Tag Archives: disney

Parents@Play Gift Guide #3: Disney Princesses and Where They Might Live

Princesses are everywhere—you might even have one living in your house. Here are some of our big- and small-screen favorites that are sure to entertain throughout the winter and beyond.

Disney Princess Belle Musical Tea Party Cart: (Jakks Pacific)

jakks belle tea partyBeauty and the Beast is arguably one of Disney’s best films. Anyone who’s seen it—no matter how long ago—probably has vivid memories of at least one or two scenes or characters. And what could be more memorable than the night Belle has dinner with Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, Chip, and the other enchanted objects? Now your little one can join in the fun by having her very own tea party—and if you’re lucky, you’ll get invited. The cart is delightfully ornate and comes with a Mrs. Potts teapot, two cups (including Chip, of course), two spoons, and more. And with the push of a button, it plays “Be Our Guest.” It’s for ages 3+, although you’ll need to be there to assemble the cart and install the batteries. Available at most retailers for around $59. http://www.jakks.com
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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

(Video) Game On!

Is there ever a bad time for video games (except bed time, of course)? Here are four new games that your kids will love, assuming you’ll stop playing them by yourself and give them a chance.

yo-kai watchYo-Kai Watch
The city of Springdale is inhabited by humans and creatures called Yo-Kai, some of whom are mischievous, while others cause real harm. The problem is that Yo-Kai are usually invisible. You play as either Nate or Kate and your task is to keep Springdale safe. Fortunately, you meet a nice Yo-Kai named Whisper who gives you a special watch that allows you to see other Yo-Kai. You and Whisper befriend Yo-Kai and put together a strong team that can do battle with the not-so-nice Yo-Kai. This is not your traditional “capturing creatures” or battle game. Instead of directly controlling the action, you’re more of a manager, telling your Yo-Kai how and where to attack and giving them special items to make them stronger. Yo-Kai Watch is available for the Nintendo 3DS and 2DS and sells for $39.99 at your favorite retailer or the eShop. http://www.nintendo.com/

runbowRunbow
This new game from 13AM Games brings a fun and interesting party platformer for the WiiU. Each player (from 1-9) is a different color and it’s a mad dash for the finish line. But this is no simple foot race. Obstacles like moving platforms and lava come and go. Runbow is perfect for classic game players who’ve got a pretty good handle on how to time their jumps. Younger players may find the game a bit frustrating, at least in the beginning. The more players you have—either locally online—the more fun and frenetic it’ll be. Pick it up for $14.99 in the eShop. http://www.13amgames.com/

yoshi's woolly worldYoshi’s Woolly World
If you’re looking for a calmer, cuddlier platforming game, you’ll love Yoshi’s Woolly World, which stars one of the Mushroom Kingdom’s most beloved characters. Yoshi’s takes Kirby’s Epic Yarn to a new level. Each character and environment has a handmade touch that’s visually pretty cool. As Yoshi, you must reach the end each level, gathering as many collectibles on the way as possible, and turning your enemies into yarn balls by swallowing them. For beginners, just finishing the level will be enough. For more experienced players, collectibles are key. There are also Amiibo extras where you can add a second Yoshi in the form of Samus, Woolly Yoshi, or even Mario, just to name a few. The game itself is available at retailers and the eShop for $49.99, or in a special pack which includes a Wooly Yoshi for $59.99.

disney infinity 3-0Disney Infinity 3.0
This is the third installment of the always-fun Disney Infinity line, and brings in characters from Marvel, Disney, and Star Wars, including Yoda, Darth Vader, and Han Solo. This game is great for beginner gamers because it’s so easy to pick up and play. Each player picks a character from the Disney Infinity figures they own (characters from the two previous games work in this one), and play as him or her throughout the game. Certain game levels work with specific characters. But our favorite part of the game is the Toy Box, which is filled with the very best creations from players all over the world Disney Infinity 3.0 is available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox One, and Xbox 360. There’s a Star Wars-themed starter pack that includes the Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition video game, Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition base, Ahsoka Tano and Anakin Skywalker figures, Twilight of the Republic play set piece, and a Web Code card. Prices vary.

