Tag Archives: calico critter

Unleash Your Inner Animal

What is it about kids and animals? Doesn’t matter whether they’re made of flesh and blood or artificial materials, kids love ‘em—and so do we. Here are some of our current favorites.

Q*bert Buildable Figure (Arcade Classics/The Bridge Direct)

QbertIf you’ve got young kids, there’s a good chance that Q*bert, who was born in 1982, is older than you. But he (or is it she?) has held up pretty well. The classic arcade game has been rebooted several times, most recently in the film, “Pixels.” Now, this loveable, armless, orange creature with the big nose is available as a buildable figure, using 117 LEGO-type pieces. And if you need more early video game throwbacks, you can get Centipede and Frogger figures as well. These kits are for kids 10+, but we think younger ones can handle it too. Prices vary. http://www.basicfun.com

Continue reading

The Basket Case

easter basket gund calico critters hog wild toysWhat’s an Easter basket without a few stuffed animals? Most young kids love something soft to snuggle up with, and Easter is a great excuse to give them cuddly toys. But, honestly, do you really need an excuse?

Bunnies and More (Gund)
Gund is definitely on our list of favorite stuffed-animal brands, and they’ve got such a huge variety that you’re pretty much guaranteed to find the perfect addition to your little one’s menagerie. At this time of year, of course there’s no shortage of traditional rabbits, but they also have plenty of other soft and snugglies. Let’s start with bunnies. “Floppy” is a large, white rabbit that, as you might guess from the name, is actually floppy. But he’s also wonderfully plush and makes a great cuddle companion. Floppy comes in two sizes, for $15 or $25. “Ditter Bunny” is velvety smooth to the touch, and the perfect size for small hands. He is available for $12, and his sweet face will bring smiles to yours on Easter morning. A fun new addition to the Gund family, “Li’l Sprout Bunny,” is available in four fun and festive spring colors: white, yellow, green, and pink. He’s got a great, cartoon-ish face, complete with rosy cheeks. He’s also a little flatter than most stuffed toys, which makes it all the more interesting. Li’l Sprouts retail for $12 each, and can be a nice addition to your Easter décor. But you should have a Plan B, since your kids or grandkids are going to make off with them as soon as your back is turned. Gund has tons of other Spring toys, including even more rabbits, chicks, ducks, and lambs. You can find them all at gund.com or your local specialty stores.

Bunny Popper (Hog Wild Toys)
Bunny Popper isn’t quite as cuddly as some other Easter toys, but he’ll definitely add a little pop to your holiday. Put one of the six included soft foam balls in Popper’s mouth, squeeze, and it can fly as far as 20 feet. The harder the squeeze, the further the balls go, so you need to be the judge of whether you want to risk your fine crystal or send Popper and the kids outside. Popper is available for $10 on http://www.hogwildtoys.com/, or at many other retailers, including Amazon.com and Fatbrain Toys.

Character Eggs (Playmobil)
What’s Easter without eggs? Playmobil’s alternative to those high-calorie chocolate ones pack a lot of fun into a small package. Each one contains an entire scene, complete with characters and props. Scenes include race car drivers, knights, fairies, unicorns, and more. After playtime, all the pieces fit neatly into the egg, which is small enough to take anywhere your child goes. If you’ve got other Playmobil play sets, the eggs will fit in quite nicely. At $8.95, they’re a great value.

Hazlenut Chipmunk Family (Calico Critters)
Speaking of play sets, for kids who love Calico Critters (and most do), the new Chipmunk Family will be a hit. Each member of the family (mother, father, sister, and brother) has a distinct personality and works with the Calico Critter World theme, where everyone has a special job, and they’re all friends with each other. These cute toys are great for teaching social skills, stimulating imagination, telling stories, and learning about what makes a community. The Chipmunks and plenty of other families (bunnies, elephants, and more) run $23 and are available at http://www.calicocritters.com/.

More Post-Holiday Fun

Glitzi Globes Starter Kit
glitzi globesGot a girl who loves animals? How about all things pink and sparkly? If so, you’ll want to check out Glittzy Globes, a kit that lets your child create her own snow globe accessories. The Glitzi Globes Starter Kit comes with four globes kids can make all by themselves. They can design these glittery Globes by using the included dome maker (which looks sort of like an egg slicer, but without the blades) that holds the globe firmly, freeing up your young artist’s hands so she can add different characters and charms. Each kit includes a special water bottle that can be filled with water and inserted into the globe, four snow domes, four bases, four pop sticks, one bag tag for displaying your creations, 12 floating charms, five glitter tablets, four characters, and one instruction booklet. Whew. That’s a lot of stuff for one box! $18 at Toys R Us or your favorite retailer.

KRE-O CityVille Invasion Police Station Zombie Defense
zombie defense police stationKids can build their own city and defend it from zombie invasion. This police station comes compete with a rotating gun turret, combat vehicle, two police and two zombie figures. The cops can patrol CityVille and round up zombies with their squad car outfitted with a zombie-capturing claw. Back at HQ, they can lock up the zombies in special jail cells. For kids seven and up, but fun for parents too, especially if they’re fans of “The Walking Dead.” Go ahead and re-create the prison breakout scene, but let Hershel live… $25 pretty much everywhere.

Calico Critters Cozy Cottage
calico critters cottageThe Calico Critters Cozy Cottage is a great way to begin a Calico Critter collection. Or, if you already have a bunch of the critters, it’s a perfect place to put them. The soft, detailed, and posable critter figures are not only cute and cuddly, but also come in many animal varieties and sets. The house comes fully assembled, furnished, and ready to play with (which may come as a relief to any parent who’s feeling a little overloaded after non-stop Holiday assembly projects), so there’s absolutely no need to buy anything else. The Cottage includes Bell Hopscotch Rabbit, a bed with matching sheets, a round table with chairs, a kitchen counter with sink and oven, a moveable ladder for easy access to each floor, cookware, and plenty of food. Designed to demonstrate real life values (friends, family, sharing) and encourage imaginative play, each Calico Critter family and doll plays a different role in the Cloverleaf Corners community. $50 wherever you like to buy your toys.

Mamas and Papas Rainbow Hobby Horse
rainbow hobby horseWhat kid doesn’t love a hobby horse? It’s perfect for playing cowboys, riding through the Wild West, catching bad guys, being a castle-storming knight, a princess on her valiant steed, or anything else you can think of. The possibilities are truly limitless. This colorful printed hobby horse (which is also available in a slightly more boyish “cowboy” horse print) will inspire hours of imagination as your child gallops through the house and yard, jingling as she goes. Press the horse’s ear and he’ll neigh. These hobby horses have solid wood hand grips and poles, a colored harness, and yarn mane. Although recommend for ages three and up, we think kids even younger will like it too. But stay close, just in case your toddler decides to wield it as a weapon. $35 at http://us.mamasandpapas.com