Ice Age: Collision Course is a Fun Family Film

In the latest installment in the Ice Age franchise, Manny and crew are back for more fun in Ice Age: Collision Course. In the latest film, Manny (Ray Romano) and Ellie’s (Queen Latifah) daughter, Peaches (Keke Palmer) is approaching a new phase in life. Peaches, who is getting married, hopes to explore the world with her new husband, Julian—much to her parents’ chagrin. IceAgeCC Poster

Alongside of this new phase in life, the Earth is experiencing its own changes, where Manny and his friends must team up to make things right. Along the way, they meet eccentric characters, such as Shangri Llama, who follow a different path in life, making this adventure even more colorful.

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Several weeks ago, I had the chance to screen Ice Age: Collision Course and interview Keke Palmer, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, as well as the director Mike Thurmeier. This was such a fun junket at the Crosby Hotel, and an equally funny family film that I can’t wait for my kiddos to see.

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I asked Keke and Jesse about their experience with exploring and roaming, and I loved what they had to say.

Traveling and roaming, exploration was a key component in this story, and it’s obviously a right of passage in many peoples’ lives. Have any of you taken any significant trips in your life that were, you know, life changing?

Keke said, “Significant trips? Probably when I was living in New York for the four months doing Broadway. That was the most significant change I could tell in myself because I’m so thankful that I used that time wisely because it really left me the opportunity to learn so much about myself. I used the opportunity of the discipline I had to have for Broadway to take time from my phone and to really sit with myself and discover more ways to meditate and do yoga. And that was a really cool time for me. Even though my mom was there, she really gave me my space, and she and I were transitioning into, you know, her seeing me also as an adult and respecting my boundaries. And that was a really cool time where I was able to see, “Wow, okay, you’re making a jump, sister.”

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Jesse Tyler Ferguson had a wonderful anecdote about traveling too:

“I just got to go to Cuba, which was really, really interesting. And you sort of have to go with a purpose, which I love. It wasn’t a trip for the weak of heart. We went, and we brought Capezio dance shoes to a dance troupe out there, and they performed for us. And I was able to immerse myself in the artists that were in the culture there. And we weren’t just having mojitos and smoking cigars. You know, we really got to like experience and see the parts of the city that I think are, you know, not shown on Instagram and Yelp.”

Be sure to check out the brand new adventure in Ice Age: Collision Course, which is out in theaters on July 22.

Full disclosure: I was invited by 20th Century Fox to participate in this press junket. As always, all opinions are my own.

The Secret Life of Pets is a Fun Ride with Furry, Fluffy and Feathered Friends

Every now and then, a movie comes along that brings together a star-studded cast to deliver a funny and feel-good story while truly living up to its hype—and The Secret Life of Pets does just that!

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The Secret Life of Pets, from Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures, is an imaginative and hilarious portrayal of city pets that shows what happens when unlikely characters work together and find the value of friendship and loyalty in the process. Max, the terrier, is well-loved by his owner and embraces the life of a solo pet. That is, until his owner, Katie, introduces an oversized upheaval to the home: Duke the Newfoundland.

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The newly-minted frenemies, Max and Duke, as well as their fluffy, furry and feathered band of domesticated friends find themselves in quite a storied predicament that leads to them exploring the city streets and navigating the underbelly of the city where the “flushed” animals go to live. On their adventure, Max and Duke meet stray cats, a psychotic bunny, Tattoo the pig, among other colorful characters.

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The Secret Life of Pets is a great mix of silly antics and clever comedy, which appeals to both kids and parents. Surprisingly, the music complemented the story well, between the composed poodle headbanging to System of a Down, classic songs weaved throughout and Basement Jaxx’s Do Your Thing from the trailer. Semi-spoiler: my older son squealed when he realized the song during the sausage factory scene. Grease fans will appreciate it!

My kids, who are 4 and 8, both enjoyed the film from start to finish and continually quote it every time there’s a relevant reference.  While drinking milk: “Chug, chug, chug…” Their favorite parts of The Secret Life of Pets revolve around pooping and the dogs drinking (chugging) out of the toilet. Naturally.

