YouTube Kids Luncheon at MILK Studios!

Last week I was invited to join YouTube at MILK Studios for an introductory lunch celebrating YouTube’s debut of YouTube Kids! The YouTube Kids app is designed with families in mind – an app designed from the ground up for kids. The app makes it safer and easier for children to find videos on topics they want to explore, and is available for free on Google Play and the App Store in the U.S.

YouTube Kids App, NYC Lunch at MILK Studios | nyctalon.comYouTube Kids App, NYC Lunch at MILK Studios | nyctalon.com

My sister and I joined YouTube and other families to celebrate (and try out) the new app. My sister was so excited – we’re massive YouTube users (who isn’t?). Naturally, as a family with more than one blogger, media consumption is relatively high and for years safety on the internet has been a prominent topic of conversation for my family. So when I first found out about YouTube kids I was so glad – finally, a space that’s safe but not exclusionary! It means that your kids still have access to excellent YouTube content minus the content inappropriate for their age!

YouTube Kids App, NYC Lunch at MILK Studios | nyctalon.comYouTube Kids App, NYC Lunch

Between YouTube Cakepops and other treats, I was shown how the YouTube Kids app allows you to even set time limits on the app – and how the app notifies the user that the time allowance is running down by playing soft bedtime music. Pretty darn cool!

YouTube Kids App, NYC Lunch at MILK Studios | nyctalon.com

Here’s a quick rundown of the YouTube Kids parental controls:

Parental controls

We realize every family is different, so we’ve built options into the app that help you control the experience for your kids:

Timer: Let the app be the bad guy with a built-in timer that lets you limit kids’ screen time. The app alerts your child when the session is over, so you don’t have to. (You’re welcome. ;) )

Sound settings: Sometimes you need a little peace and quiet! You have an option to turn off background music and sound effects, so your kids can keep watching while you catch a breather.

Search settings: If you’d rather limit your children to just the pre-selected videos available on the home screen, you can turn off search.

Product feedback: Our goal is to improve YouTube Kids all the time, so we’ve included a space for you to give us your feedback.

We had such a great time, we loved seeing Elmo & Cookie Monster (I don’t care how old you get – Elmo & Cookie Monster are the icons of childhood!), and it was so lovely of YouTube to have us!

YouTube Kids App, NYC Lunch at MILK Studios | nyctalon.com

YouTube Kids is available for free here on Google Play and the App Store, and will soon be available on Kurio and nabi kids’ tablets!

Create Your Own Fireworks with Uncle Milton’s Disney Fireworks Lightshow Launcher!

My favorite part about the 4th of July (besides the food, the fam, and celebrating ‘Merica) is the fireworks. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve loved them, and have plenty of fond memories watching them on TV as well as in person. So when the folks from Uncle Milton sent me the Disney Fireworks Lightshow Launcher I was pretty thrilled – I mean, I know it’s a toy meant for the kids, but who can resist two of the most entertaining things to watch (Disney and fireworks) when they’re shown together!

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This happened to be one of those rare reviews where I’m not the lonely only testing out a product. Everyone was excited to see and try this toy out themselves! It really is so much fun. The Lightshow Launcher features an on and off switch (yes! all toys should include this, says the person who has been terrorized by toys going off all hours of the night); and 8 built-in Disney fireworks images.

fireworks-show-disneyYou have to turn the red panel to move from slide to slide, but the image quality is surprisingly sharp. Another neat feature is that when you pull back the launcher and release the trigger, the fireworks actually go from being small to large – so they really do look like actual fireworks!

Disney-Lightshow-LauncherThe trigger is not at all hard to pull, which means that little hands and chubby fingers can work this toy and create their own fireworks show! My nephew loves Disney and fireworks too (a kid after my own heart), he’s in love with this toy and I know he can’t wait to “make my own show” with the Disney Fireworks Lightshow Launcher this summer!

For more information on the Disney Lightshow Launcher as well as the other fun toys from Uncle Milton, click here!

Justice League: Axis of Villians Review!

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I’m not going to pretend to know everything about the Justice League. I used to watch the cartoon series on Cartoon Network when I was a kid, and while I wasn’t as in to it as I was into say – The Powerpuff Girls, I did understand that the show had to do with hero’s putting down villians. The Justice League Axis of Villians game by Wonder Forge works around that same concept.

Axis of Villians

Each player chooses which hero he/she wants to be – so either Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, or my personal favorite – Superman. The idea is that you stop the satellite from destroying the Justice League (and presumably earth) by capturing all the villians. If a villian reaches the satellite then one part of the satellite is damaged, when all four parts are damaged then the Justice League loses the game.

