Toy Fair 2011 Trends and Beyond

Whew.  What an exhausting week it’s been.  You probably wouldn’t know it from my absence here on NKT, but I was at the New York Toy Fair, and what a productive week it was!

Every time I attempted to write up a post or two, I was distracted by toys or discussion about toys with my blogger pals. For my second year at Toy Fair, it was yet another fun adventure, and one that I’m excited to share.

From babies to big kids, manufacturers are stepping in up with their latest fares.  I spotted a lot of great trends ranging from active-inspired toys and games, to tech enhanced toys, to many licensed products in line with new movie releases (Pirates of the Carribean, Cars 2, Captain America, Green Lantern, etc.) to toys that continue to mimic the real world and of course, anything that’s old is new again.

Still in the process of digesting all this information and downloading the thousands of photos I took, I can’t wait to share more detailed information and sneak peeks of new toys, books and gifts that I saw in my travels.

In the meantime, here are just a few of the many photos I took over Toy Fair:

Skylanders Spyro’s Adventures from Activision incorporates actual toys with video game play.  This game, geared to gradeschoolers and up, is unique, exciting and the first of its kind.

Call it Monopoly 2.0 or video games of the future,  Monopoly Live involves electronic interactivity, player recognition and more.

In line with their 10-year deal with Sesame Street, Playskool rolled out their new line that celebrates America’s favorite furry monsters. Let’s Rock Elmo was the big reveal in this new Sesame Street line boasting accessory recognition, dancing and singing capability and more.

Megablok’s Need for Speed line was one of the many licenses-turned-toy/games that’s indicative of the impact games and apps have on kids and the products we’re finding on our toy store shelves.

Continuing on with the Teeny Tiny trend that I talked about last year and a trend that we saw continuous growth all year, Spinmaster is introducing Gomu, another line that will have girls lining up to collect more teeny tiny toys. Gomu, a line of tiny erasers, was one of my personal favorites since I love pens, pencils and writing tools, and collectible (and affordable) erasers.

I’ll be back with more finds and thoughts from Toy Fair 2011, but in the meantime, feel free to check out my Flickr photos.

MobiGo Review and Giveaway: VTech Introduces New Handheld Learning System


VTech has introduced  a new handheld learning system to its lineup of electronic learning toys.  I had the chance to get a glimpse of the MobiGo at Toy Fair, but got an even closer look at the unit this week before it officially hits the shelves.

The MobiGo is packed with features, including touch screen technology, sliding screen and is web-enabled via USB.

The MobiGo retails for $59.99, which is comparable to other handheld systems in this category.  In addition to the touch screen technology that mimics that of mom and dad’s iPhones and smartphones, what sets the MobiGo apart is its flip-up screen.  That feature made quite a few heads turn when we were toting the MobiGo around this week.

The MobiGo has a variety of game cartridges (19.99) and a carrying case (14.99).  The system is available in the blue/yellow or a pink/purple option.

Vtech MobiGo at ToyFair Read More

CES Roundup: Mom Tech, Kidos and Sesame Street USB

Just a few short weeks ago, thousands of techy types convened in Vegas for The Consumer Electronics Show.  This year, more than ever, Moms had a presence at CES.  The industry trade show even had a summit focused on mom consumers called Mommy Tech.  As cringe-inducing as the name may be, it’s true Moms, we are yet again a demographic that companies hope to woo.

If you’re reading this, or perhaps if you tweeted, texted or Facebooked at some point in the day.  YOU are the market that Mommy Tech encompasses.  In a report released by, they found that Moms want tech, not toys.  The report, called The 21st Century Mom, Tech Mom is a 36-pg report that essentially divulges the stats that we all confirm, what with our arsenal of gadgets, social media prowess and the role the internet plays in our daily life.

Technology, especially in regards to managing our home life, is hot.  And because I focus primarily on kid products, I wanted to mention a few findings from CES.

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Video Review: LeapFrog Text and Learn

A couple of weeks ago, while visiting our neighbor, I watched our kid from across the coffee table as he stared at our friend’s Blackberry.

He eyed it, then looked up at me.

Eyed it, then looked at hubs.

He knew exactly what he wanted, and nothing was going to stop him.

And then, he lunged for his electronic prey.

With the swiftness of a gazelle, I shooed his tiny paws and averted a would-be Blackberry disaster.