 

 

A photo posted by Jen Rabulan-Bertram (@jenrab) onJun 23, 2016 at 8:04pm PDT

In line with the silliness, its the collective cast of characters and the voice actors who make this film an instant classic! My kids and I watched the screening before I read up on the voice actors, and I loved the surprise when I realized who voiced whom. With the big push for this film, it was hard to avoid that surprise, but it’s definitely cool for the adults to associate the actors to the characters they voice in the film.

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A few favorite voices from The Secret Life of Pets: Louis C.K.(Louie) is mild-mannered Max the Terrier, Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) is the fluffy Newf who uses his size to his advantage, Lake Bell’s Chloe the cat embodies the dissociation of felines in general and the crazy, but lovable Snowball the bunny was brought to life by Kevin Hart.

Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview several of the actors who voiced these fun pets. It was, hands-down, one of the funniest interviews I’ve done yet.

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Before Hollywood, Eric Stonestreet, grew up at a farm in Kansas, so he has had animals his whole life. With respect to Duke he said: “ I think when you meet him at the beginning of the movie you think one thing about him, that he’s kind of a bully and kind of a tough guy, —mildly a tough guy because he is protecting something. We don’t know what that is. And I think we all do that as people; we put up a front in certain situations. So, I relate to him in that way, that you kind of protect yourself a little bit and hide what’s maybe sometimes going on behind the scenes. And he is fun and lovable. He’s a lap dog. I think I’m kind of a little bit of a lap dog.”

For a little fluffy bunny, Kevin Hart’s Snowball does an admirable job leading a revolution for his fellow flushed animals. Hart’s small but fierce mentality and self-deprecating humor is a perfect complement to his character. Well known for sharing his daily adventures as a parent, comedian and personality on social media, I used the opportunity as a fellow social media enthusiast to see what Snowball would do. That should be a thing, right? What Would Snowball DO? (WWSD) Ha!
Hart had us cracking up, but inspired at the same time: 

“Snowball is a leader.  And he is starting a revolution, so everything is about recruiting.  You know, if he was on there, I don’t think it would be in the realm of my Snapchats.  Snowball’s are strictly PSA messages of join the movement, join the revolution.  And it’s basically against people.  

He is basically fussing at people.  That’s why I love Snowball.  But, his anger is justified.  Snowball doesn’t like people just–it’s not like he just doesn’t like people just because they’re people.  He doesn’t like people because he was hurt.  He bought into the whole person and pet reality.  And when he was hurt by that because someone abandoned him, it really threw him off. That’s what I love about this character, you know.  

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I don’t just do things just to do them.  I have to put depth to it.  And that’s with any movie that I’ve done.  I think I’m very funny in every movie that I’ve done, and the movies have progressed, but the reason why the characters are always funny is because there is a foundation underneath the character.  And that’s what me and the director talked about.  I was like, “I don’t just want to play the guy because he’s funny.  What’s the foundation?”  

And being that Snowball was hurt is one thing, but then I made him insecure.  You notice he’s very insecure.  You know, he gives out these orders, but then he questions the orders that he gave out, you know.  “Everybody listen.  Raise your hand unless you’re tired.  Unless your arm is tired.  Put your arm down.  You don’t have to raise your hand.”  And it’s funny.  You laugh at it, but it shows you that he’s not really the guy that he’s being.  This is a manufactured version of himself, which justifies when he gets the hug at the end–he melts.”

It’s always fun chatting with talent to hear what makes them tick as actors, but also to get their perspective on the film and their contribution of their characters in the film. In the end, The Secret Life of Pets is a fiercely funny story, but it’s the underlying story of loyalty, kindness and staying true to yourself that makes this a feel-good film, and one that is absolutely our favorite family film this summer! 

The Secret Life of Pets is out in theaters July 8. You can purchase your tickets to The Secret Life of Pets on Fandango.

 

Marvel Cross Pens are the Write Gift for Father’s Day

This post is featured in partnership with CROSS Pens.

With Father’s Day just around the corner, gifts for my husband and our dads are up in the air as usual. What do you get a guy who has everything?

Gift cards almost too impersonal for my family. Ties? Meh. Grilling supplies? Got those last year. Books? Still sitting there from the year before.

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As a writer, I appreciate quality writing tools, especially pens. Cross Pens, synonymous with style and professionalism, has many different looks and patterns. I love that Cross has pens that can be paired with any personality or passion—even superheroes! 

With the recent release of Captain America: Civil War, it’s so fitting that there are Marvel Pens that showcase Captain America’s iconic emblem. Or if you’re Team Ironman, there’s a style that’s fit for the sleek Tony Stark Fan. 

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Having just watched Captain America: Civil War, and as major Mets fans (catcher David Wright is nicknamed Captain America) it’s safe to say our entire tribe is Team Cap! For Father’s Day, we’ll be gifting my boys’ true hero a very stylish Captain America Cross Pen. The pen, which comes with its own case, is a beautiful shade of blue with a subtle Captain symbol along the side. For us, this is a fun gift for the boys to give dad because we love Marvel, we’ve seen the movie together and our Mets love!

Perfect for the office or playing tic tac toe with the boys, the Marvel line of Cross Pens is an ideal gift for the guy who has it all and appreciates a quality writing tool.

 Check out Marvel Cross Pens and all of the other sleek styles if you’re on the hunt for a great gadget for dad or your grads.

Full Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Thank you for supporting NKT. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Enter to Win #FlippforMom SpaFinder Gift Card

As someone who is constantly losing things and digging through my bag for store discount cards and such, I’m so glad to know there’s an app for that. The free app, Flipp, is a very cool shopping all-in-one list, coupon and store card hub. The app allows users to save and look up store circulars, discount cards and other information that streamlines shopping and saving.

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Because it’s location-based, it pinpoints your favorite stores’ locations so you can personalize the deals you save. I love that the shopping list shows what deals are out there, every time you add an item to your list. As a deal hunter, this app is so helpful and super convenient.

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Because Flipp is all about making moms’ life easier by connecting stores and specials and lists in one place, they’re celebrating moms throughout the month of May. Flip has kicked off a special #FlippforMom campaign. Throughout May, on their official Facebook and Twitter accounts, Flipp will be hosting a different giveaway for every week. Be sure to check out Flipp’s Facebook page for more details.

And because we’re all about awesome apps that help make our lives as parents easier, Flipp is offering a very generous $100 SpaFinder gift card to one of you! Please enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions on NKT are my own. Thank you for supporting Nextkidthing.com

Messy Play with Booger Balls

Just in time for International Nose Picking Day, Funrise Toys sent us a Booger Balls care package. Yes, you read that right. There is, indeed, an International Nose Picking Day. And yes, there is a toy called Booger Balls!

If you have kids who appreciate messy outdoor play, then Booger Balls is totally up your alley. We love messy play, and as a play enthusiast who has a kiddo with special needs, I appreciate that this sort of play hones gross motor skills despite the slimy mess.

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Booger Balls come as a powder mix, and then once mixed with warm water, it becomes a gelatinous substance that resembles—you guessed it—boogers. We had a few unsuccessful attempts getting it to mix correctly, but once it did, the guys loved flinging the Booger Balls at their target.

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My littler guy loved mixing and stirring and then capturing the mixture. The older guy loved the sensation of the mix and practicing his aim. Booger Balls are certainly a messy outdoor toy, so expect lots of sticky mess. I recommend playing in an area that you can just hose off when you’re done. If you have a water table that you can wash off, consider doing it there.

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We had a fun time with Booger Balls and have added it to our outdoor play arsenal! Check out the guys in our fun video below!

P.S. I edited this late last night, so disregard the poor angles and whiny preschooler. Just keeping it real! 

Peppa Pig + The Muddy Puddles Project

On the heels of our recent Spring Break trip, we had DVDs on repeat in the car. Like most preschoolers, my younger guy loves Peppa Pig. So, naturally, since we couldn’t access YouTube Kids while on the road, my kids were watching a lot of Peppa Pig. Peppa Pig’s Cold Winter Day is always playing, and I think I know all the words by heart by now.

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There are 10 fun-loving episodes with winter themes. My guys love the Pig family’s crazy antics, especially Daddy Pig becomes the toboggan. ha! “Why can’t our daddy be a toboggan, mama?” Wouldn’t that be awesome, though?

The Muddy Puddles Project

As huge fans of Peppa Pig, I loved learning about The Muddy Puddles Project and Wellie Walk, which is Peppa Pig’s chosen charity. The fact that this beloved brand has their own chosen charity warms my heart.

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I first learned about The Muddy Puddles Project on one of my PBS Kids Annual Meeting trips. I remember tearing up at this young man’s legacy and his amazing family’s advocacy.

 

 

 

The Muddy Puddles Project is a fundraising platform for the Ty Louis Campbell (TLC) Foundation, a certified 501(c)(3) that funds pediatric cancer research. The project was inspired by Ty, a little boy who loved Peppa Pig and dreamed of jumping in muddy puddles when his cancer was cured. Since his passing, the Muddy Puddles Project continues to grow by leaps and bounds with families all across the U.S. joining the mission and participating in special fundraising activities.

Though we missed it, April 1st was officially proclaimed “National Jump in Muddy Puddles Day” by the nonprofit and it kicks off a whole season of special events – including Peppa-inspired Welly Walks to benefit the charity. Kids and families can help celebrate the beginning of Spring by organizing a Welly Walk to raise funds in honor of the Muddy Puddles Project.

This statistic from the Muddy Puddles Project is staggering:

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Looking for ways of spreading the love for this wonderful charity? Learn more about the Muddy Puddles Project and ways you can organize your own Welly Walk in the name of helping families affected by pediatric cancer. We hope to take our own walk in the near future…when it starts to feel more like Spring!

 

Full disclosure: we received a sample dvd for review purposes. As always, opinions on NKT are my own.

Get a Free Snapfish Photo Mug on Select Tommee Tippee Products

When two of my favorite brands collaborate, that can only mean good things, right? Our friends at Tommee Tippee have partnered with Snapfish for a fun collaboration.

Tommee Tippee and Snapfish have partnered together for a promo for an exclusive offer for a free 11oz. photo mug from Snapfish. On select cups and mealtime products, be on the lookout for yellow stickers that indicate this cool promo. The offer is currently on specified stickered cups (excluding single valve) and mealtime products. Cups can be purchased at Babies R Us, Target or Walmart and mealtime products such as (plates and bowls) can be bought at BRU.

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I have more mugs than I know what to do with, but with Mother’s Day coming up, how perfect would this be for a gift for Grandma! I love personalized gifts, and I love giving them even more. 

The boys and I went on a shopping excursion a few weeks ago to take advantage of this promo. My Target only had pink cups on our first trip, but lucky us, we found some cool blue ones on another visit.

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As you can see, not all Tommee Tippee cups and feeding ware have the Snapfish promo, so be sure to grab the ones with the yellow sticker as seen above.

Once you purchase, you can go home and order the photo mug online with the code included in the specially marked packages.

So, if you’re on the market for some new sippy cups or straw cups or feeding gear, be sure to check out Tommee Tippee’s great gear.

 

Full disclosure: this is a sponsored post. Thank you for supporting NKT. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Read Across America Day: Tips for Reading with Kids

Happy Read Across America Day and Dr. Suess Day! Today marks what would have been Dr. Suess’ 112th birthday.

In honor of his birthday, many families, schools and libraries across the nation are celebrating by reading, and doing lots of it. In fact, in a few, I’m off to the kids’ school to read to the kids’ class.

There’s so many wonderful ways to engage with kids to help them develop a love for reading, books and literature. Here are just a few helpful tips that have help me and my guys along the way.

1. Let them see you read

Kids model behavior, whether it’s good or bad. If they see you reading, even if it’s a few minutes a day, this model behavior will undoubtedly provide a foundation for a love of reading. Because I have a print background, I still love magazines and newspapers. Admittedly, I don’t read the physical paper as much as I’d like, but I read the New York Times daily and various magazines. We’ve become a society that thrives on fragmented, viral news. Why not help the kids embrace a well-crafted story in kids’ magazine of their choice. J’s learning the basics of writing and we’re big on pointing out descriptive words in feature stories. Ranger Rick and Sports Illustrated for Kids are popular picks for my guys.

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2. Read together

I know a lot of families who love reading together. After a long day of school and work, it’s often the only way that some kids get to bond with parents on weekdays, before starting the cycle again. Our board books are tattered from all the love they’ve received, but man, are those always the best books! If your kids are older, pick a few chapter series that get them excited and take turns reading aloud every night. The Magic Tree House series is my older guy’s favorite series right now. Next up is the Harry Potter series!

 

3. Enjoy the Library

One of our absolute favorite weekly dates is our trip to the library. I feel as though we’re on a first name basis with librarians these days, not just because of our hyperlocal site, but also because the library is our happy place.

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With Little’s significant speech delay, he’s in therapy 5 days a week. He gets to play a lot at school, but there’s still so much structure in his rigorous special ed preschool schedule. Weekly story time at the library is a way for us to engage with other young readers. Our librarians are so enthusiastic and encourage imagination with their varied stories and fun crafts.

  

4. There’s an app for that!

If you know me, then you must know that I love technology and the way it helps make our lives as parents easier. While I will always choose a physical book or magazine first, apps for reading are an excellent way to encourage reading. With intuitive reading apps such as ABC Mouse, Speakaboos and MeeGenius, my preschooler is able to enjoy books at his pace, and in a fun kid-friendly format. For my 8 year old, we’ve been using the Kids’ Kindle Fire and enjoying books on the Amazon platform. With the Kindle Fire, it’s helpful when my son needs to look up words or wants to search for a new title. His classroom uses an app called Raz-Kids, which is an interesting app that tracks activity and encourages comprehension and reading aloud.

 

However you choose to read with your kids, make it fun!

NYC Vlogging Challenge Week 2

It’s my turn to host the NYC Vlogging Challenge, and I came up with some prompts that will hopefully continue the conversation we started!

Last week, Divina started the conversation by sharing her prompts over on DancingHotDogs.com. Now it’s my turn to continue the dialogue.

NYC Tri State Vlogging Challenge

 

So, please, join my co-hosts, one of my dearest blogging buds, Divina of DancingHotDogs.com and BrillanteMedia.com

 

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and the lovely Lisa of AtypicalFamilia.com

 

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How can you join the conversation?

Each week, one of us will host the challenge and we ask you to join us on Youtube, Vine, Instagram or your blog with a response video. That’s it! 

 

My vlogging topics for this week are:

1. How do you stay organized?

2. What’s your creative outlet?

3. How do you involve your family in your vlog/blog/social channels?

4. What’s your favorite dessert?

5. What are you most looking forward to this Spring?

 

Film a vlog and link up with us!

 

What to See and Do at Play Fair in NYC + ticket giveaway

For the first time ever, kids will be heading to Javits Center in NYC for Play Fair on Saturday and Sunday, February 13-14. Presented by Nickelodeon and Lego, Play Fair will allow kids and families to experience the latest and greatest toys, as well as meet fun characters and YouTube personalities. 

Play Fair, hosted by Toy Industry Association and Leftfield Media, will be taking place alongside of the International Toy Fair, the annual trade show for industry professionals. Because it is a trade show, kids are not allowed to walk the showroom of Toy Fair. Play Fair, however, was designed for kids and families to experience new toys and then some. Hasbro, Mattel, Marvel, Cartoon Network, Crayola, Bandai, Toys R Us and Warner Bros will be onhand at Play Fair showcasing the coolest toys.

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My family will be onsite with me on Sunday to check out all the goodies! Though we get to check out cool new toys regularly, fun experiences like this excite my guys to no end. My 8 year old will likely be in amazement of his favorite YouTubers. While my 4 year old will most likely go nuts over the entire thing! As for me, I can’t wait to let loose and check out the fun. Toy Fair is work for me, so I’m taking videos, tons of photos and taking notes. Play Fair with kids and families will most certainly add a totally different perspective to Toy Fair itself!

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So, here’s what you’ll get to see and do at Play Fair:

•       Check out the new Batmobile from Warner Bros. Pictures’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, in theaters March 25, 2016

•       Slide down the exclusive PAW Patrol slide, snap photos with PAW Patrol costume characters Chase, Marshall, Skye and Rubble, and get an exclusive look at the newest PAW Patrol pup, Tracker, who will join the series this fall

•       Join Hasbro for the ultimate lightsaber training session! With the help of the Empire Saber Guild, get a hands-on learning experience about lightsaber forms and techniques

•        Build a LEGO car and race it down a ramp against other LEGO builders

•        Explore the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle tunnels and mimic their favorite Turtle moves with Magic Mirror technology

•        Gross out with an epic booger battle, experience the slimy, gross play of Booger Balls for the first time by picking and flicking them at Booger Ball targets

•       Enjoy the interactive Thomas & Friends experience by Mattel

•       Create their own toy review videos and have chances to win Toys“R”Us gift cards

•       Test out the latest from NERF in the NERF arena

•       Test out the newest Razor rides, like Jetts, the new sparking Heel Wheels, and other awesome Razor rides like the Power Core E90, Crazy Cart and RipSurf

•       Purchase exclusive collectible toys

•       And every attendee will receive a gift bag with toys and fun goodies from event sponsors

 

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Play Fair’s live performances and appearances include:

•       Meet and take photos with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shimmer and Shine, SpongeBob SquarePants, the Miraculous Ladybug and Cat Noir, Chase and Marshall from PAW Patrol, Dora, Saban’s Power Rangers Dino Super Charge, Peppa Pig, PJ Masks, and more

•       The cast of Nickelodeon’s hit show Game Shakers – Cree Cicchino (Babe), Madisyn Shipman (Kenzie), Thomas Kuc (Hudson), Benjamin Flores Jr. (Triple G), and Kel Mitchell (Double G) – will host a panel on Saturday to debut their new app, Nasty Goats

•       Jon Scieszka, best-selling author behind The Stinky Cheese Man and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, will read from his Frank Einstein science book series

•       All-ages comic creators Art Baltazar, Franco Aureliani, Abby Denson, Dave Roman, Matt Loux, and Misako Rocks! will sketch and sign their books for fans

•       Meet Toys“R”Us mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe, enjoy story time and participate in fun birthday-themed activities

•       Take in episodes of Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriors, We Bare Bears, and Teen Titans Go! on a massive movie screen

•       Take photos with Shopkins mascot characters, including Strawberry Kiss and Lippy Lips, and color your favorite Shopkins characters

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•       LEGO Master Builder Erik Varszegi presents insider tips on creating LEGO masterpieces 

•       The girls of Make it Pop will reveal their new fashion doll series on February 14. Join them on the Toys“R”Us stage at 11:30 a.m. for an exclusive interview, live performance and a chance to meet the cast

•       YouTube personalities including DisneyCarToys, Mommy and Gracie Show, and KittiesMama will meet with fans and host toy unboxings live on the Toys“R”Us stage

Buy Tickets

Tickets start at $30 and can be purchased at PlayFairNY.com/tickets Family packs with a small discount are available online as well. Morning sessions run from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and afternoon sessions are open from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 

 

Giveaway

And thanks to my friends at KidzVuz, I have a family four pack of tickets for Play Fair to giveaway! Make sure you visit my awesome friends at KidzVuz at booth #156 at Play Fair!

Enter below! Good luck! This giveaway will end on Friday night 2/12 so the winner can be notified.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to follow my coverage of Toy Fair from Saturday February 13 to Monday February 15! I’m @jenrab on Twitter, Periscope and Instagram. I’ll have photo and vids up on the Next Kid Thing Facebook page, and I will snap some Snapchat photos too! I’m jen_rab on Snapchat