Axis of Villians Game Board

Initially I was a little perplexed by the directions, but as we actually got into the game I really understood how fun and simple it actually was. I really love how each hero has different “powers” and attacks villians in different ways – like Superman can roll the dice twice during a certain attack, but only once on others. The game is designed so well too, the graphics are fun and there is enough detail to be stimulating without being overwhelming.

Axis of Villians Game BoxSuperman Axis of Villians

The game is exclusively available at Target, and at the time this post goes live Target is actually having a pretty great Buy One Get One 50% off sale going on! I’ve linked it here if you’re interested. The game really makes an excellent gift for anyone 8+ who is into DC Comics, The Justice League, or even if they just really love a good strategy game – it’s loads of fun, promotes teamwork, and everybody really gets into it while playing!

I loved the Axis of Villians game so much, I’ve included it in my Holiday Gift Guide!

Be sure to stay tuned for more fun gift idea for everyone on your list, as well as a chance to win some fabulous gifts!

Eye Found It! Disney & Wonder Forge’s Most Magical Game

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I love Disney, and I have loved them ever since I was a little girl and was introduced to Disney princesses like Pocahontas, Jasmine, and Belle. However, my adoration wasn’t strictly reserved for Disney princesses – I also was a hardcore Winnie the Pooh lover. I had a stuffed Pooh bear that was my most favorite accessory! This holiday season, give your Disney fanatic the Disney Eye Found It! Hidden Picture Game from Wonder Forge – it feature’s everyone’s most favorite Disney characters and I promise, they’ll love it!

Eye Found It! Game Review

When I first looked at the game I thought that it would be sort of a competition between players to see who would get to Cinderella’s castle before the clock struck midnight. But actually, Wonder Forge and Disney really encourage team work with this game (although when we played it there was also a fair amount of competition too, haha!) and makes it possible that all the players can actually win.

Parts of the GameEye Found It! Board Game

The idea is is that everyone picks a player and on their turn spins the spinner. The arrow will land on one of four options – to move the clock forward either one hour or two hours, to advance a certain number of spaces indicated, or to search. If you spin search, you pick a card from the deck. Based on the color of the search wedge that you landed on (red or blue) you choose that color side of the card to use. Then you start the timer and ALL the players (teamwork!) help to look for the object shown on the card. Each time you find a hidden object, you’d place a little mouse marker on the object (to keep track) and when the sands in the hourglass timer run out you count up your markers and everyone advances that many spaces. The idea is that you make it to Cinderella’s castle before midnight – if you do, then you’re a winner! Make sense?

Disney's Eye Found It! from Wonderforge

For example if the card reads “barrels” then you would look for as many barrels in all the Disney scenes as you can find. Like their might be one in One Hundred Acre Wood, and one in the little town from Beauty and the Beast.

What really blew me away was the gorgeous colors and details that went into creating this game! It really is amazing to look at – and perfect for those who love a good seek and find! The board includes 12 “Disney Realms”, and stretches out at 6 feet long!

Look at that detail!

Disney Eye Found It! by Wonderforge

If I didn’t own it already, I would definitely buy this as a Christmas present. If you have a Disney fan in your family (and who doesn’t?), or want to introduce someone to the wonderful world of Disney, then this magical game would be right up their alley! Of all the games I’ve seen this season, this is one of my favorites, which is why I included it in The NYC Talon’s 2013 Holiday Gift Guide!

Be sure to stay tuned for more fun gift idea for everyone on your list, as well as a chance to win some fabulous gifts!

Build-A-Bear Workshop Opens in FAO Schwarz in NYC!

Last Friday, my sister and I headed downtown to the newly opened Build-A-Bear Workshop at FAO Schwarz. I’ve actually never been to a Build-A-Bear before, so it was pretty exciting for me!

Build-A-Bear Workshop in FAO Schwartz in NYC

The Build-A-Bear Workshop in the FAO Schwarz store is actually their very first store-within-a-store, and is the only one in the US right now. Jules and I arrived early, before the ribbon cutting ceremony (check out pics from the ceremony here!) and were able to go through the complete experience.

Building a Bear

I love how interactive the whole experience was, and I feel like having the Workshop inside the legendary FAO Schwarz store adds a whole other layer of fun and really makes it a NYC destination experience not to be missed!

