Review: Little Kids TMNT Splash Out Ball

During the summer, we can’t get enough of outdoor play.  Some days, we’re outside and in the water from the minute we wake up to the minute we go to bed.

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On that end, outdoor toys get much play time.  We love sports, bubbles, biking and truly, anything that has to do with water.  I loved learning that Little Kids’ has a fun selection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys, but I was immediately drawn to their cool water toy, the Splash Out Ball.

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Just as it sounds, the Splash Out Ball is a ball that can be used with water play.  Just fill the ball with water, either manually or by submerging, and then close the cap.  Toss the ball back and forth, like you would in a game of hot potato.  When time runs out, someone gets splashed when the chamber pops open.  

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The Splash Out Ball is so easy and perfect for the pool or beach.  It’s like playing with a water balloon without the mess of balloon remnants.  A caveat of this game is that it can be hard for the younger ones to fill so that it’s full enough to pop open…and of course, when it pops open too early and all over you!

TTPM Highlights Top Trends and Best in Play at Spring and Summer Showcase

It may feel like we were just unwrapping Christmas gifts, but thankfully, after the longest winter ever, we can finally focus on spring and summer.  And with a new season comes more new toys!

 

 Last week, TTPM highlighted the key top trends and best in play at their annual spring and summer showcase. Time to Play Mag, which has expanded and officially rebranded to TTPM, is the same juggernaut and resource for reviews on playthings and beyond.  

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The TTPM editors pinpointed three trends that will contribute to the popularity of toys this summer, including: bigger blockbuster movie lineup, innovative outdoor toys and breakout hits.  

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The movies that are expected amp up toy sales include Transformers: Age of Extinction, Disney Planes: Fire and Rescue, Godzilla, and The Amazing Spider- Man 2.  We’re hardcore Spider-Man fans, so our house alone may contribute to this increase in sales.  Untitled

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Innovative outdoor toys such as automated bubble blowers, our favorite: the bike bubbler and Grab n’ Go Chalk Games are just a few of the many toys that are sure to keep the kids entertained for hours.  There are so many fantastic breakout hits, but Paw Patrol, Lego Movie, The Happy’s and not surprisingly, Frozen take top honors in this category.

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There were quite a few standouts for spring and summer toys in the showcase.  Ride-on toys such as Razor’s Power Ride 360 and the Kawasaki TMNT 4-wheelers made it on to the hot list.  Personally, Hasbro’s Spider-Man toys and TMNT Combat-a-Bubbles are on our current list of must-haves.

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I have tons of photos to share from the event which I’ll include within this post.  I also did a gifting suite haul, something I had fun doing with my older son. 

Attending the TTPT showcases is always a highlight of the season for me, but getting to test out the toys via the gifting suite is a true highlight for the whole family.  So, many thanks to the companies who participate in the gifting suite. 

 

Great Spring Toys and Gear

Spring is finally in full swing.  Even though it’s still chilly, we’re resisting the cold.  It’s pretty safe to say that we officially have spring fever.

And with spring fever, there’s plenty of fun new toys and play things to get excited about this Spring.

 

With that in mind, I thought I’d round up some cool new toys and products to get you excited for spring and the prospect of the kids playing outdoors until the street lights come on.

 

 

 

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Crayola Grab & Go Games

 

Chalk Grab  N Go Games  Foot Hockey 

Crayola’s new Grab & Go Games is one of my favorites this seasons.  The kit includes chalk and accessories needed to play an outdoor game such as bean bag toss, foot hockey, chip shot golf and an obstacle course.  These are games we’ve been playing for years, but Crayola, as always, has the foresight to conveniently package these games for easy outdoor play. Grab & Go

Games retails for about $4.99

 

 

Tricksters Helmets

Tricksters Helmets are a line of plush helmets from the makers of Pillow Pets. TrickstersHelmets

The helmets, themselves, are the hard, protective kind that can be used for bike riding, scootering and beyond, but what makes Tricksters different is the plush exterior. 

