Holiday Gift Guide- For the Home

Getting ready for the family and/or friends to head over for some holiday celebrations? If you are like us, you are. Here are some items we are loving right about now as we deck the halls and cook too much.

The Ninja® Intelli-Sense™ System with Auto-Spiralizer is perfect for meal prep, and has a “smart” base with a touchscreen that lets you choose between four high-performance appliances. Intelli-Sense Technology lets you use a Smart Menu of choices for each appliance on it’s base, and it’s both easy to clean and durable enough for regular use and wear as well, so you don’t need to worry that because it’s high tech, it’s super delicate- it’s not.  It also comes with a recipe book with creations by chefs you can make at home using your new machine(s). Choose from items like home made pastas, margaritas, pizza dough, fresh salsa, and much more. You can pick yours up at retailers nationwide for about $269.99.

The Ninja® Cooking System with Auto-iQ™  is another fantastic four appliances built into one machine- you get the ever-useful slow cooker, a stove top, a steamer, and an oven you can use for baking. One of the cooler aspects of the Auto-iQ is that it lets you choose from more than 80 pre-programmed recipes (as well as whatever other recipe you choose). All you have to do is add the ingredients, select a recipe from the included cookbook, and the Auto-iQ will cook it.  Really. If making meals in one pot weren’t easy enough, doing it at the push of a single button makes it almost too easy- almost. Pick yours up wherever kitchen gear is sold for about $149.

Gatherings mean extra cleanup- and you will love The Shark® IONFlex™ 2X DuoClean™ Cordless Ultra-Light Vacuum. Yes, the name is a mouthful, but it also describes what it does. It’s  cord-free vacuum with DuoClean™ technology, that comes with two rechargeable ION batteries so that you can be charging one while using the other- never any downtime. It also has MultiFLEX Technology which gives it a flexible reach for under furniture but also easy for storage. The DuoClean Technology means that it has a bristle brush for a deeper clean in carpets as well as a soft brushroll to pull in bigger floor gunk- it covers all it’s bases. It also has a handheld vacuum so you can clean hard to reach spots, the couch, ceiling, take it out to the car, or wherever it’s needed.   It also comes with lots of extras, like an Anti-allergen dust brush, MultiFLEX under app wand, cradle, and more.

UPDATE- after about 2 months of use, this vacuum was totally useless. It stops working constantly, overheating, clogging, dirt etc won’t go to the correct space to empty, shuts itself off,  etc. I have sent it back for replacement, which was incredibly difficult and time consuming. Customer service ran me in circles. After I got the replacement, guess what started happening? If you guessed the exact same problems, you’d be right. Don’t waste your time and money on this one.

laser tag

You will want to keep the kids busy while you are getting the house ready- and you can even get them outside if the weather is cooperating at all- with the new Laser X laser tag game. The new Laser X has an updated, technologically-advanced laser blaster system that features sophisticated electronics and optics which gives players up to 200 feet accuracy. The game only needs two players, but can have many more then that. The system knows when the players are being hit, shooting, hiding, running, or more- though from what we can tell, if you “hide” too long, it tells you to “run!” and gives your spot away- not a good hide and seek buddy, haha.  It is available in sets that equip two players for $49.99 or that equip one player for $24.99.  The Long Range Blaster ($39.99) and Gaming Tower ($39.99) are also available.  Gets yours at

laser tag toys

Great Holiday Toys For Kids (And Kids at Heart)

Getting ready for the holidays can involve a fair amount of shopping for the kiddos. Here are a few items we know are sure to be on a lot of lists this year.


If your children love cars, or shows like Pokemon or Battlebots, they will enjoy the Power Rippers™ 2-IN-1 Competition Set. This set is very complete, and makes a great gift that comes with everything you’d want or need. It includes a Track Set and Battle Arena, dual loops that you can reconfigure for side-by-side racingas one long track, a crash zone and “epic jump” when your toys reach the end of their track. They can use the Battle Arena to- you guessed it, battle each other (or mom and dad).   The set comes in its own case, which makes for easy storage, clean up, and take along as well. Grab yours anywhere that sells toys for about $29.99.

