Cold Enough for You?

With much of the USA spending a lot of their time indoors these days, it’s important to think about what the kids are doing to entertain themselves. Here are a few of our current favorite toys to while away the winter.

Star Wars Hero Mashers (Hasbro)

star wars hero masherHasbro’s previous Mashers sets have included Spiderman, Jurassic’s World dinosaurs, and Transformers, so Star Wars couldn’t have been far behind. Oddly, though, only the male characters are available. Despite that glaring oversight, these toys are amazingly fun and give children hours of play, acting out favorite episodes, comics, and making up their own adventures. These figures are nicely articulated and fully interchangeable, so you can swap heads, arms, weapons, and everything else to create your very own ultimate hero (or villain). The only thing that would make them better would be to bring on Rey, Black Widow, Jessica Jones (without the booze), and the other leading ladies of heroism. Women matter. Hey—without Rey, how does the Force awaken, anyway? Prices vary. Learn more at http://www.hasbro.com/en-us/brands/heromashers

Marvel Legends Infinite Series (Hasbro)

marvel legends infiniteAha! If you’re looking for those female action figures, they’re over here, sitting on shelves right next to the guys. So now Wasp, Spidergirl, and a few others can join your child in adventures with Ant Man, Spiderman, Iron Man, Venom, and more. The Infinite Series is great for a number of reasons. First, the figures really look like their characters. Second, the line also includes some hard-to-find characters. Third, all of the figures are nicely articulated and seem to be begging you to pick them up and play with them (as opposed to collector editions that look great on a shelf but won’t stand up to being tossed around. Fourth, when you buy one, you get a bonus piece: an arm, a head, or something else that you can use to build a whole new toy once your collection is complete. Why wait for Marvel to create a new superhero when you can do it yourself? Around $20 each at stores like Toys R Us.

DigiBirds (Spinmaster)

digibirdThese friendly birds are adorable, and come in a variety of breeds, colors, and packages. You can get owls, penguins, chicks, and others one at a time, in multi packs, and in sets that include a birdcage, igloo, or another habitat. There are so many options that your child can assemble a whole chorus of tweeting friends. DigiBirds dance, bop, chirp, sing—either alone or in ensembles with their buddies—and do pretty much everything real birds do but fly and, oh, you know. Your child can blow into the (included) whistle ring to get the party started, or she can place two birds close together and they’ll automatically sync up and sing together. Want to expand the birds’ repertoires? Just download the free DigiBirds app. Prices start at about $10.99 at stores like Kmart. Learn more at http://us.digibirds.com/

Star Wars Disney Infiniti (Disney)

disney infinityWhile we’re strong with the Force, have you and your children played the new Disney Infinity 3.0 yet? It’s fun, interactive, and if you don’t already own one, it may become your console of choice. Some Infiniti characters are already out, and the most recent releases include Rey, Finn, and Kylo Ren. You and your kids can awaken the Force, become a Rebel, or create new scenarios with your favorite Disney characters who’ve made the jump from a screen to your living room floor. Where else can Boba Fett and Princess Jasmine hang out, after all? Learn more at https://infinity.disney.com

Interactive Toys for Toddlers

The holidays may be behind us, but that doesn’t mean the end of the gift-giving season… There are birthdays, equinoxes, rainy days, and plenty of duplicate gifts to return. But what to get for the discerning tot in your home? Here are some of the top interactive toys for the toddler set that will keep kids entertained—and are fun for mom and dad too.
baby butterscotch pony from hasbro and furrealFurreal Friends Baby Butterscotch, My Magical Show Pony (Hasbro). This new addition to Hasbro’s Furreal Friends line is the most animated and responsive yet. Scratch Butterscotch’s head and she’ll nuzzle your hand, talk to her, and she’ll respond with the pony equivalent of cooing. Feed her a carrot and she’ll make happy crunching sounds. Brush her fur, and she’ll love you forever. Baby Butterscotch is a fun intro to owning a real pet—she even snores at the end of a long day of play. Carrot and brush included. Ages 4 and up.

Interactive Story Buddies from HallmarkInteractive Story Buddies (Hallmark)
Bigsby, the shy monster, likes to go on big adventures and learn new things with his friends. He—along with the other Story Buddies—speak up when they hear certain words. Those words can be delivered by mom or dad, your child, or even the narrator in the iPod/iPad app. Each Story Buddy comes with a book and a read-along CD, free downloadable apps, and a host of other interactive features on line. You can also buy more books, which continue Bigsby’s adventures. The books gently teach social skills, such as friendship. But what we think is far more important, they encourage parents to snuggle up and read with their children. And that’s priceless. Ages 2 and up.