 They can be found at www.trickstershelmets.com or at select specialty retailers.The Trickster Helmets come in five different styles: Rainbow Bear, Flower Power Cat, Lulu Leopard, Comfy Pandy and Snuggly Puppy. PTRU1 17074604enh z6

YBike GLX Pro

This 3-wheeled scooter features an adjustable handle and super-efficient foot brake.  The sleek design and compact frame set this scooter apart from other well known brands.  What I like most about this scooter is that my 2 year old can use the scooter in the handlebar’s lowest position and my oldest can glide across the street in one of the middle settings.  The YBike GLX pro is a scooter that will go and grow with the kids! A more thorough review to come!  California New Dessus copy

California Maverix

This remote controlled board takes street skating to a whole new level.  Geared to older kids and more experienced skate enthusiasts, the California model was designed to be light weight and has a variety of speed variations. Equipped with a wireless remote control the 3 positions (Beginner / Medium / Expert) and brake are all powered by a simple movement of the trigger! It has a power motor 150W and max weight 100lbs  

Brer Rabbit Golf Set

Golf Set copyBrer Rabbit Toy’s Golf Bag is a fun beginner set for wanna-be golfers.  It comes with three toy golf clubs, two tees, two holes, two numbered flags and five toy golf balls.  It’s ideal for preschoolers who are interested in putting, but not quite ready for the driving range.  It’s just hitting shelves now and retails for about $16.99 633812 toddler dome climber xalt1

Little Tikes Tunnel N Dome Climber

Little Tikes new dome-shaped climber channels play structures of yesterday.  It features various sized holes to accommodate those who need easy or challenging climbing play.  The hiding spots, too, would make for great preschool play. I love that this outdoor toy provides endless play patterns for younger kids and beyond.  The Tunnel N Dome Climber retails for $149.99 

NERF BASH BALL A4832 copyNerf N-Sports Bash Ball

Resembling a Nerf-textured O-ball, the Bash Ball has a cool hollowed Nerf foam core with grip-able holes.  The holes gives kids a better grip to pass, fling, whip or whatever!  This ball is one of our absolute favorite toys right now.  It’s been fun for both my bigger boy and my littler guy; and an absolutely ideal toy for OT and PT.  This is such a cool innovation, I’m excited to check out even more NERF N-Sports gear!   

 

NERF Rebelle Star Shot Target Set and Crossbow 

D603819650569047F564AD06CF256798The super popular Nerf Rebelle line is unveiling several more products to their lineup. The Star Shot Target Set and Crossbow is among the new products, and will help make target practice even easier with the red laser light that helps to pinpoint the target.  The Star Shot target set includes a crossbow, large size target and comes with 6 suction cup darts.NERF Rebelle Star Shot Target Set and Crossbow    P36353 0M 1

Gazillion Bubbles Typhon 2.0

When old fashioned bubbles just aren’t enough: you can create a gazillion bubbles instantly with the Gazillion Bubbles Typhoon 2.0.  There’s no  pump and or wait time, just massive amounts of bubbles with this fun contraption.. In fact, this bubble fountain blows more than 5,000 bubbles per minute. 

 

Five Things the Mets Have Taught Us

In light of the most recent cheating scandal involving a different baseball team across town, I thought I’d highlight the FIVE most important things that the Mets have taught us.

 

Sometimes, it’s not about winning, but learning to lose gracefully.

One of the first things my husband, a life-long Mets fan, ever told me when I crossed the Mets’ fan threshold: the Mets are a team who play with their hearts, but be forewarned that your heart, too, may get a little broken too.  Off the top of my head, 2001 and 2007, my heart got a little roughed up.  But on the upside, my heart as grown to see my boys now included as we make new Mets traditions and memories.  It’s true, we might now win every single game, but that’s not what baseball is to us, anyway.  You win some, you lose some, and for us, it’s important that our guys learn it from a team of class acts.

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Teamwork is for winners

One of life’s lessons is definitely that teamwork makes life a little smoother.  And so, understanding baseball and how each position supports each teammate is a great way to reinforce that teamwork is for winners.  A pitcher communicates with his catcher and the infield works with the outfield; at the end of the day, it’s how the players work together that underscore their strength.

 

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America’s pastime is also our quality family time

If there’s one thing I love about spring and summer: it’s spending time with my guys watching baseball.  The fact that we get to go to Citi Field every now and then is an absolute treat.  Every other day, though, we’re perfectly content watching baseball at home together!  

