Thursday, February 20, 2014

Toy Fair 2014 Highlights – Part 1: LEGO, Science, Crafts and Dolls

Entrance to Toy Fair 14 at Javitz Center in New York - See the Ty Beanie Babies Banner

The International Toy Fair in New York is a huge event.  This year over 30,000 people made it through freezing cold and snow to the Javitz Center to see what over 1100 toy companies have to offer in 2014.  Some of the toys are in prototype stage and won’t even be out until the Fall holiday season or they are timed to come out just before the movie with characters they feature.  You get to see the toys out of the box and how they work demonstrated.  For small companies you can talk to the owner/inventors.  This is my fifth year going to Toy Fair so I also get to see my friends who work in the toy industry.  It is a huge event and it takes a lot of organizing to get the most out of it.  I make appointments with the public relations/media people in advance and work my schedule over two days. Then I go home put my feet up and pass out.  I am one of the oldest people at Toy Fair but I enjoy it and love taking it all in.

Here is what I perceive to be some trends:
1.       Science toys and kits are in – for both boys and girls
2.      Crafts are big
3.      Toys with an internet component to “enhance” the play experience are gaining speed
4.      Collectibles still rule and new ones abound
5.      There is a doll for everyone – baby, little girl, tween and collector – I loved them all
6.      If it’s for a pre-schooler they feel they have to tell you it is educational – it can’t just be fun because it is after all a toy

I’ll be writing individual reviews and offering giveaways on some of these items but here are a few of my favorites this year:

LEGO Juniors – Spiderman Spider Car
Th new Junior line designed with pieces for the 4-7 age bracket looks fantastic and I think it will definitely be a keeper.  My grandson is 4 ½ and he has grown out of DUPLOs but he doesn’t have the dexterity to work with LEGOs by himself.  (See my article about my husband and workingwith LEGOs with Zach here).  LEGO is introducing this new line called Juniors which are easy to build and geared for the 4 -7 age bracket. Perfect. There are also Junior sets in the LEGO Friends series which are designed to appeal to girls.  I can’t wait to get this set for my grandson – a big super hero fan – and see how he does with it.  Look for my review in the next few months.
LEGO Juniors Spiderman Spider Car

Crafts are big this year and I particularly like crafts for grandparents.  Crafts provide us the opportunity to work together with grandchildren and perhaps to teach them a new skill or pass along a passion of ours.  There are lots of things for both boys and girls.  Here are two of my favorites:

Smithsonian Museum Craft Kits by Skullduggery
There is a whole series of these kits but my favorite is this classic Human Skeleton.  This is an excellent project for kids interested in science and it is something that older kids can do on their own.  This is also a project that a grandparent can do with a younger child (6+).  I will have a fuller review and maybe a giveaway later in the year.
Smithsonian Museum Craft Kit by Skullduggery

Alex Crafts
If you would like to teach a skill to grandchildren that you enjoy and they might enjoy for a lifetime check out these kits from ALEX that feature knitting, crocheting, sewing and more.
Craft Skills for Life by ALEX

Madame Alexander Gone with the Wind 75th Anniversary Dolls
There are so many dolls across so many categories again it is hard to narrow it down.  But this is a highlights report so I must include the Madame Alexander 75th anniversary Gone with the Wind dolls.  This may be more for you grandma collectors than grandaugthers.  But hey, that’s okay that there is something for us too.  The Scarlet O’Hara wedding dress and iconic green drapery dress will be added to the existing Scarlet doll this year.  This picture shows all three dolls.
Madame Alexander 75th Anniversary Gone with the Wind Dolls

And here is the hat being made.  This was something to watch…..

My First Microscope by GeoSafari
Science starts young these days and you don’t have to just stick to homemade volcanos anymore.  There is some great stuff for young children on the market.  This microscope can be enjoyed by a preschooler.  It is sturdy but the best feature is that you use both eyes and so a young child doesn’t have to squint one eye to use it.  It has 8X magnification and is a great way to begin magnification exploration.

Smart Car Robotics by Thames and Kosmos
Science for older kids is getting more sophisticated all the time and features modern themes.  The Smart car by Thames and Kosmos was one of my favorites.  First you construct the car and then you use your tablet or smartphone to control the car's motorized wheels and steer it in any direction.  There's more you can do with the internet connection but that will be in the full review later.