Justice League BIG-FIGS™ take action figures and super size them for giant fun and BIG play. These are great for both the kids and collectors in your life- ok, and the “big kids”, too. ( I can think of more then one adult who would love them.)  Choose from Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, and my son’s favorite, Cyborg.  They are detailed, though not fully articulated, and include items like soft capes and removable accessories.  These BIG-FIGS™ are priced right at $19.99, so they are a “big” value as well, considering the regular sized figures usually start at about $11.99.

Have a Nintendo fan? Have they played Splatoon? (If not, you guys are missing out, as we have mentioned previously, it is a lot of fun!) This toy is based on the hit videogame by Nintendo, the Splatoon™ Splattershot Blaster brings into real life all the fun, mess (not really!), and strategy the game is all about.  You and your kids can play all day with these blasters that fire water-based compound up to 30 feet.  Each Splattershot Blaster comes with a pair of Inkling Goggles and two compound canisters that are good for up to 50 shots each.  You can get yours on stores like Amazon for about $29.99. I’d pick up at least 2, so you can play together.

Based on the hit Disney movie, the Glow ‘N Style Rapunzel doll showcases her blonde hair- on this doll, down to her toes. Your child will spend hours of styling and playing with it.  When they push a button, Rapunzel’s signature magical hair will glow as she sings the award-winning song from the show, “I See the Light.”  She wears her well known dress and coordinating shoes, and comes with six hair clips that your child can also wear. One is even in the shape of her chameleon pet, Pascal, which is adorable.   The suggested price of this doll is $34.99, but I’m seeing it for prices all over the chart, so shop wisely.

Smooshy Mushy are an adorable and new collectible craze that your kids as well as any adults who like to fidget will love- honestly, these serve a dual purpose.  Fun and useful! Inside each Smooshy Mushy package you will find one of eight random Pets. Unwrap it’s container to find out which scented Smooshy Mushy you will find- even the packaging is cute, really- milkshake or ice creams, for example.

Every pet comes with a “Bestie” they like to tag along with, so make sure you keep them together.  Each of the currently available 24 food themed sets also comes with a “what’s your smooshy name?” game, a nametag, mini container, stickers  a poster.  There are also rare and ultra-rare Pets. $9.99

You can collect more Besties by picking up a  Smooshy Mushy Snack Pax.  These are 39 random blind bags which include a Bestie, a poster, and a game. $2.99

Have you started your Advent Calenders yet? It’s not too late if you haven’t- and PLAYMOBIL has a fun variety to choose from. You can choose from sets like Santa’s Workshop or an NHL Hockey theme, or even a more non traditional set like the “Jewel Thief Police Operation” which is fun and silly -every day, your child opens another door and finds a new surprise waiting behind it. There is also a cardboard backdrop to place figures and toys/props on, to help create the intended theme should you so desire.  Don’t forget the non-holiday sets as well- PLAYMOBIL recently released super fun playsets from Ghostbusters (with highly accurate details, lights and sounds, great accessories, and more) and How to Train Your Dragon. Prices vary, but we love PLAYMOBIL for their long term play use, creativity, bonding time, as well as how well made and sturdy they are. These are definitely on our holiday lists this year.


Going Camping? Check these out.

If you are headed out into the great outdoors anytime soon, you might want to check out some of these items. Not just for camping, but having other outdoor uses as well, you will find they make your camp experience that much more comfortable.

The new Quik Shade canopies recently launched SOLO Steel. This series of six portable, instant shade canopies makes setting up a breeze. They are lightweight and easy to carry, can be set up by one person, are pinch free and allow you to adjust it’s height as needed as the sun moves or if the ground is uneven- this is a real boon and very helpful. It has 99% UV sun protection built in, so it keeps away harmful rays, as well. Easy to set up AND put away (yes, really), it goes easily back into it’s carry rolling bag for easy storage. It is durable and built to last, with Rip-Stop polyester camping tent fabric that has water-resistant coating and features the Aluminex™ back lining to help you and your stuff stay dry.

