Wednesday, March 21, 2018

12 Reasons Not to Lament the ToysRUs Closings

Just Kidding Around Is a Wonderful Toy Store in Montclair, NJ
There really is no need to lament the closing of ToysRUs stores.  What did we shop there for anyway?  The toys advertised on TV that the kids and grandkids asked for.  Frankly it is much more efficient these days to do that online whether you go to Amazon, ToysRUs, Walmart or Target.  Do we still need and want toy stores? Of course!  But not for what was on the shelves at ToysRUs.  In recent year I have been at ToysRUs only occasionally – usually to shop with my grandson for something special.  They did have a large well stocked LEGO section – our usual destination -  which we could could spend a day and a fortune at.  But I always found the cavernous store fairly empty for its size and wondered about its viability.  Most of the toys were those seen on TV and easily ordered online.  Why would anyone make a physical trip here anyway.  The browsing seemed tedious rather than fun.

Toy stores can be fun and wondrous and full of toys that a child would like and you would like them to have.  And guess what – they do exist.  They may be 10% the size of an average ToysRUs but you probably are much more likely to walk out a happy customer.  There are independent toy stores all over the country, frequently on “Main Street, USA.” Not only in big cities. Hopefully they are about to be re-discovered.

Every year I see small companies at Toy Fair – and I write about them – with wonderful toys for kids that are available in independent toy stores but not at the large big box retailers.  I also see the retailers in serious discussions with these company representatives learning all they can about the products and deciding which ones will be attractive to their clientele.  You really can find wonderful toys in these small stores that never were in ToyRUs.  Check them out here are 12 reasons why.

An Independent Toy Store Near You May Offer:

·       Wonderful toys you would not otherwise know about if you didn’t visit

·       Free gift wrapping

·       Personalization – Free or small charge

·       Extensive educational toy lines

·       Toys designed for children with special needs

·       Book readings and signings

·       Craft events

·       Play areas

·       Well informed staff

·       Green toys

·       No checkout lines

·       No exhausted overstimulated kids by your side

Subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss my upcoming blog post on Great Products from Small and New Companies.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Easter Basket Ideas plus a Giveaway

Update:  The giveaway is now closed and the winner has been notified.  Thanks to all who participated.

I am a huge proponent of non-food treats on any holiday including holidays that emphasize candy as the treat of choice. So with Easter around the corner here are some ideas for Easter baskets.  Since Easter sort of ushers in Spring it is a good time to stock the Easter basket with items for Spring: Balls, Jacks (Yes Jacks!), chalk and of course, BUBBLES!!!!  If you want to include the best bubbles in the world – Bubbles by Little Kids Inc is it.  Little Kids Inc. is a world bubbles expert and they make quality bubble products.  Kids are more likely to make bubbles with each blow on the wand and their spill free containers are absolute winners.

Jelly Belly Bubbles
Perfect for an Easter Basket are the Scented Jelly Belly bubbles in Very Cherry, Grape Jelly and Green Apple scents. I am delighted to present this timely giveaway opportunity for two Jelly Belly bubble containers.  See details for giveaway entry at the end of the post.
If you are hosting a group with a bunch of kids you may also want to get a Jelly Belly eight pack at Amazon.  

Or perhaps one of these Paw Patrol bubble blowers - sure to be a hot with any pre-schooler.

Gund Peter Rabbit Collection
Spring plush rather than chocolate rabbits are also favorites.  Gund has a gorgeous Peter Rabbit collection and they are available at Amazon. Here are my pictures from Toy Fair of both the bean bag collection and the 9 inch plush. The collection includes Peter Rabbit, Flopsy Bunny, Benjamin Bunny and Jemima Puddle Duck.

Crayola Sidewalk Chalk – Eggs and Chicks

Crayola makes the perfect chalk for Easter baskets.  A set of six sticks of washable chalk – 3 are shaped like eggs and 3 are shaped like chicks. Also available at Amazon

What are your Easter basket non-food ideas?  Please share your ideas with us in the comments.

Giveaway Information
One winner will receive two Little Kids Jelly Belly Bubble containers.

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 your email address to  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


Like The Grandma Chronicles facebook page - click here.

You can have two entries by doing both.  Deadline to enter: March 22, 2018 at midnight. This item can be sent to US addresses only.

Full Disclosure:  This review is my own objective opinion.  I did not get paid to write this review nor did I receive any samples.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Jurassic World and Even More Dinosaurs

Update on 7/15/18 to include Amazon product links.