Staying Connected With the Family Gift Guide

girl who saved christmasThe Girl Who Saved Christmas (by William Thomas Thach, illustrated by Richard Bernal)
Imagine what Santa would do if all the world’s children were bad—except one? Santa decides to deliver lumps of coal to all the bad kids, and offers to shower Molly, the lone—and lonely—nice kid, with anything she could possibly want. But Molly reminds Santa of the importance of forgiveness. A sweet story that captures the essence of the Christmas Spirit. $24 at amazon.com or mollychristmas.com

gracie's nightGracie’s Night: A Hanukkah Story (by Lynn Taylor Gordon, illustrated by Laura Brown)
Gracie and her dad don’t have much money, but on her way home with sweaters, snow boots, mittens, and warm socks for pops, she sees a homeless man with holes in his shoes, wearing a threadbare coat, huddling in a cardboard box. Gracie knows exactly what to do, and comes home with empty hands and a full heart. A charming story about a different type of Hanukkah miracle. $8.50 at amazon.com



sing and swing olaf


Disney Frozen Sing and Swing Olaf
Your young one’s heart will melt when Olaf starts belting out his famous song, “In Summer,” from the hit movie, Frozen. Wearing his trademark hat and cane, Olaf also dances to the beat. Requires 3 AAA batteries (included). About $36.50 at Toys R Us, Walmart, and others.

frozen karaoke disneyDisney Frozen Flashing Lights Karaoke Machine
An easy-to-set-up, easier-to-use karaoke machine that lets you sing along with the hits from Frozen, complete with flashing lights. You can also connect your own device or use the built-in CD player to perform all of your other favorites—even some that, gasp, aren’t from Disney movies. Comes with one hand-held mic and two inputs so duets are a definite possibility. $50-80 at retailers everywhere.

renny home hubRenny HOME Smartphone Hub and Loud Wireless Ringer for Cell Phone (Olens Technology)
Never miss a phone call at home again, even if your phone is on silent, vibrate, upstairs, or in the car in your garage.  It has audible caller ID and allows you to either answer or ignore calls hands-free. Streams music from your smartphone too. $139.99 at many retailers. www.olenstechnology.com



justin power pack


Justin Power Bank (Innovative Technology)
We all know how incredibly frustrating it is when your phone or tablet dies and there’s no place to recharge it. With Justin’s power banks and power sticks, those frustrations will be a thing of the past. The one we tested had 10,000mAh, which means it’s got enough juice to completely charge a smart phone five times. It also has two outgoing ports which allow it to charge two devices at the same time, all using standard- and micro USB. Great for the family on the go. Prices vary depending on capacity.

d-link range extenderD-Link DAP-1320 Wireless Range Extender (D-Link)
Plug this sleek device into a regular outlet within range of your router, and with one click, you’ve just extend the range of your home network—even to those hard-to-reach areas like basements, upstairs bedrooms, or outdoor areas. This way, you’ll be able to web-surf, play games, watch movies, or text the kids who are all the way on the other side of the house (or room).  About $25 at retailers everywhere. us.dlink.com/

cell phone jailCell Phone Jail
This is more of a metaphor than an actual product. We urge you to join with Foresters (a financial services company) to take the Tech Timeout challenge and give your family a daily one-hour break from all things electronic. After all, what better gift could you give to your family (and yourself) than some undivided attention. Download the pledge form at techtimeout.com/#anchor_pledgewall

Family Video Games, Chapter 1

If you’re a gamer, you probably have a special place in your house where you can fire up your games and settle in—all alone. But why not share the fun with your kids? Here are some family friendly video games you and your kids can play together.

Rayman Legends (Wii U, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Playstation Vita and Windows)
Rayman is back in all his glory in this follow-up to Rayman Origins. This time, Rayman is out to jump, punch, bounce, and float his way through 120 levels of 2.5 dimensions of platforming fun. (2.5 dimensions means that it’s a 2D game, but characters hop from front to back or creatures will slink from area to area, which makes for some very interesting game play.) Legends is one of those easy-to-play-but-hard-to-master games, but no matter where you are, it’s a blast. When running from dragons or just trying to hop off a cliff before it crumbles away, the most rewarding moments in Rayman are when you get that wonderful end-of-level Rayman dance. The Wii U version includes a free Challenges app.

Hot Wheels, World’s Best Driver (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and PC)
When you think of Hot Wheels, you probably think of small cars and big fun, with every surface in your home becoming a track and tiny cars that become middle-of-the-night tripping hazards. But now, you and the kids can play the Hot Wheels video game. You start by selecting a team—each one specializes in a certain driving style: tricks, speed, drifting, and off-roading. Unlike some games where differences between cars are purely cosmetic, here you can actually feel the difference in the way the cars handle. In multiplayer mode, players take turns with the controller, which can frustrate the little ones. But once they’re used to it, this is a really fun game for everyone. Oh, and don’t put those Hot Wheels cars and tracks away—technology is great, but building and racing is too.