The SOLO Steel canopies has a ton of options depending on your needs. Sizes range from  50 square feet of shade to 170 square feet, and comes in 5 color choices.  From $119.99 to $249.99 at

One of my favorite camping finds has to have been a Kickstarter campaign. The GoGo Lantern is a very cool option for camping, and for several reasons. It’s solar powered, which means you can charge it all day long and use it for longer periods of time without having to run off and use batteries after batteries or propane etc- and the charge lasts a long time, as well. It is fully charged after roughly 8 hours of solar charge, or you can charge via USB for about 3 hours. It’s waterproof- not merely water resistant. You can actually submerge it, and it’s still both fully functional and keeps working. It’s very light and thus extremely portable. The GoGo Lantern is extraordinarily bright, much more then most I have used. It folds up into itself/collapses, which makes it easy to store and put away while not in use (or for charging). It also is magnetized, and will stick should you want it to. That’s also a pretty neat option, and one I’ve not personally seen before.

The GoGo Lantern is “the world’s first bucket which integrated LED & solar cell in one”, according to it’s  website. You can get yours for $39 and up at

If you are headed out into the water, you might want to bring along some dry bags. Seal Line has different sizes and colors available, and they definitely keep your stuff dry, even if the bag ends up in the water. These are space saving as well, the rectangular shape packing and saving %20 more space then rounder bags. They pack together closer as well, leaving less space in between. This saves space. They have strong, welded seams which are 50% stronger then sewn seams, to keep water out and your items dry.

Featuring an efficient-packing, patent-pending rectangular shape and strong fully welded seam construction, Blocker waterproof dry sacks are the easiest way to organize and protect clothing and gear in your pack, luggage, or on a boat. PVC free, yet tough, they are more environmentally friendly then other types of vinyls and nylons but still tough and durable. They are easy to organize by color and size, and are available starting at $15 and up at

To dry off, you might want to grab a few pack towels. They dry quickly, are uber soft, and are fantastic for all sorts of travel. My favorite is the “nano”, which is tiny yet mighty. I love how useful it is- and how handy. Quick drying, slim, and absorbing twice its weight in water, you can toss it in your pocket, clip it to your waistband or backpack (or whatever you’d like, Carabiner clip and mesh storage pouch included), or wear it as a headband. Or more, just some ideas. Wipe off ski goggles, your Go Pro, your face- whatever- and keep moving. You’ve got stuff to do. Then wring it out, and it’s nearly dry. It really does dry super quickly.  The nano is $10, other sizes and sizes available for $10 and up. These are more useful then you might think at first glance- give them a go, you won’t be sorry.

On the go, and way out there? Check out the GravityWorks 4.0L Water Filter System from Platypus. It’s perfect for basecamps, and has the high-capacity, pump-free filtration that is both easy and useful. It can deliver 4 liters of filtered water in under 3 minutes with no pumping, which we all know is a real pain in the end. This is the fastest and simplest way to get your water filtered while you are way out there. Just dip it into water, fill it, hang, and wait. The filter can be cleaned easily in the field as well, for continues use. This system meets all EPA & NSF guidelines for the removal of 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa, so it is effective and will help keep the ew out of your drinking water. This is a great size for your average family, a medium size group of friends, or a basecamp. The system as an 8-liter total capacity,which is enough filtered water for drinking,  cooking, and cleaning up any dishes.  Get yours at for $120.


It’s Still Summer- Take Advantage With With These Fun Toys

As we head into the last few weeks of summer, soak up ever last bit of fun.

