Toy Insider Mom, Laurie Schacht, shares the hottest toys from all of the best TV shows and movies for kids with Woman’s Day: Big Hugs Elmo from Playskool, Disney Infinity, Max Steel Interactive Steel with Turbo Sword from Mattel, Disney Palace Toys from Blip Toys, Despicable Me 2 Talking Minions Action Figures from Thinkway Toys, 5-Inch Classic Sonic with Light-Up Emeralds from Jazwares, Under the Sea Surprise Ariel from Tollytots, Power Rangers Battlefire Megazord from Bandai, and the Doc McStuffins Get Better Checkup Center from Just Play.
Posts Tagged ‘Mattel’
1996. It was the year of the New York Yankees, the Chicago Bulls, the Dallas Cowboys. It was the year of Jerry Maguire and the Macarena. It was the year of Bill Clinton’s reelection. But most importantly, 1996 marked the best Christmas ever, with toy companies cranking out some of kids’ favorite toys of all time.
Who could forget the Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids dolls, from Mattel? Those pudgy-faced, yarn-haired little cuties each had a motorized mouth, and kids could feed their doll a french fry, a pretzel stick, a banana, and other yummy snacks. This was one of the toys my mom admits to pushing other moms out of the way for at Toys “R” Us on Black Friday morning. The food, which the dolls realistically chewed when kids inserted it into their mouths, fell into a backpack on the doll’s back, so kids could feed them over and over again. Of course, this beacon of glory was shortly recalled after the holiday season, as kids were getting their hair, skin, and fingers stuck in the doll’s mouth (as you can imagine, this resulted in many unhappy parents and kids with bald spots). While I made sure my hair was secured tightly in a ponytail while playing, my Snacktime Kid remained one of my favorite toys through ’97.
I’m not sure why, but girls have a strange fascination with turning their hair different colors (this is still true today, just do a Google search for “hair chalk”). In 1996, a time before hair chalk, Mattel had the perfect answer. Foam ’n Color Barbie came in three different colors: blue, yellow, and (duh) pink. Each doll featured platinum blonde hair and girls could use the included bottle of colored foam to paint Barbie’s hair—and their own!—a vibrant color. Bath time was never so much fun. The color would wash out (mostly) and then you could start all over again. Mattel also sold color foam replacements, so even if you had the pink Barbie, you could color her hair blue and yellow as well (though this wouldn’t match her included dress—as if!).
Who was the coolest dude on the block in ’96? Move over Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync members, Cool Shavin’ Ken is in town—stealing Barbie’s (and this at-the-time-6-year-old girl’s) heart. This particular Ken doll had realistic hair, and his face featured a full beard-and-moustache combo. There were so many amazing things about this Ken doll. No. 1: He came with shaving cream and a play bottle of Old Spice (Now, looking back on this, I was like, “wait, Old Spice?!?” But then I remembered 1996 was a time before Axe Body Spray). No. 2: Kids could dip the included little play razor in warm water and take it to Ken’s beard and watch as it magically disappeared. No. 3 (I saved the best for last): HE IS AFTERSHAVE-SCENTED. Need I say more? This was definitely a favorite doll for years to come (even after his aftershave scent wore off).
Though Beanie Babies, from Ty, had been around since 1993, 1996 was a top year for the plush pals, with help from miniature forms of the adorable animals distributed in McDonald’s happy meals. I had hundreds. The bears were the most coveted, as any Beanie Baby collector will tell you. I’ll never forget opening a gigantic shoebox full of them on Christmas morning and sorting them all out. It was overwhelming (looking back, though, it was a shoebox, so I’m not exactly sure how “gigantic” it actually was). Some of the best Beanie Babies released in ’96 include Bongo the monkey and Congo the gorilla, exotic cats like Freckles the leopard and Stripes the tiger, Patti the fuchsia platypus, Righty the elephant, Twigs the giraffe, and Zip the black cat.
You think the new millennium marked the tech revolution? Well, you’d be wrong. In 1996, we had the best piece of tech around. We had Nintendo 64. That’s right. Cartridge games. Bulky controllers. 3-D (no matter how pixilated) scenes. We had it all. And it was glorious. The system launched with just two games, Pilotwings 64 and Super Mario 64 (the two best games, Mario Kart 64 and Star Wars Episode I: Racer, weren’t released until 1997)—but both were amazing. And best of all, the console supported up to four controllers at once! That’s four people playing at a time (not to mention the iconic atomic purple controller)! It was revolutionary, and even now with things like the PS4 and Xbox One in existence, big kids my age still love getting their hands on the iconic N64.
And of course, I saved the best for last. This one is a toy nearly everyone is familiar with. You know him, you love him: Tickle Me Elmo, from Tyco Preschool. While Elmo and other Sesame Street toys were nothing new, Tickle Me Elmo was in short supply and high demand. The talking and laughing plush toy interacted with kids and laughed when he was tickled. He won the hearts of kids and parents in the U.S. in no time. With a price point of only $28.99, Tickle Me Elmo is reported to have sold for as much as $1,500. A great toy for its time, kids delighted in interacting with Elmo and tickling him to the point of uncontrollable, shaking laughter. Older kids wanted him as well, which was interesting for a preschool toy. Though this was one my parents just couldn’t pull off for Christmas, my cousins were the envy of the family with their interactive, giggly red furball.
Though there have been many great toys and gifts in the years since the morning of December 25, 1996, none seem to stand out as much as these. Cheers, to the ghost of Christmas past.
More awesome holiday toys of 1996 that I couldn’t include in this post without you getting bored and not reading the entire thing:
1. Sky Dancers, from Lewis Galoob Toys
3. Real Talkin’ Bubba, from Tyco
4. 15” Talking Michael Space Jam Action Figure, from Warner Bros.
If there is one thing Barbie knows about, it’s fashion. Whether she’s a teacher, a doctor, an astronaut, camping in the woods, hanging out on her yacht, or lounging around her Dream House, you can bet she’s doing it in style. Now Barbie’s adding a little more to the runway with the Barbie Digital Dress doll, from Mattel. Barbie lights up the red carpet and the runway with a dress that makes a customizable digital fashion statement combining fashion, sound-activation, and trendy tech. In fact, Barbie’s black dress uses a 4.5 square-inch resistive touch panel and 114 tri-color LEDs.
Using this LED and touch-screen technology, girls ages 6 and up can create and select their own animated digital designs, which appear on the doll’s dress. Barbie is, of course, always on trend with her fashions, but this doll lets kids get in on the design, in a cool light-up, digital way. Using a finger or the stylus, kids can create their very own designs to give Barbie’s fashion a more personal touch that light up the runway.
The Digital Dress has three modes of play: design, animation, and sound. Kids can choose from ready-to-go graphics such as hearts and fireworks, draw custom designs, and watch designs respond to sound and music. The Barbie Digital Dress doll comes with 15 preloaded designs, in case you’re not feeling so creative, the stylus need to design your own, and the cool ability to have those designs move to the music. Let’s face it: the Barbie Digital Dress doll isn’t just a fancy dress—it’s the star of the fashion show!
Activity toys are great for keeping kids busy for a few hours, but the best part about toys in this category is that they yield a physical object that kids can call their own. Incorporating kids’ favorite characters into arts and crafts products brings toys in this category one step further.
Tara Toy has an awesome line of Monster High arts and crafts products for kids ages 6 and up. The Make It Clawsome Activity Journal is a fang-tastic light up journal that kids can color and decorate. The iconic, adorably ghoulish Monster High skull is featured on the cover, and it lights up in different colors when kids press down on the center. The journal set comes with 112 assorted Monster High stickers (including six square stud stick-ons and super cute photo frames), four brightly colored markers, and one purple glitter pen. Kids can color and decorate the cover of the 60-page journal and then fill it up with their favorite memories, doodles, photos, or whatever else they want. Instead of a standard diary, the Make it Clawsome Activity Journal leaves girls with a completely unique product they designed themselves, but one that also reflects the Monster High brand they adore.
