Battle Strikers are a force to reckon with

One exciting toy that’s worth buzzing about is Battle Strikers by Mega Brands. This new toy, which was released earlier this year, is already being called a “breakout toy” by Chris Byrne, AKA The Toy Guy.


So, what is it? An updated and exciting version of the classic spinning top, Battle Strikers takes it to the next level with battery-operated launchers, unique and superfast Strikers and a tournament arena. After being launched, the lightning-fast Battle Strikers can be navigated by magnetic finger Controllers, adding even more excitement to the playing field. Battle Strikers is a simple concept that Mega Brands has revved up to offer a kid-controlled battle system


Mega Brands gave us the chance to test out the Tournament Set, so I enlisted the help of my 12-year old nephew who is no stranger to battle systems.  The Tournament Set, which retails for $35, comes with two Launchers, two Controllers, two Strikers and a battle arena.  Starter kits and single Strikers are also available.

Upon first impression, as a mom to a little guy, I balked at all the small pieces that Battle Strikers included. (The suggested age range is for 6 years and up) But once the actual Strikers were constructed, it all made so much more sense to me.  The Launchers, Controllers and Strikers are all boldly colored and appear to be durable enough to withstand countless battles. The arena is a basic plastic square with walls that allow for enough room for the Strikers to battle, but still be controlled. There are a few great YouTube videos that showcase Battle Strikers in motion, but I love how candid this one is:

launcherAs I mentioned, the premise of Battle Strikers is simple, with new technology and engineering for a new generation. There are 12 different Strikers, which all have their own character and strengths, differing in attack, defense and control.  Kids can collect and interchange the different Striker pieces to customize and enhance their battles.  The Strikers easily click into the bottom of the Turbo Launchers. The Launcher, which channels a joystick of sorts, accelerates the Strikers by pushing a trigger on the handle.   The Launcher releases the Strikers by bumping the opponent’s Launcher or tapping the top of your own. Once things are in motion, it’s pretty empowering to be able to navigate and strategize with the magnetic Finger Controller.  (Don’t get let the Controller get too close to the Striker because the magnet will pick it up. I know this one firsthand!) The object is to keep your Striker in motion, and the last Striker standing wins.


One thing my nephew kept mentioning is that Battle Strikers reminded him of Beyblades, another battling top sort of toy. From the research I did, it seems like Beyblades has a very loyal following, many of whom seem to have mixed opinions of the new Battle Strikers. I remember buying my nephew a few Beyblades toys when he was into them, but from what I can tell now, they seemed to have fizzled since I haven’t heard much about them. With its powerful launchers and 12 different customizable Strikers and Finger Controllers, Battle Strikers will likely have its own loyal following!

Battle Strikers is a fun new game that involves imagination, competition, strategy and speed, and one that I think older boys will love. Battle Strikers is likely to land on a lot of Christmas gift lists this year, and don’t be surprised if you hear even more buzz on these soon!


Be sure to check out Battle Striker’s website to get a taste of the action with all their fun interactive features! Battle Strikers can also be found on YouTube and Facebook.

Portable and Huggable: Mobi TykeLight GloMate

Because of the husband’s job, sometimes we get to try out new products or test out samples that we wouldn’t otherwise have the chance. The TykeLight GloMate from Mobi is the latest cool gadget that we had the chance to try out, coincidentally on our most recent roadtrip.


The TykeLight GloMate is a new take on the old school nightlights. This nightlight is rechargeable, portable and even huggable. On our 350 mile roadtrip back to our hometown, a trip that we take way too often, we try to find ways to entertain the toddler when he isn’t sleeping in the backseat. Since we haven’t succumbed to the car dvd player, toys and music are our savior. This time, right at sunset, we broke out the TykeLight GloMate and the little guy didn’t let go until we made our destination, hours after he’d fallen asleep.  The soft, colorful glow was so comforting and never overpowering—a perfect complement to our bedtime routine.
We have various other nightlights and sound machines that we’ve used since the baby days, but the TykeLight GloMate is the first that we can bring on roadtrips or snuggle with. As we speak, the kid is pretending it’s his own little baby and shushing it to “sleep.”

