Monday, November 21, 2016

Holiday Guide Part 2: Toys that Grandparents Will Love and a Giveaway




All year long I have been attending toy shows and getting an up close look at new toys that will be on the market this holiday season.  Last week I posted Part 1 of my Holiday Guide -  Grandma's Hot Toys Holiday Guide and Smartscope Giveaway .  This post is the other half of the holiday Guide:

Toys that Grandparents Will Love to Give


Every grandchild will have his or her own wishlist and their parents may even ask you to provide something specific on the list.  All well and good.  Here is a list of items that you may want to give.  Some are pure fun, some are educational and some (my favorites) feature something you can do together with you grandchild.  


Everything on this list is available on Amazon and links are provided below.  You may or may not see them at ToysRUs or the other big box stores but they may be at small stores like Learning Express. 


Of all the thousands –literally- of new toys I looked at this year, these were my favorites.  The pictures are my own so they are not perfect but I prefer them rather than the stock photos provided by the toy companies.  I am not a business - I am just a grandma with a notebook, camera, and curiosity about what may delight a grandparent and a grandchild. I blog because I enjoy it.  I haven't received any compensation for my posts.  I have received some samples and, if age appropriate, my husband and I play with them with my grandson in order to do a real life review. This holiday guide is not just pure advertising as many of them are.  I have given special attention to items I think are a good value.


Both posts feature a giveaway and I am excited to offer the BRIO World Family House as the giveaway for this post.    See the giveaway details at the end of the post.  They are simple and straightforward and don’t require that you do 10 things.


For Infants to Pre-School



Family House by Brio World
My Family House Playset by BRIO

Back Cover of Family House by Brio
BRIO is well known for its high quality wooden train sets and now they are expanding to other themed playsets that are fully compatible with all BRIO wooden railway sets.  You can build the Family House model according to the plan provided or customize it to make your own creation.  This wood and plastic colorful set comes with 46 pieces including 4 people figures.  The pieces include building and furniture pieces so it is complete and ready for imaginative play.  Set it up next to your BRIO railway set for extra fun.  Look for more detail in a later post.  It is gender neutral and both boys and girls will enjoy playing with it. 




Peek-A-Boo Bear by Gund
This bear is soft and cuddly and says 6 phrases when it plays peek-a-boo by holding the blanket up in front of his face and pulling it down.  It is battery operated.  It is well made and Gund is known for its quality. Sure to bring smiles to a baby’s face.

There is also a Spanish language version of this bear.












Dolls


Miss Grenadine by Corolle

These soft cuddly dolls with a mild vanilla scent are perfect for a baby or toddler.  They are small, washable, beautiful, high quality and reasonably priced.  Corolle, a French company, say that they are “specially designed to be easily cradled in your child's arm.”  I must say my visit to the Corolle booth at Toy Fair NY each year is always one of my favorites.  I gave one of these to my infant granddaughter.






Girl Scout Dolls by Yottoy

These dolls will be loved by any girl who is a Brownie or Girl Scout.  They come with a sash and sticker badges so the doll can earn the same badges as the real scout.  They are multicultural so choose the one that the girl you are buying for will most identify with.  This  is a good quality and reasonably priced item.











Games



Pop and Zach playing Bugaloop
Games by Wonder Forge

That's Me with Wonder Forge Games
Here I am at Toy Fair NY with a display of various games by Wonder Forge.  My husband and I both love playing games with our grandson and we keep a big stack of them at our house.  He is 7 years old and we have enjoyed many Wonder Forge games including superhero matching, Peanuts super slides, Busytown and most recently, Bugaloop with a super hexbug.  The picture on the left is of my husband and grandson playing Bugaloop. Choose ones right for your grandchild’s age and enjoy the wonderful old fashioned joy of playing a board game.



My First Bananagrams



My First Bananagrams by Bananagrams

This game is perfect for preschoolers, early readers/spellers and all Bananagrams lovers.  The letter blocks are larger than the original bananagrams and there are some two letter blocks such as sh and oo.  You will enjoy playing with this game with your grandchildren and it is an excellent learning tool in disguise.









Crafts and Pretend Play



Pretend Play Set by eeboo

Eeboo has 4 Pretend Play sets - It's Showtime, Best Pals Diner, World Traveler and School.  Each set has cardboard and paper props that can be used to give pretend play some professional touches.  This is also an excellent item to have on hand for an extended holiday visit with grandkids that can be used to engage with them in pretend play.












Emoji Maker by Crayola
Emojis are all the rage these days and a wide age range of kids will have fun with this emoji making set. Kids can mix and create their own colors to make 16 emoji stampers.  This is a best seller and can make a good grandparent – grandchild activity.  It will give you the opportunity to learn about emojis and seem “with it” at the same time.  It is a good activity to do with a varied age group of kids and a nice party activity for older kids.





