Tech To Bring Music to Your Ears and Light Up Your Life

As we spend more time outdoors, we look for ways to bring some creature comforts with us.  Check out some of the gear that makes outside a little more modern.

Do you love a good run? Maybe hike, kayak, or even just some time in the gym. Finding good earphones that can deal with sweat is not always the easiest task, but most of us like to bring music (or some form of audio) with us for our workouts. The new PaMu TWS wireless earphones are easy to wear, truly have no wires (really, Pinocchio) until you have to charge them, of course, and are sweat-proof and water resistant. They have some must have features, including Hi-Fi Sound, Auto-connects,Touch Control, Auto Pairing that lets you make calls and listen to music while your phone is in your pocket (or beyond), an In-Ear Mic, they come with a portable Charging Pod that neatly fits your buds and doubles as a travel case, and more. They are reasonably comfortable for ear buds. To me, while wearing them, they reminded me of a Dr. Who episode of Cybermen- that’s how it all started. Giant ear buds, then you become a Robot working for your new alien overlords. Ah, maybe not- but it makes me laugh. You can grab yours before they even hit shelves on indiegogo.

Always on the go?  AdventureJumpStart is a great option for those of us who are constantly on the move- it can not only recharge your tablets and smartphones, but it also has the ability to jump start most cars, trucks, boats and ATVS. Really. And? It’s small. Best. Gift. Ever.

It comes with everything you need- the charger, recharge cable, Detachable Jumper Cables, and Quick Start Guide. It has the smallest and lightest powerbank with the highest lever of safety, as well as keeping it’s battery life from one charge up to one full year if not used. It also charges incredibly quickly, which we all know is a huge plus. That’s pretty amazing stuff right there- great for people to have on hand for a roadside emergency.  This is one you will want to have for innumerable reasons. Pick yours up for $100 at https://mycharge.com/collections/adventure-series/products/adventurejumpstart

If you need a smaller charger, one for your pocket, there is always the Flip 30 RechargerThis mini charger is about the size of a pack of gum, but can charge your phone up to three times per full charge of it’s own (or a tablet once) making it an easy way to keep your electronics ready to go while you are on the go.  It fits easily in most purses or pockets. Several color options are available, this rechargers costs $49.95 athttps://www.goalzero.com/shop/flip-family/flip-30-recharger/ .

Like to camp? Or maybe you just hate being caught in the dark. The Lighthouse Micro Flash is perfect to keep in the car, a drawer, or in your purse for emergencies. No need for batteries, it is rechargable by USB and has a dimmable lantern as well as a built-in 120-lumen flashlight. If on it’s lowest setting, it can run for up to 170 hours. It is tiny, about the size of a finger, and weighs just over 2 ounces but is not light on power. Get yours for $24.99 at https://www.goalzero.com/shop/lanterns/lighthouse-micro-flash-lantern/ .

Spring into Fitness with this Gear

Now that the weather is starting to warm up, we are excited to be headed back outside more often. Here are some of our favorites for ready-for-Spring fitness wear.

Ready to hit the trails? Us too! This has been a long winter (thanks, Phil) and we are more then enthusiastic about warmer weather and more outside time. If you are a runner, walker, or hiker, you will love these new sneakers from Brooks Running. The Launch 5 is a lightweight shoe with a mesh outer layer that keeps things airy. It has a “BioMoGo DNA midsole cushioning and rebounding rubber create a springy feel underfoot”. (What does that mean? It’s basically providing adaptive cushioning throughout the midsole as well instead of just the usual support only in the heel and forefoot. The more you know.) It’s a truly comfortable shoe for everyday wear as well as for running. It works well for the gym (even if the treadmill you get stuck on is a bit shoddy), trails, and sidewalks- we’ve had no complaints over here. $100 at http://www.brooksrunning.com

