I admittedly didn’t know very much about the Minecraft toy and game selection until Halloween, when my uncle sent a photo of the costume that he had made for his son; who am I kidding—I knew nothing until then! My cousin Carson is a 5 year-old obsessed with the stuff! At the time, all I knew was that Carson could make anything look adorable, and that he had clearly moved on from trains and into this world where players can build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3-D generated world. I can’t even begin to understand all of the insider ins-and-outs of Minecraft, and it seems as though the name represents an entity of games and licensed products. I do, though, like to get as involved as I can with Carson, as I am much more aware of the favorites of his sister, Kennedy, since they were the same as mine: all things pink. Man, girls are simple! In time for the holidays, I took the game home to see what this Minecraft business is all about, so I can get those ever-elusive little kid “brownie points” while I’m home for Christmas. [Read more...]
1996. It was the year of the New York Yankees, the Chicago Bulls, the Dallas Cowboys. It was the year of Jerry Maguire and the Macarena. It was the year of Bill Clinton’s reelection. But most importantly, 1996 marked the best Christmas ever, with toy companies cranking out some of kids’ favorite toys of all time.
Who could forget the Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids dolls, from Mattel? Those pudgy-faced, yarn-haired little cuties each had a motorized mouth, and kids could feed their doll a french fry, a pretzel stick, a banana, and other yummy snacks. This was one of the toys my mom admits to pushing other moms out of the way for at Toys “R” Us on Black Friday morning. The food, which the dolls realistically chewed when kids inserted it into their mouths, fell into a backpack on the doll’s back, so kids could feed them over and over again. Of course, this beacon of glory was shortly recalled after the holiday season, as kids were getting their hair, skin, and fingers stuck in the doll’s mouth (as you can imagine, this resulted in many unhappy parents and kids with bald spots). While I made sure my hair was secured tightly in a ponytail while playing, my Snacktime Kid remained one of my favorite toys through ’97.
Just in time for the holidays, The Orb Factory has new crafty products that are sure to be on your child’s wish list.
For Tweens: Imaginista Twist & Loop Jewelry – Do-it-yourself accessories are extremely popular this year, and with the Imaginista Twist & Loop Jewelry kit, kids can twist, connect, and loopfunky jewelry made from over 80 silicone rings that make earrings, bracelets, rings, and more.
For Little Scientists: Curiosity Kits Lava Rock Volcano – Fun and educational, this kit uses simple products such as plaster and paint to make a realistic volcano that actually erupts. This kit is perfect for science fairs and home-crafting projects.
- For Trendsetters: PlushCraft Owl Pal Pillow – For a simple, mess-free craft that produces beautiful pieces of room décor, this crafting kit allows kids to create decorative pillows with no sewing required. The kit includes more than 220 fabric pieces.
by Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom
Last year was a pretty tough Halloween on the east coast. Just a few days before the holiday, Hurricane Sandy shut off our lights, devastated our coasts, and in my neck of the woods, pretty much canceled parties and trick-or-treating. So this year I hope to see all our favorite ghosts and goblins make a big comeback.
Who will you be this year? The Marvel superheroes will be strong sellers. Lets face it: what kid doesn’t want to save the world—and what adult doesn’t want a few hours to be “that hot” at a grown up party dressed up as Iron Man or Wonder Woman!
For little girls, if you haven’t purchased their Doc McStuffins or Sofia the First costumes yet, good luck finding them. I’ve yet to meet a 4-year-old girl that hadn’t loved one or both of these new favorite characters. Boys are loving Jake and his Never Land Pirates, Skylanders, Trash Pack Kids, and Slugterra.
But it’s not just in the costume. There are some great additions to the two hottest video games with Halloween themes this year that I need to share. Skylanders Giants released their special Halloween edition called Eye-Brawl. It’s sports a pumpkin head and a skeleton head at his feet. Disney Infinity will let kids build their own Halloween town in Toy Box mode, with the Pumpkin King throwing pumpkins at other characters, including the newly released Jack Skellington. [Read more...]
Check out Long Island Newsday’s slideshow of the Toy Insider’s Hot 20 list!
by Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom
I’ve loved Elmo for as long as I can remember … and I’m not alone! He spans generations of boys, girls, kids, and adults. And while one might be able to argue that Mickey Mouse has the same appeal (and in many ways he does), every year there’s a brand new Elmo for a brand new group of kids to bring home and to love. But be warned, not all Elmo’s are alike.
