Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Grandma's Favorites at TTPM Holiday Showcase

The TTPM Holiday Showcase for the media features large and small companies showing what will be their most promoted and promising toys during the holiday season.  It is a super fun event.  As usual, I am looking at everything from a grandparent perspective and providing my list of what a grandparent might want to be shopping for soon.

I look for updated toys that we remember from when our kids were kids, good value, things we can do with the grandkids, toys with learning and play value, and what's popular that will message the grandkids that we are not completely in the dark about what is happening in their world.  Here are some of my favorites from the TTPM showcase that fit one of more of this criteria.

Giggle and Wiggle Peppa Pig
Giggle and Wiggle George

Peppa Pig Giggle and Wiggle – Peppa and George
Everybody loves Peppa and George and even if the young  child you are buying for already has a Peppa plush, they will love these.  They are large and soft.  When you press the button on their tummy they giggle and wiggle their arms.  Kids will love seeing Peppa and George being so funny and they are sure to make your pre-schooler giggle along with them.

My First Bananagrams
My First Bananagrams
Calling all Bananagrams lovers – If you have an early reader you will want this set (Even if you are not already a Bananagrams fan). My First BANANAGRAMS features easy grip tiles,  lowercase letters and  combo-letter tiles to help with the wordplay. There are directions for multiple activities and mini games or make up your own as I have done with my grandson. The banana includes 80 single tiles and 13 combo-letter tiles. The picture I took at TTPM was blurry so this is a stock photo.

Trolls  by Dreamworks

Trolls, Trolls and More Trolls
A new Trolls movie by Dreamworks will be released on November 4th (the ads are already heating up the airwaves).  Thus Troll toys will be super hot and probably fly off the shelves soon after the movie release.  If you are a grandparent, you probably remember the trolls craze in the 80s and 90s.  My daughter had a huge collection.  Well this is going to be one of those movies popular with parents and kids –grandparents too – as it features quite a cast of voices by celebrities young and old. This is a sampling of the Trollmania you can expect soon.

Miraculous by Ban Dai
You may not have heard of the Nickelodeon series Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir but your grandchildren know her.  Ladybug uses resourcefulness, creativity and her lucky charm to defeat villans and restore peace to the city.  I brought home 2 big bags of samples from TTPM, and this was the one my grandson chose as his gift 

Young Architect City Planner by Alex Brands/Scientific Explorer
Young Architect City Planner
Kids who like to design cities enjoy software like Sim City.  This set will give a child a hands-on experience to design and build their own design.  The set includes a grid, paper which you tape to the grid, clear blue building pieces, colored pencils, decals of building facades and windows, and traceable templates of various features in a city such as a baseball field.  Although the box cover only features a boy, this set should appeal to both girls and boys.  Ages 8 and up.

3D Wood Models by IncrediBuilds
These 3D wood models have both an old fashioned and fresh-cool look and feel about them.  The wood models come on a laser cut wood sheet with easily removable pieces and are put together without glue and tools.  Detailed instructions are provided.  There are Star Wars, Harry Potter, super hero characters, the Eiffel tower and more.  This picture shows some of the models on display at TTPM.  The package says ages 12+ but I think this is an excellent project for a grandfather and younger child to work on together. You can buy a model only or a model and book set.  It is right priced for a grandchild sleepover visit activity.

By the end of the October I should have my Holiday Gift Guide posted so look for even more holiday gift ideas for the Grandkids there.  Check out these items at Amazon – just click on the links below.

Here are links to some of my previous 2016 toy reviews:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

My Favorites at Toy Insider's Holiday of Play

Last week I attended the Toy Insider “Holiday of Play Fall 2016 Toy Showcase.” Among the bustling crowd of media and bloggers were toy companies displaying and demonstrating their top toys for this holiday season.  I always enjoy these events and learn a lot.  Then I try to step back and think about what grandparents would like to give to their grandchildren.  And so my favorites list is personal and usually different than what the PR is all about.    Here are MY favorites from the show.

Octotunes by Lamaze (TOMY)
Octotunes by Lamaze (TOMY)
This is a large colorful soft toy that can be enjoyed by the smallest baby and older ones too.  It has 8 legs and a different note is sounded when you squeeze each leg.  The package has color coded songs so you can play a familiar tune even if you can’t read music.  Eye catching and will be fun to play with a baby.

Once Upon a Craft – The Gingerbread Man by Educational Insights

Once Upon a Craft -Gingerbread by Educational Insights
This is an easy craft project that is excellent for grandparents and grandchildren to enjoy together.  You start by reading the 24 page storybook and then the foam gingerbread man can be decorated with the stickers provided.  There are also 7 ready to color finger puppets and decorative frame that can be used as a puppet show stage.  This low cost all-in-one package craft is an excellent item to have on hand for when your grandchildren visit.  Perfect sleepover activity.