A Bear Named Sally

Jules ended up creating her very first Build-A-Bear, which she named Sally. She was able to add fun characteristics to Sally’s heart – for instance, she’s smart, strong, and loyal. Sally also has a beating heart and plays “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” whenever Jules squeezes her left arm.

I really love how Build-A-Bear included a lot of NYC themed exclusive animals and accessories!

NYC Build-A-Bear Workshop

I’m definitely planning on making my own Thor bear – although I’d definitely like to see a Loki costume too!

Thor Build-A-Bear

We love the new Build-A-Bear store and are already planning a return!

The Creativity Comeback with Creative Can!

Did you know that children’s creativity test scores have been declining since 1990? A study of Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking has measured a steady decline in creativity and we could be facing a creativity crisis. To combat lack of creativity, Creativity for Kids  has introduced the Creativity Can. What it is is relatively simple, it’s a free program designed to put simple materials into the hands of children and challenge them to imagine, create, and share.

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I love the idea of the Creativity Can – and recently I put Jules to create something magnificent and creative with a Creativity Can of her own! Here’s what she created:

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It’s Rembrandt! We went to the MET about a year ago to see a special exhibit featuring Rembrandt and his works – and this is what she masterfully pulled together.

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I think it bares a startling resemblance, lol!

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To check out the Creativity Can program, click here. To find out where the closest participating retailer is click here.

I think programs like the Creativity Can have a lot of potential – and I feel like encouraging creativity and using kinetic learning is a worthwhile goal. However I did notice that while I was searching for Creativity Can distributors in the NYC area, the distributors existed primarily in more affluent neighborhoods, as opposed to the areas of higher need. I would recommend that Creativity Can would extend their program to more areas – I feel like such a wonderful program could really be beneficial to many children who lack creative stimulation.

* Update: Creativity for Kids has let me know that Creativity for Kids is using its existing channels of specialty toy retailers to distribute the free can and that no purchase is necessary. This effort is just the first prong of a multi-year campaign to raise awareness about the drop in creativity, encourage a national discussion and search for a solution. Creativity for Kids is looking to further expand this effort.

Get Playful with the Y-Volution YGlider!

My family and I are serious park junkies, we love to pack up a few snacks, maybe even a picnic basket and head to our local park. We usually bring along a plethora of toys – everything from basketballs and tennis rackets to sidewalk chalk. Spring is my favorite time to head out doors and I distinctly remember when I was young that I loved to grab my scooter and let the budding greenery speed by as I hit the pavement like the little speed devil that I was.

Scooter for Little Kids
Scooters are probably the funnest toys out there, and I love that Y-Volution now has scooters for budding speedsters as young as three years old!

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I recently had a chance to test out the Y-Volution G2 YGlider for kids three and older and I was thrilled with the construction of the scooter! It designed to have a lean-to-steer mechanism, which means better control for your little one. I love how the YGlider fosters better balance, motor, and coordination skills! The two wheels in front help with better balance and support, plus the handles are cushioned rubber – which gives your little guy or girl the control they need.

Y Glider

With only two pieces, all you have to do is click in the handle bar and you’re off!

What I love about the YGlider is that it’s a unpack and play kind of product. You can put it together right out of the box – I took mine to the park in the box so I could get some great pictures to show you guys, and I was nervous when I realized I had left my mini travel screw driver and scissors at home. So I was super happy to discover that it really was incredibly simple to put together and wasn’t locked in the box like most toys (*cough, cough* Barbie) are. Also, the YGlider is incredibly light weight and I had no problem toting it around.

The Yvolution YGlider retails at around $59.99 at Toys R ‘Us and is worth every penny – having done some research I’d say that it’s definitely the coolest, most safe, practical, and fun scooter for little ones out there – I know my four year old nephew is going to love speeding on this scooter all Spring and Summer long!

Enter to win your own YGlider and other awesome toys in the Fabtastic Bloggers Spring into Play Giveaway here! Learn more about Y-Volution, the YGlider, and the other awesome scooters the Y-Volution makes here!

Disclaimer

Sprouting Up Fun: Fabtastic Bloggers Spring Into Play Toy Blast Giveaway!

The Fabtastic Bloggers are at it again, and this time we’re having some fun with a massive toy giveaway just in time for Spring! I’m so excited about this playful selection of toys – all together totaling at $425! That’s some serious swag folks! Wait until you see all the toys included – it’ll blow your mind, I so wish that I could enter!

We’ve worked so hard to put this together, and you can’t win if you don’t enter!!!

A Fabtastic Blast to celebrate Toys and Games!

Hosted by Fabtastic Bloggers

Spring into Play #Fabtastic #ToyBlast giveaway: a $425 prize package, 13 newest toys and games ~ Fabtastic Bloggers

Spring Into Play Toy Blast >> giveaway package

One lucky reader will win this #fabtastic #toyblast $425 prize package of 13 newest toys and games, including:

  • The sophisticated RoboSapien (WowWee): Loaded with attitude and intelligence, it’s the first robot based on the science of applied biomorphic robotics. With a full range of dynamic motion, interactive sensors and a unique personality, RoboSapien is more than a mechanical companion — he’s a multi-functional, thinking, feeling robot with attitude!
  • The fun and funky YGlider (Yvolution): this kid-powered mini scooter allows younger children to comfortably enjoy scooting at their developmental stage and helps develop their critical balance and coordination skills.
  • An Xbox LIVE 12 month Gold membership (Xbox): connect and play with friends around the world and watch thousands of HD movies instantly from Netflix.
  • The iDollhouse and iFirehouse iPad play cases (AppVentures): a brand new line of interactive playhouse fun for the next generation of digital savvy kids that you can take everywhere you go and bring to life with the touch of a button.
  • The Weird & Wacky Contraption Lab (SmartLab Toys): Standing over two feet tall, the Contraption Lab has 60 mix-and-match pieces to build an unlimited amount of contraptions. Kids can dream up crazy courses, then build and test them using the easy-to-construct Velcro®-like system.
  • The Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Clash Alley strategy board game (Wonder Forge): Beat the bad guys in this action-packed 3D strategy board game. Run, climb, and leap as you race through the 3D warehouse on important missions to rescue April, recover objects – and even pick up a pizza!
  • The Disney Easter Matching game (Wonder Forge): The classic game of picture matching gets all dressed up for Easter with Mickey, Donald, Tinker Bell, and all your favorite Disney characters
  • favorite Disney characters show their Easter spirit in colorful matching tiles.
  • A Fashion Angels Disney Princess Velvet Posters and a Sketch Portfolio (Fashion Angels): Combining two things that every little girl wants — drawing/coloring and princesses. Sit back and watch them create all kinds of cute princess fashions.
  • The Crappy Birthday game (North Star Games): the hysterical party game about pranking your friends with gifts they don’t want. It’s the perfect gift to give a party host instead of the traditional bottle of wine.
  • The Clubs board game (North Star Games): Clubs combines trick-taking fun with a hint of risk. It’s simple enough for kids, strategic enough for adults.
  • AppGear Foam Fighters (WowWee): Take to the skies with WWII fighter planes for immersive aerial combat. Strap in for fast-paced action and wing your way to victory over the Pacific, Britain or Europe. Compatible with iPhone and Android smartphones.

Thank you to all our wonderful sponsors for their generous contribution to our blast!

Spring Into Play Toy Blast >> giveaway rules

  • Must be 18 years or older to enter.
  • Open to US residents only.
  • Must use a valid email address or entry will be considered invalid.
  • We appreciate your following our gracious sponsors; all follow entries are optional and increase your odds of winning this fabtastic prize package.
  • No substitutions allowed on any of the giveaway items. Cannot be traded for cash value.
  • Winner will be announced on this blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Be sure to follow so you don’t miss the notification. Better yet, sign up to our email updates and never miss a thing!
  • Winner will be notified via email and must respond to notification within 48 hours or an alternate winner will be selected.

Disclaimer/Disclosure

The prize items will be sent to the winner individually, from their respective sponsors. Fabtastic Bloggers is not responsible for prize fulfillment or any issues arising from the shipment of the prize, the quality of the products, or anything else related to the prize items. Any and all taxes due on the prizes are the winners’ responsibility. Not affiliated with Facebook or Twitter. No purchase necessary to enter. Void where prohibited by law.

Ends on 4/8/13. Please enter via the form below. Good luck!

Get a Hop on Easter Baskets with Wonderforge! And it’s also a Giveaway!

Every year, after Church on Easter Sunday, my family has our yearly Easter egg hunt and Easter basket handout. We’re a very competitive bunch and our Easter egg hunt is like the Laura Ashley equivalent of The Hunger Games. The same competitiveness rings true through any game we’re playing – our most favorite game right now is the Nickelodeon™ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles™ Clash Alley™ Strategy Board Game.