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Even a hometown guy can be Captain America

Virginia Beach, which is in Hampton Roads, is our hometown.  We grew up watching many AAA players when they’d play with the Tides.  But it’s David Wright who is one of our hometown guys with whom we have a loyal allegiance.  We’ve watched him flourish as a professional ball player in our new hometown in NY and love to cheer him on every chance we get.

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It’s all about the Peanuts and Cracker Jacks

Ok, so we all like to eat.  When we go to baseball games, we absolutely LOVE indulging in snacks, especially the typical baseball treats: peanuts and Cracker Jacks. It’s like a rite of passage eating and watching the game.  They even have a whole stretch and song devoted to it!  Lucky us, Citi Field has quite a few delicious treats and shops to choose from.

 

 

 

Moms and Families Day

Does your family love watching the Mets as much as we do?  Don’t forget about the Moms and Families Day on Sunday, April 27 at 1:10.  There’s a meet and greet with Mr. Met pre-grame, too!  The package includes a game ticket, hot dog & drink, a Mets lanyard & ticket holder and an exclusive meet-and-greet with Mr. Met!

 

 

Toy Fair 2014: The Year of the Hedgehog

For the past few years, there seems to be a few popular themes or animals throughout exhibitors’ booths at Toy Fair. Whether reflecting popular shows, songs or designs, without fail, there’s always a cool new creature that makes the rounds at the show and then all over baby in kid products. A few years ago, the owl ran rampant, followed by the fox and other animals. This year, I noticed that the hedgehog was trending all over Javits.

Be on the lookout for these cool new products featuring the fuzzy face of the hedgehog:

 

Skip Hop

One of my absolute favorite hedgehog interpretations appeared on a Skip Hop Lunchie. That sweet face, combined with the cool color combo of teal and red, will, no doubt, make for another popular extension of Skip Hop’s versatile lunch packs. I didn’t get word on when it will be released, but my guess is probably before the push for next school year.

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Prince Lionheart

Another interpretation of the hedgehog was found on Prince Lionheart’s classic Wheely Bug. The wooden toddler ride-on toy has been seen in ladybug and bumblebee varieties, so this plush version made my head turn. The softness of the hedgehog is a fun take on this popular toy and easily the cutest ride-on toy at the show. The hedgehog Wheely Bugis already out and can be found at retailers such as Yoyo.com and Amazon.com

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Hape

Another adorable hedgehog themed toy was found at Hape’s booth in the form of a Walk-a-long Toy. This toddler totable toy touted Hape’s beautiful wooden construction and kid-safe paints. It looks like it comes in a big and small size, with plenty of cuteness to go around. My friends and fellow trendspotters over at Popsugar Moms were just as smitten with this Hape hedgehog.

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Tomy and Sonic Boom
I have much more information on what’s up and coming for Sonic, but as a quick preface, the Blue Blur has an upcoming new show, Sonic Boom, and Tomy has been named as the master toy licensee.  Be on the lookout for Sonic plush, action figures, RC, role play, vehicles and novelty based on the re-imagined Sonic the Hedgehog.

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Safari Ltd.
After ogling at all the cute hedgehogs, leave it to Safari Ltd. to bring me back down to earth with their life-life figure of a hedgehog.  Safari Ltd., known for their Toobs and educational figures, has a hedgehog in their Incredible Creatures collection, which is the largest figures in any set.

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NKT Gift Guide: Best Toys for Boys

There are so many fantastic toys out there for boys, and since my older son is at the sweet spot for big boy toys, I thought I’d round out his absolute favorites of the season.

My older son, whom I often refer to as Biggie or just ‘J’, has been tagging along with me to media and blogger events since he was just a year old.  He’s always had quite discernible taste, but as he’s gotten older, in terms of the next big thing in kid stuff, he’s truly seen it all.  Every November, when we open the Big Box stores’ toy circular, he circles less, if anything, and instead, offers his personal opinions on the toy manufacturer’s latest wares.