Water balloon fights are awesome, but are not fun to clean up after, and a few people always get stuck making a ton of balloons (and those knots….blah).  An easy work around is the new Water Wubble.  The Water Wubble is a new water based Wubble (the latest toy in the Wubble family) which is able to be filled with water from the pool, faucet, ocean, or hose easily and quickly. It easily seals up after filling.  When it is thrown, it hits your target with a splash and can be refilled again and again for loads of fun. No knots required.

We have found the Water Wubble is easy to fill in the pool, at the beach and the hose all just the same.   These are a lot of fun, and who doesn’t love a water fight in the heat of the summer?  The coolest part of the Water Wubble is its re-usability.  Each Wubble can be filled hundreds of times and seal up easily and can be used again and again. The Water Wubble is available online directly from the Wubble website, Walmart, Target and ToysRUs.  The Water Wubble retails for $14.99.

Looking for some indoor/outdoor fun? WeCool’s Bobble Bitz, aimed at girls ages five and up but would be fun for anyone who likes to create (don’t want to pigeonhole!)  is a squishy molding compound that lets kids create all sorts of unique items and designs that harden overnight jewelry they can wear or artwork they can show off on the mantle. There are four different Bobble Bitz sets to choose from. including the Bobble Bitz Creation Station  which is the largest and most complete set. It contains six different colored compounds and an assortment of molds, clips and art tools for designing jewelry, window clings, keychains, and anything else your little artist can dream up. $29.99 at

You can also get kits specific to your child’s favorite type of art or creativity medium- there are the Bobble Bitz Too Cool Window Clings kit, $14.99, a fashion kit for $14.99, and a Bobble Bitz Triple Creation Packs that has three containers of different colored crunchy molding compound for $9.99Pick what works for you and yours, see how it goes.

Looking to make a mess? We’ve got you covered. Compound Kings is all about the Slime- and I’ve got to say, there is something oddly satisfying about it. (Ages 4 and up)

Compound Kings™ Fluffy – Squishy like slime, but with a little poof, this fluffy stuff comes ready to be used and in a wide array of bright colors. It’s crazy stretchy . Prefer to make it? Get the powder version! All you need to do is add water and you will get a slime that is ready in just a few minutes. The container it comes in doubles as storage, so there isn’t a mess afterwards. Don’t leave it out, that gets all sorts of ew. You can also get a DIY kit that has 13 different packs of powder and “make your own color” compound. You can even do glitter, hey now- maybe they won’t want to tell their little sisters.  You can pick them up in single packs and 3 packs as well, and in all sorts of colors, including neon. Prices from $2.99 and up in stores like Michaels.

And for my fellow 80’s babies (and everyone else), this is more of a look ahead- but I’m excited. As you might remember from our Toy Fair shout outs, Teddy Ruxpin is soon to make a comeback, new and digitally remastered for the more technologically demanding child of today.  After his new hi-tech makeover (sorry, no more  cassette tapes in his back) and an LCD eyelift, he’s ready to go for the Fall season. I personally can’t wait, he was one of the most treasured toys of my childhood.

Coming at you from Wicked Cool Toys, who have been very into the “what’s old is new again” retro toys, Teddy Ruxpin will hit shelves in time for holidays (but I have to tell you I already saw them on Toys R Us and Walmart websites for $99 and $94, respectively).

Visit to find out more and to get your hands on one. These are going to go fast, so if you want one, you are going to need to move fast.

Valley of the Dolls

From the soft and cuddly, to things a little more exotic, there are dolls for everyone to love this summer. Check out what’s new and exciting in all things doll related.