Bedtime can get rough, but having consistency at bedtime is key. The TykeLight GloMate is the perfect size for toddlers to tote to bed or on the go, yet ideal for bigger kids to use in their bedroom, too. The TykeLight GloMate glows blue, green, red, violet or cycle through the rainbow of colors. It can glow for 10 whopping hours per charge and features a 15-minute dimmer when the kid falls asleep.

Because of its functionality and portability, the TykeLight Glomate is one of my favorite kid gadgets to date. At just $20, I foresee the TykeLight GloMate becoming one of my go-to gifts for my new mom friends.

Bento Boxing it

With the kids back in school and the ongoing concern for childhood obesity, healthy eating habits, naturally, is a hot topic for many parents.  One trend for packing lunches that’s flourishing in not only kids, but also adults, is the Bento Box.  Japanese-style bento boxes have nesting compartments which is perfect for fresh fruits, veggies, pasta, last night’s leftovers—you name it.  The compartments also serve as a built-in portion control system!  Genius.  As the popularity of Bento Boxes grows, as do the different varieties.  Here are just a few of my favorites:

The Goodbyn

The Goodbyn is an awesome Bento Box that Brandy, a friend and NKT reader, first told me about a few months ago.  And after hearing about it, it’s no surprise that I read about it in various places—it’s just that cool. 

Snapshot 2009-09-24 10-46-23Snapshot 2009-09-24 10-46-55

This Bento Box, designed by a mom, has six compartments, a lid and an 8.5 oz. drink cup.  The animal-ish shaped boxes come in kid-friendly colors and even come with stickers that kids can use to personalize.  The beauty of Bento Boxes is because of its compartments or nesting containers, it eliminates the usage of plastic baggies, and in this case, juice boxes.  The Goodbyn, an eco-friendly and pretty sweet alternative to traditional lunchboxes, not only promotes healthier eating by controlling portions, but it’s also safer since it’s said to be  Phthalate and BPA-free.  It’s no wonder The Goodbyn is creating all that well-deserved buzz.

Zojirushi Mini Bento Box
I recently had the chance to check out the Zojirushi Mini Bento Box and I love it; it’s so cute and functional!  This is one company that gets it right.

41IGc1oW65L._SS500_We received an amazing Zojirushi electric skillet as a wedding/shower gift, and we love it.  And so when I received this one at an event, I knew it would be just as great.  The Mini Bento Box comes with 3 containers:  2 smaller plastic containers and 1 larger container with a twist off lid.  The smaller containers would be ideal to hold leftovers, fruit, veggies and the like.  The larger container looks like it’s meant to hold rice; I love that it also has a removable outer metal cup to keep it warm.  The fabric bag is cute and very portable; it certainly wouldn’t take up much space in a bookbag.  This set comes with a chopsticks and handy matching case, too.  Like many Americans, I have no discipline when it comes to portion control, and so I will say that this mini bento box lives up to the “mini” part.  It would be ideal for kids, especially since you can tuck things into the pockets in the fabric bag.  For mamas who make their own baby food, this mini bento box would be perfect to store those cubes in!  This Bento Box can be found at Amazon.

Bento Set in Black Sushiil_fullxfull.83560673

This Etsy find from Spacestitch was too cute not to mention.  It encompasses elements of both of the above Bento Boxes, all rolled up into one.

I love the sushi print combined with the black contrasting fabric and pink ribbon, which gives it a modern and whimsical look.  This set comes with a two-tiered plastic bento box, utensils, napkin, drawstring bag and elastic bands.  This set looks like it would carry a lot more, making it perfect for moms and older kids.  This Bento Box cannot be microwaved or put in the dishwasher, but its convenience and cute factor make up for that!

If you already do Bento Boxes, what are some of your meal ideas?  I love how creative people get with lunches, so let’s hear ’em!  For some great ideas check out: The Goodbyn blog; Hippomum’s photos; and  Kideats Flickr Pool

Seriously, these people inspire me to get more creative and diverse with the kid’s meals.  Hey, if it gets kids of all ages interested in eating/trying healthy foods, I’m all for it!