Another option is the Adrenaline GTS 18, which is extremely supportive and well cushioned. These shoes are known and trusted for their amazing fit, and we completely agree.  One of their features that helps with this is an “asymmetrical 3D Fit Print and TPU saddle pulls from the heel and wraps around your midfoot for a secure fit”.  It also has the BioMoGo DNA midsole cushioning that we had mentioned above, as well as an integrated Segmented Crash Pad that cushions your feet as they land.  If you are all about support and soft landings, this is the shoe for you. We’ve used these on about every terrain you can think of, both running and as casual wear, and they have been holding up extremely well and have become the favorite sneaker of a very, very picky runner.  $120 at http://www.brooksrunning.com

For ladies’ support without the underwire, check out the Fiona Bra. This bra is easy to get on and off, comes in a multitude of colors, and is easy to wear for a long day. It has molded cups, velcro adjustable straps (which actually stay in place, surprisingly) and a padded back hook-and-loop closure. The sides come up high enough so there is no leakage, and it will hold you in place as you move about. The compression is excellent. These run from $30-$50 depending on size and color preference on http://www.brooksrunning.com
 
 The Insect Shield Albany Pant by Craghoppers are great for year round travel and outdoor activities, and now that the weather is more agreeable to more time outdoors, we are making the most of them.  These  chino-looking pants are easy to wear to any occasion, they they are a true trail pant. Very lightweight, quick drying, they have both an Insect Shield as well as Solar Shield to keep your days out as pleasant and ouch-free as possible.  The material makes it easy to brush of water, mud, dirt (etc) and keep moving comfortably. Easy wash and dry (we prefer to hang them to keep the insect and solar shields lasting longer) and wear again and again. These are pants you will find yourself reaching for all the time, and wondering what you did without. $80 https://www.craghoppers.com/us/
 
The Insect Shield Luna Tights by Craghoppes are a go-to favorite now the the weather is starting to warm up. Soft, lightweight (but not see through, blarg!) the new Luna Tight is activewear you can wear on the trails, to yoga, or just running around. They don’t slide down or ride up, which means you aren’t tugging on them all day (and no one will see any more skin then you intended while in yoga class). These are truly comfortable, and the Insect Shield as well as Solar Shield gives you double protection while you are exploring the great ourdoors.  These come in dark navy and charcoal/white print.  $60 at https://www.craghoppers.com/us/
 
NuuMuu activewear sports dress goes from yoga to running to running errands effortlessly, and you feel good while wearing it. I love this dress, I always feel pretty when I wear it, and receive compliments and “where can I get that?” questions. It’s just “one of those” things. 

While it’s a dress you can wear to the gym, to yoga, on a hike- you can wear it to the PTA meeting or anywhere else you’d like as well, it’s super versatile. The colors are both vibrant and beautiful, and there are quite a few options available as well as new neckline options.

Designed to flatter women’s bodies and made from fabric that feels as good as it looks, Nuu-Muu is an easy option for exercise, travel and everyday life. Designed to cover most sports and regular bras completely for maximum versatility and made in the U.S.A. You can wear it alone or with leggings or shorts for more coverage (or for class), and that also makes it even easier to transition.  In sizes “0” to 3LX and in child sizes as well, prices vary depending on item. The sizing is different then other garments, so read the chart before you order- but the fit itself is fantastic. You can pick yours out at https://nuu-muu.com

 

In a New York State of Mind

Looking to spend some time in The Big Apple with the family? Here are some great places to visit while you are there.

LEGO’s are fun for kids of all ages, and the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in NY is a great place to spend the day for LEGO lovers of all ages.  The adventure begins by learning how Lego bricks are made and a kiddie-version of the history of  little plastic bricks. After this interesting introduction, its time to ride some rides and visit some attractions. The first ride (one that brings you into the main area) is a sit down guided laser shooting tour, where you save the castle by defeating tons of baddies. After your victory, you head into a mini-brick version of New York City and the LEGOLAND area. Push buttons for lights and sounds, and well as mini-animations. The details are pretty amazing, and the spoofs will keep everyone giggling. Fans will find quite a few “Easter Eggs” as they walk around the town.

