Toy Fair 2014 Day 2: Moose Toys, VTech, BToys, Hasbro, Skylanders and More



Even though Toy Fair is winding down on day 4 now, I thought I’d share some thoughts from a few days ago.


By the middle of day 2 of Toy Fair, I was thinking about how many new toys I had just previewed.  Nonetheless, it was a good variety of new toys, some good, others not so much.


I started the day by meeting with Pillow Pets, the makers of the plush pets/pillows.  The brand has a variety of new characters joining their already robust lineup.  They’re also introducing an inspirational line with faith-inspired sayings and designs featured.  The highlight of their new offerings, however, are Tricksters, a line of bike helmets with the plush characters on top of the helmet. Stuffed animals meet function and safety.

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I checked out Moose Toys’ latest wares, which included the latest series of Trashies and Ugglys.  Moose Toys, known for their gross factor and great girly crafts, are set to release lifelike electronic pets.  The Little Live Pets look and feel real, without all the fuss. 


Moose Toys Live Pets


The butterfly pets have a cool fluttering feature that seems so tranquil and the birds look so exotic and cool.  

My personal favorite from Moose’s new line up are Shopkins, which is being dubbed as Trashies for girls.  Untitled

These tiny collectibles are shaped as food items that you’d find at a grocery store.  Emblazoned with cutesy faces with lots of pink throughout the line, this new line of toys from Moose will be a hit with girls looking for that next big collectible.



B. Toys, one of my absolute favorite toy lines has some great beach toys coming out this year.  Ranging in size, the beach toys are grouped into sets featuring gender-neutral pieces. 



Perhaps one of the most eye-catching elements of this line is the jewel-toned color scheme.  I’m always a fan of the musical instruments from B. Toys, and that makes no exception for the beautiful carousel bells.




In my travels, I found several new toys including baby toys constructed from plant materials and silicone and other cool baby accessories.  I discovered Sand Alive, which is one of my favorite play materials, something I think would be ideal for OT and Early Intervention.  I found this sand product in other booths, sometimes referred to as Kinetic Sand. In particular, I’ll definitely be checking out where I can get these for my guy now. 


Surprisingly, I haven’t found too many Rainbow Loom accessories.  Rainbow Loom, who isn’t at the show, but won four Toy of the Year awards.  I did find, however, Loomey Time, which is a company that creates time pieces that are compatible with Rainbow Loom bracelets



VTech was my next appointment of the day.  At this electronic toy maker’s meeting room, I had a chance to preview the highlights in their line’s new toys.  The Switch and Go Dinos have a new starting point and also a a cool RC car joining this popular lineup.



I checked out Playmobil who had a cool offering up new toys.  Their warrior line is the main focus, with dragons and fairies as awesome focal points, too.

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Skylanders showcased a few new characters being released for Swap Force. My favorite?  Springtime Trigger happy which will be available in the next few months.

Skylanders Spring Trigger Happy


Hasbro was the highlight of my day because it meant that I got to see Transformers, Super Heroes, Sesame Street, Ponies and much more.  There was so much to see and check out in their showroom, but a few of my favorite highlights were definitely Dohvinci, a new take on Play-Doh, but much more malleable and can be released in a hot glue gun-like device.  The Star Wars toys, too, look to be incredible, as well as the Marvel Mashers which are my absolute favorite thing right now.  Elmo has a new toy, which touts his imagination and use of hats.  My Little Pony has a quite a few new offering such as a DIY pony line and rockstar Equestria Girls.



There was so much fun to see and check out, I’ll be sure to share more soon.



Stride Rite Children’s Group Showcases Spring 2014 at PetiteParade

They may be small in stature, but the runway models from last week’s PetiteParade were big on style with a little extra spunk.

As part of Children’s Fashion Week, a number of trendsetting brands showcased their latest and greatest on the PetiteParade’s runway last week. Stride Rite Children’s Group punctuated the two-day event with their signature classic style. In their show, Stride Rite Children’s Group featured Stride Rite, Saucony, Merrell, Nordstrom, Sperry and Keds.



Stride Rite opened their Spring 2013 show with a whimsical nod to their flower-inspired styles. Colorful classic sandals with flower details and coral gold-toed Mary Janes were among the most eye-catching styles that started off the StrideRite show.