bath toys

For a doll that does double duty (you can snuggle it as well as take it into the bathtub or pool) you can check out Mon Premier Bébé Bath(or Bath Baby) from Corolle.  These dolls are specially designed for playing in the tub, and are so light they float. They are filled with polystyrene beads that dry quickly, just hang to air dry or lay on a towel. These soft, posable 12 inch baby dolls have adorable faces, vanilla scented skin (Corolle’s signature), and eyes that open and close. Every doll comes with an outfit and bath toy of it’s own.  Both boy and girl dolls available, as well as several skin tone options, for about $28 each. Get yours at

barbie RC car

Maybe your dolls love it when you’re cruisin’ together. If you do as well, the Barbie Crusin Convertible Corvette Radio Control is right up your alley.Long name, fun toy. This is a fully functioning radio control car- and it’s aimed at the girls for once. Not that you shouldn’t give your brother a turn, hey now, but it’s nice to see the ladies get a radio control vehicle now and then. Huzzah. This Barbie Hot Pink car holds any Barbie doll- or any doll around the same size. The car requires quite a few batteries- two AAA for the remote and five AA for the car itself, so make sure you have some on hand. Prices vary, but most seem to be listing for about $50.  Check around before you buy.

egypt toys

Looking for something a little different? Maybe you are dreaming of a vacation far, far away? Playmobile has these cool History themed sets, such as 5386. No real name, but it’s basically Pharaoh’s Pyramid. Apologies, it’s not a great system, but at least it’s easy to look up. Don’t let that dissuade you from picking it up- this is one of the cooler toys I’ve seen this year. Way back in February at New York Toy Fair, I was digging on this one, and looking forward to it’s coming out. This pyramid has five chambers that hide jewels and treasures, as well as (0f course) a mummy in it’s tomb. It’s well guarded, and protected by all sorts of traps that let you get your inner archeologist on. You can remove the several of the pyramid’s walls to get even more entombed, I mean, entwined in your playing. This set has it all– revolving doors, skeletons, spiders, three figures, tomb, mummy, treasures, fire pots, hieroglyphics, and many other ancient Egyptian themed accessories.  $70 at

stikbot pets

Do your kids like to make their own home movies? If they have already played with Stikbots and loved them (as my son has), they will love Stickbot pets. If they haven’t, maybe now is the time to try it out. These toys are so inexpensive, hard to break, and give hours and hours of creative and imaginative play- they really are some of our favorite toys of all time. Easily a top 10 in my household. Stickbot is a YouTube sensation- there are roughly 200 million views and more coming every day. These toys let kids become stop-motion-animators themselves, and now Stikbots have pets to join in the fun! These easy to pose, stick in any position toys come with a free app (iOS and andriod) and an easy to follow along with hashtag #Stickbot that keeps fans connected to each other’s movies. Joining the Stikbot family is a bulldog, dog, cat, cow, horse, gorilla, panda, monkey, and bear. Each is available in several colors, for $5 each.

Toys Your Kids Will Love

As we begin the countdown to summer recess, you might begin to wonder what the kids will do to while away the hours at home. When you aren’t exploring the great outdoors, here are some fun ideas for you.

Long road trip or flight ahead? If you are traveling with young kids, you might want to consider bringing along a tablet. We just tested out the HOT WHEELS™ 7” TABLET POWERED BY NABI. This tablet comes with several Hot Wheels screens, including one titled “Hot Wheels Labs” that lets children watch videos about the science of and forces propelling the resistance, friction, and gravity of the toys- in short, how they really work. Consider it branded science, LOL. So many kids are addicted to these little cars, I think it’s a fun way of learning something. In this theme, there is also a “Trackwars & Hacks” area with over 25 apps and games. The custom orange bumper keeps the tablet kid resistant to the bumps and falls it will likely take, and racing sound effects will thrill little gear-heads. Not interested in Hot Wheels? Barbie and American Girl versions are also available. You can get these for about $79 at Best Buy, Toys R Us, Kmart, Costco, or the nabi Shop.