Turbo: Super Stunt Squad (Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3)
This entry from D3 features characters from the movie Turbo. It’s a stunt-based game, kind of like the skateboarding games of yester-year, but replacing the humans and skateboards with speed-boosted snails. Initially only a few levels are open. Each is based on a human environment (for example, a nail salon or the kitchen in a fast-food place), but from a snail’s perspective. On each level, collectibles and upgrades help unlock new abilities and open up new levels to explore and conquer. Each character has a unique feel and special talents, such as Turbo’s Tuck and Roll, and Skidmark’s Nitro Boost. Can be played co-op or solo.

Disney Infinity (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii U, Wii, and Nintendo 3DS)
Take a toy-to-video-game crossover and add some Disney magic (and player creativity) and you’ve got a fun family-friendly game that children and parent can enjoy together. Disney Infinity is essentially a toy box that you can stock with as few or as many play sets and character pieces as you’d like. Each play set is based on a popular Disney film. The starter pack comes with three sets and three characters: Captain Jack from Pirates of the Caribbean, Sully from Monsters University and Mr. Incredible from The Incredibles. All three are a blast to play either solo or with another player (unfortunately, if you want to play co-op, you’ll need to buy additional characters, but they’re pretty inexpensive). Sorry, no mixing-and-matching: Captain Jack will not be visiting Monsters University.

More Movie Madness

A few weeks ago we reviewed a number of toys based on movie adaptations of comic books, including Iron Man, Superman, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This week we’re looking at more movie characters, but these are aimed at a younger crowd.

Sulley Monster Mask (Spinmaster)
sully maskThis plush mask is cute, not frightening—just like the real Sulley. But that won’t keep the kids from putting it on and trying to scare mom and dad. 100 percent kid-powered, the eyebrows move up and down and the mouth opens and closes along with the child’s.  A t-strap on the back keeps the mask in place but also allows for easy on and off. For ages 3 and up. $14.99. spinmaster.com/

Roll-A-Scare Race Playset and Roll-A-Scare Monsters Assortment (Spinmaster)
roll-a-scare trackIf you remember the Zoobies craze from a few years back, the Roll-A-Scare monsters will feel familiar. They start off round and careen down the Playset Race track that parents and kids can build together. But when they cross the magnetic finish line, they pop open. There are a total of 12 monsters (including Boo, who isn’t really a monster). Each of the 12 comes with a student ID card that also pops them open. The Playset is $20, and each of the monsters costs $7-$12. spinmaster.com/

My Scare Pal (Spinmaster)
scare palsThese squeezable, cuddly Mike and Sulley plush toys will soon become your child’s new best buddies. They’re great for toting around the house and acting out favorite scenes from the movie.  Pull Mike’s long arms and legs and he’ll say one of 10 funny lines, encouraging your child to help him grow and to watch his eye, since he only has one.  For some reason, Sulley has 15 lines plus a growl that will send the kids into enough giggles to power Monster City. The kids can also shake Sulley into Tickle Mode, Scare Mode, or Sleep Time mode. Requires 2 AA batteries (included). $20-30). spinmaster.com/

The Smurfs2 Movie Figures (JAKKS)
smurfsCelebrate the new Smurfs 2 movie with a fun line of highly-detailed characters. There are 24 different 2.75” figures (individual Smurfs cost $4 each, 2-packs for $7). You can also get any of a dozen 7.5” Bean Bag Plush Smurfs that are perfect for snuggling up with on a road trip (and Smurfs do love to travel). $8 each. www.Jakks.com

Disney Planes Wing Control Dusty Crophopper Remote Control Plane (Mattel)
dustyOne of the hottest kids movies right now is Disney Pixar’s Planes and this cool, interactive remote-control toy with an absurdly long name lets kids “become” Dusty, using their arms to control his movements.  In manual mode, your child pushes a button to start the propeller and move the plane forward, he or she then use the two controllers—one on each arm—to make the plane fly, dive, and roll. If your child doesn’t want to be a pilot, there’s also an autopilot mode too, which takes Dusty through three pre-programmed performances. $40. Batteries not included. http://shop.mattel.com/

Disney Planes Sky Track Challenge Track Set (Mattel)
This unique race set lets you attach planes to the track with special clips so they can do loops and other tricks. Lots of parent-child fun building the track, but the roadway didn’t hold together well so we ended up having to glue it. In addition, the set comes with only one plane, which is a bummer since a true “race” track should come with at least two vehicles, shouldn’t it? Still, pretty entertaining. $31 (plus the cost of an additional plane)  http://shop.mattel.com/