After an unseasonably mild day in the middle of February, my thoughts naturally turn to summer vacation. Each year, our family takes a week-long getaway by trading in the daily Long Island rat-race for a leisurely paced sojourn somewhere in New England. Last summer it was Gloucester, Mass. and the year before that, coastal Rhode Island (we tend to favor towns by the sea, if you hadn’t already guessed). As I peruse the myriad of family-friendly destinations up north, I find myself drawn to Martha’s Vineyard again and again. I love the idea of a place where my day is dictated by what beach I’ll swim in and what flavor of homemade ice cream I’ll be sampling later on. Thoughts of a great escape couldn’t have been far behind in the making of Playmobil’s Harbor line of playsets and vehicles that will launch later this spring. We were treated to a walk-through of the line’s latest updates at last week’s Toy Fair where we paid particular attention to the Car Ferry with Pier. Not only does this ferry really float, but it has a fold-up ramp that ensures a smooth departure for both vacationing vehicles and their passengers. It also comes with four figures, a motorbike, bicycle and life rings to get people to their destination safely. So, no matter whether your resident playmates are headed to the Cape or up the coast, with the Playmobil Car Ferry, they won’t miss the boat. As for me, I’ll send you a postcard when I get to the Vineyard…
In a Nutshell: Feel like you ferry your kids around all day? Let their imaginations take them for a ride instead –and tell them it’s the captain’s day off. The Playmobil Car Ferry with Pier will be available in April.
Helping kids develop an ear for music is one of the great joys of parenting. Ever since my girls could utter their first words, we’ve been introducing them to the different sounds and singers whose music delights our listening ears. My 7-year-old knew her Billy Joel from her Frank Sinatra even as a preschooler, while my 3-year-old is just beginning to identify a saxophone vs. a trumpet. We’re not surprised then that Symphony in B., a new musical toy that we saw at Toy Fair last week, has taken center stage. Following a shape sorter concept, mini maestros can place any combination of up to six miniature musical instruments (from a total of 13) in their corresponding slots, select the type of music they’d like to hear and let the serenading begin! Mix and matching everything from a clarinet to a sitar makes for unique composing. If you’re looking to playtime more educational, this toy is the perfect excuse to turn music-making into a learning experience. As each instrument sounds, it lights up to help kids pinpoint woodwinds from brass, percussion from strings. Before long, your kids will know their “Piano Man” from their “Ol’ Man River,” too.
In a Nutshell: Ready to move past pots and pans? Help your kids graduate from the School of Rock to something a bit more sophisticated will be like music to your ears.
Blame it on the leftover Valentine’s Day candy lurking around our house, but we couldn’t help but notice the colorful confectioneries staring us down at Toy Fair this week. Everywhere we turned, there were sugary snack-inspired playthings that made our mouths water and our smiles widen. While we expected to see sweet treats in the crafts and pretend food categories, we never thought candy would make its ways into building toys. But what a sight for sore eyes it was! Like a kid in a candy store, we couldn’t get enough of Candy Construction, a 92-piece building set for ages 4-8. Plastic pieces in the likeness of chocolate bars, starlight mints, peppermint sticks and other classic dime-store candies make for vibrant houses, buildings and more. These pieces snap together easily, so little hands can assemble any number of constructions with little frustration. Not only is this building set ideal for year-round play, but come the holidays, it makes for a great (note: mess-free) alternative to gingerbread house making. Giving new meaning to eye candy, Candy Construction will give your kids a creative sugar high, minus the cavities.
In a Nutshell: Here’s one treat that kids will savor long after dessert. Candy Construction will be available in March.
The lucky mom that I am, I am treated to a musical serenade by my 3-year-old every afternoon. She pounds…er, plays on her kitty keyboard like there’s no tomorrow. It’s quite possible you have seen the offending musical instrument that I’m talking about: an orange-hued Cheshire cat that grins from ear to ear with a row of piano key teeth. My preschooler can’t get enough of this thing, and our ears (and forever-hiding family cat) are proof of her “music-making.” As much as I jest and sometimes cringe each time I hear her striking up the band, I secretly delight in her unabashed merriment in playing and singing along off-key. Her 7-year-old sister also partaking in the joy? Not so much… Maybe it’s because she feels a bit left out of this one-woman band and that the band leader isn’t partial to sharing (not yet, anyway). Imagine then when, earlier this week at Toy Fair, we feasted our eyes on B.toys follow-up to the ever-popular Meowsic: Woofer, the hound dog-shaped guitar. We sampled the Woofer for ourselves at this week’s Toy Fair and man, can this pooch rock! You can strum along to 20 sing-along favorites, as well as 9 original Peppy Puppy songs, in one of three guitar styles: electric, acoustic or, our personal favorite, hound dog. Creative artists can also plunk out their own riffs as loud as they choose (there’s also a volume-control for more sensitive ears). Hotdog indeed! So, from the looks (and sounds) of things, our band just acquired a new member. Let’s just hope our cat will show her face again one of these days…
In a Nutshell: Got a Joan Jett wannabee on your hands? Hand her a Woofer and let ‘er rip!
These days, we’re hard-pressed to find a family with kids under the age of 5 who don’t own some toy made by Melissa & Doug. Be it a wooden puzzle, a pretend pizza-making kit or a craft set, many of the mom friends we know with young kids are familiar with the brand name and are more than impressed with the quality of their selection. One of our favorite lines under the Melissa & Doug umbrella is the backyard-focused Sunny Patch, a fresh-faced collection of gardening toys, sand/beach gear and rainy-day accessories. Now, we can really get the outdoor party started with the latest extension to the Sunny Patch line: Pool Party, featuring nearly 30 different toys and activities to keep kids entertained while in the water. We saw the entire assortment on display at this week’s Toy Fair in NYC, and couldn’t decide which one we liked the best. Perhaps because we’re Long Islanders born and bred, it was Louie Lobster Claw Catcher that caught our eye. Kids will have a ball squeezing Louie’s handle to make his claws shut, while trying to grab any of his three fishy sinkers floating past. The more you splash around, the more waves you make and the harder it is for Louie to catch his dinner. We think Louie will be a big hit with the kindergarten and up crowd this summer.
In a Nutshell: Everybody into the pool…a new line of whimsical water toys are coming soon to a backyard near you.