Building Sets

I admit that I love and am always attracted to building toys at the toy shows.  These sets all caught my attention.  Building sets are wonderful opportunities for grandparent and grandchild quality time together. 



Mia's Vet Clinic by LEGO

I like the LEGO Juniors line sized for between DUPLO and LEGO sizes.  This particular set is aimed at the girl’s market in their Friends line.  It has 173 pieces including 2 mini dolls and it is reasonably priced.  Take a look at the whole LEGO Juniors line – you are sure to find a set you like for the 4-6 year olds.







Day at the Beach by Build and Imagine

Children who like magnetic sets will love this storytelling building set.  Build and Imagine sets are made up of magnetic storyboards that can be put together in any way a child would like.  Sets range in price from $35 to $60. Themes include a beach house, a marine rescue center, a pet portrait studio and more.  This small company is the winner of many prestigious awards for this creative new product and is nominated for the New Company Toy of the Year Award from the Toy Industry Association.








Star Wars by Incredibuilds
This wooden model are easy to assemble and snap together to form a 3D model of this favorite Star Wars spacecraft.  It comes with a hardcover book which provides lots of detail about the TIE Fighter.  This will be enjoyed by any Star Wars fan and the final product will be something that a child will want to have on display in their room.  There is a whole line of these models including Harry Potter themes and the Eiffel Tower. This is an excellent grandfather-grandchild building activity – reminiscent of but easier than the model cars he put together as a boy.







Princess Castle by Calafant
The inexpensive cardboard building sets by Calafant come with markers and so a child can personalize them with their favorite color scheme.  The cutout cardboard pieces have an easy interlock system so no glue or scissors are needed.  The buildings are a nice size that can be used with small toy figures that a child already has.  These inexpensive sets are excellent value and grandparent-grandchild working together projects.  Great sleepover project.




Giveaway Details

It is easy to enter and there are two ways. Both ways count as an entry so you get two entries if you do both.  I need to be able to contact you if you win. If you enter -  email me with your email address at  marion@grandmachronicles.com.  I will not use your email address for anything except to notify you if you win.  Grandmother’s Honor.

Two ways to win:
Leave a comment here on the blog


and/or




You can have two entries by doing both.  Deadline to enter: December 8th, 2016 at midnight. This item can be sent to US addresses only.



 Check out my Hot Toys Holiday Guide here:

An InLinkz Link-up

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Grandma's Hot Toys Holiday Guide and Smartscope Giveaway



All year long I have been attending Toy shows and getting an up close look at new toys that will be on the market this holiday season.  There is always so much I want to include that I have to do it in two blog posts.  So here are the two categories:


Hot Toys that Will Be on Grandkids Wishlists

Toys that Grandparents Will Love to Give



This post covers the hot toys that Grandkids will want and chances are that some of these will sell out quickly so you want to secure them early.  This list has both reasonably priced items and a few with higher price tags – not necessarily good value because the “hot toys” don’t always mean value.  They mean the toys that are heavily advertised or that feature characters on popular TV shows and movies.  They tend to be more pricey than the average.  But take a look.  Of all the thousands of new toys I looked at this year and there literally were thousands, these were my favorites.



Some of these toys have educational value but mostly they represent pure fun.  The pictures are my own so they are not perfect but I prefer to use my own pictures rather than the stock photos provided by the toy companies.  I am not a business, I am just a grandma with a notebook and camera who tries to be an educated consumer.  Educated means as much knowing what kids will want as much as what is good for them. I am blogging because I enjoy it.  I haven't received any compensation for my posts.  I have received some samples and they do help provide a more detailed review. You will find that my holiday guides are not just pure advertising as many of them are.  Enjoy.  Use my research but make your own decisions.


Both posts feature a giveaway and I am excited to offer the Smartscope by Ravensburger as the giveaway for this post. It has educational value, price value and it is “hot.”  And so it the first item on my list of hot toys for the 2016 Holiday season.


Smartscope by Ravensburger       Ages 8+     (Younger with adult involvement)


We all remember when our kids were interested in microscopes - it is a wonderful time of discovery. The Smartscope is the microscope of the 21st century.  It uses today’s technology to provide a high quality microscope experience at a very reasonable cost.  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. And of course you can take a picture of your magnified object.  It is pretty cool.  If you enjoy experiencing science projects with your grandchildren you will love this and it is very reasonably priced.  It does require 3 AAA batteries and some assembly but it is very manageable.  I plan to do a full unboxing review of the Smartscope but I didn’t have time to complete that before the Holiday Guide needed to go to press.



