Author: Christine Duhaime

COMMENTARY: Manufacturers Are Shifting Gender Roles in the Toy Space

The blurring of gender roles is a trend that I’ve been noticing more and more, and I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I think it’s silly to try and reinvent the wheel—let’s be honest, toys that are pink, sparkly, or doll-related attract girls, while Super Heroes, cars, and trucks attract boys (this is, of course, generally speaking)—and what’s wrong with that? On the other hand, there are some toys that are shifting to neutral territory that I think are not only appropriate, but smart on the part of the manufacturers. Hasbro’s Easy Bake Oven is a great example of this. Introduced in the 1960s, the Easy Bake Oven has always been seen as a girls’ toy. Recently, a young girl contacted the company and asked for a gender-neutral version of the toy. Her younger brother had an interest in cooking, but Easy Bake Ovens were only available in “girly” colors, such as purple and pink. Hasbro agreed and has created a black and silver oven that looks more realistic and appeals to all young chefs. Male chefs are certainly not a revolutionary concept, especially with the range of current TV shows featuring men in the kitchen—think Top Chef, Chopped, Cake Boss, America’s Test Kitchen. I expect that this new look will attract a lot of boys when it becomes available this fall. Changing gears, Educational Insights’ Nancy B’s...

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COMMENTARY: DuneCraft’s Whimsical Growing Kits Get Kids Enthusiastic About Plants

With spring right around the corner, garden centers, hardware stores, and nurseries have already begun stocking seeds, supplies, and everything necessary for those with a green thumb to plant a garden. As an avid gardener and plant enthusiast, I’ve already joined the ranks and gathered enough seeds to plant a small farm in my back yard. So it was no surprise that I was looking forward to visiting the DuneCraft booth at the recent American International Toy Fair. DuneCraft makes more than 350 different growing kits for kids. Kits are themed. The Sensory Dome includes five types of plants, one for each of the senses; the Carnivorous Creatures kit features the infamous Venus Fly Trap and sundews—the list goes on. Not only do the kits let kids grow cool plants or foods, the packaging is whimsical and fun, similar to the idea behind Sea Monkeys. Learning about growing food and plants is something that kids can not only have fun with, it is also a fantastic way to educate them about nature and the world around them. DuneCraft got it right with the packaging because kits such as the Dragon’s Lair, Pirate’s Cove, Princess Garden, and the Strange Plant Collection are sure to get kids’ attention and foster enthusiasm for the growing process. For more commentary from Christine, check back each Tuesday afternoon. Views expressed in this column are...

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iStoryTime, Fox Consumer Products Launch Ice Age Movie Storybook App Collection

iStoryTime and Fox Consumer Products released the Ice Age Storybook App Collection for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch just in time for latest film installment of the successful animated franchise, Ice Age: Continental Drift. The Collection engages readers on a new level, immersing them in the world of Ice Age beyond the big screen. Character audio narration and vivid imagery from the motion picture franchise offer parents and children an engaging reading experience through the series, which includes Ice Age, Ice Age: The Meltdown, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, and Ice Age: Continental Drift. This post was originally written by Christine Duhaime and published by For more news, visit, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing...

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