My Top Picks at “Time to Play” Showcase of Spring Toys

I had the privilege of attending TimetoPlayMag.com’s press conference and showcase, in New York City, to introduce this spring’s hottest toys. Jim Silver, editor in chief, and Chris Byrne, The Toy Guy, highlighted the spring season’s best products for summer fun. Mattel, Hasbro, LEGO, Crayola, Disney, Nickelodeon and others were represented exhibiting their new toys and games. Here are my top picks for building language and pretend play skills with kids:
  • LEGO is introducing play sets from Toy Story 3 as well as Cars. The Duplo train for the preschool set as well as Woody’s Western Train for 8 years and up are must haves for flexible fun play. With just enough pieces to move and change the action, these sets encourage kids to re-tell the story and invent their own.
  • Nickelodeon is introducing Dora’s Scrapbooking Adventure by Sakar that includes a 7 mega pixel camera, digital editing software so parents can help their little photographers add different backgrounds to pictures, and plenty of markers, stencils, glue and scissors to create a story from photos. Kids can document family  vacations or everyday experiences and add their touch to the story. (Age 5 and up, available in summer 2010). Dora’s Musical Fiesta by Megablocks transforms a boom box into a fiesta of fun, dance and moving to the beat. The set includes Dora, Boots and accessories to get the dance going while the Boombox offers four songs and four instrument beats. (Age 3 and up, available in the fall, 2010).
  • Playmobil’s Wildlife Care Station is a magical world of animal relief and care in the middle of the jungle. I have played with this set for hours with kids and reviewed it on playonwords.com. With lots of compartments, animals, caregivers and office accessories, a child never runs out of stories to tell while bandaging animals or setting their casts.The Rangers Vehicle with Rhino is an excellent addition to the set for rounding up injured animals. (Age 4 and up, available April, 2010)
  • Maui Toys’ Sky Ball is a hyper-charged, kid sized ball that brags about bouncing up to 75 feet in the air! I was attracted to it for it’s simplicity and potential for independent and creative play. Although they offer some accessories–paddles and catching devices–this ball can stand on its own as a kid entertainer, encouraging some inventive play. (Age 6 and up, available)
  • Petcakes are too cute to pass up. Can you imagine combining sprinkle, coconut or candy cupcakes and plush dogs with a built-in home? Tuck them into their cupcake holders and the dogs disappear for a nap. The more the merrier for cup cake fun.
  • Fisher Price added an Explorers 2 in 1 Lantern that tilts to become a flashlight to their kid tough collection. This light looks and feels like it could brave the toughest camping trip and sparks the imagination for a little play. Add the binoculars or camera to the field of fun. (Age 3 and up, available now)
  • Mattel introduced the Ultra Blast Gauntlet, that wraps around your wrist and allows the child to shoot plastic darts, just like Buzz Lightyear. (Age 5 and up, available in May 2010), An array of Toy Story 3 character figures invites creative play as kids extend the story from the movie, becoming the producer of the show.  Dr. Michael Shore, VP of Worldwide Consumer Insights at Mattel, Inc., offered to demonstrate the blaster and took out Barbie and Ken in the process! Separate sets of Toy Story 3 Action Links are sets of scenes from the movie that can be connected. Once put together, push the button and off goes a chain reaction of events where characters fly through the air, zip line to safety and defend against evil villains! Mix and match and create.
  • MegaBloks is re-introducing one of my favorites–The Pull Along Musical Pirate Ship, with removable parts so your pirates can go below for a nap or listen to the sounds of the sea. (Ages 1 and up, available fall, 2010)
  • Jakks Pacific came out with toddler sized costumes for your little Buzz Lightyear,Tinker Bell or Snow While. No more tripping over the skirts of big sister’s outfits. (Toddlers, available)
  • Insect Lore’s Butterfly Garden brings nature to life as kids watch a caterpillar transform into a butterfly. Teachers take note that this can be a science, writing or language arts lesson as kids journal about the changes and discuss the sequence of nature.
  • Disney’s new Pook-A-Looz are an edgy offbeat design of their characters in plush–looking like Disney meets Ugly dolls. My favorite was Eeyore.
  • Crayola gave out their new three dimensional sidewalk chalk. Just create your artwork on the sidewalk, put on the special glasses and you’re in a 3-D world. (available)
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