I loved the way that StrideRite can seamlessly translate trends into age-appropriate fashion in their footwear, such as pink hombre flower details on gladiator-style sandals.


For the boys and superhero aficionado, StrideRite showcased one of their beloved licenses, Marvel. The casual-cool slip-ons embraced superhero flair without compromising modern style. For the sporty set, Saucony showcased styles suitable for both boys and girls. With neon details and velcro closures for smaller kids, Saucony has Spring styles for athletes of all sizes.

Merrell, a newcomer to the Stride Rite Children’s Group, made quite the entrance. Gray sneakers with turquoise and pink detailing underscore Merrell’s footing in the outdoor sector. My favorite from Merrell, however, was a hiking boot that looked both playful and fashionable, and something totally ideal for my rugged boy with discerning taste.


Sperry showcased a sampling of both chic and classic styles for Spring. A royal blue pair of Sperry Topsiders looked sleek with a sport coat, yet I’m imagining they would be just as cool with a pair of jeans. The pink striped with sequins, though, were the most chic style from this mainstay brand.


Stride Rite Children’s Group ended their show with Keds, yet another classic brand well-associated with style. This brand, synonymous, for their signature white canvas sneakers, featured a splash of color with a bit of modern-classic prints thrown into the mix. It was so fitting that a super cute, but super shy model ended the show with a sporty cape and signature white sneakers.

Following the show, Malinda Freitas, Stride Rite Children’s Group Brand Marketing Manager and Jennifer Smith, Fashion Stylist for the show, gave the bloggers onhand a rundown of Stride Rite’s Spring looks. Freitas underscored the importance of real fashion that moms can incorporate into everyday wear, something that I totally “get” from Stride Rite. An honest brand enthusiast, I have always bought Stride Rite for practicality and durability first. It’s always been an added extra that this beloved brand stays so relevant with its cutting-edge style.

Check out the behind the scenes interview with Malinda Freitas, Stride Rite Brand Marketing Manager and Jennifer Smith Fashion Stylist.

Pinterest President’s Day Activities

Like many grade-schoolers, my Trans-Kindergartner has off today for Presidents’ Day. Today was one of the few days off that didn’t get taken away because of snow/Sandy make up days. With that said, we plan to do a few activities in honor of our Presidents.

Even though he’s come home telling me stories about our presidents every day for the past few weeks, I have to really wonder if my 5-year-old is actually absorbing the lessons he’s being taught. And because I’m big on enrichment activities at home to continue the conversations started at school, I love referring to PInterest. Like so many others, Pinterest is an invaluable resource for non-teacher parents. So, while many of you are pinning recipes and fabulous crafts, (I do that too), I’m usually pinning grade-appropriate lessons for my kids.

So here are just a few President’s Day activities that I have bookmarked for our day today.

This is a link to a collection of President’s Day activities.  I like that it includes past presidents like Washington and Lincoln, but it also includes an activity featuring our current presidents.  I haven’t seen too many of those, which, to me, makes it worth the $5.00 fee. Source: Teacher’s Notebook

Source: via Jen on Pinterest

This is a fun-looking sight reading book, but this features Washington, making it timely for today’s holiday.  The word, “he” looks like the main word, so it’s perfect for early readers.  This activity book is $.90.  Source:  Teachers Pay Teachers via Maria Manore.

Source: via Jen on Pinterest

This will be the main activity for us while the baby naps later today.  Biggie is all about these mini books because he gets to color, cut and construct.  Best part? It’s free, well other than the ink and supplies.  Thank you, Ready, Set Read for this wonderful, free resource!

Are we following each other on Pinterest? Find me at jenrab on Pinterest!

Back to School with The Children’s Place: Mom Knows Best

Ready or not, here it comes!  As summer starts to wind down, the back to school frenzy begins…just like that.  All summer however, I’ve been checking out the latest and greatest in back to school trends.  I’ve seen a lot of looks ranging from retro, classic and edgy.  But of everything that’s new for the season, the best look we’ve found, ultimately, is the one that lets kids be kids.