Super Grover (Playskool)
super groverThe Sesame Street Flying Super Grover Plush toy is a lot of fun for fans of Sesame Street.  Parents can explore the world with their child as they help Super Grover investigate and solve problems on earth and beyond. He’s not only cute (in that monstery sort of way) and a good playmate, he can also help your child learn empathy and social skills by teaching him or her about different countries and cultures, and how kids can help others and their communities. For high-flying fun, just the right message for your pre-K and K children, delivered by a friendly face they know and love, Super Grover will be a year-round hit. His preloaded songs, motorized motion, cool flying sounds, and vocabulary of absurd Grover-ish phrases will keep your kiddo entertained long after the thank-you notes are written (you do have your kids write thank you notes, right?) Ages 2-5.

FURBY (Hasbro)
FURBY, HasbroFurby, one of the first robotic pets, was born in 1998 and immediately became the must-have toy of that year. Those first Furbys talked to and interacted with their human playmate, “learning” depending on the level of the child’s interaction and time spent together. The newest generation does much the same, but instead of being simply action-reaction (child says something, Furby responds), these Furbys add an emotional component and a touch of attitude. So if your Furby doesn’t like music and you play it anyway, she’ll get aggravated and yell. Continue ignoring her needs and she’ll get even angrier. It’s amazing how much this little fluffy ball of circuits, motors, and screens can mimic an actual pet. Don’t be surprised if next year’s model includes a real litter box. Ages 6 and up.

Interactive Toys for Toddlers

The holidays may be behind us, but that doesn’t mean the end of the gift-giving season… There are birthdays, equinoxes, rainy days, and plenty of duplicate gifts to return. But what to get for the discerning tot in your home? Here are some of the top interactive toys for the toddler set that will keep kids entertained—and are fun for mom and dad too.Furreal Friends Baby Butterscotch, My Magical Show Pony (Hasbro). This new addition to Hasbro’s Furreal Friends line is the most animated and responsive yet. Scratch Butterscotch’s head and she’ll nuzzle your hand, talk to her, and she’ll respond with the pony equivalent of cooing. Feed her a carrot and she’ll make happy crunching sounds. Brush her fur, and she’ll love you forever. Baby Butterscotch is a fun intro to owning a real pet—she even snores at the end of a long day of play. Carrot and brush included. Ages 4 and up.

Interactive Story Buddies (Hallmark). Bigsby, the shy monster, likes to go on big adventures and learn new things with his friends. He—along with the other Story Buddies—speak up when they hear certain words. Those words can be delivered by mom or dad, your child, or even the narrator in the iPod/iPad app. Each Story Buddy comes with a book and a read-along CD, free downloadable apps, and a host of other interactive features on line. You can also buy more books, which continue Bigsby’s adventures. The books gently teach social skills, such as friendship. But what we think is far more important, they encourage parents to snuggle up and read with their children. And that’s priceless. Ages 2 and up.


Super Grover (Playskool).The Sesame Street Flying Super Grover Plush toy is a lot of fun for fans of Sesame Street.  Parents can explore the world with their child as they help Super Grover investigate and solve problems on earth and beyond. He’s not only cute (in that monstery sort of way) and a good playmate, he can also help your child learn empathy and social skills by teaching him or her about different countries and cultures, and how kids can help others and their communities. For high-flying fun, just the right message for your pre-K and K children, delivered by a friendly face they know and love, Super Grover will be a year-round hit. His preloaded songs, motorized motion, cool flying sounds, and vocabulary of absurd Grover-ish phrases will keep your kiddo entertained long after the thank-you notes are written (you do have your kids write thank you notes, right?) Ages 2-5.

FURBY (Hasbro). Furby, one of the first robotic pets, was born in 1998 and immediately became the must-have toy of that year. Those first Furbys talked to and interacted with their human playmate, “learning” depending on the level of the child’s interaction and time spent together. The newest generation does much the same, but instead of being simply action-reaction (child says something, Furby responds), these Furbys add an emotional component and a touch of attitude. So if your Furby doesn’t like music and you play it anyway, she’ll get aggravated and yell. Continue ignoring her needs and she’ll get even angrier. It’s amazing how much this little fluffy ball of circuits, motors, and screens can mimic an actual pet. Don’t be surprised if next year’s model includes a real litter box. Ages 6 and up.