There are also a bunch of other attractions to check out, like the racing course where you build your own racecar to pit against everyone else- there are several tracks to choose from. There is also a magic couch ride where you jaunt around on a flying couch. Really.  You move it up and down by pedaling, and it goes around in a circle. Make sure you check out the 4D movie, a must for all LEGO Movie fans. Of course, there are tons of LEGO to build, Masterclasses to take (and you can take your creations with you for a fee), and obstacle courses to try out. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester is located at 39 Fitzgerald Street, Yonkers, NY 10710

No visit to NYC would be complete without visiting the Statue of Liberty. Statue Cruises, the National Park Service providing ferry and related services to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island. You can get there both from Battery Park in lower Manhattan and Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. This is the best ways to see the statue in my opinion. Cruises begin at 8:30 am (instead of 9:30 am), with the last boat departing Battery Park and Liberty State Park at 3:30 pm daily- last leaving the statue and Ellis Island at 4:30. Tickets to the crown and pedestal can be booked at the same time, or just the grounds of the statue.  It is both an incredibly moving and educational experience, to see the statue and Ellis Island- for Americans and tourists alike. I’d recommend this experience for absolutely everyone- and leave the entire day for it, this is not one you should rush through.

Tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island can be purchased online atwww.statuecruises.com, by visiting the Statue Cruises ticket office inside Castle Clinton at Battery Park, or by calling (877) LADY-TIX.

For more information on Statue Cruises, including schedules or reservations to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, please visit http://www.statuecruises.com or follow Statue Cruises on Twitter – https://twitter.com/statuecruises, Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/statuecruises/ or Instagram –https://www.instagram.com/statuecruises/.

And of course, there is Madison Square Garden. A New York City institution, you can see all sorts of shows and sporting events here. No matter the ages or preferences of your family, there is a show (or shows) that you are sure to enjoy.  We recently saw WWE’s Road to Wrestlemania while in NYC, and the kids and my partner had a great time- the crowd was a lot of fun, and the show was fast paced and exciting. There are a wide variety of shows to choose from- rock shows like Pink or Billy Joel, comedy acts like Kevin Hart, favorites come to the stage such as Sesame Street Live or Peppa Pig Live for the little kids, and tons of sporting events like the New York Knicks, WWE, UFC, and Monster Jam. MSG has a ton to choose from, head to http://garden-ny.com/madisonsquare/index.php to see the full lineup.

Candy Free Easter Baskets

It’s that time of year again, when Peter Cottontail and all his bunny helpers hop into homes with baskets filled with treats and toys for good little boys and girls. Here are some of our favorite non-food items to fill your kiddo’s baskets with.

PLAYMOBIL has created even more figures to inspire imaginative play- Figure Series 13: Blind bags will continue to be a hit with the kids.  The latest series features 24 different figures that can be collected, assembled and are interchangable.  Each figure comes unassembled which adds to the fun- your kids can put them together or mix and match the interchangeable parts with other figures to create an entirely new and original character. $2.99 each

It’s Spring- ready for bubbles? These are cute, and can be less messy then a bubble wand. Glove-A-Bubbles Bunny (or 7 other animal options) puts the bubbles onto a little glove and lets them wave their hands around, creating waves of bubbles with each swipe. These ‘gloves’ come with two packs of bubble solution in each package. A parent can pour it into the pouch, dip the glove into the bubbles, and send the kids out to run wild. While there are 8 animals total, Bunny is egg-stra cute for Easter, we think.  $2.99 each.

We LOVE Smooshy Mushy, I’ve got to say. If your kids have not begged for a squish toy yet, we don’t know how you have escaped this craze. It’s not one I personally mind terribly- they are inexpensive, smell nice, and are adorable, so not a craze that this mom minds.  As we had mentioned in out Toy Fair columns, The Squish trend is continuing, for sure. These scented, “slow-rise,” squishable animal toys come in a variety fun food and pet themes, each packaged with an itty-bitty collectible squishy best friend, adding levels of surprise. The packaging itself is super cute, often an ice cream cone, soda bottle, milk carton, or the like. Very sweet. $9.99