Are the kids excited for the upcoming sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy? I know we are, and some of these toys are really fun. One of our current favorites is the new Dancing Groot Figure. If you recall, toward the end of the first volume, Groot sacrificed himself to save his friends, and Rocket replanted a small piece of Groot in the hopes that he would grow anew. And grow he did! Into a fun little dancing Baby Groot that made us all giggle through the credits. In this vein comes the new Dancing Groot toy. This 11.5″ electronic figure lights up and dances to clips of music from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. You can also play your own music for Groot to dance to, as it can detect external sounds. Requires 3 AA batteries, included. Available for $34.99 at most major retailers and at

Can’t get enough space adventure? Maybe it’s sequels (and prequals?) you are crazy for. You and your children can act out your favorite scenes from Rouge One with the new Rouge One: A Star Wars Story Jedha Revolt 4 Pack. You can also create your own adventures or have the figures mix and mingle with other action figures you might have- the possibilities for little (or not so little) fans, of course, are endless. This pack comes with Jyn Erso, Saw Gerrera, Imerial Hovertank Pilot, and Edrio Two Tubes, as well as 5 additional accessories. Available for $24.99 at most major retailers and on Other figures available.

If your child is ready to come back to Earth, and has a more realistic playmate in mind, consider taking a look at Furreal Kami, My Poopin’ Kitty. Yes, you totally read that right. That’s the real name. The past few years, toys that poop have been a thing, and Kami is one of the latest. Why do kids think poop is funny? Ask their dads, they still do, too.  Furreal Kami is more then just her poop, however. She has many fun and funny moments, and behaves like a realistic kitty as well. You can feed her treats and even take her for a walk- much unlike most cats, but I guess they wanted to incorporate dog-like awesomeness as well. She also sits, and when you pull back on the leash, that is usually when she leaves her deposits. She even comes with her own clean up bag. Really. No litterpan? It’s a cat-dog hybrid, for sure. Available for $24.99 at most major retailers and on, requires 2 AAA batteries, not included.

Candy Free Easter Baskets

With Easter around the corner, you are likely starting to gather items for your children’s baskets. You probably don’t want to fill them with candy, and might be looking for other small items to put inside. Here are a few toys we think are a great fit.

Are your children fans of Super Wings? The new Super Wings Vroom ‘n Zoom are great for pre-k and toddler aged kids, they push to rev up, then release them to speed away.  Jett and friends available, $5.99.  Also available are the Super Wings Transform-a-Bots four Pack. These planes can transform from planes to robots in just three easy steps, each slightly differently, since they are shaped uniquely. Transform-a-bots let your kids recreate favorite scenes from the Super Wings TV show or imagine whole new helpful deliveries. $11.99

super wings toys
PJ Masks, another show for young kids, makes similar cars. PJ Masks Mini Vehicles feature your favorite heroes from the hit show.  You can get Catboy in his Cat-Car, Gekko in his Gekko-Mobile, and Owlette in her Owl Glider. Each car is $6.99 at stores like Walmart and Toys R Us. The cars are a good size for small hands, and are easy to push and roll around.

Madballs are great for slightly older kids, and even tweens. They are fun, gross, and collectable. Millennials and kids born around that time might remember them- they were first out in 1985 (so dad will likely get a huge kick out of them as well).  Icky faces made of foam that are also great to throw, hit, bounce, etc- everything you’d do with any other ball, but these are “way more better” since they have gruesome features.  They come in the classic 3 inch (typical ball-ish size) and mini blind bags. Six Madballs characters are currently available: Dustbrain, Horn Head, Oculus Orbus, Screamin’ Meemie, Skull Face, and Slobulus. $7.99 each, $2.99 for the mini blind bags.

no candy Easter Basket

If you want to take the fun outside, check out Bunch O Balloons. These are like classic water balloons, except you can fill AND tie 100 of them in less than one minute. Really. These balloons not only fill quuickly, but are self tying. If you ask me, that’s alwyas the worst part, the tying.  Just connect the ballons bunch to your hose or sink, and fill them up- done. The balloons are also biodegradable, so if you miss a few pieces when picking up after yourself, at least it’s safer. OK, maybe that’s the best part. We love these, it’s hard to pick a best part. Oh wait- did I mention they now come in “Minion” form? Yes! SO much fun. You and the kids will have a blast with Bunch O Balloon warfare. $9.99

You can also get the portable Bunch O Balloons Filler/Soaker to take with you on the go. Wherever you want to take your water balloon fight you can. No need for a hose, just put the balloons on the front nozzle, put the filler into a pool, bucket of water, any body of water, and fill it. It also doubles as a water gun, huzzah for double use!  It is $14.99 for the Filler/Soaker and 3 bunches of included Bunch O Balloons.

