Friday, October 2, 2015

Highlights at the TTPM Fall Toy Showcase - My Favorites

Every Fall I attend the Time to Play (TTPM) Showcase in New York and get to see what is new and hot for the holiday season.  For this post I have selected items to highlight that I think will have a particular appeal for grandparents.  Next month I’ll publish my annual Holiday Gift Guide and more will be included. It isn’t your typical Top 10 list. I have tried to cover a range of ages and types.  Some are what is really hot and may sell out so if a grandchild is asking for it, don’t delay.  Some will bring back memories of our own or our children’s childhood.  There are the grandparent splurge items and the yes I can afford that items.

All of the pictures were taken by me so they aren’t perfect and may have other items in the background. I keep working on taking better pictures and my husband helps by cropping. I still have a way to go but at least you know they are accurate and not souped up in any way.

In no particular order…..

Happy Dance Snoopy from Just Play   
Happy Dance Snoopy
There is a new Peanuts movie premiering on November 6th and there will be lots of Peanuts themed merchandise associated with the movie.  Peanuts Movie “stuff” will be hot this season. Here is a premier Peanuts Movie item – the Happy Dance Snoopy plush from Just Play. If you squeeze his paw he “boogies to the “Linus and Lucy” theme song.  Give him a kisss and he will return the kiss, laugh and howl.  The demo for this at the show drew a crowd. Adults will be as engaged as the kids.  This is a TTPM Most Wanted List winner.

Girl Scout Cookie Oven
Girl Scouts Cookie Oven from Wicked Cool Toys 
I first wrote about this in February in my favorites at Toy Fair NY blog post.  It wasn’t on the market yet, but it is now and it is selling very well.  This also was on the TTPM Most Wanted list. The Girl Scouts Cookie Oven has a new modern, eye catching look and new technology to half the time needed to bake cookies in an oven for children.  You can get cookie mix in all of your favorite Girl Scout kinds - thin mints, trefoil, etc.  Best of all, a share of the price will go the Girl Scouts of USA.

Barbie Fashionistas Dolls   $9.99

Barbie Fashionistas Dolls
Little girls still love Barbie and have collections of them.  This fashionistas line is very popular and you probably can’t go wrong with one of these as a gift if your granddaughter likes Barbie.

Now for some nostalgia favorites….

Lionel Trains

Lionel Trains

This was the first time I saw Lionel trains at a TTPM event and it brought back a flood of wonderful memories for me.  My uncle worked in the Lionel train factory in Newark, NJ until it closed and every year we got a new train to add to our set at Christmas.   I am sorry that I don’t have good pictures of the sets on the tracks - they looked great on display.  This year Lionel celebrates its 115th year in business.

The Polar Express  $149.95
This set features a steam locomotive with working headlight and train sounds (whistle and bell), coal tender, passenger coach with two opening doors, observation car with “disappearing hobo” feature and opening door; and 3 Polar Express figures (conductor, boy and hobo).  The tracks and remote controller are also included.  Uses c batteries. Will be something that the family looks forward to being under the Christmas tree every year.

The Imagination Express   $49.99
This year, Lionel is introducing an all-new toy line for preschoolers called Imagineering™.  There are four differently-themed sets - Crayola, Batman, John Deere and The Polar Express. Each set includes a train that’s not powered and has an engine, gondola, caboose, train station set and 6 feet of quick connect track.  This is an excellent way to introduce the fun of playing with trains to young children.


Slinky from Alex Brands  $3.99 - $12.99

When I was a kid – and perhaps you too – Slinky was all the rage and everyone had one.  This year Slinky celebrates its 70th birthday.  Today Slinkys come in different sizes, materials, colors and “Collector’s Versions.  They all do the famous Slinky walk down the stairs.  Priced right for a small gift, these make for great intergenerational fun.  And… no batteries!!!

Colorforms Create a Story Board
Colorforms by Colorforms  $2.99 - $24.99
These aren’t your squares/rectangles/triangle sets anymore, but they have those too just in case grandpa wants a set to play with.  Priced right, there are various sized themed sets with all the popular characters featured.  My favorite was the $9.99 Create a Story set which includes an easel, 4 background sheets and 48 colorforms. A wide age range of kids will enjoy these – especially if one of their favorite themes is featured. 

