Tag Archives: yottoy

Parents@Play 2018 Holiday Gift Guide #5: What a Character …

Holiday traditions are easy to create–just start doing something new. But creating a holiday tradition with a new character is hard. Elf on the Shelf did it remarkably well a few years ago. And the folks behind Maccabee on the Mantle and Mensch on a Bench have made the Festival of Lights a little brighter. This year, there are a few new characters in town that we think you should meet.

Reindeer in Here (Reindeer in Here)

reindeer in hereHollywood TV producer Adam Reed wasn’t a big fan of Elf on the Shelf, so he decided to create a character that would better resonate with his family. The result is a cheerful reindeer who, unlike elves, who can’t be touched, was made to go everywhere with your child. The reindeer, one of whose antlers is smaller than the other (in the spirit of Nemo’s “lucky fin”), also shares the much-needed message that “different is normal.” This book-and-plush combo retails for about $32. https://reindeerinhere.com/

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Come on, Kiddo, Time for Bed

Getting kids to go to bed—and stay there—is no easy feat. Many parents dread the nightly routine, starting kids who whine, cry, make increasingly bizarre demands, throw tantrums, and do anything else they can think of to stay up. If you’re looking to make bedtime a little sweeter for everyone, check out our new favorites. You can thank us in the morning.


Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Snuggle and Glow Plush Toy

daniel tigerThis little guy, who comes with his very own Tigey toy, is great for young fans of the hit TV show, and any child who’s afraid of the dark. Daniel Tiger is dressed for bed in his trolley PJ’s, and has been practicing saying helpful and comforting phrases as well as singing the “Goodnight” song from Mommy Tiger. When you push Daniel’s hand, he’ll talk, sing, or just glow, depending on which “mode” you have him in. Tigey lights up too, and slowly fades as the “Goodnight song” winds down. It’s nice to have a familiar friend with you when you get scared, especially one who glows in the dark. Requires 3 (AAA) batteries (Included). Retails for around $25 at Amazon.

FlipaZoo (FlipaZoo)

flipazooFlipaZoo is a clever, comforting toy that’s great for both home and away. It’s actually two plushes in one and kids will love transforming it from one animal to another. For example, the dragon becomes a unicorn, the husky becomes a polar bear, and the cat becomes a mouse. The transformation is super easy for kids to do (no complicated zippers or buttons)—they just flip the top over and boom, new animal. FlipaZoos are soft, cuddly, and make great pillows for car rides, airplanes, road trips, or just snuggling with while watching a movie with dad and mom. They come in three sizes. $20 for the medium/regular size. http://www.flipazoo.com


The Little Prince and Fox plush toy (YOTTOY)

yottoy little princeBased on the popular book (and soon to be movie), “The Little Prince,” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, YOTTOY has created a delightful line of soft, cuddly toys that feature the traveling Prince himself and the always philosophical fox. You can choose between a 12” Prince (with fox, of course), or a 4” Prince who comes bundled with a copy of the book. Seeing how quickly your child falls in love with the Prince may inspire you to read (or rediscover) the book. It may also inspire your child to use his new plush friends to act out all mischief the book’s characters get into. The 12” Prince + fox is $29; the smaller set plus the book are $53 at http://www.yottoy.com/


Teddy Bears (Aurora)

aurora teddy bearsIf you’re in a more traditional mood, you can’t go wrong with Aurora’s line of Teddy Bears. They vary from “baby’s first” to the fuzziest furs and most interesting colors that kids will enjoy. Some of the latest are Smiley Buxley (with, of course, a fantastic teddy smile), and the fantastically detailed Horace and Smokey. The faces on these bears are just too sweet (you won’t want to put them down, so you might need to get an extra one for yourself), and your children will be delighted. Secretly slip one of these huggable cuties onto your child’s bed, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly those bedtime protests get derailed by the allure of a new fluffy friend who’s inviting him to come snuggle into sleep. Go ahead, enjoy your evening-you deserve it! Prices vary. You’ll find these bears and lots more at http://www.auroragift.com/aurorababy/

Indoor Fun and Imagination

Summer’s almost here and we’re looking forward to spending plenty of time outside. But as we all know, summer sniffles, rain, or even excessive heat can keep families inside. Here are several great ways to keep busy—and entertained—indoors.

Bing-Bang Bounce (SmartLab)

bing bang bounceWarning: This toy makes learning about physics fun. The object is pretty simple. Set up a Mousetrap-like course where, if everything’s perfect, you use a launcher to fire a ball at a target. If you hit it, it launches a second ball at a new target. If that one hits, the third ball goes flying towards its target, and so on until you get the last ball into the “victory cup.” Along the way, you’ll be learning a lot about action-reaction, momentum, trajectories, angles, and, perhaps most important, persistence, because setting up your course will take a lot of trial and error and experimenting. Bing-Bang Bounce includes an adjustable blast-off launcher, four adjustable target launchers, four targets, and six Bing-Bang balls. About $34.50. For ages 8+. http://www.smartlabtoys.com/