Stikbot Easter Eggs will be such a treat for any fan of the series- my son lost his sanity when he saw these eggs, so excited.  Zing has rolled out a new line of Easter-themed Stikbot Pets just in time for Easter.  Perfect for filling baskets (and you don’t need to crack your nails opening those dreadful plastic eggs to fill them over and over, LOL), adorable Stikbot Bunnies and Chicks are packed inside colorful eggs. Stickbot has nearly 200 million views on YouTube, and many kids make their own YouTube channels dedicated to their own “spinoff” or inspired themes. Kids love the open ended, imaginative play that these toys bring with them.  Stickbot also teaches kids a skill- how to do stop-motion animation movies, not to mention some patience. I love the combination of tech and no tech in this- they need to really use their minds, create- THEN use tech to record. It’s one of my favorite toys my son has- and the price is great at $4.99 each.

 

Care Bears Care-Moji Figures continue the “blind bag” trend- and these are adorable “bags”. The mini collectible Care-Moji friends have a mini Care Bears character stylized figures inside. Each 2” figure comes inside of an adorable bear-shaped capsule (I love all these fun “blind bags”, the creativity is so much fun). There are 12 different figures to collect, play with, or display. Each capsule sold separately. $3.99 each.

Bunny Surprise and Lamb Surprise are the latest (and most “Spring” appropriate) of the Puppy and Kitty Surprise family of toys-  These soft, huggable mommy Bunny or Lamb Surprise plush (with a plastic face) comes with a “surprise” number of babies in her litter – either three, four, or five per doll.Kids will have fun seeing how many babies she has, and then cuddling, grooming, and taking care of all the precious little bunnies and lambs (as well as mom).  I had one of these “Surprise” toys as a child, and it’s fun to see my child play with one, as well. Mommy Bunny Patches and Mommy Lamb Bliss are sold separately. $24.99

Do your kids have an allergy to eggs? Are you vegan? Still want to participate in the whole egg-dying tradition? Check out Eggnots, the ceramic egg kit. There is no longer a reason why kids have to be separated during these activities during class or scouting (etc), or have to bypass the activity for Easter should you not want to. These ceramic eggs are an alternative so that everyone can still participate. Prices start at $9.99 at http://www.eggnots.com

Toy Fair Trends 2018 #NYTF

It Febuary, so you know what that means. [email protected] was at the New York Toy Fair, checking out all the newest and best toys and games that are coming out this year, and we think it will be a fantastic year for toys. James Hamilton, of the popular pop-culture website http://geekstronomy.com was there to lend a hand covering the massive show floor (and we thank him for his contributions to this coverage). 

We found that some of the trends for the next year are somewhat of a continuation of old trends, albeit slightly updated. Some of these continuing toy trends do venture into new territories, and it’s always fun to see what the year will bring to our families. 

blister packs

One of the continuing trends has to be the “blind boxes”. While these have been growing in popularity, one of the variations on these “blind box” items is that the blister pack will show some of the toys or contents with one or more figures being obscured. The remaining contents are visible to the consumer, and the hidden toy is often a “rare” item.  The other big news in blind boxes is the packaging has gotten very creative, having the packaging serving a dual purpose such as being used as a Christmas ornament, storage tin, or as part of the toy itself. We LOVE this, and we think your kids will, too. 

kids coding toys

One of the other trends we witnessed is expansion of STEM based products. If you are not familiar with the term STEM, it stands for Science, technology, engineering and math (another variation is “STEAM”, where the “A” stand for Art- which we like better). Build a robot, learn to code, build atoms, mix colors, new takes on old classics like volcano building- there is no shortage of truly fun with learning options.  Starting from months old and up, the child can learns coding though programming a robot’s actions, how to use a musical instrument, and so much more. This year, education is king, and we are happy to see that trend. 