Next time Highlights from Hasbro, collectibles, and favorites: new small company, social good toys and cuties.

Here's what you can get at Amazon now....

Friday, February 7, 2014

Heirloom Tea Sets by Reutter Porcelain – For Little Girls and Collectors Too

Toy Fair New York is little more than a week away and I just can’t wait to see all the new toys and games that will be coming out in 2014. I am making my list of booths to visit as I plow through the Javitz Center and my inbox is full of invitations with what to expect. All this anticipation has made me look at last year’s items that caught my attention. I wrote about many of them, but some slipped through unmentioned. I don’t know how this one did. One of the most beautiful booths at Toy Fair – especially from a Grandmother’s perspective - is Reutter Porcelain. They feature heirloom quality porcelain children’s and dollhouse miniature tea sets. They are made in Germany and all of them are dishwasher safe. Here are some of my pictures from Toy Fair 2013. Note that the sets come with their own storage case for safekkeping.


This Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit pattern is my favorite but there are  other patterns including Alice in Wonderland, Flower Fairies and Dresden Rose. This isn't only for little girls - but wow what a dress up tea party you could have with one of these sets. Doll collectors, Beatrix Potter collectors, Alice in Wonderland collectors, Hummel collectors and tea set collectors - you will all want to check these out.

These aren’t cheap but what a special gift from a grandmother this would be. It is a true keepsake than can be passed along for generations. The company manufaturing these has been in business since 1948 and it is second generation run now.You can order a wide variety of sets at Amazon. The company wesite is here.

 Here are a few links for Amazon.:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


LEGO Legends of Chima: The Lion, The Crocodile and the Power of Chima
Update:  This giveaway is closed.  Congratulations to hhkaufman who is the winner of Legends of China DVD.

Although I’ve done many review/giveaway articles for The Grandma Chronicles this is my first DVD giveaway.  I am usually not interested in DVDs but the snow and frigid temperatures we are dealing with in NJ make some quiet indoor activity for my grandson look very attractive.

Since Zach loves LEGOs  I signed up for this offer to review and offer a giveaway of the DVD - LEGO® LEGENDS OF CHIMA™: THE LION, THE CROCODILE AND THE POWER OF THE CHI SEASON 1 PART 1.  And I’m glad I did.  I was babysitting this afternoon and after Zach played with LEGOs for quite a long time I offered this new video.  He only had to check out the package to be intently interested.  After a few minutes he asked me to get something for him because he didn’t want to miss any of this “awesome video.”

There are ten episodes on two discs covering the first half of season 1 -  each with an action packed story about the Legend of Chima. If you are not familiar with the Legend of Chima the background goes like this: For a thousand years, animal tribes have ruled CHIMA. The kingdom of CHIMA has become a battle ground for eight animal tribes and best friends have become enemies. The animals fight for control of a natural resource called CHI, a powerful element that is both a source of life and potential destruction. Only a few brave heroes in CHIMA understand the true nature of CHI, and the possible downfall of CHIMA that will result from its misuse. Animals throughout the kingdom relied on the magical CHI orbs to energize their vehicles, gear and themselves. The orbs were a power source that the Lions had always shared equally with everyone. They played and worked together, cooperated and prospered until the outbreak of conflicts. As conflict spreads, the fate of the kingdom of CHIMA hangs in the balance.

As I watched with Zach, I started to root for the Lions  (They are the good guys) to win.  They are strong and noble.  But I must admit it was definitely able to hold Zach's attention longer than mine.  Which was just fine with me.

Giveaway Details
It is easy to enter and there are two ways.   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.

1.      Leave a comment here on the blog 


You can have two entries by doing both.  Deadline to enter: February 16, 2014 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 a review sample of the DVD. 

You can purchase the LEGO® LEGENDS OF CHIMA™: THE LION, THE CROCODILE AND THE POWER OF THE CHI SEASON 1 PART 1 DVD from all major retailers and at Amazon.  There is also a full line of CHIMA LEGO toys available from LEGO. Some Amazon links are provided below.

You may also be interested in this post that I wrote last Fall: