The Toy Insider Announces Top Toys for Spring and Summer

Layout 1The Toy Insider has released its spring edition online at ToyInsider.com. Featuring six categories of spring and summer toys, the Toy Insider assists gift givers in selecting the best toys for the outdoor and travel season.

“After playing with and testing hundreds of toys, we created a list that is jam-packed with play value and includes something for everyone,” says Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom. She reminds parents and gift givers to look for toys that provide active play or engaging play that will last for hours, and that will help kids “shut down” their devices and enjoy the great outdoors.

The six categories offer products for boys and girls of all ages, and include outdoor toys, water toys, travel toys and games, physical/active toys, nature and educational toys, and entertainment toys.

COMMENTARY: It’s Alive! Cool Tech Brings Animal Toys to Life

Kids are always begging for pets, especially around the holidays. “Can I have a puppy?” “I want a pony!” I’m sure you’re hearing it all. But if you’re not ready to make that huge commitment to a pet and a messy house (and perhaps all of the dog-walking responsibilities), new technology that’s available is truly bringing animal toys to life.

Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole

Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole

The Hexbug line, from Innovation First, has used new tech to make robotic Hexbug critters that crawl on battery power. Two of the company’s newest lines expand upon this technology to make it even better. The Hexbug Nano V2 critters are gravity-defying bugs that can climb vertically through tubes. The Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole play set, the Nano V2 bugs can climb vertically, horizontally, and around corners. Kids can unleash their creativity by customizing the design and layout of the three-story set. The play set also comes with special accessories including a spiral tube and a black funnel.

The Hexbugs Aquabot line features robotic fish that really swim in water. The micro-robotic creatures have Smart Fish technology that allows it to swim, dive, and change directions. You don’t have to worry about feeding it or cleaning its tank. Aqua bots are available in five translucent colors and designed for kids ages 3 and up. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Boo! Halloween Toys That Outlast the Season

by Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom

zombieLast 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...]

COMMENTARY: Why I Love Elmo

by Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom

bighugsI’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...]

Toy Insider Mom Shares Summer Game Picks with Woman’s Day

Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht shared her picks for great games to create a little friendly competition this summer with Woman’s Day. Her picks include Smakaball, the Nerf N-Sports Flag Football Set, the Wave Hoop, and the Nerf Super Soaker Arctic Shock Water Blaster.

 

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Toy Insider Mom Shows GMA Live the Hottest Toys from the American International Toy Fair

PHOTO: The Toy Book Previews TMNT Line from Playmates Toys

Jackie Breyer and Laurie Schacht have some fun at Playmates ToysTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Toy Fair Preview in New York last week. Aside from the fun role-play lineup, we also love the Mutagen Ooze Action Figures, and the Pop-Up Pizza Playset Anchovy Alley. The pizza box pops open into a subway scene that stands 18-inches tall. Ninja action features in the play set include a portable pizza oven that flings fresh pizzas, floor traps, a tricky sewer cover that throws the bad guys for a loop, and an abandoned subway tunnel. 

PHOTO: Toy Insider Mom Joins Barbie’s Moving Crew

Toy Insider Mom and The Toy Book publisher Laurie Schacht helps Barbie move out of her Malibu Dreamhouse. For more info on Barbie’s move, click here.

ABC Gets Political with the Toy Insider Mom

Check out Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht on ABC’s Money Matters segment as she highlights her favorite Election 2012-themed toys! For more information on Schacht or The Toy Insider, visit www.thetoyinsider.com, Twitter, and Facebook.

Toy Insider Attracts Thousands at NYC Woman’s Day Event

The Toy Insider was on hand for Woman’s Day’s Make It A Woman’s Day event at New York City’s busy Grand Central Station on October 5 to preview the hottest toys of the holiday season. Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht spent the day demonstrating toys for various age ranges. Thousands of event attendees walked away with handfuls of toy giveaways and a copy of the The Toy Insider gift guide, along with special offers and coupons. One lucky entrant in The Toy Insider’s sweepstakes received $500 worth of hot holiday toys.  The event celebrated Woman’s Day’s 75th anniversary. Schacht is contributing toy editor for Woman’s Day magazine. The Toy Insider also appears in the November issue of Woman’s Day.