Another trend which doesn’t seem to be losing any steam is the prevalence of potty humor. There is no end to a child’s (or his father’s) fascination with poop and fart noises, so the demand continues and the products expand to fill it. There is everything from games to toys with the potty theme. I guess no amount of flushing with make this one go away. 

alien stuffed toys

One thing that continues year to year and will never go away is the popularity of plush toys. This year, there are a few plush toys that seem to be everywhere. Not new, but continuing to be hot trends are mermaids and unicorns (many with sparkles, glitter, or “magic” sequins that go in multiple directions) donuts, and narwhals. In addition, you will find a multitude of dinosaurs, flat stuffed toys in every variety (even superheroes), and the new fun food toys are bananas,  pineapples, avocados, which you will see everywhere by every brand. The new trendy animals this year? Sloths, llamas, and aliens. 

While we saw tons of these toys stuffed, you will find them in blind packs, action figures, pull toys, as bouncy balls, as pillows, coloring books, crayons themselves, and in more options then you can imagine.

Jurassic park toys

While we are speaking of dinosaurs- you won’t be able to turn your head this year without looking at one (or take a step without tripping on one, as it might turn out). With the new Jurassic Park movie coming out shortly, as well as the 25th anniversary of the movie (don’t you feel old now? I sure do), not only are there a wide array of Jurassic Park toys and characters and more, but never before have there been so many books, paleontologist kits, stuffed animals, figures, remote control toys, costumes, and anything else you can think of that will have your child in a pteroble state of dino-madness.

 

Healthy Food You and The Family Will Love

Looking for healthy food you and the entire family will love? These fun finds will keep everyone happy, and taste as good as they are good for you- which isn’t easy!

We have been fans of noosa yoghurt for a while now, and were excited that they have introduced both new flavors and new combination yoghurt/topping combinations, which are delightful.  These mix-in-style yoghurts are called noosa mates, and pairs the creamy noosa whole milk yoghurt we already enjoyed so much with delicious, high-quality toppings like crunchy granolas, roasted nuts, pretzels and premium chocolate. Just pull off the top, flip the “mix in” side into the yoghurt, and stir.  It’s very satisfying and satiating- not to mention it just tastes great.  They have also added apple and pumpkin flavors to their growing line. 

Available nationwide in many groceries and super stores in single packs, four packs, and larger sized 24 0z containers, prices vary.  Visit https://www.noosayoghurt.com for varieties and to find a store.

With the Super Bowl right around the corner, you will need some great snacks on hand. What’s a tailgating party without chips and dips? Heluva Good! is perfect for your favorite dippables or to be used in a recipe for game day (or any day). It’s the perfect take along when you get invited to a party as well- there is never anyone who will turn town a friend who brings snacks to the festivities. Available in French Onion, Bacon Horseradish, Buttermilk Ranch, and Jalapeno Cheddar, there is a flavor everyone will enjoy.  You can find fun recipes and creations to try out on their website as well- there is a potato skin concoction that looks amazing (and I’m going to try it for the big game day)- take a look and see what tickles your fancy. Visit http://heluvagood.com for info, where to buy, food ideas, and more, then head to your local supermarket to pick some up and try some for yourself.

Need to wash it all down? Honest Tea, a brand that has been around for a while and is known for both it’s great taste and it’s quality ingredients as well as it’s ethical business practices, has introduced a new flavor. Honest Tea’s Pomegranate Blue Herbal Tea is now available, and it’s not to be missed for tea fans.  Made with organic pomegranate, grape and blueberries blended with Hibiscus Tea—when they are in season. They only use organic and fair-trade ingredients, making Honest Tea a refreshing mix of delicious and integrity. Honestly. Available for $1.99 in stores nationwide. 

Looking for a little something sweet to wrap up your day? For a bit of indulgence, have you tried the latest from GODIVA? One of their recent offerings was the delightful Pumpkin Spice Truffle Flight  these luscious Pumpkin Spice Truffles are the perfect way to end any long day, or as a treat after a meal. They are really cute as well- GODIVA’s Foil-Wrapped Pumpkin Spice Truffles feature five delightful truffles made with pumpkin ganache inside a milk chocolate shell, and the foil looks like a little pumpkin, stem and all. An adorable gift for anyone, or just something sweet to treat yourself and your loved ones. Of course, with Valentines Day coming up, the boxes of chocolate are great options (for anytime of year, really) and come in tons of varieties and sizes. Classic heart shaped boxes, adorable gift sets that pair gourmet chocolates with sweet stuffed animals, the traditional gold Godiva boxes we all wait for longingly, truffles only -you name it, it’s available- AND can be delivered by the special day if you hurry and order soon. Or find a store near you- visit http://www.godiva.com to find one and for options.