Back to School Must Have: Lovable Labels

For most kids, school has been underway for a few weeks now.  While most families have already satisfied their schooLovable Labels Bear_withTAG_8 (120x120)l supplies shopping list, there will always be those lingering must haves.  Since our family vacation coincided with Labor Day and a lot of my energy was exerted into preparing for the trip leading up to my cousin’s wedding, I didn’t have a chance to do a Back to School Shopping Guide.  And so this week, I will be featuring my Back to School Must Haves.

IMG_0459Moms and dads with kids in school and daycare know how pertinent it is to label every single item.  My kid has lost entire outfits at daycare because I failed to label them!  Well, thanks to Lovable Labels, we can set our Sharpies down since they’ve made labeling a breeze.

Lovable Labels kindly sent our family the Back to School Pack to review, and I’ve been on a labeling frenzy ever since.  Even though my kid isn’t in school yet, as a family who is constantly on the go, The Back to School Pack is ideal for all of our labeling purposes.  We received the black labels with a fun little dinosaur graphic that I adore.  I labeled our playground toys with the slimline labels since we go to the park every day, and those toys can be exchanged with numerous little hands.  The labels are durable, distinctive and pretty darn cute!
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Etsy find: Natural Cars from Happy Squash Toys

With toy recalls and reports of unsafe toy manufacturing and imports creating a cause for concern, in an effort to observe more sustainable choices, naturally, some families opt for greener toys made from renewable resources. And of course, a smart and economical alternative to mass produced toys are unique, handmade goodies. Beyond whittling your own collection of handmade toys yourself, thank goodness for the treasure trove that is Etsy! I always say this, but you can’t buy the kind of craftsmanship that you find in Etsy in a mainstream store —no matter what the product might be!

Jack playing with Natural Cars

Today’s Etsy find is from a toy shop that I’ve featured before—I love these toys that much. Happy Squash Toys sent us a trio of Natural Cars for review, and based on the kid’s inability to put them down for one second, it’s official: they’re a hit.

Like most boys his age, our almost 2-year old is fascinated by anything with wheels or rolls. Cars, trains, animals with wheels, bikes, tractor trailers—you name it, he loves it. The Natural Cars from Happy Squash Toys are no exception. He loves wheeling them around the floor, furniture and whatever surface that will let him mobilize these cars. The trick is always finding a way to make all 3 roll at once since his little hands aren’t quite big enough to push them all at once yet. I love the way our little guy makes his own little car sounds when playing with the Natural Cars. I’ll take those sweet imaginative noises over the loud battery-operated honks, beeps and flashing lights any day.

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My Alligator…

Many thanks to the “Teach my Alligator Manners” segment on the Disney Channel, the kid has become obsessed with alligators. The fondness of manners? That’s coming. But I’m definitely loving the frequent usage of “pweeease” these days.
But back to alligators…since he can’t get enough of the segment, he’s also learning to recognize the parallels between the shows he loves and his toybox. And thus, we have a newly found appreciation for the Dancing Alligator from PlanToys.


The wooden, clacking pull-along toy was one of the gifts we bought for him for his 1st birthday, but he’s just now finally “getting” it. No batteries involved, just kid power, this toy brings back the old school essence of pull-along toys that I remember from my own childhood. But be forewarned, the “dancing” part of this alligator also translates into “clacking.” So, if loud toys aren’t your thing, definitely check out other PlanToys. (I personally love watching our guy run around with his alligator trailing/dancing behind!) Our alligator has made many leaps and falls these past few weeks, proving that it’s both timeless and sustainable, as far as toddler toys go. The Dancing Alligator will be one of those toys that we’ll likely keep for our kid(s)’ kids!
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Safe Baby, safe baby 1,2,3…

Even though summer is in full swing and I’ve already raved about one of our favorite sunscreens, I thought I’d share another great sunscreen that I had the chance to try out.
safebabySafe Baby, which is part of Skin by Monica Olsen line, is a paraben-free, waterproof sunscreen with SPF 50. Monica Olsen, a former model, but more importantly, a conscientious mama like many of us, was in search of natural baby products that she liked. Since she couldn’t find anything that she felt comfortable using on her new babe, she decided to create her own line.
Safe Baby contains organic flower extracts, vitamins and doesn’t use any harsh chemicals such as alcohol. Who’d want those nasty, harsh chemicals irritating baby’s skin anyway?