Paw Patrol Create a Story
Despicable Me Big Wall (Colorforms)

colorforms - despicable meColorforms have been around since the early 1950s, so there’s a pretty good chance that you (and maybe even your parents) played with—and loved—them as kids. Over that time, Colorforms have been so popular that Time magazine recently added them to its list of the top 100 toys of all time. The technology is almost exactly the same as it was when you were sticking those pieces of vinyl to every shiny surface in your house.  But the playsets—which started off with Popeye in 1957—have definitely kept up with the times. We recently had a chance to review two new sets, which quickly brought back wonderful memories of childhood. Paw Patrol Create-a-Story ($16) includes 61 Coloforms and four different backgrounds. The Despicable Me Big Wall set ($20) includes a giant (2’ x 3’) play scene and eight giant figures. Both will keep kids 3+ entertained for hours, sticking and resticking, with no mess to clean up. http://www.colorforms.com/

Sew Science (SmartLab)

smartlab sew scienceCombine crafting, DIY electronics, and a little education, and you’ve got Sew Science. Each kit (there’s Cuddly Critters and GloBots) consists of a family of three doll-like figures that light up when they hold hands. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before the lights and handholding, your child will have to sew pre-cut felt-pieces together, fill them with stuffing, and use conductive thread to attach LEDs and snaps in the right places. (Don’t worry: although “conductive thread” sounds a little dangerous, it’s perfectly safe). Fortunately, there are complete instructions. Kits retail for about $20. For ages 8+. http://www.smartlabtoys.com/

Mo Willems Bus Soft Toy (Yottoy)

yottoy pigeon mo willemsThe latest book-based plush toys from YOTTOY look like they jumped off the pages of some of your (and your kids’) favorite children’s stories and right into your lap, which is right where you’ll want to keep them. The bus soft toy is based on Mo Willems’s classic, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” and features profiles of the main characters (the pigeon and the bus driver). The bus itself is soft and huggable and very well made, with all the details embroidered and not printed or screened. If you’re in the New York area, there’s a wonderful exhibit of Mo Willems’s art at the New York Historical Society (nyhistory.org) that runs through September 25, 2016. Prices vary. For all ages. For information on YOTTOY’s other book-plush combos, including Paddington, Eloise, and The Little Prince, and other related products, such as finger puppets and book ends, visit www.yottoy.com/

You’re Imagining the Whole Thing

Imagination is a wonderful thing. But in an era of “teaching to the test” and laser focus on grades and performance, it’s in short supply. A large body of research shows that children who engage in imaginative play have larger vocabularies, think more flexibly and creatively, and do better in school than less imaginative kids. And as they get older, those children turn into adults who have more empathy for others, work better on teams, are more adaptable, and generally have more fulfilling careers. And it all starts with stories. Here are some of our favorite imagination- and creativity-stimulating toys.

safari figurinesFigurines (Safari LTD)
Safari LTD makes a dizzying variety of figurines that are perfect for imaginative play. Whether your children’s fantasy world takes them to a farm, a faraway land, under the sea, or has them playing with mythological creatures (or maybe a mash up of the above), Safari’s figurines will be at their side for years to come. They’re fun to collect and meticulously detailed and painted, so your first reaction may be to put them on a shelf and admire them. But they’re quite sturdy, meaning they can survive a dog attack, being tossed out a window (not that your child would ever do that), or a washing machine adventure. You’ll find creatures in all shapes and sizes at https://www.safariltd.com/

haba puppetsPuppets (HABA USA)
HABA puppets are great for children of any age (HABA recommends age 1 and up, but as they’re soft and don’t have any loose parts or buttons, they’re okay for younger kids too.) HABA’s puppets easy to manipulate—one finger for the head, thumb for one arm, and middle finger for the other—and their cheery, smiling faces make them irresistible. You can get individual puppets or assemble groups of themed characters such as Red Riding Hood and a royal family for more involved stories. There’s also a whole line of delightful finger puppets. Oh, and they’re machine washable (hang to dry) too. Most are around $15. Visit http://www.habausa.com for choices.

folkmanis puppetsPuppets (Folkmanis)
With their attention to detail and creative designs, Folkmanis puppets are visually stunning. They’re also as plush as high-end stuffed animals. That combination makes mom and dad want to play with them as much as the kids do. The puppets vary in size and articulation, but they’re always wonderfully unique, with wings that flap, heads that spin, tails that uncurl, tongues that stick out, and more. Some of them are easy for small hands, but some require five fingers, and others need two adult-sized hands to operate. These puppets will get everyone’s imagination working. If your dragon breathes fire on imaginary an imaginary villages and kidnaps the LEGO residents, you can send brave knights up to vanquish it. Or maybe the hero is a princess from a neighboring kingdom. There are literally hundreds of puppets. See all the newest ones at http://www.folkmanis.com

yottoy girl scout dollGirl Scouts Friendship Dolls (YOTTOY)
YOTTOY brings fantasy and real life together with its new line of soft Girl Scouts Friendship Dolls. These dolls promote what the Girl Scouts are all about: friendship, diversity, and taking care of the community. They also bring in an element of fun and personal style. One especially nice feature is that they come in several ethnicities, which means that your child can play with characters who look just like her (or close to it) and create her own Girl Scout meetings, go on camping trips, or sell cookies. Friendship Dolls retail for around $17 at YOTTOY, Walmart, and GirlScouts.com. Or visit http://girlscoutsfriendship.yottoy.com/where