Think & learn Code-a- Pillar by Fisher-Price     Ages 3+    (Even adults will enjoy this one)


This is the most interesting hi-tech toy for young children I have ever seen.  Although it is definitely hi-tech, it has the look and feel of a classic caterpillar toy.  It consists of 8 modules with a usb connector at each end.  On top there is a light up indicator with its function – turn right, turn left, go straight, etc.  Depending how you put them together, the “Code-a-pillar will read the code you made and send the caterpillar in directions according to the code.  This toy will fascinate young children, older kids and adults and have you trying to create a specific path or just see whatever which way you created. It teaches cause and effect and sequencing in a totally fun and inventive way.  This multiple award winning toy will be on many parents' lists for their little ones.  May sell out very early.  Don't wait.




Cabbage Patch Kids and Pets by Wicked Cool Toys  Ages 3+

Pets are now part of the family and toys are incorporating that trend.  The newest Cabbage Patch dolls have pets and of course “Rescue papers” to go along with their own adoption papers. Each are bought separately but you will definitely want both. The dolls come with a key and when you get the adoptimal pet they have a heart locket that the key opens and the animal makes animal sounds.  The dolls have the same smell that they did 30 years ago and mothers seem to love these dolls that they remember so well as much as their children do.  You can’t loose with a tried and true lovable doll.



Lion Guard Training Lair Playset by Just Play  Ages 3+

This 3 foot tall playset based on the Disney Junior TV series The Lion Guard is full of lights, sounds and secret surprise features such as a pop-out cross bow, light-up waterfall and break away doors.  The playset has a rock climbing area, a bungee launcher, a race track and lookout perch. Kion and Janja figures are included.  You can buy additional Lion Guard characters separately.  This may seem expensive, but it sure to provide lots of Lion Guard play time for pre-schoolers who love the show.


















Shopkins Happy Places Home by Moose Toys

Shopkins continue to be wildly popular and Moose Toys is expanding the line to include “Happy Places” to play with your Shopkins.  The Home is bought separately from the furniture so if you buy this playset you will also want to buy some furniture to go with it.  I took this picture of what it might look like furnished at a toy show I attended.  The home is inexpensive, but by the time you add a few furniture sets you can hit $100 easily.












Peppa Pig – Giggles and Wiggles Peppa and George by Jazwares
These large plush also provide lots of giggles and wiggles causing smiles galore.  Everyone love Peppa and George and these are sure to be on many pre-school wishlists.













Barbie Fashionista Dolls by Mattel

Barbie remains very popular and girls who play with them have multiple dolls.  The Fashionista line features varied types of dolls -   They are short, tall and curvy (that means a little fuller in figure).  There also is a variety of hair and skin tones.  All this variety is in their Fashionista doll line.  It is quite a lineup.  You can purchase some of them with two additional outfits for $19.99.  And every little girl can use another Barbie. 












Miraculous by Bandai America

Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir is a popular Nickelodeon show where Ladybug uses resourcefulness, creativity and her lucky charm to defeat villans and restore peace to the city.  These bright colorful action figures are going to be popular with boys and girls. 










LEGO – Resistance Troop Transporter   Ages 8+

Star Wars continues to be popular and LEGOs will always be popular. The Star Wars craze is not over and LEGO has lots of new sets to choose from.  Look for that red and gold symbol on top of the box to make sure you are getting a Force Awakens themed set.   I chose this one as a favorite and yes it is a larger set,  but the bigger LEGO sets are sure to be on the kids holiday lists.  This one will be a winner.











Elena of Avalor – New Disney Princess by Hasbro

The Disney Princess dolls are very popular and little girls frequently have collections of them.  Elena Avalor is the first Latin American doll and she is spectacular.  Since Latin Americans are so family oriented, Elena will also have a little sister – Isabel, who is interested in science.













Trolls by Hasbro

The Movie is just out and getting great family reviews.  The stores are packed with lots of Trolls and Troll themed toys to choose from. But these trolls by Hasbro have that Troll hair that our kids loved in the 80s – 90s.  I think they will be biggest Troll hit this season.












Giveaway Details

It is easy to enter and there are two ways. Both ways count as an entry so you get two entries if you do both.  I need to be able to contact you if you win. If you enter -  email me with your email address at  marion@grandmachronicles.com.  I will not use your email address for anything except to notify you if you win.  Grandmother’s Honor.

Two ways to win:
Leave a comment here on the blog


and/or






You can have two entries by doing both.  Deadline to enter: November 21, 2016 at midnight. This item can be sent to US addresses only.

Full disclosure:  I received a Smartscope sample to review but I did not receive any compensation from any of the companies mentioned in this post.


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Find the items on this holiday list at Amazon: