Back to School and Football Shopping at Sports Authority

When it comes to outfitting the kids for back to school, we entered a new frontier this year. Not only was it Biggie’s first year in public school (hello, regular clothes), but we also had 2 kids to buy new clothes for this year! We have our perennial favorite clothing stores, but I love being able to hit stores like Sports Authority to pick up clothes and sports gear.

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A few weeks ago, we hit our local Sports Authority to grab some shorts, athletic wear, some new Mets paraphernalia (Yay for clinching the NL East!) and of course, some football gear. I followed J as he made some important gear decisions and picked out some cool new duds for school.

We came home with a varied list of gear—actually more than we were anticipating. That’s what I love about Sports Authority, though: you can find a great deal for everyone in the family. I personally grabbed a few new Mets shirts that were on clearance and a new hat for the Littles. I got a kick out of J’s proud purchase of Big League Chew! ha!

Full disclosure: I received a gift card to share my shopping experience at Sports Authority. As always, opinions on NKT are my own.

 

 

 

 

Summer Reading Fun with PBS Kids

Like so many of you, our summer has been an endless list of outdoor fun. Between summer sports and fun at the lake, we’ve rarely had time to sit in and veg in front of the tv. Before we start our day, however, I tend to do some work and let Biggie enjoy some unstructured play and reading time. Before any screen time, he has to read or create something for at least 30 minutes. So far, we’ve read a Ronald Dahl book and worked on the latest Wimpy Kid book.

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Our friends at PBS Kids are always encouraging educational fun. In fact, for this summer’s reading initiative, they sent us a kit to have a little reading party with friends. Since we’re all about integrating reading in our day, we happily obliged, and had some friends over for a dessert reading party!

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In addition to our desserts, we all hung out and shared our love of books. The older kids had fun reading to the younger kids and the younger kids loved telling fun stories to the older kids. We chatted about what makes reading so fun, and also what kinds of books catch our eyes.

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In honor of the reading party, PBS Kids sent us fun goodies to share with our guests. We loved sharing bookmarks, reading charts, badges, booklets, and yes, even books! Harper Collins sent over a selection of I Can Read books, which were perfect for my soon-to-be 2nd grader and our young reading friends. I loved that so many favorite books were included, such as Fancy Nancy and Amelia Bedelia!

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Beyond the party, our friends have been loving keeping track of their reading time and sharing what books they’ve loved. We’re well on our way to finishing our new I Can Read favorites and reading aloud to little bro!

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A big thank you to PBS Kids for sending us supplies to host our Summer Reading Party. We loved sharing the reading fun with our friends! For more information about PBS Reading programs, be sure to check them out online.

 

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Full disclosure: As a PBS Kids VIP, I was sent supplies to host a summer reading party.  As always, all opinions on NKT are our own.

Preschool Non-Candy Valentines: Twistable Crayons + Free Printable

At my house, we have approximately 17 tons of candy leftover from all of the various holidays. With Valentine’s Day class parties looming, I knew I wanted to do a non-candy treat for the preschooler’s class party. But other than candy, the only other options seem to be plastic tchotchkes, and who needs any more tiny plastic toys?

I opted to do a more practical Valentine’s treat: twistable crayons.

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When checking out the discount store for something else a few weeks ago, I spotted these packs of twistable crayons on the clearance rack for less than $1. For my older guy, these crayons were like currency in Kindergarten. Biggie was also known to trade crayons with his best buddies. They did so much coloring, these Twistables were a fun change. For preschoolers, many of whom can barely hold regular crayons without breaking or dropping them, these packs of twistable crayons seem like such a fun alternative to candy and toys.

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Since the personalized candy bag tag is so hot on the DIY circuit, I knew I wanted to do something along that vein. But, again, these packs of crayons were such a find because creating the Valentine card/tag would be so easy. 

 

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First, I measured the inner label in the crayon pack. I considered making a label that would cover both sides, but knew that would be redundant. I opted to create a tag just for the front. The front label measured about 2.5 x 4, which is just about the same size as a classic valentine’s day card. 

 

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Next, I headed to Picmonkey to create a “pun”ny card to slide over the front label. Since the crayons are all about color, I went with “You brighten my day, Valentine!” And as a play on the twistable crayon, I created a tag that says: “You’re a twist above the rest, Valentine!”

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Since Littles doesn’t write anything other than circles yet, I had big brother help me personalize the crayon packs with some name tags. We punched out red card stock and wrote the kids’ names in silver Sharpie and slipped it into the back. We closed the pack and sealed it with a decorative V-day-themed washi tape. Names are blurred out to protect the innocent <3

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Since my guy’s preschool class is rather small, as in less than 10 kids, buying one of those Valentines class packs with 25 cards would be a waste. So, I’m very happy with the way these crayon packs turned out. Instead of candy or tiny toys, we have crayons that my preschooler’s classmates will (hopefully) use again and again!

Hurray for practical goodies!

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And since Valentine’s Day is all about sharing the love, I thought I’d share the tags with you. I grouped the 12 tags together for you to download and print for your personal use. The tags are about 2.5 x 4 in. and would be perfect for a pack of crayons, markers or anything colorful!  p.s. I eyeballed measurements, so the layouts and sizes are wonky. Of course it is…

Enjoy this freebie! If you use this, I’d love to see how your projects turned out. Make sure to Pin or share on IG and tag me! I’m jenrab on all social media outlets.

NKT Faves: Preschooler Must-Haves

It’s been quite the hectic start to 2015. With all the snow, a stint in the hospital, a pair of birthdays AND a major transition to preschool, we had our plates pretty full with family obligations.  I have quite a few posts devoted to Littles turning 3, but in the meantime, I wanted to share just some of our preschooler must-haves.  

Since it’s been a few years since the older guy went to preschool, and ultimately because each kids’ needs are different, I found myself packing a much different backpack with a whole different set of supplies. Finding a backpack small enough for a wee preschooler, yet big enough to hold a folder is quite the ordeal. Since most guys this age are so small, I’ve found that the backpacks are smaller than 12 inches, which is the size of a regular school folder. I’m currently on the hunt for a backpack that we love, but until then, check out the things we do love!

So, without further ado, here’s what was in Little J’s backpack this week:

 

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1. Contigo Autospout Kids’ Striker Water Bottle

We’ve been longtime fans of Contigo products, so it was a welcomed surprise when Santa gifted this fun water leakproof bottle. I like the design of the bottles and how the spout pops up with the touch of a button. The detachable straw makes for easy cleaning, which is a plus. This BPA-free bottle that has a lifetime guarantee, is a perfect size for preschoolers to tote to school.  I’ve read online that this design has been getting poor reviews, but honestly, it works well for us.

2. Lunchbot trio stainless steel bento box

Lunchbots are our bento box of choice around here. This box which features three compartments is small, yet spacious enough for the littler guys. Plus, I don’t have to hunt for a ton of foods to fill the compartments, considering Littles is such a finicky eater. I love that this box is just stainless steel; there’s less paint and designs to deal with, which make it easy to share between the two boys.

3. Munchkin Lunch Bag

Even though he’s off to school like a big boy, my little guy is very much still a tot. I know he’ll be into superheroes and other characters in years to come, so I try to keep things age-appropriate. Animals and things that have wheels take top billing on his favorites list. I personally love this Munchkin owl lunch bag that we’ve been using for the past year. It’s cute, but extremely functional. It fits his full lunch, snack, and two small boxed drinks. In the mesh pocket, I like to stuff an extra straw and paper towels.

4. New Balance 750v3

New Balance running shoes have been some of my favorite athletic shoes for my little guy. With the firm soles and easy fit, even though he’s not running super fast quite yet, I know his feet are well supported. What makes these shoes a top pick is that my guy is quite uncoordinated because of low tone, but the firm fit and higher soles give him a much more secure step. The colors and design in shoes such as the 750v3 tend to complete his cute little outfits.

5. Name Bubbles Preschool Pack

Name Bubbles are, hands down, one of my most favorite labels for my kids’ things. From the designs to the cool fonts, Name Bubbles has a look tailored for every family member.  The labels are waterproof and durable, making them perfect for every day use for the kids’ gear. The preschool pack is an ideal pack that offers different-sized labels for the 3-5 year old set. My guy is obsessed with trains, so the labels from the preschool pack happily adorn his lunch box, winter gear, folders and even his little toy he brings every day!

6. Stonyfield Organic Smoothie

Like many toddler/preschoolers that I know, Littles is quite the finicky eater. So far, he’s come home with an almost untouched lunchbox every day. Nevertheless, I’m always looking for a drink or smoothie to satisfy his hunger and nutritional needs. J loves yogurt and smoothies, and Stonyfield happens to be his favorite. While we love the YoKids line, he loves this Strawberry smoothies the most.  It’s organic and has the nutrition elements that he needs. The sugar content is high, like many yogurts, but when this is sometimes the only thing he’ll eat all day, I’m grateful that it’s so accessible and easy to pack. 

7. Huggies Pull Ups

It’s a bit daunting to send your child to school every day, especially when they’re not potty trained yet. Pull Ups were a big part of our lives when my older one was 3, so, as Littles turns the corner, we’re starting to transition to Pull Ups and potty training. Every kid has their own way of learning, but I’m totally expecting this potty training phase to be quite the adventure. The cool designs and easy side tabs make these our favorite training pants. They’re absorbent and light, too, which makes for easy packing in that backpack.

Now, to find the ideal backpack for my newly-minted preschooler…

Review: Playskool Stack ‘n Spin Monkey Gears

Playtime for Littles is usually quite colorful and musical lately. Because he plays so much as part of therapy, unstructured play usually involves building and tinkering and lots of singing, too!

We had the chance to check out Playskool Stack n Spin Monkey Gears , which Littles totally loves!  The Stack ’n Spin isn’t a new concept, but the combination of that familiar Playskool monkey makes this version even more fun.  

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With lots of twinkling lights, melodic chimes and spinning gears, the Stack ’n Spin Monkey Gears keeps toddlers engaged.  Tots can stack and arrange the various gears; once they’re done, they can push a button to watch and listen to their handiwork.

This toy encourages creativity, logic and cause and effect.  By arranging the gears, kids work on their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. What’s great about this toy is that babies to preschoolers can get in on the Monkeying action.

My tinkerer absolutely loves puzzles, music and monkeys, so the Playskool Stack ’n Spin Monkey Gears makes for a go-to toddler toy.

The Playskool Stack ’n Spin Monkey Gears can be found at major retailers such as Toys ‘R Us and Target, as well as online at Amazon.com. 

 

Rocking Out with the Julius Jr. Rock ‘n Playhouse

When it comes to music, we love to rock out every chance we get.  We recently had the chance to check out one of Fisher Price’s latest toys, Julius Jr.’s Rock ‘n Playhouse.

 

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When Julius Jr. uses his imagination and creativity to create a playhouse with a cardboard box, awesome things happen.  Though our kids can create their own awesome on their own with regular ol’ boxes, this Julius Jr. Rock ’n Playhouse is a great playset for toddlers and preschoolers.  The Playhouse is a recreation of what can be seen on Julius Jr., including a spaceship, skateramp, disco ball and slide.  What makes the Rock ’n Playhouse so great is the catchy music and Julius Jr. figures and accessories.

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My little guy absolutely loves pushing the dance floor and watching it light up and play music.  He loves to sing and dance, so the musical dance floor is, perhaps, our favorite feature.  The cool skate ramp though?  That comes in close second.  You can’t go wrong with a playset that has a dance floor, skateramp and monkey that rocks out!

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The Julius Jr. Rock ’n Playhouse is available at major retailers and retails for $49.99.  Julius Jr. is on Nick Jr. at 5pm Monday-Friday and Sundays from 10-11am!

Full disclosure:  A sample was provided to facilitate this review and as a part of the Saban Brandbassador program.  As always, all opinions are my own.

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

 

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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. 

 

Stokke Steps is a Chic, New Modular Seating System

On a snowy evening last month, I attended Momtrend’s beautiful launch for Stokke’s latest arrival: the Stokke Steps.  

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Essentially, Stokke Steps is a bouncer and high chair that can be used together or separately. Touted as an all-in-one seating concept, from birth, the Stokke Steps is a modular seating system that begins with a stand-alone bouncer, which can then be added to the transformable children’s chair.  The bouncer and chair, when added together complement one another to accommodate newborn and infant seating at the table.  The children’s chair can be used on its own to provide seating for toddlers, preschoolers and beyond, up to 80 lbs.  The chair has safety features such as a 5-point harness and colored indicators to ensure the bouncer is properly installed onto the seat.  

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For convenience and logistics, the Stokke Steps chair has depth and height adjustable control, washable and water repellent textiles, adjustable footrest and optional tray for the chair.  Like the chair, the bouncer showcases that scandinavian design and engineering that’s synonymous with Stokke products.

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I’ve mentioned this many, many times, but I am a major Stokke fan.  Pre-blogging, as a city family we invested in our Stokke Sleepi not only because of its beautiful design and sustainable function (growing from a bassinet to a toddler bed), but also because we had a very small space.  

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The Sleepi was the optimal choice for our family six years ago and we’ve been loyal customers since.  Stokke has some of the most reliable and functional products on the market; and as someone who would rather opt for quality rather than quantity, I’d much rather pay more for something that will grow and last with my family.  We’ve gone on to buy the Stokke Care changing table and have reviewed several other Stokke products along the way.  

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I love the design of the Stokke Steps.  The bouncer reminds me so much of the Bounce n’ Sleep that we used a lot when littles was a babe.  The chair offers families an alternative to the Tripp Trapp, which is already a seating staple in so many homes. The streamlined design, along with the modular feature, makes the Stokke Steps an ideal high chair and seating option for a young family who appreciates the value of function and beautiful aesthetics.

Here’s a video that showcases this fabulous new seating system. Be sure to check out the Stokke Steps demo which has all kinds of great info.

The Stokke Steps bouncer and chair will be available at specialty stores and online. The bouncer retails for $199 and the chair is $279.

Full disclosure: I received a lovely gift bag at the event; however, all opinions on NKT are my own.

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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