I will be writing five – yes, five -  blog posts about Toy Fair NY 2018 and the categories will be:

   Jurassic World and Dinosaurs

·       Building, Educational and Character Themes

   My Favorite Dolls and Plush

   Games, Puzzles and Books

   Great Products from Small and New Companies

The Jurassic World theme is so big that it deserves its own category.  It seems like ALL of the big companies will have either Jurassic World or dinosaur theme toy releases to compliment the expected blockbuster movie. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom will be released in June.  Grandparents – it is time to brush up on your dinosaur and Jurassic knowledge, it is going to come roaring in like the nor’easter storm that just ravaged us here in New Jersey.  

Besides Toy Fair, I attended a special Universal showcase at the Copacabana rooftop venue featuring everything Jurassic World so there are some “extras” in this preview.

Important Note:  The pictures are all my own from the displays I saw – no stock photos here – just the real thing.  Some of the items not out on the market yet, and so I can’t offer a link for purchase right now.  

Super Colossal Tyrannosaurus Rex by Mattel

Super Colossal Tyrannosaurus Rex by Mattel

This huge TRex is the star of Jurassic World and she was the star of the Universal show. At over 3 feet long she towered over the other toys on display – one might say rightfully so.  The demonstration of the articulated jaws, eating and then “passing” this human figure drew a crowd. Listed at $54.99 and is already available at Amazon.

Mattel Barbie and Ken

Jurassic World Power Wheels
How about powering up this beauty instead of a traditional Jeep.  Oh they have the Jurassic version of that too.

LEGO already had a popular Jurassic theme line and it will expand with 13 new construction sets associated with the movie across its lines.  Here are a couple that I have pictures of from Toy Fair.

Indoraptor Rampage at Lockwood Estate by LEGO

Indoraptor Rampage at Lockwood Estate by LEGO
This is a large Jurassic World theme set that is due out in April and features the Lockwood Estate and five minifigures.  Priced at $130, it is for older kids and adult LEGO fans.  Even with this price tag, I bet it sells out.

LEGO DUPLO T. rex Tower

Toddlers and their parents can build this set together, which features a T. rex with opening jaw, revolving lookout tower, car and an Owen LEGO® DUPLO® figure.

Jurassic World Tee Shirts by Freeze

The tee shirts are already stocked and more patterns are on the way.  Available on Amazon and at Forever 21.

Designer Dresses
I don't have the designer information about these dresses in my notes but take my word for it - they are probably not in your budget.  Certainly not in mine.

Universal Jurassic World Showcase at Copacabana Rooftop Venue

Even More Dinosaurs!!!!

Plush Dinosaurs by Gund

These soft, bright dinosaurs by GUND will let even the youngest family members join in the hottest theme of the year.

Playmobil Explorer Vehicle with Stegasaurus

This is not a Jurassic World set, but it is an excellent playmobil quality dinosaur playset.  In addition to the dinosaur it includes the explorer vehicle with a functioning winch and crane, a figure, pond, tree and accessories.

Well that is enough about Jurassic World and dinosaurs.  Not much is available just yet.  I will add links to Amazon as products become available

Sunday, March 4, 2018

COCO - Oscar and Golden Globe Best Animated Feature Winner

COCO, a Disney-Pixar production, is now available in DVD, Blu-Ray, and Digital formats. This colorful, musical adventure encompasses both a multigenerational family theme and a Mexican cultural theme.
To sum up the critical acclaim for this movie it is the winner of the Golden Globe and Oscar awards (Just now!) for the Best Animated Feature of the Year.  My review copy is a multi-screen edition which includes all three formats plus over two hours of bonus material including deleted scenes, music, commentary and more.
On Saturday I was lucky enough to watch COCO with my young grandson.  I was a little concerned about the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) theme but it was absolutely no problem.  It was handled so well that even a small child enjoys and is in awe as the main character, Miguel is transported into a fantasy world of his ancestors. The story is rich with details of Mexican folklore, family traditions, music, art, celebrations, culture and more.  It is a heartfelt story as a young boy who wants to be a musician overcomes his parents’ and grandparents’ objections by finding his ancestor’s musical connections. 
This trailer will give you a taste of what to expect from the movie.

Update (11:10 pm on 3/4/18):  "Remember Me" from COCO just named Best Original Song at the Oscars.  Great  - but not surprised.

Like many Disney-Pixar productions this thrilling adventure of a film will be enjoyed by adults as well of the children.  Buy  the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital format edition at Amazon now by clicking on the image below.  It is also available in 4K Ultra HD.

Note: The Amazon image says Blu-ray but when you click on it you will see that it has all 3 formats - DVD and Digital plus Blu-ray.