Animal Jams are adorable toy pets that you “adopt”. After you open your new friend, you can also activate them online on the Animal Jams website.  The site helps you keep track of your collection as well as unlock special online accessories and play games. Kids can also learn about plants and animals, but we recommend parents monitor all chat on the site to be safe. There are all sorts of options, ranging from blind packs, pets that come with their own pet (really), playsets, and more. They are a great size for an Easter basket, and quite a few of them are even “Easter Egg” sized. Just right! Prices vary per product. Available in many stores as well as online at places like Amazon.

animal stickbots

To add more animal fun to your Easter basket, a personal favorite of ours, Stickbot, now introduces Stickbot Pets. These are so much fun and let your child be so imaginative, we can’t say enough good things about Stickbots. They are inexpensive, nearly impossible to break, teach your child technological and creative skills like photo and video editing, and inspire hours of fun. With the addition of pets (including not-so-pet-like animals like gorillas and pandas) your Stickbots and Pets can have more companionship on their adventures. Who knows where they will end up? Let your kids find out. Love. These. About $5 each in stores like Target.

2017 Toy Trends #NYTF

Every year at about this time, every toy, game, collectible, indoor or outdoor plaything (and more) is brought to make it’s debut at the New York Toy Fair. We go to see what is new, what’s up and coming, to see what is still holding our attention and what are up and coming toy trends. This year, we’ve noticed a few repeats, as well as some interesting new products we think you will be seeing a lot of.

Toys from last year, updated w new shineys. Some of your favorite toys from last year are back again and remade for 2017 with new bells and whistles, or upgraded and updated. As we all know, sometimes the first iteration doesn’t always turn out exactly right. Try, try again- and some of the differences are fantastic.

What’s old is new again- retro is still in, and back in style. The toys of yesteryear looking just as they did when we were kids (or grandma and grandpa were) made for our kids. Only, you know- safer then they were, in some cases.

Custom built. Kids these days. The “Me” generation, the “selfie” generation- they want to express themselves, and so they will. So many toys, apps, even electronics are customizable or can be personalized. Not just with a name or initials, added, either- kids can really make toys their own right now, to varying degrees.

Food decorating toys, or toys that come in the shape of foods. From dolls to teddy bears to real food decorating kits to jewelry- our eyes are bigger then our stomachs this year, and thank goodness. Between the success of toys like Shopkins and TV shows like MasterChef Jr and Man vs Child, kids are allowed and even encouraged to play with their food. You can make your own foodie toys and designs to wear, or snuggle up with your favorite muffin or cake at night. Some scented, some not so much. With or without glitter- and don’t eat the bears.

Everybody wants to be a Pinterest star- the kids are getting in on it with all the DIY kits that help them lean to make bath bombs, loom kits, sewing, jewelry making, and more. These are NOT the kits that we had when we were kids, that our moms would wear in front of us because they loved us or displayed just because their child made them- they look like things Martha Stewert would have in her magazine, but easy enough for kids to do them. Trust me- I tried a few, and if I could handle it, any 9 year old can. No skills here, sorry folks. My kids outpace me in this aspect easily, so this is honesty talking to you right here.

Everything gets a tail- dolls, foods, your tablet- and if it already had a tail (like, say, a cat) it will get a different one. Usually a mermaid or shark tail replacement. What cat WOULD’T love an ocean swim, amiright? Get yourself and the kiddos one as well with tubes, sleeping bags, and/or sewing kits. People get tails too, equal rights after all.