We had grand plans of having him do videos of the below toys, but life got in the way. Nevertheless, here’s a round up of really awesome goodies, gear and gadgets that my blogger’s kid really appreciates with my annotations :

1.  Skylander’s Swap Force

After much anticipation about this mega-successful franchise, J’s first impression of Swap Force was that it has a “new Chompy.”  That wasn’t exactly the reaction I was expecting, but nonetheless, we’ve enjoyed exploring Skylands even further with Swap Force.
The ability to swap characters’ bottom halves to determine how they move and interchange tops which determines how they fight.  The interchangeability makes gameplay possibilities practically limitless.

2. Lego Marvel Superheroes

This game is by far the most played game at our house.  My husband and son co-play video games, so playing a game with every (Marvel) superhero imaginable is beyond addictive for our house.  Combine the love with superheroes and Lego and you have Lego Marvel Superheroes, which is perhaps, our most favorite game of the year.  The story lines, graphics, superhero theme are just a few of the many elements that keep my guys engaged for hours.  True story: I know that a game is really good if my husband continues to play after my son goes to bed.

3. Angry Birds Go! Telepods Pig Rock Raceway Set

I’ve said it for years, but one of the smartest things for toy manufacturers to stay relevant in this ever-evolving digital world, is to coexist.  Hasbro is proving just that with their Teleport series of games, including their latest Angry Birds Go! Teleport game.  Angry Birds Go! is the latest version of the uber popular app that features those pesky pigs and titular Angry Birds, but this time, they’re racing.  The Angry Birds Go! Teleport Game allows players to race with tactile play and a physical race track, but also use the game figures to teleport into the app via front-facing camera on a smart phone or tablet.

4.  Rainbow Loom

Rainbow Loom, created by a dad of young girls who wanted to make rubber band bracelet creation easier, is rightfully up for one of the Toys of the Year.  This sensation is an old skill that’s making waves.  The Rainbow Loom is engaging both boys and girls, and giving them time to disconnect, stay focused on the task at hand while using their creativity, math skills and often times, encouraging charitable giving with completed bracelets and other creations.  What’s NOT to love about this fantastic toy?

Loom Boom is a holder and display fixture in the shape of a boom.  This simple structure was created by a young NJ boy who fulfilled a need to display creations.  The Loom Boom is proof that the Rainbow Loom and its creations fosters imagination and ingenuity. The Loom Boom comes in a variety of colors and can be found at TRU.  Support small business and USA-made products by grabbing a Loom Boom for stockings.

5.  TenKai Knights

Introduced to this shapeshifting Ionix building set from Spinmaster at the recent Kidz Vuz event, J loves how the ninja warrior aspect meets building with your hands.  This is a brand new toy that’s based on a series, so I’m excited to learn more about Tenkai Knights soon.

6. Kreo Cityville Invasion

Another amazing building set, Kreo’s Cityville Invasion brings monsters, zombies and more to “life.”  The cool monster theme keeps J engaged in this version of Kreo.

7. Crayola Crayons and Markers

Screentime during the week is extremely limited.  Depending on how much reading and homework is done, J gets less than an hour of screen time.  And in these cold winter months when we don’t have a sport during the week, we have to fill that downtime with something.  J creates murals and masterpieces almost daily with his Crayola art supplies.  Each cool drawing makes my heart grow even bigger.

8.  Minions

Those little yellow dudes have captured America’s hearts—well, with the littler guys anyway. J cracks up at these guys’ gibberish and silly shenanigans.  Thinkway Toys’ Dave, which can be found at Toys R Us, is truly one of the coolest interactive toys on the shelves today. This toy says upwards to 50 phrases and makes us laugh effortlessly. Looking for a last minute add-on gift?  Download Minion Rush for the kids.  My guys is obsessed with Minions!

9.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

There’s so much to love about TMNT, that it’s hard to narrow it down for J.  I just love that this franchise is almost as popular as it was when I was a kid!  The Nickelodeon series heightened the popularity of this throwback brand, it’s no surprise the toys are super hot sellers, too. From the lair to the RC Subway Car to the role playing gear, TMNT is taking over our Christmas gifts.