Colorforms Take Along and On the Go sets
The Take Along and On the Go small sets are versatile and make excellent small presents.  I know many of you grandparents have these often for visits.  I see these as excellent tooth fairy gifts and long ride in the car items.

I’ll be featuring a lot more items in my Holiday Gift Guide coming soon.  All from a grandparent perspective.  Stay tuned.

If you’d like to see what “The Toy Guy” from TTPM old ABC News about his favorites click here.  If you watch it to almost at the end you can see me in the background having this picture taken as they walk by during the interview. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Games! Games! Games! And a Giveaway Too

Peanuts Surprise Slides, Marvel Dominoes and Mix Up! Fix Up!

I enjoy playing board games with my grandson, especially games by Wonder Forge featuring popular characters. And I always appreciate receiving a surprise package of games to check out and review from Wonder Forge.    Today, Wonder Forge is also sponsoring a giveaway of the Peanuts Surprise Slides Game.  Details of the giveaway are at the end of the post.
Here is my review of the three games I received:

Peanuts Surprise Slides Game
This game can drive you crazy (but isn’t that part of the fun?) because it keeps changing.  The board has four areas – one for each season that provide shortcut possibilities for each player.  But… it is a big but…if when you spin, you land on a particular figure you can mix up the season blocks and change where the shortcut paths are.  Therefore there are always new opportunities to move ahead and also new chances to have them disappear.  This type of game is great for kids – and adults – who like that kind of fast paced change – now you have it, now you don’t.  The “paths” are called “slides”, hence the name of the game.  This game gave my six year old grandson the giggles.  The box says ages 3+ but I think it is a little too sophisticated for a three year old and would save it for the 5+ group.   

Personally, I love the Peanuts theme.  It is unisex (Yeah!!), features colorful, playful seasonal graphics (Yeah!) and most of all there are NO weapons (Double yeah!!!).  Just pure fun.  Enjoy.

Marvel Dominoes Games
This simple classic dominoes game can be enjoyed by 3 year olds as well as 8 year olds.  It is easy to play – you just need to match the pictures of the cards on the board with one in your hand.  Younger kids can easily participate and older kids will enjoy matching up their favorite characters. 

This is an excellent game for kids of different ages to play together. Great for travel.  Small and compact, we keep ours at Grandma’s house and take it out to play together on sleepover nights.

Mix Up! Fix Up! Featuring Doc McStuffins

This board game has some unique playing pieces and will definitely be enjoyed by Doc McStuffins fans.  Basically the oldest player is the first patient and the other players are doctors (Sounds right when grandma is playing). The patient chooses an X-ray card and puts it in the X-ray reader sleeve.  The other players then try to diagnose the patient.  There is the diagnostic board, diagnostic tiles , spinner and of course, bandages.  

I don’t think most three year olds will be able to handle this game independently, but perhaps the dedicated Doc McStuffins fans among them will do just fine.  This looks like a good game to play in teams with an adult and small child teaming up.  This game will develop deduction skills (important when serious school begins) while enjoying being the Doc.

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  I will not use your email address for anything except to notify you if you win.  Grandmother’s Honor.

Two ways to win:

1.      Leave a comment here on the blog 

You can have two entries by doing both.  Deadline to enter: October 11, 2015 at midnight. The winner will be selected using

 This item can be sent to US addresses only.

Full Disclosure:  This review is completely my own opinion and I was not reimbursed for it.  I did receive review samples. 

More good news:  Right now before the holiday rush, these are all available at discount prices at Amazon:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pumpkin and Apple Picking on a Beautiful Fall Day

One of the favorite things that my grandson and I love to do is visit a farm and pick pumpkins and apples in the Fall.  Today was our annual visit to Alstede Farms in Chester, NJ.  Alstede's is a large working farm where you can pick fruits and vegetables from the Spring to the Fall.  It turns into a full Fall festival at this time of year.  This year we had the most beautiful, sunny, early Autumn day imaginable.

When you first arrive there is this giant haystack climbing structure that kids love.  While I went to buy the admission tickets, my daughter watched my grandson climb to the top and jump down - over and over,

Zach loves the haystack so much he was willing to smile for this picture

Next up a long bouncy ride to the apple trees where we made our first stop and picked apples.  Then onto the Pumpkin Patch.  If you go late in the season, as we frequently have, the green leaves of the pumpkin plants are gone and the pumpkins are mostly surrounded by dirt.  I was so happy that this year we made it early in the season and the pumpkin patch is still vibrant with green leaves on the plants.  Finding the perfect pumpkin is so much more fun when you have to look under the leaves to inspect them.  And the pumpkin has this truly fresh picked vibrancy about it.