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I grew up with TMNT – so I was super excited to get my hands on this game! Although, Shawn (my little brother), didn’t grow up with the Ninja Turtles, he was absolutely in love with this strategy game. On a mission to rescue April, you battle mutants Kraang and Shredder – you get get to recover objects and even pick up pizza! But our favorite part of this game was the 3D aspect – it adds another “layer of fun” as Shawn put it.

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It comes unattached – so you have to set it up. I’m hopeless when it comes to putting things together, but even I managed this one really well (I’m proud to say). The object of the game is to be the first turtle to complete your mission by collection your mission tile and returning to your corner home space. You do this by rolling the three dice which tell you how much you can run, climb, and leap, and you can do those in any order with the goal being to get your mission tile. It’s so fun, and super easy to understand! We played a LOT of rounds, it’s pretty addictive, it’s like a fun combination of action, puzzle, and board game because you have to figure out what moves will work best for you. Very cool!

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Another game, perfect for your younger bunnies, is the Disney Easter Matching Game! It’s so adorable, and a perfect game for young Disney fans. Favorite Disney characters are featured including Mickey (naturally), Donald, Tinker Bell, Minnie Mouse, Belle, Daisy duck, Piglet, Phineas and Pherb, the green aliens from Toy Story, Winnie the Pooh, Buzz and Woody, and more!
I’m gifting this one this Easter to my neice – who absolutely loves Disney! I love how this match game develops the memory of little ones; and thanks to Wonderforge is made out of recycled materials for a smaller footprint on our environment!

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The kind folks at Wonderforge are offering one lucky winner both the Nickelodeon™ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles™ Clash Alley™ Strategy Board Game and the Disney Easter Matching Game!

To Enter Please Leave One Comment Per Entry

Mandatory
1. Follow Wonderforge on twitter

2. Follow The NYC Talon on twitter

Optional
1. All of Wonderforge’s facebook followers get an extra entry! If you don’t follow Wonderforge on facebook yet, you can do so here!

2. Follow The NYC Talon on Pinterest

3. Retweet this tweet!

*Wonderforge provided me with product samples in order to facilitate a review. However, all opinions expressed here are my own. Giveaway open to 18+, US only. Starts 3/18 and closes on 3/26 at midnight EST.

Wildlife & The City, a Safari Review & Giveaway!

I’m a sucker for awesome toys – especially when they double as great decorating tchotchke’s! Safari was cool enough to send me the Eastern Screech Owl replica that I fell in love with at Toy Fair, and I still can’t get over the amazing detail and life-like appearance! Actually, when I went to take photos of it at my local park an older gentleman who was walking his dog thought my sister and I were taking pictures of an actual living owl – how crazy is that

Safari Eastern Screech Owl
I’ve loved owls since I was little when my mom used to call me her “night owl”, I’ve seen a few in person, and even named The NYC Talon based off of an owl’s talon – and I own a fair amount of owl-motif items, and I’m so excited to add this one to my collection! Right now it’s residing as a decorative end to my bookshelf, although an errant ring will occasionally find itself hanging off one of it’s prominent ear tufts – I really love it!

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Safari also sent me the coolest TOOB ever! The NYC TOOB! You guys know how much I love my city – after all this is The NYC Talon! I was going to keep them on my shelf, but now I think I might also use them as photo prop pieces for my blog store when I re-brand and revamp it.

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They really are all so amazingly detailed, I was turning them over in my hand and was shocked with how beautifully made they were – and every piece was a fitting tribute to the big apple!

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Safari has been around for over 30 years now, and are dedicated to sharing the unique beauty of wildlife with children through their professionally sculpted and hand painted (and often to scale) replicas of wildlife! But they also have the most awesome historical themed replicas as well as humans, fantasy themed pieces, and more!

Safari would love to share this mission with you and are offering one super lucky NYC Talon reader a replica OR a TOOB of your choice – and will include an extra surprise for the winner if he/she is following them on all their social media accounts! Pretty awesome, huh?

To Enter – One Comment Per Entry

Mandatory

Visit Safari and let me know what replica or TOOB you’d choose if you won!

Optional

1. All of Safari’s Facebook followers get and extra entry! If you don’t follow Safari, then you can do so here!

2. Follow Safari on Twitter

3. Follow Safari on Google+

4. Follow Safari on Pinterest

5. Subscribe to The NYC Talon via email – just enter your email address in the sidebar!

6. Follow The NYC Talon on Twitter

*Safari provided me with product samples in order to facilitate a review. However, all opinions expressed here are my own. Giveaway open to 18+, US only. Starts 3/16 and closes on 3/23 at midnight EST.