10.  Zoomer

I was smitten by Zoomer at Toy Fair this year.  Zoomer was one of the most memorable toys that I knew would be a hit this holiday season.  Zoomer is a robotic dog, who is ideal for those families who can’t have a real dog, or just aren’t ready.  Zoomer has quite the character and can be trained to learn commands.  He sings, “runs,” rolls over, goes to sleep, among other tricks.  J’s favorite trick:  having him pee.  What’s so fantastic about Zoomer is that he is popular with both the big kid and with the toddler.  Even more?  Zoomer has an app where you can learn different commands.  Zoomer, another favorite for Toy of the Year, is, no doubt, one of my personal favorites as well.

Activision Family Game Summit Makes Family Connection

A few weeks ago, Activision, the video game powerhouse, invited us to their annual Family Game Summit.  Held at the Metropolitan Pavilion, this year’s theme focused on connecting through video games.

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Sure, family time should transcend screen time, but Activision presented a solid case on how and why video games often connect family, regardless of age or interest.  This year’s celeb guest host was Korie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame.  She talked briefly about how their family connects, and her thoughts on the business, among other things.

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As usual, I found the stats to be the most interesting part of the event.  I learned a few key takeaways, including:

  • Fun means different things for everyone
  • Free doesn’t always mean free
  • Actively manage your online parental controls
  • Your kids’ friends lists are not always friends
  • Check your kids’ profiles for publicly facing information

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And, of course a Family Game Summit wouldn’t be a summit without a showcase of the latest new games.  Just in time for the holidays, Activision spotlighted just a few titles that are all about family fun. The titles featured at the event were:

Angry Birds Star Wars, Wipeout Create and Crash, Transformers Ultimate Battle Edition and Ultimate Autobots Edition, Skylanders Swapforce, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Moshi Monsters Katsuma Unleashed and SpongeBob Square Pants Plankton’s Robotic Revenge

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Our most favorite of the lineup is, of course, Skylanders Swapforce.  As diehard Skylanders fans, this franchise continues to keep the family gaming going.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Angry Birds are also fun games that require patience and strategy.  I’ll post separate reviews for the aforementioned, so check it out soon.

As with previous Activision Family Game Summits, we were able to bring kids.  My boys had a blast in the kid zone playing with new friends, coloring and going crazy.  A definite highlight though, was schmoozing with TMNT and Sponge Bob! I mean!

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Once again, Activision outdid themselves with a lovely and informative event promoting co-playing and family bonding over video games.  Of course, as with everything, moderation is key, so don’t go playing video games all day and night.

Thanks to Activion and the other sponsors, we were sent home with a very generous gift bag with samples and other branded material.  I love that Amazon also had a presence there, and I learned all about Amazon Prime and got to know their latest Kindle a little better.

All in all, it was yet another lovely event, where I learned interesting information about family time and video games!

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Full disclosure:  Activision provided us with a gift bag  As always, all opinions are my own.

Mondo DuckTales Posters are Throwback Awesomeness

If you were a kid of the 90s, or knew someone that was, then perhaps the classic Disney cartoon DuckTales has some significance.  My younger brother who is 6 years younger than me, watched a whole different set of shows as a kid, including DuckTales, that crazy cartoon about Scrooge and those mischievous nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie.  My brother watched that show for years, and until recently, I haven’t thought about those fun characters.

On the heels of the newly released DuckTales: Remastered video game, Disney.com’s blog Oh My Disney collaborated with pop-culture art gallery Mondo to create a limited edition DuckTales poster series.

Even though my kids don’t know who these guys are, I’m tempted to buy a few of them for their playroom.  So fun!  Check out MondoTees.com to snatch these posters up.

Last Minute Easter Basket Gift Ideas

Easter may be tomorrow, but in case you’re still looking for basket-filling ideas, we have some fun suggestions. Since we’ve been busy checking out Spring toys and new releases, we haven’t had a chance to fully complete our reviews. I thought we’d highlight just a few cool things that would be a perfect addition to your baskets.

While Easter remains a religious holiday for many families, those with young kids know it’s fun to indulge in Bunny stuff. To me, beyond jelly beans and chocolate bunnies, Easter basket stuffers are meant to be small trinkets that fit in the basket, as opposed to another excuse to go toy-crazy. So, lucky us, there are tons of non-candy goodies that will make every ‘bunny’ happy.