Walking In A Winter Wonderland

The weather has been all over the place this winter, and that means so has your wardrobe been. Shoes are the hardest part to figure out- no one likes wet, cold, uncomfortable feet- that makes for a long day. We are loving this footwear, and we thing you will, too.

winter shoes for men

 

Waldlaufer has a huge variety of women’s shoes- but did you know they offer mens, as well? It’s a great time to check them out. We have been wearing the Men’s Jack Hayo Waterproof Oxford Schiefer shoes for about two months now, and using them for everything from daily wear to hiking and even to the gym a few times- they remain sturdy, easy to wear for long days out and about, supportive, and they do keep your feet dry.  They are a bit heavier then your average shoe, but they are also pretty rugged since they offer so much protection.  This ankle high waterproof boot will protect your feet all winter long- and beyond.  You won’t be leaving these in your closet when the season changes.  Since it is made with a waterproof membrane, it prevents moisture from entering the shoe.  The soles have great traction and durability as well as a supportive footbed. Get yours at https://www.waldlaufer.com for $190.

Perfect for winter (or any season but summer, I’d say) are the water-resistant and insanely comfortable new Luana ankle boots from Arcopedico.  These have very fast become my favorite boots, and perhaps my favorite shoes in general. So soft, so comfortable- and ethical as well. Made entirely of vegan materials (that never hurts, a “good for the environment” choice) they are easy to pair with almost any outfit, or to dress up and dress down.  These look like suede, but are actually Lytech with a self-adjusting side elastic for a super comfortable fit. With rounded toes and a slight wedge heel, these are actually machine washable as well. Really. Three colors available, Black, Brown, or Burgundy. Get yours for $105 at http://arcopedicousa.com

For something a little different then boots yet still transitional, check out the Stripe ballerina type flat. With a satin and cotton fabric upper, a rounded toe, rubber sole, and it’s lighter than air weight, this is a shoe you can live in once the weather warms up (and if you get someplace warmer for your vacation!) $115, available in three striped color options- Blue/White, Beige/White, or Black/White.

The Yulia Bootie is easy on, easy to wear, and you won’t want to take them off- by Beartraps. This bootie is fun to wear with skirts or pants, and is lightweight as well as comfortable. Casual and fun, it has a low heel and slight ruching on the top. Cute details at the strap detailing is eye-catching and adds interest. Easy to zip on and off from the side, you will find yourself wearing these constantly. Available in three colors- black, grey, and mushroom, for $80- but on sale now for $50, go take a look! https://www.footwearunlimited.com

Perfect for this time of year, but great year round (because when is mud not a thing, after all) the Detour BUGrip GTX are the perfect hiking or running sneaker- no slipping, super supportive, and no laces.  Instead of laces, these tighten up with a Boa® Closure System, which “provides custom comfort with smooth, even closure and no pressure points”. It’s actually pretty cool- you turn the little knob like circle on the tongue of the shoe, and it clicks until you reach the setting you like. Pull it up to release. Very neat. The  waterproof GORE-TEX® membrane keeps the snow, slush, water, mud, etc out and your feet dry- what’s not to love about that. The carbide studded, BUGrip outsole is great for ice and snow, though has no issues on pavement, wood floors, or anything else we’ve tired them out on- although people WILL hear you coming, they are not sneaking up shoes, with their “crunching” steps. No, they will not scratch anything- they just add traction.  Grab yours at https://us-shop.icebug.com/ for $230.

