘Hot 20′ list of 2013 via Long Island Newsday!

Aurora Anticipates Valentine’s Day with New Plush

aurora worldPlush toy and gift manufacturer, Aurora World, Inc., is known for doing big things in the retail world, especially to anticipate a holiday season.  For its upcoming Valentine’s Day catalog Aurora is releasing new products, including fresh characters and variations of popular lines and licenses.

  • Pink Promise Elephant – The loveable elephant is fashioned with super soft-tipped, two-tone fabric and has playful heart prints in its oversized ears. Pink Promise is available in four huggable sizes (10.5-inch, 12-inch, 14-inch, and 22-inch).
  • YooHoo & Friends – Luvee, an endangered chimpanzee joins Aurora’s best-selling plush line as a three-color assortment. Luvee hugs a slightly askew heart, each with a different message, including “Love U,” “Be Mine,” and “XOXO!” Each 5-inch plush makes a smooch sound when squeezed.
  • Butterball Bear – This unique huggable bear features a sweet and happy smile while offering a red rose to his sweetheart. He’s thsi soft plush is available in three sizes (10-inch, 14-inch, and 20-inch).
  • Raggedy Ann “Sweet Dove” – This 2,400-piece limited-edition doll features a pink and brown truffle-inspired polka dot cotton dress with a detailed, embroidered apron. She’s sprinkled with satins, ribbons, and love doves embroidery, and the hangtag and sewn label are individually numbered for authentication. Each Raggedy Ann features the traditional “I Love You” heart embroidered on her chest.
  • Sad Sam & Honey – This property stars two basset hounds. Aurora has expanded the line to include three embroidered message assortments on sparkled, velvet hearts: “I Love You,” “Puppy Love,” and “Be Mine.” The line expansion also includes large “Blushing” variations; paws rest on their blushing cheeks that, when squeezed, light up and make a smooch sound and an oversized feature tag doubles as a gift card.

Aurora products are available in more than 25,000 specialty stores and gift shops worldwide as well as online at shop.auroragift.com.

Creatures of Delight Fuse Fangs and Fun

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.

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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...]