I love the way Safe Baby applies; it’s not too thick or overpowering, like other sunscreens I’ve tried in the past. The scent, at first, I thought was a bit too flowery for my taste, but it dissipated and became a subtle, sweet scent once applied. As a mama with a fair-skinned babe, I like that it’s SPF 50, too. Again, like most natural products, Safe Baby is a bit pricier than I’d like to pay. There are a few ingredients listed that I can’t pronounce, and perhaps because it’s newer, I couldn’t find these products in the Cosmetic Database yet. But after a day in the sun, Safe Baby worked wonderfully and didn’t leave everything greasy or stained.

Safe Baby is worth checking out. It’s a great alternative to the chemical laden sunscreens and good option for a more natural and safe sunscreen. If you’re in the NYC area, SKIN by Monica Olsen is available at Duane Reade. Safe Baby is also available at other stores, as well as online.

Want Safe Baby for yourself?

Tell me another product in the Skin by Monica Olsen line and comment below!

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Fun in the sun with TruKid Sunny Days

I’ve joked before how, as kids, my brothers and I used to race to see who could get the most tan. In retrospect, it wasn’t the safest “game,” even with our darker complexions. It was the 80s, afterall—y’know, the decade of excess… But now, as a mama (with a very fair-skinned mestizo babe) naturally, like many other mamas, my perspective on sun safety has since changed.

According to, most kids rack up between 50% and 80% of their lifetime sun exposure before age 18.

That’s a lot of fun in the sun, which is also why my mom friends and I often compare notes on the best natural sunscreens for our kids. Kiss My Face, California Baby and Jason products are often mentioned, but since being introduced to TruKid products, I can’t say enough great things.

A small family-run business, TruKid was born as a result of a mother who sought to fill a void. After searching for safe, but effective skin products for her five active kids (now six), Jennifer Adams Bunkers created TruKids. TruKid uses natural ingredients and essential oils, and it’s no surprise that he Environmental Working Group has given TruKid’s entire line, tru-007-2(including the products I’m about to review) the safety rating of 0-3.

Just as I started this blog, TruKid was one of the first companies to reach out to me after a mention on my Toxic Tub post. Yeah, they’re that awesome. I’ve spoken highly of the Happy Face and Body Lotion in the past, (seriously, can’t get enough of that fun apple scent and I love the smell of my clean boy) but with another long and SUNNY holiday weekend upon us, I wanted to share a review about TruKid’s Sunny Days, which comes in a fabulous sunscreen lotion and super-convenient face and body stick.

The Sunny Days sunscreen lotion comes out thick and creamy, yet not greasy or oily. Because of its creamier consistency, with just 2 dollops, the boy is good to go. I’ve used much watery sunscreens in the past, and I feel like all I do is squirt, squirt and apply.

The facestick is definitely a favorite for us. We have it tucked away in our diaper bag, stroller pocket and even our beach/playground bag. About twice the size of a tube of chapstick, the facestick, is easy to apply with just a few swipes. It, too, isn’t too thick, but light enough to apply and smooth on with one or two swipes. Because the kid thinks the facestick is actual chapstick, I tend to wipe some on my fingers to avoid unnecessary sunscreen-licking.

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OnTray: next best thing to an extra set of hands

While shopping, some kids get bored, some get hungry and some just want what they can’t have.  So, for those of us who try to get in and out of stores as fast as possible to minimize the chance of a public meltdown, an extra set of hands would be a big help.

ontray_buyphotoAnd that’s where the OnTray would come in handy.  The  OnTray is the brainchild of Laura Hamrick, a mom who spent a harried grocery shopping trip handing out snacks one-by-one to her three small boys, while trying to look through coupons and fill the cart.  We’ve all been there.

Hamrick then devised a way to occupy her little guys with a small tray that would easily snap on and off, allowing her to shop and multi-task a bit easier.  The award-winning snap-on tray can also can be used to hold coupons, keys and cell phones, making it a helpful gadget for multi-tasking parents.  On the safety front, OnTray is manufactured in the U.S. of FDA-approved plastic, BPA-free and it meets all new requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

If you’re like us and consider your stroller the shopping cart and a second “vehicle” I discovered that the OnTray is a great alternative to those snack trap cups!  The OnTray snaps onto stroller handlebars, allowing toddlers to access snacks and toys easily.

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