Headed out into the great outdoors? In this weather Just kidding- why not? Just bring your Metro2 Classic BUGrip, these are the hiking boots you won’t want to take off. Comfortable, keeping your feet warm and dry, and like all Icebugs, slip resistant with carbide studded, BUGrip outsoles. Soft “collar” around the ankles keeps you comfortable as you trek, just pull them on and zip them up. Soft, oily nubuck on the outside, fleece lined, with supportive insoles, they will keep your feet warm in temperatures up to -4 (Fahrenheit).  Let me tell you- these are nice. You are going to love them. Pick them up at https://us-shop.icebug.com/ for $200.

 

Holiday GIft Guide- Hot Toys For kids

With only about a week to go, you will be on the lookout for the hottest toys for the little ones in your life. These are a few we think will make those kiddos shriek with delight as they tear off the wrapping paper.

Last year’s hit toy, Hatchimals, are back with an ever bigger surprise inside. The all new Hatchimals Surprise have let you hatch two sweet and cuddly Hatchimals out of the same egg- that’s right, you get twins. As you play with and hold your colorful egg, the Hatchimals inside make all sorts of sounds to let you know they are trying to hatch. When they are about ready, you will see their rainbow eyes and they will begin to “push” their way out of the egg. Even though they are twins, they are unique in personalities. As you interact with them, they learn new tricks and habits, like how to talk, dance, sing, tell jokes, play games, repeat what you say, and more. They also interact with each other, both being sweet and occasionally arguing, like any siblings will. Get yours for around $60 in stores and online.

Did you ever want your own droid? I know I have. Now you can, which is very cool and interactive- Droid BB-8 . It is pretty lifelike in scale, at 16 inches tall (19 inches with antenna) so it will feel like you are a true Jedi or padawan. BB-8 glides about just like his movie counterpart and can have pretty realistic interactions, as well as lights and sounds. Put on the “Follow Me” mode and have him roll next to you. You can use voice recognition (which is pretty sticky sometimes) and it has remote control capabilities as well. Hero Droid BB-8 is a great gift for any Star Wars fan, young or old, new to the films or long time aficionado.  Grab yours quickly (these run out at times) for about $150 in stores or online.

 

Family Game Night a big deal in your house? Have you ever tried Headbandz? This fun game is great for all ages- though for non readers, you will have to whisper their “who” in their ear for them. At the start, every player gets three chips and a card with a personality on it to stick in a headband. When it is your turn, turn the timer and ask “Yes” or “No” questions to guess who you are. If you are right, hand in a chip and go again. If you are wrong, you lose your turn. The winner is the first person to hand in all their chips. It is a fun, not too challenging game that will have everyone laughing and trying to figure out who is who. Get yours in stores or online for about $12.

Another fun Family Game Night option is Escape Room The Game from Spin Master. This fun game brings all the fun of the physical “escape the room” craze into your living room, and you and your family can play together and as often as you would like.  You all work together to solve each puzzle and to find hidden clues before your time runs out. The “Chrono Decoder” counts down from 60 minutes as you play your choice of four different adventures.  Pick yours up in stores or online for about $35.

 

If you want to play your kid one on one, or teach them some fun strategy, check out Othello. It is a two-player game that has you outsmart your opponent to win. Your goal is to trap and capture your opponent’s pieces in a game that is decided so play by play, the winner often isn’t decided until some of the last pieces are left on the board. This is available in stores or online for about $15.

If you and your children like hands on projects, building, or robotics, this toy will be your fast favorite. The latest Meccano robot, M.A.X., has both Artificial Intelligence and customizable programming so that you get to build a pretty one-of-a-kind robot.  Little hands build upon or start their knowledge of programming and robotics as they give their robots flair and personality. M.A.X can be controlled using voice commands, buttons in his MeccaBrain, or via free included app.

M.A.X., a S.T.E.M. robot, has expressive facial graphics that are designed to engage kids. He is both a learning tool and tons of fun. Some of the other items M.A. X. comes with are a gaming platform, he can tell jokes, has built-in infrared sensors thatcan avoid obstacles , and so much more. If your child loves to learn, and has hands that like to be kept busy, she will love M.A. X. You can grab yours for about $99 in stores or online.