Finding the perfect pumpkin - and indeed it is!

Mom wanted in on finding a good pumpkin
 In the end, we chose three pumpkins.  Three!!!
The hayride was fun but there was no interest in having any more pictures taken.

Even though Zach was done having his picture taken, this was such a good picture of Zach's Mom, that I had to add this one anyway.

Zach also picked some potatoes and there was a bumper crop of raspberries available but he wanted blackberries and they were mostly done.

After a morning of hard work picking apples, pumpkins and potatoes we had lunch.  Then it was time for the bouncy house.  We topped the day off feeding animals - there were plenty of them - but Zach chose ducks and goats to feed.   Then we were all tired and so we were ready for the long drive home.

This is a great activity for grandparents to host with their grandchildren.  My daughter, Fran and I, enjoyed the day and my grandson certainly had a great time.  What more can you ask for?

Here are some Fall themed children's books.  It is always fun to compliment an outing with a book on the same theme.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dora the Explorer, Paw Patrol, Blaze and the Monster Machines, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - What's New?

Dora the Explorer, Paw Patrol, Blaze and the Monster Machines, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - What's New?   A few weeks ago I went into New York on a bright summer day to attend the Nickelodeon Holiday Showcase.  Here are some of my favorites that are either available now or will be soon in time for holiday shopping.  These items are all likely to be heavily marketed and will be on many Holiday Wishlists.  Here’s a sneak preview of some of my favorites for you.

Dora Loves Winter by Fisher-Price  $19.99
This 8 inch Dora doll features an outdoor active winter theme.  She is dressed in a pretty pink sweater and leggings and features poseable arms and legs. There are also lots of accessories including a scarf, mittens, ear muffs, ice skates, snowboard, safety helmet and even a mug of hot cocoa.  I think this will be a winner at this reasonable price.

Power Wheels PAW Patrol Fire Truck 12.99
The Power Wheels® PAW Patrol Fire Truck features realistic lights, sounds and styling and a pivoting ladder to spark lots of pretend play. Designed with toddlers in mind, this ride-on features the PAW Patrol colors and graphics and easy push-button operation. 6-volts of battery power provide a safe 2 mph maximum speed. Yes it has a break the bank price tag but some grandparents are willing to spring for the big ticket items.

For those you more traditional grandparents there will be lots of Paw Patrol themed pajamas and bedding available this season too in infant and toddler sizes.  Target, Wal-Mart and K-Mart will have exclusives so you may want to look around before you make your purchase.  Make sure you know your grandchild’s favorite characters before you shop.  Here is a look at what you may find depending on where you shop.

Die Cast Blaze and the Monster Machines Small Vehicles  $4.99
These small die cast vehicles are only $4.99 each and make the perfect stocking stuffer or grab bag gift for Blaze fans.  They have a lot of detail for the price and the kids will get a lot of imaginative play with them.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pizza Oven by Wicked Cool Toys   $49.99
Last year Wicked Cool Toys had a hit at Toy Fair New York with its new Girl Scout Oven which made pretty good Girl Scout cookies.  Now the same company takes the same oven and repackes its success with a TMNT Pizza Oven which will appeal to boys and girls. This is a real working oven, it comes complete with tools and mixes that allow Turtles fans to make mini pizzas that look and taste just like the real thing. There’s also a viewing window so you can watch as the pizza is cooking. It comes with mix packets to create Pizza, a spatula, pan and measuring tool.  If you have young TMNT fans in your family be sure to check it out – it is a nice option to the weapons gear.

Mutations Mix and Match by Playmates   $8.99
What would it look like if the Turtles had Metalhead’s power, Shredder’s armor, Tiger Claw’s stripes and Splinter’s quick reaction hands?  Kids can find out with Mix and Match and create hundreds of different Mutations. Swap parts and make custom mutations. Available in Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael, Splinter, Shredder, Slash, Metalhead, Tiger Claw, Bebop, Rocksteady and Casey Jones.  This concept is the same as the Hasbro superhero Mashers line.  Great fun but you need to have several in order to enjoy the mix and matching.  Fortunately, at $8.99 each that is very doable.

Some of these items are available now at Amazon.