A brand that gets it right by offering a myriad of styles while remaining age-appropriate and affordable is The Children’s Place.  And so, when TCP, one of my favorite retailers, asked me to take part in a back to school promo that involved styling Biggie, it was a no-brainer.


As I studied their back to school lookbook, I couldn’t help but get nostalgic about The Children’s Place.  I remember my mom perusing the racks when shopping for our back to school outfits.  And so, being tasked to style my soon-to-be school age son for a promo for TCP, I must admit, it was supremely surreal, considering I wore their clothes as a kid and a vast majority of my childrens’ basics are from this same brand.

Back to school looks for everyone

The back to school looks, as I mentioned, seem to assuage all tastes, shapes and kid sizes.  The girls’ pieces, though strikingly pink, retro and sparkly, also offer classic and more subdued styles as well.  As a mama of boys, I usually have tunnel vision for the more rugged and edgy styles. The Children’s Place tasked me with styling my boy for some back to school looks.  They gave me about a $150 price range to work with, which was more than enough to pick and create many looks.

I had a fun time picking out styles that I thought suited Biggie.  He’s an outspoken four-year old, and one who just happens to have a penchant for clothes.  It doesn’t matter what it is, this kid loves clothes.  He’s obsessed with cool pjs, wearing sporty clothes for playing outside and even, getting “fancy” when we go out.  This could be my doing, but hey, you can’t fault a boy who appreciates being well-dressed.


The pieces I chose were a mix of preppy and classic, with navy blue as the dominant hue.  I try to buy timeless and durable clothes that would potentially be in style and in great shape four years later for baby bro.  I like to layer because the weather in northern Jersey is very unpredictable in the fall and because he’s a boy. Hello, ketchup on the top shirt.  Thank goodness for that undershirt! As for accessories, I went with items that Biggie loves: a skateboard bookbag since he loves skateboarding; a striped tie because they make him feel “fancy”; and classic navy sneakers.  The sneakers, by the way? They look like they’re regular laces, but they’re not! They’re actually elastic, which makes them easy to slip-on–perfect for kids who can’t tie their shoes yet!


I love the way his looks came together!  Biggie was such a great sport, considering it was 80 degrees on the day I took these pictures, and according to Biggie, he had “too many clothes on,” yet he still managed to cheese it for every photo!  We shot these pictures at this tiny red school house in Florham Park, NJ, as suggested from a friend.

Getting him all dressed for this mini photo shoot got me all excited and anxious for the first day of school!  Do you guys like this time of year as much as I do?  What sort of clothes do you buy?

Check it

As part of their Mom Knows Best back to school campaign, Biggie will be featured on TCP’s FB page!  If you feel so inclined be sure to vote for us and the styles I chose!  I’ll be sure to link when it goes up.

Review: LEGO DUPLO Read & Build

LEGO has released several fun new additions to their much-loved line of building bricks. But it’s their latest combo of goodies–books and LEGOs–that have my boys playing and discovering new things together! We absolutely enjoyed reading and reviewing the Let’s Go VroomLEGO DUPLO Read & Build title.


With biggie starting school in just a few short weeks, we’ve, no doubt, been practicing our letters, sight words and reading routines. And so when I was asked to review LEGO DUPLO Read & Build, I loved the impeccable timing of this assignment. Like many families, we try and read several times a day, but since we returned from the hospital, we try to read with both Biggie and Baby as much as possible.

There’s much to be said about unplugging while bonding over books. Add some LEGOs and an interactive storyline, the Read & Build are truly a fantastic set. I enjoy watching Biggie figure out how to build the plane by himself, unlike the DUPLO sets where he still needs help. The packaging is much different than the usual boxes that LEGOs come in; these sets come in plastic shells, where you can clearly see everything you’re getting! Because of the easy-to-create and imagery within the story, the Read & Build sets give him a sense of independence and accomplishment. I’d love to see these sets grow in size, and perhaps, even, age groups.

As usual Biggie and I have a lot to say, so feel free to check out our video featuring the LEGO Duplos Read & Build storybooks.

Want to win a LEGO Read & Build for yourself? Be sure to email me your son or daughter’s favorite book! Jen @ nextkidthing dot com


For extra entries:

Tell me the title of this LEGO Duplo Read & Build storybook.

From the video what do I like about the packaging? (hint around the 1:25 mark)

Become of a fan of The Next Kid Thing!

Tweet about this giveaway and be sure to include @jenrab

comment below with extra entries

Giveaway ends 8/10 at 10 pm. Winners will be chose by

Full disclosure: This post is sponsored by LEGO DUPLO in conjunction with the BabyCenter Blog Network. I received a free sample of the product for the purpose of this review

Sesame Street Debuts What I Am, Anthem for Little Children, Big Challenges

It may have been the unofficial start to summer, but beyond BBQs and beach time, this past weekend was a time to celebrate those who serve and have served in our military. A product of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Merchant Marines, military service was the glue that held my family together. My dad’s service brought him to the U.S., provided for our family and ultimately, put me through college. I count my lucky stars every day, and now that the Big Kid is old enough to comprehend the military and our service men and women, I felt that it was our duty to help better educate him on the topic.

In line with Memorial Day celebrations, this past Saturday, some characters from Sesame Street performed on The Intrepid, as part of the launch of its newest outreach initiative, Little Children, Big Challenges. This educational message is quite relevant for military, veteran, and other families with young children, to help increase self-awareness, boost self-esteem, and help children persevere through changes.

Rosita, Elmo and Gordon chat about Little Children, Big Challenges

With my dad in the Navy, as a young girl, saying goodbye for months at a time was quite common.  As a result, separation and uncertainty are issues that still sting to this day, but as a parent now, I’m so glad to know there are helpful outlets that can cushion the blow. In the reality that is our world, military families face so many adversities, and sadly, separation is sometimes the smallest of their worries; it’s comforting to know that Sesame Street provides an outlet that embraces these feelings that sometimes only military families can understand.

Matt Rogers, Rosita, Elmo and Gordon sing What I Am

I was honored to be onhand on the Intrepid with my own family to capture the debut of the anthem of this latest outreach, What I Am, sung by American Idol alum, Matt Rogers. As fun as it was to cheer and laugh along with Elmo, Rosita, Gordon and Matt, it was the Quantico Marine Corps Band accompaniment that gave us all the chills. Listening to the band accompany this Sesame Street performance, penned for families going through changes, I have to say, was quite moving and memorable, to say the least.
Quantico Marine Corps Band accompanies Sesame Street What I Am performance

Because Fleet Week festivities were wrapping up at the Intrepid, we were able to take part in a few educational activities. The Big Kids most favorite activity was building his own boat, with supplies and directions supplied by the Navy’s ONR. The Big Kid crafted his boat with Play-Doh, an oversized straw and construction paper mast, as best as a four year old could do, but let’s just say, he wont be a naval architect any time soon.


Our day at the Intrepid, listening to the Sesame Street performance and checking out all the military-related activities was a fun outing; but most importantly, it was the beginning of a dialogue with our children about the importance of our military, and just how much our service men and women and their families mean to us. We will always salute you.

Check it

To learn more about Sesame Street’s newest outreach initiative, Little Children, Big Challenges, be sure to check out their online resources, which includes printables, games and a video.

Want to view the video of What I Am that features Rosita, Elmo, Gordon, Matt Rogers and the Quantico Marine Corps Band?  The video is posted below the jump.
Read More

Learning to Swim as Part of the SwimWays Swim Team

SWSSBadgeFinalWith summer just a few weeks away (yay!) and just in time for National Learn to Swim Day on May 19, I’m so excited to announce that we made the SwimWays Swim Team. This is another fun ambassadorship that will allow us to give you the scoop on great kid gear.

So, this summer, both kids will be learning how to swim with SwimWays gear onhand.  The big kid will be learning with SwimWays Swim Step 3 and the babe will be floating along with Swim Step 1. The SwimWays’ Swim Step program is a three-step approach that include swim-training aids to help parents teach kids to swim at home.

Raising Water Babies

I spent endless summer days in our family’s swimming pool and then, as I got older, I lived it up at the beach.  Growing up in a beach town, my summer days were routinely spent in the water, from sunrise to sunset. So, now that I’m a parent I hope to enrich my kids’ summers with the same love for the water.

Jack karate chopping the ocean waves in Va. Beach

We live in a lake community now, so swimming at the “beach” aka our lake, fills our summer days.  Even though the Big Kid has the basics of swimming down, he doesn’t officially know how to swim yet.  That said, I cant wait to help him learn the fundamentals of swimming and how to stay safe in the water.

And now that we have the baby, the wee one can’t be forgotten.  Baby will be along for the ride on our swimming adventures, where we’ll nurture his activity in the water with Level 1 Swim Steps.


Celebrate National Learn to Swim Day

It’s going to be a fun summer, and I can’t wait for our beach days and teaching the boys how to swim with the help of SwimWays.  Speaking of which, to help usher in those summer days full of swimming, SwimWays created National Learn to Swim Day to help raise awareness about the importance of teaching kids to swim.  On that end, SwimWays is hosting the first annual National Learn to Swim Day Event at the Greenbrier Family YMCA in Chesapeake, Va from 1-3 pm. The event will not only be a grand opening of the YMCA’s outdoor pool for the summer, but it’s also a way to celebrate National Learn to Swim Day.  The event is open to members and non-members and will feature fun activities and goodies.  If you’re not in the Hampton Roads area, you can still enjoy National Learn to Swim Day by visiting a community pool or simply enrolling the kids in swim lessons!

Facts and Tips

Here are some staggering facts that SwimWays passed along:

·         According to the Red Cross, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1  to 14 years old.
·         Statistics show that children ages 1 to 4 drown most often in home swimming pools.
·         Children were often out of sight less than 5 minutes and under the care of one or both parents at the time of many home pool drownings.

For more resources on pool safety, tips and products for teaching the kids to swim, be sure to check out SwimWays’ website.

Yo Gabba Gabba Goodies: New Bedding, DVD and more

There’s lots of good stuff on the horizon that our fellow Gabba fans will appreciate.  Not only has DJ Lance and the crew taken over our tvs, toy box and tunes, but now, they’re helping the kids get cozy for bedtime.

A range of reasonably-priced, super cool  YGG bedding in now available at Walmart.  The Yo Gabba Gabba bedding that’s sure to be a hit with tune-loving tots includes a 4-piece toddler bedding set, a variety of blankets and some cool Pillow Pals.
We received a cool toddler blanket, just in time for a recent bug and bout with a double ear infection and then newborn congestion and cold. (ugh!)  Needless to say, this cuddly blanket has been a comforting sidekick over the past few days.  My 4yo has been clutching it day and night, and I don’t blame him.  It’s so soft, warm and because of its smaller size, it’s totally portable.  Even though it’s toddler-sized, it still does the trick for my tall guy.

Super Spies on DVD

And speaking of Yo Gabba Gabba goodness, there’s a new dvd that also recently hit the shelves.  The hilarious Jason Bateman guest stars as a spy in the new four episode of Yo Gabba Gabba!, “Super Spies,” which debuted on DVD on April 17.  Yo Gabba Gabba Super Spies is full of adventure and the usual Gabba fun, but with a quirky musical spy recovery mission mixed in.  It’s been the perfect complement for our quarantined sick days as of late.

More YGG Goodness

And for even more Gabba-related coolness, in case you missed it, co-creator Scott Schultz was the keynote speaker at Kindiefest last weekend.  The musical mecca of the coolest kid music, Kindiefest celebrates the best of the best in the kid indie musical scene.  There was tons of great coverage, but I particularly loved my friend, Amy at Media Macaroni’s take on things.  I’m so sad I missed Kindiefest yet again, but Amy’s recap of Schultz’s Keynote underscored my love for YGG AND made me feel like I was really there.

And just a little more Gabba goodness, I recently had the unique opportunity to interview the other co-creator of YGG, Christian Jacobs.  I love interviewing fascinating people involved in the baby and kid space, but when I get to connect to inspiring creatives like Jacobs, that’s when I truly geek out.  We chatted about the awesomeness that is The Aquabats, the show that’s been squatting on our DVR and reinventing our Saturday mornings.  If you’re a Gabba fan or a fan of punk, or just a fan of quirky shows, tune to The Aquabats on The Hub at 11am on Saturday mornings.  It’s wacky and weird, but oh so funny.  I’ll post that interview soon!

Ralph Lauren Gang: Meet the Class of 2012

With Spring now in full bloom, it’s time to update the kids’ closets with warm weather clothes.  I’m always excited when we can finally replace the monochromatic shades of winter with a more colorful palette, full of weather-appropriate goodies.  And with Spring comes all the fun new fashion lineups, including those for the most fashionable kids!  Designers like Ralph Lauren have a penchant for outfitting the entire family with classic, yet versatile pieces, and that goes for the 2012 RL Gang Spring line.

Photo Credit: Momtrends

The line, which is out now, features classic pieces synonomous with Ralph Lauren’s Americana influence, and mixes it up with some edgy, girly or preppy flair.  Like many of the kids who wear these pieces, RL Gang reflects this diverse spectrum.  Whether it’s the tattered jeans, ruffled details or classic stripes that suits your kid, the expansive and super cute 2012 RL Gang Spring collection has it covered.

My favorites include the girl’s white blazer with pink detail and the boy’s dark denim paired with classic Polo stripes.

Because our entire family loves Ralph Lauren, I’ve mentioned RL Gang in the past; in fact, I posted about last year’s Spring debut. So, it was quite a treat to be invited to this year’s RL Gang Spring launch and video preview at Bloomingdale’s. The RL Gang Spring event was hosted by my friend, Nicole Feliciano of Momtrends, whom, I’m sure you know, is a style maven and fixture in the fashion front.

This was my first blog-related outing with both baby and big kid in tow, so it was quite fitting to preview this Spring line firsthand and meet some of the beautiful kids who comprise the RL Gang Class of 2012.  The precocious little girl, dubbed Willow and epitomizes Bohemian chic, approached the baby and me and made small talk.  I’m imagine she’s about four or five, and asked if she could carry the baby.  Even though I politely declined, I got a little chuckle out of it.

The big kid, who waxes poetic about being a movie star/model/rock star one day, enjoyed all the fun treats and rubbing elbows with his “peers” at the RL Gang Spring event; he even has his Flipbook to show for it.  To boot, one of the local tv news outlets, WPIX, was on hand to cover the event.  The boys and I made a super quick cameo at the very end!

Be sure to check out the Spring RL Gang and the adorable Class of 2012 online.

DVF for babyGap and Gap Kids in Stores Today

The day is finally here:  DVF for Gap Kids and BabyGap has officially launched.  It’s the day that many fashionista mommas, their mini fashionistas and Diane von Furstenburg fans alike have been anticipating.  Ok, so, the line has been seen online for weeks, and even hit Gap’s online site earlier this week, but today’s the day where we can pick up mini-wrap dresses for the smallest stylish set in-store.

The DVF for Gap Kids line ranges from $20-$85 and includes cute spring pieces such as rompers, dresses, leggings and assorted accessories.  DVF for Gap Kids features bold, whimsical prints in silhouettes that DVF fans already know and love. The adorable line for girls was created exclusively by designer Diane Von Furstenburg for Baby Gap and Gap Kids and is expected to be a hot seller. So, if you’re hoping to pick up a fun spring dress for your own budding fashionista, run, don’t walk, to your local Baby Gap or Gap Kids!

According to tweets that I’ve seen from my blogging pals who cover fashion, it looks like the line is a big hit, as expected.  Though I can’t see myself stocking my kid’s closet with $75 dresses that they’ll quickly grow out of, how can you resist an outfit or two when they’re this cute!  I love that they’re modern prints with classic appeal and age-appropriate pieces.  That romper (which as of this posting, I can’t find on the site,) that dress (same for this one pictured) and the bathing suits are so gift-worthy! Hello, cuteness! Thank goodness I don’t have any girls, otherwise I’d be even MORE broke! Ok, Gap, so what designer collaboration are we doing for the boys?

Judging from the fact that some pieces are already sold out online, from what I’ve seen, DVF for babyGap and Gap Kids lives up to the hype.  But as a sidenote (and as a mom to boys I would’ve never thought about this,) I’ve seen a few bloggers who have mentioned that the wrap dresses with attached shorts for toddlers may be confusing for the potty training set. Nevertheless, it sounds like DVF for Gap Kids is so popular, that these adorable dresses won’t be on the racks that long.

DVF for Gap Kids is available in stores and online now.