New Hatchimals Versions

Unless you were living under a rock in 2016 you should know about the smash toy hit known as Hatchimals, those cute little interactive toys that would hatch and mature as they are played with.  The problem was they sold out almost immediately after release and they were nearly impossible to find all the way through Christmas.

hatchimals

Original Hatchimals – 2016

But now Spin Master, the company behind the craze, is release two new versions of their Hatchimals.  They are not available yet, but will likely hit stores in a few months.

The first is Hatchimals Glitter (priced at $59.99 each), which enhances the original Hatchimals concept with some sparkle. The new creatures’ names are “Sparkly Pengualas” and “Shimmering Draggles”, both of which sport sparkling fur, new sounds, songs and games. Hatchimals Glitter will hit stores in July.

Also new are Hatchimals Colleggtibles, which will hit stores in May.  The are smaller versions of the the original Hatchimals – mini plastic creatures that live inside a mini egg with a large purple heart on it.  These are self-hatching like the original version – kids have to help hatch their Colleggtibles by rubbing their hearts until they changes from purple to pink, which means it’s ready to hatch.  Manually crack open the egg and hidden inside are mystical animal-inspired creatures with glittery wings.

The first line of Colleggtibles will have 70 creatures, including severak limited editions. The Hatchimals Colleggtibles will be sold in packs ($2.99 for a single and $9.99 for a 4-pack).

Disclaimer: This post may contain Affiliate links. Prices may change at any time. Do your own research before purchasing.

Girls Love Dress Up Fun

What little girl doesn’t like to dress-up in her favorite character, whether it be a Disney princess or some other character in the movies or TV.  We’ve found a few really cute dress up sets that we think will thrill the girls looking to emulate their favorite characters.

Disney Dress Up Trunk – Four Outfits

Disney Dress Up Trunk

Disney Dress Up Trunk

The most popular dress-up set that we’re seeing is the Disney Dress Up Trunk with four beautiful character dresses.  This trunk includes a total of 21 separate pieces, and includes outfits for Belle, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.

This set is very affordable, and may be on back-order when you go to order it so keep an eye on those availability dates.  If you would rather be ensured timely delivery there are other options to choose from.

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Disney Frozen Dress Up Trunk

Disney Frozen Dress Up Trunk

Disney Frozen Dress Up Trunk

Disney Frozen still ranks high on the popularity list for young girls everywhere.  The Disney Frozen Dress Up Trunk includes outfits for Anna and Else and has a total of 20 separate pieces, and of course the Frozen-decorated trunk is the centerpiece of this set.  If your child is a fan of Frozen then this may be just the set to warm their hearts.

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Fairytale Dress Up Set

Fairytale Dress Up Set

Fairytale Dress Up Set

Not into Disney, or just looking for something different?  We like this Fairytale Dress Up Set which includes a really cute set of butterfly wings and a tutu.  The purple and blue color theme is wonderful and the simplicity of this set will allow your young girl to explore their imagination. The other accessories include a wand, headband, and halo.

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Melissa and Doug Dress Up

Melissa and Doug - Waitress Dress Up

Melissa and Doug – Waitress Dress Up

Another theme that we are finding to be very popular is Melissa and Doug.  Most of them break from the princess mold that you see mainly driven by Disney. There are a number of different dress up outfits available, and the highly-rated set pictured above is the Melissa & Doug Waitress Outfit.  There are also other sets that we think are interesting:

Melissa & Doug Pediatric Nurse Dress Up Play Set

Melissa & Doug Doctor Dress Up Play Set

Melissa & Doug Ballerina Dress Up Set

Note: These plays sets target traditional female roles, but there are also Melissa & Doug outfits for traditional male roles like firemen and policeman.  This does not mean, of course, that you have to limit your purchase to the gender of your child, e.g. a little girl might love to dress up as a police officer, and a little boy may want to dress up as a nurse.

 

Disclaimer: This post may contain Affiliate links. Prices may change at any time. Do your own research before purchasing.