Like most kids, our little guy is absolutely fascinated by electronics.  Cellphones are everyday fixtures and of course, mom and dad are both iPod devotees and laptop junkies.  It’s no wonder he’s always trying to snatch up our expensive electronic gadgets the minute we let our guards down.   All he wants to do is “play” like mom and dad.  But unfortunately, his kind of “play” often ends with a cellphone buried in a bucket at the bottom of the toybox for 4 days.


But alas, leave it to LeapFrog:  the forward-thinking developer of children’s products recently released a couple of toys that address the would-be electronic gadget disasters.  In fact, they even commissioned some research to delve further into the topic.

LeapFrog recently commissioned a “Save Your PDA” survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, which found that when kids have access to their parents’ PDAs, shenanigans often follow. Kids apparently are dropping their parents’ PDAs into the toilet (7%) and garbage (9%). They are also changing settings (32%), smearing food on the keypad or screen (23%) or placing calls (51%) to folks parents may not be too thrilled to talk to unexpectedly–such as mothers-in-law, bosses or people overseas. For a little extra excitement, 16 per cent of these unwanted calls were to 911. A lucky 12% of parents, though, found out about new features on their PDA, thanks to their children’s “exploration.”

We identify with so many of these, but most notably, we’re part of the 12% that learned about new features.  Not surprisingly, we can’t replicate those new-found functions!

As electronics like Smartphones and PDAs become a mainstay in our lives, LeapFrog designed My Pal Scout and Text and Learn with curious kids in mind.

lfMy Pal Scout is plush puppy that sings and plays games with kids 6 months and up.  Scout can be personalized with kids’ names and favorite items via USB connection.

Text and Learn is a kiddie version of a PDA that even boasts a Qwerty keyboard.  While it might not be able to log on to Gmail or save data like the real thing, the Text and Learn encourages basic computer skills and preschool learning with games like letter matching and shape identification.

Check out my first video review to learn more about Scout and the Text and Learn.

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PeeWee PC debuts tablet laptop for kids

PeeWee PC has launched a new spill and drop-resistant tablet laptop for kids. The small, but rugged 3-pound laptop features a swiveling screen and can alternate between keyboard mode and a tablet mode. The PeeWee PC features kid-friendly, touch-optimized software that’s said to be suitable for 3-10 year olds. Security options allow Parents to limit usage and control how kids use their laptop. The laptop features an Intel Atom Processor, a Disney Windows XP Theme, and a 1.3 megapixel and rings in at about $600. You can heck out the PeeWee PC specs here.


I definitely appreciate PeeWee PC’s rugged, kid-friendly approach; however, the pricetag for a kid purchase—an electronic investment, no less—definitely makes me think twice.  PeeWee PC also offers the Power Laptop, another kid-friendly laptop, but $100 cheaper and with different specs.  Kid friendly laptops aren’t a new concept.  The OLPC XO, tasked to change the lives of children in developing countries, is a lowcost kid-friendly computer, but on a much different scale.
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Cool baby gadget: Itzbeen

In the early days, I barely even knew my name, nevermind remember the next feeding and from which side.  I wish I’d known about the Itzbeen.  There truly is a a gadget for everything!


Itzbeen is a device for new parents who need help staying on track with baby care.  The Itzbeen (pronounced: “it’s been”, as in it’s been forever since I’ve slept) has four timers to help you remember the basics, such as time intervals between diaper changes, feeding the baby, naptime or when to give meds.  Other cool features include: belt clip, nursing reminder switch, illuminated display, clock, and soft-glowflashlight that automatically goes off after 7 minutes, if left on.  It’s like a Swiss Army Utility Device but for baby care…all it needs now is the actual changing pad.  And perhaps an extra hand or two.

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Nintendo DSi set to launch

nintendo_dsiIn just a few days, the third iteration of the ubiquitous handheld videogame among kids of all ages, Nintendo DS, is set to launch the the multimedia-savvy Nintendo DSi.  Nintendo says the new DSi features will give gamers the ability to customize, personalize and share their experiences with friends and family. This version features two built-in, interactive cameras.   It also features a sound application that lets people put their own spin on their music with the ability to play and manipulate sound files accessed from an SD card. In addition to the DSi launch on April 5, Nintendo will also launch the Nintendo DSi Shop, a new online storefront where users can redeem Nintendo DSi Points to download games and applications. Nintendo DSi will be available in Blue or Black, and will cost $169.99.