To continue with the adult coloring- and yes, we are going to- add also to that adult plus kid inter-coloring. I don’t care if that’s not a word, it’s a “thing”. Bigger books or larger sheets that parents and kids can do together, or multiple kids at once. Sharing is caring, after all. This is more involved coloring. Get out the glitter markers.

Coding also continues, and expands. There are apps abound, more toys then we could see in 4 days, more in depth coding as well as pre-coding or games for kids as young as 18 months. Might as well get out in front of this one, and these toys and apps make learning coding fun and easier. I wish I had them when I was younger, I’m a mess. Again, the kids will outpace me any day now. Perhaps I can start myself with some of the “coding light” options.

Underwater/mermaids/sea creatures are everywhere.  Stuffed animals, art kits, every kind of toy. Apparently, we all want to live under the sea. Life on land has gotten far too complicated.

Narhwahls. These sea creatures (see above) just keep swimming into our hearts and minds, as well as onto shelves of toy stores near you. They are coming. In droves. Known as the “unicorn of the sea”, narwhals are pale-colored porpoises that swim in Arctic waters. The coolest thing about them, besides the water they swim in, is the ivory tusk (actually a tooth) that grows through it’s lip. Alas, what makes it awesome also makes it hunted- it’s hard to be amazing. People can’t deal with coolness, they get jealous. Pale shades aside, these come in all colors and toy options. Especially redonkulas ones.

VR headsets/games/apps. Nearly every science brand has one, and some other what I will refer to as “super brands” as well. You buy the VR (virtual reality) headset, and the app is usually free with that purchase. Experience dinosaurs, racecars, underwater sea swimming (ahem) and more. Some drones also come with headset options so you can see what your drone is doing in real time as if you were flying on it. Very cool.

VR headset

Blind packs continue to be a big deal- most brands have them, hope you are lucky enough to get all the cool stuff and stop getting all the random doubles that are in those bags because you are looking for the elusive whatdoyoucallit!!! From LEGOs (in a million varieties) to TsumTsum to CareBears to YoKai Watch disks and everything in between- everyone has a blind bag for you. Yeah, these aren’t going away, sorry mom and dad- but at least they aren’t expensive.

More racial diversity, features, disabilities are being represented in toys this year. Huzzah for humanity! Different skin tones, features (not just putting darker skin on a doll, etc), crutches, hair textures, and more are rolling out bit by bit- even very “traditional” companies are starting to be more inclusive, and we are excited to see that. Some (very few) even have dolls of different weights and chest sizes-  girls have enough pressure on them, it’s nice to see some more realistic options presented to them. Also, empowerment messaging on and in the packaging, as well as more women and people of color involved in the process then in the past. Again, a huzzah, and moving in the right direction.

Keychains/backpack hangers continue to be huge. I can’t even see backpack under all the fluffy stuffs- if you can, you won’t be able to for long. Here comes the deluge!

Escape the room toys and games continues to be a theme, just like the real life experiences one can have when you and your friends and family try to beat the clock and get out of a sticky situation. Card games in the “Clue” tradition, as well as some new ones that involve (play, plastic, not at all scary) handcuffs and timers to escape (and along this line of thought) join the mix. Fun for all ages- really.

Magic kits. There were a lot of them this year, and more options. I’ve never seen so many- so maybe The Carbonaro Effect is effective magic marketing.  Things that make you go “hmmmm”…..

minion toys

Toys with toilets. Everyone and everything has to go- even the Minions. From the largest, most mass produced brands to the smallest and most new to the market, potty humor is the thing.  Again. There is even a game where the loser is sprayed with (pretend) toilet water.  So, hit the bathroom, guys.

Drones with camera to phone capabilities/live video and gps. The drones have expanded this year- both in quantity and quality. So many more available, by your favorite brands as well as more adding them to their lines, and some newcomers.  However, some of these are so advanced I wonder how long that News Helicopter will really be necessary- some of these are insanely skilled. From still your kids can’t break to stuff teens and adults will have fun racing, there is a drone for everyone at every price range.