Black Friday 2016 – Tips and Tricks

Although Black Friday does not hold the same punch it had just a few years ago, it is still the official kick-off to the Christmas shopping season. Retailers are holding pre-Black Friday sales starting a week or even more before Thanksgiving. For example Costco started their sales on Nov 18 this year. Also, there are many retailers that are opening their doors Thanksgiving evening, a good 12 hours before they used to open. All of this has (thankfully) reduced the craziness and stress of heading out for Black Friday shopping, although it is now interfering with the Thanksgiving holiday.

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But there is some good news – many retailers have publicly come out and announced that they will be closed for Thanksgiving, and some are closed even for Black Friday. This benefits primarily their employees who are not forced to work when they should be spending quality time with their family.

So what kind of Black Friday shopper are you? Maybe you are intense, maybe you are just casual. Or maybe you couldn’t be bothered. Also, are you primarily and Online shopper, constantly scanning various websites for sales and deals? Or do you like getting out there in person, hitting the malls and navigating the crowds? Whatever kind of shopper you are you may benefit from our suggestions here.

Black Friday Planning

Every Black Friday shopper should start planning about a week ahead. This planning should include:

  • Putting together a comprehensive gift list
  • Putting together a Wish List for yourself
  • Note which items might be in very high demand, based on information found on various sites such as Hot Toy Guide. This may influence what price you are willing to pay right now, and whether you should risk waiting for a better price later on.
  • Finding out the schedules of the stores you plan to visit in person. You certainly don’t want to show up to a closed store.
  • Planning your shopping schedule, by coordinating with your family and friends. Don’t forget to leave extra time for snack or meals, and for the inevitable waiting in lines.
  • Taking note of the regular prices of some of the key items on your list, and setting some price targets for them as well.
  • Regular visiting of “hot deal” websites
  • Check out the newspaper ads on Thanksgiving day (and before). Play close attention to any restrictions and limits placed on the hottest in-store deals. Often a store has a very small number of the hottest items for sale at the best prices.

Toy Shopping on Black Friday

FurReal Friends Bootsie

Toys and electronics are historically two of most targeted and frenetic areas of Black Friday buying, and for the whole Christmas season as well. When the little ones insist that they want a particular toy, some parents will stop at nothing to fulfill their wishes. Sometimes that spills overs into the what we see on some news reports where people go crazy grabbing and shoving in order to get their hands on the hottest items in the store.

So we have a couple of suggestions to make your toy buying go a little more smoothly:

1. Be willing to buy early and to pay a little more

Is it really worth it to fight the crowds, and to risk coming away without that targeted toy just to save a few dollars? Why not just check out the prices now (before Thanksgiving) and buy at least a few items on your list, just to have the peace of mind that you are part-way through your shopping list.

2. Know what’s Hot

Cozmo Robot

Keep an eye on the hot toys, as found on our Most Wished For Toy List, our Top Ten Toy List, and many other pages on this site. For those Hot toys, watch out for special deals and grab them when you think the price is right. If you wait until December you may find the toys are impossible to get, or you’ll have to pay higher prices from 3rd party re-sellers, such as on Ebay or some shady character on Craigslist.

3. Impress by Being Up to Date

Parents often buy toys which are past their prime. There’s nothing worse that finding out that what you bought makes you look old and out of touch. If you want to impress Tweens and Teenagers you really should try to focus on the “in” products, especially related to electronics, and to entertainment (movies, TV shows, and music). So if you’re not sure what to buy that 13-year old, ask around and try to find out what kids that age might like.

Good Luck with your Christmas shopping!!!

Disclaimer: This post may contain Affiliate links. Prices may change at any time. Do your own research before purchasing.

Cool High Tech Toys for 2016

High tech toys can be great fun, or downright dangerous.  But if you are careful to select the right product, while considering proper safety safeguards, then high tech toys can be a great way to spice up your life.

For example in 2015 Hoverboards, aka self-balancing scooter, were all the rage.  We all saw how that turned out.  But if you did your homework, e.g. looked for the proper industry certifications, then you might have been able to avoid a lot of the battery trouble that befell a lot of those products.

Similarly with quadcopters, aka drones, if you consider who will be using it you can make an educated purchasing decision and possibly avoid a disaster.  For example if you are buying a drone for a 10 year old, is it a reasonable gift in the first place, what safety features does the drone have, are the spinning blades protected, and so on.  Proper thought should be given whenever buying a cutting edge product.

On that note here are some great high-tech products for kids, teens, and adults that we think would make awesome gifts this Christmas.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

If you have not heard about Amazon Echo you might be amazed at what it can do.  This is a device that will listen to your voice for various commands and will reply or take the appropriate actions.  The highlight of this product is that it will play music from various sources such as your Amazon library, Pandora, Spotify, and more.  It can also read audiobooks as well as the news, traffic, weather, and other information sources.

The Echo fills your room with 360-degree omnidirectional sound, and this superior sound quality is confirmed by the complimentary user reviews it receives.

The Amazon Echo also has more advanced features for controlling your home, such as your thermostats, switches and lights.  This capability requires that your home is properly equipped with to take advantage of these features.  For example the Nest thermostat, the Philips Hue system, or Samsung SmartThings.

Best for: Adults or teens

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Syma X5C Quadcopter

There are so many drones and quadcopters on the market that’s it’s like the wild-west.  Many of the brand names are new and unrecognizable, and the reviews are suspect (always look for a pattern of many reviews that were in exchange for free products – they are not to be trusted).  We recommend choosing a more trusted brand that you know will be around in a year or more.

Syma X5C Quadcopter

Syma X5C Quadcopter

One brand that’s been around for a few years is Syma, and we found an entry-level quadcopter that we think would be a good choice for teens.  It’s the Syma 2.4GHz X5C RC Quadcopter with Gyro and Camera.  This is a relatively small drone, but it has some features that make it attractive:  Gyros for stability, camera, and spare blades available.

The camera is a 2MP HD camera, so the quality will be so-so, but good enough for an entry level drone.  The spare blades are almost a necessity because it is inevitable that the drone will drift off and hit something or even crash if the operator is not trained or if the weather interferes (such as wind).

Note: The Federal Aviation Administration requires registration of many drones flown in the US, for hobby or commercial purposes. To learn more about drone registration requirements, visit Amazon’s Fly Responsibly page.

Best for: Teens

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Star Wars BB-8 Robot + Force Band

BB-8 Droid with Force Band

BB-8 Droid with Force Band

Last year this BB-8 App-Controlled Robot from robot experts Sphero was such a huge hit that it sold out quickly from many stores.  This year they have upgraded the robot with a new Force Band which allows you to control the robot through hand gestures, and has the robot follow you as you move around.

Best for: Any Star Wars fan

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Ozobot Programmable Robot

Ozobot 2.0

Ozobot 2.0

Check out our article about this really cool little robot toy for kids – the Ozobot 2.0 programmable robot.

Best for: Kids

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Tested Safe: EPIKGO Self-Balancing Scooter

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EPIKGO Self-Balancing Scooter

Hoverboards are back!  But they are much safer than they were in 2015.  All of the hoverboards we see for sale in 2016 claim to be tested to US safety standards.

One such hoverboard is the EPIKGO Self-Balancing Scooter.  It is tested to UL 2272 standards, as well as UL 2271 for the battery. This scooter has 400W dual motors that help it climb slopes as steep as 18 degree and last over 1 hour at 10mph top speed on a single charge.  We appreciate that the reviews do not seem compensated for, as we see on other scooters on the market.

We recommend you thoroughly read the information before buying, and keep in mind that even though the battery is safe there are still operational risks when using a self-balancing scooter such as falling and crashing.  These risks apply to all age groups – being younger or older does not help when operating this type of machine.

Best For: Adults and older teens

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Disclaimer: This post may contain Affiliate links. Prices may change at any time. Do your own research before purchasing.