In addition to the journal, the Monster High Color ’n Style Light Up Lamp is another completely customizable activity item from Tara Toy. Kids can color and design their own light up vinyl Monster High skull to display in their room. This product is an activity toy and an ultra affordable piece of room décor all in one. The vinyl skull includes printed black line art to color in with three included markers (though any markers will do just fine) and gem stickers. The skull contains color-changing LED lights, leaving kids with the perfect bedside lamp.
Each of these products provides lasting play value. Customization is great for kids looking to get creative, but the black outlines also help kids who need a little bit of guidance. With these and more from Tara Toy, kids are left with a keepsake they can show off, and, best of all, a great sense of accomplishment and pride.
How fun would it be to play with this year’s hottest toys for the holidays AND get to talk with the companies behind those toys to find out what makes them so incredible? Dozens of bloggers from New York, Boston, and Philadelphia enjoyed that opportunity recently at the Biggest Day of Holiday of Play with The Big Toy Book, the Toy Insider, and Woman’s Day Magazine.
The event was held on the 44th floor of the Hearst Tower in an amazing space that offered gorgeous views of New York City. Even more exciting, the room was packed with toys that will be topping wish lists this holiday season.
From educational toys such as the LeapReader, from LeapFrog, to tech gadgets like the Silverlit Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG that syncs to your iDevice, to the ever-popular Disney line of toys including Sophia the First and Doc McStuffins, bloggers were able to play with all kinds of toys.
The companies behind the toys were also part of the fun, standing by to answer questions and explain how each item works. That was helpful with items like Zoomer, the robot puppy from Spin Master, which has to be trained like a real puppy to sit, roll over, and even play dead.
Bloggers enjoyed lunch and a quick run through of the toys by Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht, and at the end they were sent home with swag bags featuring some of the hot items that were shared at the event.
The Max Steel Interactive Steel with Turbo Sword has lots of cool features, and it lets kids ages 4 and up pretend they’re Max Steel, who currently stars in his own animated series. This toy combo from Mattel includes both the sword as well as Steel, Max’s alien robot friend, who has a light-up face and emits 19 phrases and sounds. Each toy is cool enough on its own, but in keeping with the show’s premise that Max and Steel reach their full potential when interacting together, attaching Steel to the sword creates one cool, glowing blue blade. It definitely takes pretend role-play to a higher level!
Steel can also be clipped to the front of a favorite T-shirt and taken anywhere.
Commentary by Marissa DiBartolo
It’s Saturday night (undoubtedly after a long work week). A friend is throwing a huge party for the big game, or a birthday, or just because, you know, it’s Saturday. So you set off on an adventurous evening, teeming with excitement, even braving the seasonal elements if necessary. Your friend welcomes you with a cheery embrace, but as you look around the room, you come to the realization that you don’t know a single soul.
You know the moment. How do you make your way into a conversation without coming across as anything but your cool, confident self? Luckily, there’s a saving grace for these types of scenarios: party games. (more…)
Grandparents.com, where it’s great to be grand, helped spread a message from partner Mattel about a way you can help endangered chocolate bunnies by giving toys this Easter instead. Click on the newsletter below to find out more information!
Also check out Mattel‘s Save the Bunnies YouTube video below:
With Barbie’s Dream House on the market for $25 million dollars, she needed a little help moving all those boxes. Luckily, our Toy Insider Mom was at Mattel to help!
Any takers on the house?
Meanwhile, our editor-in-chief Jackie Breyer made some friends with Activision’s Skylanders!
And Playmates found their two newest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles recruits in Jackie and Laurie.
The Little Mommy Doctor Mommy Doll from Mattel features light and sensors for responsive play. The doll interacts with a child when the included medical instruments are used. Baby doll responds “Ahhhh!” the the tongue depressor and giggles when the reflex hammer makes her knee pop up (it really kicks!).