When my kids were toddlers Elmo came in the form of a simple stuffed animal. He was cherished by all my girls, but especially my oldest, now 23. Today, she still adores him. I’ve actually had my ups and downs with Elmo (though my true love for him never really falters) as he has engaged in the world of technology.
Every holiday season I’m asked, “What’s the new Tickle Me Elmo this year?” and I think to myself, “I hope there isn’t one.” Yes, Tickle Me Elmo, from Fisher-Price, was a retailer’s and a manufacturer’s dream toy—a toy retailers couldn’t keep in stock because demand was so high, and at the time, no one had ever seen such innovation in plush. Add the Elmo factor and it was a solid hit (followed by a few more, such as the extreme version). But while it was sold out everywhere, sold for huge markups by individuals, and fought over in stores—and as cool as the innovation was—this was not my favorite Elmo. I could never watch Elmo laugh or roll over on the floor, pounding the floor and laughing, without full out laughing myself. The problem was that I was just watching. [Read more...]
With an official launch still to come this year, The Beatrix Girls brand has already announced nine new licensing agreements after its successful introduction at the International Licensing Show. The new line of collectible pop-star dolls has expanded since its promotional agreement with Peavey Electronics to add new brand partners in the teen/tween market. Licensing deals, including apparel, bags and backpacks, accessories, back-to-school, bedding, stationery, footwear, headwear, and more, were brokered by the licensing firm AALMG.
The U.S. licensees The Beatrix Girls have recently signed include Children’s Apparel Network for branded tops, bottoms, sets, dress, and outerwear; Berkshire Fashions for branded baseball caps, fashion headwear, fleece hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, head bands, ear muffs, leg and arm warmers, socks, slipper socks, rain slickers, ponchos, and umbrellas; Hanover Group for branded necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, anklets, charms, headbands, barrettes, ponytail holders, hair clips, hair scarves, lanyards, coin purses, purses, zipper pulls, flashlights, key chains, backpack clips, shoelaces, novelty headbands, tiaras, wands, eye masks, brushes, sunglasses, and gift sets; Skyhigh International LLC for branded back-to-school stationery, including notebooks, memo books, portfolios, binders, planners, journals, address books, list pads, book covers, stationery sets, stickers, pens, and pencils; Jay Franco & Sons for branded bedding, bath, room décor, beach towels, beach blankets, and beach backpacks; AME for branded girls sleepwear; Playa Vista Designs for branded footwear; and Fast Forward for branded handbags, backpacks, totes, sports bags, small leather goods, cell phone cases, luggage, lunch juts, and beverage bottles.
The Beatrix Girls band members—Brayden, Ainsley, Lark, and Chantal—produce real music that kids can collect. Each pop-star has her own developed personality, making it not only possible for her to live and interact in the human world, but for kids to vicariously live the fantasy of being a pop-star through play.
Lil’ Blabberz, from Little Tikes, are crazy and funny characters in the shape of a ball. The silly characters interact, tell jokes, and dance and sing together, with mouth animations that bring the toy to life. Kids ages 3 and up will love Oolie, a Lil’ Blabberz who is funny, and crazy, but also soft and fuzzy. Lil’ Blabberz can be stand-alone toys, but if there is another Lil’ Blabberz in the room, the fun multiples as they interact with each other.
Lil’ Blabberz is part of Little Tikes’ new extensive holiday line.
- Lil’ Blabberz: Oolie is a funny, crazy character in the shape of a soft, fuzzy ball for kids ages 3 and up.
- Activity Garden: The garden incorporates a variety of baby toys and activities to develop motor skills and cognitive ability. This activity gym can be configured in different ways to keep play exciting from kids ages 6 months to 3 years.
- GiddyUp ‘N Go Pony: A toy pony named Thunder that allows kids ages 3 to 5 to develop coordination and balance.
- I’m an Artist Station: This product allows toddlers ages 3 and up to be creative in art. The paper spins, kids add paint, and make creations.
- Wiggimals: This toy sheep can assist babies in learning to crawl with its movement. Wiggimals is suitable for babies ages 6 months and up.
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.