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


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.

Subscribe to the blog to get the next list - Toys that Grandparents Will Love to Give

Find the items on this holiday list at Amazon:


Heather W said...

My kids love science, and I love encouraging them to explore and learn. The Smartscope looks like an amazing gift that my children would love and I would enjoy them using to explore the world around them.

Mary Crosson said...

The Smartscope looks like a lot of fun. I've seen something similar that lets you view the object on a TV screen, but with the phone viewer, you've got a lot more freedom to explore outside. As a programmer, the Code-a-pillar appeals to me as well.

Marion Conway said...

Marty - if you are a programmer, you will love the code-a-pillar. It has 9 sections and you can buy an extension pack with additional sections. It does require a lot of floor space to really appreciate it, but even grown-ups were mesmerized watching this at the Toy Fair NY in February and trying to "program" it to go a certain way.

It is getting great reviews and younger children will enjoy and learn with this item. This one will sell out - look for it early. It is featured on the cover of the ToysRUs Holiday Book "of Awesome" and many, many Best of lists and advertisements.

You can order it today at Amazon by clicking on the icon at the end of the blog post.

Frugaluser said...


Thanks for the ideas, I didn't know about this smart scope and it seems like a great gift that my 4 little kids would be able to use together to explore the world.

thanks again

Jeremy said...

Thanks for the chance, would be great for my kids.

Jeremy said...

thanks for the chance, would be great for my kids.

Unknown said...

This would make a great gift to my nephew who loves collecting outside critters/bugs and such!

Caroline said...

This looks like a great gift for a budding scientist. My daughter would love this.

carolinebock1 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Unknown said...

The Smartscope looks really neat. I bet it is a lot easier to use than our old school microscopes.

Lisa said...

Homeschoolers and science and discovery lovers. Thank you for this giveaway opportunity

Anonymous said...

That's such a wonderful item! I never saw anything like that before and my son would love this as a gift. He is very curious with bugs and small objects found outdoors. ☺

Pat said...

My grandchildren would love this!

candy said...

Wonderful toys you have given up some educational and some fun to round it out. Thanks for joining Blogging Grandmothers link party.

Dee | GrammysGrid.com said...

This is a nice list. Haven't seen the Smartscope, it looks interesting! Didn't know that Trolls were available. My daughter had them and Cabbage Patch dolls when she was a child. Can't ever go wrong with Barbie dolls or LEGOs, huh? Thanks so much for joining in on our Blogging Grandmothers Link Party #2. We sure appreciate you partying with us!

Clearissa said...

Great list. I have been eyeing the caterpillar and the price isn't bad at all. I think my 4-year old grandson would love it. It will be different from all the superhero stuff he's asked for. :)Thanks for doing the research and for sharing it with Blogging Grandmothers. I hope you will join us again next week for the party

Paula Stewart said...

I would love to give this to my grandchildren. Educational gifts that are also fun are my favorite things to give them.

Anne D. said...

This is such a great idea:) I love your toy ideas!! I love Legos too.
annejk112233 at yahoo dot com
Christina Anne

Olivia Morris said...

So many great ideas here. I love encouraging my grandchildren to explore their world and the things that fascinate them. So you have it all covered. Thanks for a great look at some great the possibilities.

Unknown said...

This is so wonderful, I am glad to have been given the chance to enter this!

PurpleSlob said...

Code a Pillar looks like the best of all!!
My grand loves Peppa.
Blogging Grandmothers

Unknown said...

This is really neat! What an awesome idea! Ive tried to just magnify stuff with my phone for my daughter but it's always fuzzy this would be great!

Rochel S said...

My kids would love this! Thanks for the chance!

Unknown said...

This looks awesome! My oldest two girls would love it! Thank you!

Unknown said...

My grandson loves science. I hope my granddaughter will too..

Edye Nicole said...

All these toys look awesome! Have a wonderful holiday :)


Heather Kelly said...

My children would love them! This would really help us out with Christmas!

mysticbutterfly37 at yahoo.com

blew415 said...

This would be helpful for the holidays

Meghan said...

What an awesome giveaway. Thank you for the chance.
mkwfmp @ gmail . com

Unknown said...

The Smart Scope looks awesome. Great for little boys!

Susan said...

these are some amazing gift ideas, great for boys and girls!

Lau1988 said...

love following your blog, i am excited about the Brio giveaway it would be a great set to keep at my parents house for all the grandchildren to play with :-) xxx

Lau1988 said...

Love following your blog, really excited about the Brio giveaway who doesnt just love wooden toys and this is a brilliant giveaway and a great set to send to my parents for all the granchildren to enjoy xx

Lau1988 said...

Love following your blog, really excited about the Brio giveaway who doesnt just love wooden toys and this is a brilliant giveaway and a great set to send to my parents for all the granchildren to enjoy xx