Tag Archives: mattel

Starting Off the Year with a Bang

Like it or not, kids are fascinated by things that shoot. And while we understand that some parents are completely against anything that looks remotely like a weapon, shooting toys aren’t going away anytime soon. In our view, there’s nothing inherently wrong with firearms (admittedly, my being a Marine Corps vet may influence that philosophy). So the solution is to learn to use them safely. This week we take a look at two amazing blasters and one other toy that stretches the definition of “shoot” a little

rapid madnessBOOMco Rapid Madness (Mattel)
Rapid Madness gives blaster fans two ways to shoot: one dart at a time or 20 in about 5 seconds. Either way, the foam darts can fly up to 50 feet. One of the drawbacks with other dart-shooting blasters is that you never know for sure whether you’ve hit your target. Not so with Rapid Madness. The darts have “Smart Stick” tips that cling to the included target, as well as to some glossy surfaces, which makes competitive shooting and scoring easy. Darts also stick to the pop-up shield that’s part of the blaster so you can seize your opponent’s ammo. Comes with 30 darts, a 20-dart clip, and the target. We generally don’t talk about packaging in our reviews, but the “certified frustration-proof packaging” means you can be up and shooting within minutes instead of running around trying to find a scissors or wire cutter. Ages 6 and up. $25-$40. http://shop.mattel.com/

xploderz mayhem Xploderz Mayhem Firestorm series (Maya Group)
We first saw Xploderz at Toy Fair a few years ago and were impressed with the unique ammo, which starts off as tiny pellets (that can’t be fired) and turns into gel-like marbles (that can be fired) when soaked in water. We also loved that they’re completely non-toxic, don’t stain, require virtually no clean-up, and really and truly don’t hurt. We mention that last bit just in case someone gets hit—we highly recommend that you have your children fire at non-human (or animal) targets, or, if they do fire at other people, they aim no higher than their target’s waist). Mayhem comes with 2,000 rounds and 250-round clip. So while your opponents are busy trying to find their darts under the couch and fumbling around trying to re-load them, you can keep blasting away (at two rounds per second, you’ve got more than two minutes of non-stop firepower). Plus, with an accuracy range of 50 to 80 feet, you’ll be invincible. Ages 8 and up. About $18. http://xploderz.com/

vtech smart shotSmart Shots Sports Center (Vtech)
Okay, this one isn’t a weapon, but it still involves shooting. The target, however, is either a basketball hoop or a soccer net. When your toddler drives in for a layup or shoots a half-court jumper, Sports Center’s LED screen keeps score. And when he or she finds the back of the net, Sports Center applauds, cheers, and shows encouraging animations. It’s a fun, energetic way to expose young kids to both sports. If your little one gets tired of shooting and kicking and wants to relax by brushing up on fine motor skills, there are plenty of buttons and other things to play with that introduce shapes and numbers and make all sorts of fun sounds. Comes with a small basketball, soccer ball, net, and hoop. All you need is batteries, which aren’t included. Ages 12-36 months. About $28.  http://www.vtechkids.com/

Toy Trends to Watch in 2013

Going to Toy Fair is always a bit overwhelming. To start with, hundreds of manufacturers from all over the world are showcasing thousands of products.  Some are amazing, innovative, and creative. Some are copycats or retreads, and some are just plain awful. But what’s especially fun is trying to predict which of the trends we’re seeing will actually become hits—and which will bomb. Here are a few categories we think are worth watching.  Some of these are already hot—and we believe will get even hotter. Some are just appearing but will be all the rage in 2013. Over the next few months your parents@play team will bring you reviews of these and many, many other categories.

Archery
nerf bowWith the amazing success of the movies Hunger Games, Brave, and the Avengers—all of which featured archers—it was only a matter of time until bows and arrows took their place alongside swords as the low-tech weapons of choice for today’s young adventurers. Everyone from well-known brands like Nerf (hasbro.com) and Zing (zingtoystore.com) to tiny brands you’ve never heard of (but will soon), have introduced bows or crossbows that fire a variety of (safe) projectiles.

Zombies and Vampires
mystixx beforemyxixx afterThe Twilight series, Dark Shadows, and animated fare like Frankenweenie and ParaNorman have taken vampires and zombies out of the crypt and enrolled them in high school. The Monster High girls have been out for a while. But some of the most fun—and most creative—are the face-changing Mystixx Vampires (mystixx.com). At first  glance you’ve got a cute-as-a-button doll. Turn the head around, rearrange the hair, and you’ve got one stylin’ vampire.

Moustaches
stacetat mustacheMaybe it started with the Got Milk? mustache campaign. Or maybe it was the Movember campaign when men around the world grow their facial hair during the month of November to raise awareness of prostate cancer and other men’s health concerns. But however it happened, mustaches are hot. And not just for men and boys—plenty of girls are getting in on the act as well. We especially liked the Ha! Ha! Moustache game from Haywire Group (haywiregroup.com) where player try to identify famous (or infamous) people based on a cardboard mustache and a handful of clues. And Stachetats (stachetats.com) has a line of wild and colorful temporary upper lip decorations for every taste.

Duct tape
melissa and doug duct tapeOnce upon a time duct tape was grey, sticky, boring, and available only in hardware stores. Today, there are entire aisles in arts and crafts stores devoted to far less sticky, and definitely not boring duct tapes in dozens of colors and patterns. Specialty companies like Creativity for Kids (creativityforkids.com) and Klutz (klutz.com) have wonderfully colorful kits that are built around duct tape. And so do some of the giants, like Melissa and Doug.

From app to reality
mattel angry birdsAnother interesting trend is to take popular apps like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds and turn them into real-life games. Sometimes there’s a branding double whammy, such as when Star Wars character start flying through the air knocking down structures.

Pink and glitter
Just about anything you can imagine–building systems like Lego and Megabloks, science kits, tattoos, cameras, mustaches, sports equipment, action figures, and even guns and other weapons—are now available in pink and glitter.