New York Toy Fair Wrap Up:Toy Fair Favourites!
After several long days checking out most of the 7,000 new toys showcased in New York last week here are some of our favourites. We're really looking forward to hearing what our testing families have to say about them in the months to come, so stay posted!
2016 Barbie Fashionistas Line (3+, Mattel) – Spring 2016
I loved that Barbie's little sisters always made my doll populations seem so much more normal because they added different sizes. As a mom, I made sure our dolls included variety as well, like the pregnant Midge doll and the grandparents, not to mention a collection of cultures and ethnicities. So, of course I'm thrilled with the new Fashionistas line that features curvy, tall, petite shaped dolls as well as the original Barbie body shape. There will certainly be an added challenge to provide different sizes of outfits, as well as shoes (two foot sizes, in both flats and heels). But I think the effort is worth it, and Mattel assures us they've got it covered, even adding some stretchiness to the outfits so that at least some of the clothes can fit more than one body type.
Turtle Mail ($99.99, 3+, AE Dreams) – Available Now for Preorder
Everyone loves getting real mail, even if it takes awhile to get to you. Turtle Mail combines the speed of the internet with the joy of physically receiving mail. Family and friends can send messages, reminders, to-dos or a simple “I Love You!”from anywhere (with an internet connection) to print directly from the child's very own the Turtle Mail box. Customize your child's mail even further by subscribing for daily activities, like connect the dots or word searches, or have your kid's favourite comic character send them messages.
More Top Picks
We had nice little cuddle with Elmo at Toy Fair last week. There is a small box in his tummy, but for the most part he's pretty squishy and comfy. This latest Elmo still does all the usual Elmo stuff: he's full of energy, positivity and learning opportunities, especially with the new mobile app that allows parents to fine tune the learning content. But what we love most is that you can use the app to reinforce daily routines, like when your child starts squirming, using it to prompt Elmo to ask if they need to go potty. It's always helpful to have another household voice encouraging kids to brush their teeth and reinforce other daily routines.
A great space-saving design that switches between an easel or a sit down desk. The reverse side is a chalk board allowing for quick transition from whiteboard to chalkboard play. Underneath the whiteboard is a LED grid which allows a special pen to trace along to help your child practice writing letters, numbers, shapes with other designs to trace, too. The grid is touch sensitive and will only move if the correct pen strokes are applied.
Gone are the days when electricity kits meant having the patience for long, tedious preparations like carefully winding wire round a nail – without getting kinks in it. Over the last couple of years circuitry sets have been offering components that are both safe, and make it quick and easy to demonstrate basic circuitry concepts creating a much wider appeal for the kits. What we love about Circuit Maze is that it not only offers the same hands-on learning opportunities, but also manages to incorporate the experience into an entertaining puzzle game.
CharmBricks is bringing the friendship bracelet craze into the electronic era. The bracelet is created by connecting individual smart bricks that can be coded to light up at different times, all together, or in any sequence you can think of. Using the accompanying app learn about timing, algorithms, sequences and other basics of coding while looking stylish. Further customize your bracelet with plastic trinkets that can easily be swapped in and out of the bricks. Future plans to add proximity sensors enabling kids to come up with 'Handshake' sequences when the get close will push Charmbricks from the WOW category into a Must Own.
Build and program robots. With four different types of motion, lighting and distance sensors, and LEGO compatibility, these smart blocks are well designed to offer tremendous variety in the robots you create. It's easy to get them moving. You can use the Record and Play function to program it by physically manipulating it through the sequences. Or you can download the mobile app and use your smart device as a remote control, or to program a sequence for the robot to carry out. Lots of fun, and a great introduction to the world of robotics.
We love that this game focuses on how to find answers, rather than on a player's ability to remember stuff. Plus the game is full of interesting and well chosen challenges, like typing the word 'phone' using your elbow, or being the first to find and call the Hogwarts Admissions Hotline. And mny of the questions feature a double task, like finding the temperature in the city where Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call. One challenge even has players displaying a list of the airplanes now flying over your current location. Amazing what you can discover just by using your cell phone, which by the way – Phact or Phiction? – has more computing power than all of the computers used by NASA during the Apollo Space Program.