Betty Spaghetty – Popstar Betty by Moose
Betty Spaghetty Popstar
Betty Spaghetty dolls were very popular in the 1990s and discontinued in the early 2000s.  She is back this year and expected to be a big hit.  When I opened my swag bag my 7 year old grandson knew right away who she was.  There are 12 different themed dolls available in single packs.  This is the popstar and she comes with 21 interchangeable parts.  To get a better idea of how you play with her watch this video:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutagen Mayhem Battle Game by Nickelodeon
TMNT Mutagen Mayhem Game by Nickelodeon

I haven’t met a boy aged 4 – 8 who isn’t a TMNT fan.  I bet you haven’t either.  This new game has a plastic “mayhem collision rail” that flips the characters over and the game figures pop up for battle.  The first player with four slices of pizza wins.  This is an action oriented game – fun for TMNT fans and action oriented kids.

Shopkins Happy Places House Playset by Moose
Shopkins Happy Places House Playset
Shopkins is the largest selling collectible on the market.  Boys and Girls love collecting and playing with these cute little shopping items.  Now Moose is introducing the Happy Places line which provide  dolls and playset settings to enjoy with your shopkins.

Geckobot by Thames and Kosmos
Geckobot by Thames and Kosmos
This is an amazing building set for older kids. You build a wall climbing robot – Geckobot -  with an air suction system that allows the robot to walk vertically up walls.  There are six other building models with accompanying physics experiments making this an excellent learning opportunity while having great fun.   Geckobot is also an excellent project for a grandparent to participate in.

I hope you enjoyed these reviews.  All the pictures were taken by me as seen at the show - no stock photos here. Please leave your comments and let me know what you think of these toys.   Here I am as I arrived:
Marion Conway at Toy Insider Fall 2016 Showcase

Monday, September 19, 2016

My Favorite Toys at Blogger Bash Sweet Suite

 In July I attended a premier event – Blogger Bash in New York. It was an extraordinary two days.  This is the second blog post covering the event.  See the last post featuring baby items here.  This post is exclusively featuring new toys seen at the Sweet Suite segment. Most are new and available for the first time now. 

As always this highlights post is as seen from a grandmother’s eye.  I always am drawn to versions of toys that we played with or our grown kids did and toys that we can enjoy with our grandchildren.  Although I recommend these items  whatever your relationship to a child is, these reviews are through a grandparent lens.

Science X Smartscope from Ravensburger
This is a wonderful new product which incorporates interest in microscopes that we all remember having as kids with the ease of use and greater capability of today’s technology.  Frankly, it is ingenious.  The best way to understand how this works is to view this video by TTPM.

Basically you put the specimen that you want to view whether it be sugar crystals or a bug – on a plastic slide in the smartscope.  Then you put your smartphone on top of the smartscope and you can view it on your phone.  This means you get to see the item magnified, adjust the focus, no squinting and several of you can view it at the same time.  It is pretty cool.  If you enjoy experiencing science projects with your grandchildren you will love this and it is very reasonably priced.

Magic Sets by Thames and Kosmos

We all remember watching magic shows performed by our kids.  These two new magic sets both get excellent reviews.  Magic is a wonderful activity for grandparents to introduce to grandchildren and makes an excellent grandchild sleepover activity.

Calafant – Distributed by Haywire

Calafant is an inexpensive cardboard building and drawing project.  There are a variety of set in three levels of difficulty.  This is a creative arts and craft project that also makes an excellent grandchild visit project. It incorporates building and decorating skills - good for grandma or grandpa. Other available sets include The three Little Pigs, The Palace, The Pirate’s Ship and more. Very reasonably priced.

Peppa Pig and George Giggles n’Wiggles by Jazwares
Everyone loves Peppa Pig and these new plush are sold together so you have both characters.  So cute and love the giggles and wiggles.

I know that some grandparents provide a costly holiday gift that the grandkids want or the parents want for the kids.  Here are a couple that may be on your holiday list.

TNMT Out of the Shadows Playset
Yes this is one of those over the top playsets – both in size and price.  But if you know a super TNMT fan who enjoyed the Out of the Shadows movie and can play for hours with TNMT figures and playsets this may be on your list.   Here is your first look.

Family House by Brio

Brio is a high end small building line most well know for their railroad sets.  This newest set is Family House and it is an excellent complement to a railroad set.  You can follow the plans provided or build your own family house.  It includes people figures and accessories for the house - great for lots of quality imaginative play.

Check back soon.  I am attending two blogger toy events in the next couple of weeks and I’ll have more highlights for the coming holiday season to share.