Games
Card games, travel games, video games and apps are a given when thinking of gift ideas for older kids. A few games that we’re currently loving: Skylanders Giants, Brave Digital Book app, Super Animal Genius for LeapPad and Twister Rave Ringz.
Skylanders Giants continues to dominate our house. I’ll have more details on these guys soon, but Crusher and Stump Smash are my guys’ favorites right now.
Brave Storybook Deluxe app from Disney Digital is one of our favorite apps at the moment. This app lets Merida fans read or play along with a variety of Brave-inspired games. I love Merida’s Challenge which give us a chance to sharpen archery skills in between practicing our reading skills. The option that allows you to record your own voice reading, makes this app a must for new readers and Merida fans alike.
Super Animal Genius for LeapPad is another fun game appropriate for grade schoolers. This game challenges kids to learn fun facts about animals while keeping it light. This game from Scholastic allows kids to explore different regions and the animals that live there. I love the way this game engages kids through playing eye-catching games as it educates.
Twister Rave Ringz is a new take on movement and clapping games. With these light up rings, players can change colors of the rings by clapping, moving and twisting. You can play solo or with friends, at home or on the go. We actually brought these along for our nighttime roadtrip, which made things quite interesting. Perfect for tweens, but also for grade schoolers with coordination, Twister Rave Ringz is a fun and almost addictive!

Baby
For baby, I books, especially the ones found in the Target Dollar Spot, are my favorite stuffers. Baby can never have enough board books, especially for the most voracious, slobbery reader.
Annie’s Bunnies always find their way into our
Buycostumes.com has a slew of fun costumes that are available all year, but we actually had the chance to check out this fun bunny costume for baby. I’ll be sure to share pictures of our baby bunny, but in case you need ideas for spring baby photos, be sure to check out Buycostumes.com. Baby bunny will be in our guy’s Easter basket tomorrow! He has no idea what’s coming.

NKT Faves: Bot Shots, Chan and Skylanders Cloud Patrol

As usual, so much has been going on around here.  Even though I haven’t been updating as frequent as I like, I’m always updating Twitter, Facebook and my current obsession (and everyone else’s,) Instagram.

My current Instagram obsession made me think about the other obsessions we have going on in our house.  My Four year old is at that stage in life where he clings onto things incessantly.  And the fact that I review kid products means that his obsessions change with every new package we receive, or so it seems.

So, I thought I’d try to update weekly on what are our new favorites.  It will most likely be a random sampling of things, but all fun finds nonetheless.

1. Transformer Bot Shots

These Bot Shots from Hasbro can be cataloged in a few different ways:  they’re collectible, have a battle aspect and they transform.  They’re small in size, which makes them perfect for young school-aged kids and maybe even preschoolers.  The fact that they’re Transformers adds to the cool factor.  When in battle mode, players can push, then crash into their opponent, and then the Bot Shot automatically transforms.  I can’t tell you how many battles we’ve had with our guys.

I love the low price point for these toys, almost as much as I love the fun play pattern.  It’s competitive, yet creative and all around fun, especially for Transformers fans.

2.  Chan, Pie and Gnon Teethers

I’ve had a lot of baby on the brain as of late, and baby toys are no exception.  I’ve talked a lot of Sophie the Giraffe, but I’m so excited that the makers of Sophie have friends for this famous giraffe.  Chan, Pie and Gnon are rubber, just like Sophie.  These little mushroom-looking characters are easy to grab and even have a squeaker toy inside.  As my baby learns to grasp things, it’s so cute to hear that little squeaker squeak.

3.  Skylanders Cloud Patrol

The uber popular video game franchise is already a hit on the web and on consoles, and now, it’s available on mobile platforms.  Our whole family loves playing Skylanders, so naturally, Cloud Patrol was an instant hit for all of us.  Cloud Patrol has a combination of mini-missions and shooting adventures, which are all easy to play on a touch-pad devices.  The colors and characters are just as vibrant as the other game platforms, and quite honestly just as addicting.  Activision is getting it right with the multi-platform interactivity.  I love the way you can engage characters you already own, just by inputting the number they came with.  Skylanders Cloud Patrol is a game that will be along with many of our roadtrips and train rides this summer.