TIA Toy Fair NYC 2013 Recap: Part 1!

So a couple of weeks ago I attended TIA’s annual NYC Toy Fair. For those of you that don’t know what Toy Fair is (no worries, I wasn’t aware of what it was until this year), every year the Toy Industry Association holds an industry and press only Toy Fair in NYC. This year there were over 30,000 people walking up and down Jacob Javits center – where the Fair was held. Generally, the fair largely caters to the business side of things – so giant retailers meet up with Toy Companies and manufacturers to wheel and deal in the background and bring the hottest toys to your local stores. I attended as press – which was pretty awesome because we did get our own press center and had access to showroom tours and things like that. Anyways, here’s what I saw at Toy Fair 2013!

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Elf on a Shelf Makes a Reappearance – Pressman Toys has a lot of board games coming out. After watching Elf on a Shelf take over Pinterest this past holiday season I can definitely see an audience for the Naughty or Nice Board Game and the Musical Elf on the Shelf Hide and Seek game.

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The Hobbit Board Game is one game that I, as a massive Hobbit & LOTR fan, am ridiculously excited about. In fact, anything Hobbit or LOTR related that I saw at Toy Fair is something I am ridiculously excited for.

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The New Girl, Hello Kitty, The Smurfs, Skylanders, The Trash Pack, and Dork Diaries were also present at the Pressman booth.

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Look at how big the Fair was, this was just ONE booth!

Westminster had some pretty awesome toys out, a personal favorite was this Bacon Bits pig and iCube puzzle cube.

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Look- a Smurf!

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Scanimalz had this GIANT Panda Scanimal perched precariously on the corner of their showroom – it was so adorable, I wish I could have taken him home with me!

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Wonder Forge had loads of awesome toys, a lot of them were geared towards younger kids, but my favorite item at their booth was their Konexi game. Konexi is a game for the whole family, and how you play it is that you build words using letters while attaching them to eachother – if you make it fall you lose. If Jenga and Scrabble had a love child, this would be it!

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I loved Monkeez and Goof Ballz – these plushy toys are not only absolutely adorable but also altruistic, Monkeez Makes a Difference donates a portion of the wholesale cost of your Monkeez to one of three charities of your choice when you register your Monkeez on their online interactive website (for kids!).

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I also met with Crayola, which I was super excited about – they have the coolest products coming out, I wasn’t able to take any pictures but here’s a sneak peak that they posted on their Facebook wall recently:

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So that’s it for Part 1 of my Toy Fair recap – let me know what you think? See any toys you’d like to get your hands on???

The Big Toy Book’s Biggest Day of Holiday Play Event Recap!

I love toys, and a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to take Juliet (my little sister) to The Big Toy Book’s Biggest Day of Holiday Play event! Together, we both got a sneak peek at the hottest toys that are hitting the shelves.

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As a 90’s child I was thrilled to see the presence of a few old school toys – of course they’re all re-imagined to accommodate the taste and lifestyle of the modern child. But the purpose of toys like the Spirograph and the Slinky will always remain – and it’s to have fun!

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Some of the awesome toys that Juliet and I got to get our hands on to try were Hex Bugs – which I featured on The NYC Talon’s 2012 Holiday Gift Guide! In fact, both my little brother and sister received HexBugs for Christmas (they had an awesome sale in Target, so Santa couldn’t help himself *wink, wink*). I just love HexBugs, they’re just so much fun – and completely reduce me to a nine year old kid again.

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Lite Brix was definitely one of the popular toys at the event. Personally, I’ve noticed how increasingly popular light up or glowing toys are amongst kids. Juliet loved playing with them, and was dying over their “super cool light up guitar” that Lite Brix had bought along for the event.

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One of my favorite toys, which I had never heard of up until TBTB BDH event was the Boogie Board – which apparently means that I’ve been living under a rock or something. I’ve been telling everyone about this super useful, fun toy – and during Christmas break I mentioned it in passing to one of my grandmother’s and she was like “Yeah, I love the Boogie Board! I’ve had it for a while; I use it to write down item numbers when I watch the home shopping network”. So much for being “in the know” lol!

Koosh was also super popular – the kids LOVED playing with them! But I think the adults loved them even more – their one of the toys that appeals to “kids” of all ages, which I love.

Products like the Slinky, Spirograph, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were complete throw-backs for me. I loved seeing them there alongside newer lines like AppGear, Tech4Kids, ArtSee Studio, and FlyLine RC (who are one of the awesome sponsors for The Dragyn’s Lair and The NYC Talon’s #Tweetin13 twitter party!). Juliet spent the majority of her time though with the folks from The Bridge Direct – she now wants everything she saw in that suite especially the Waverly and the Magic Seashells line, Glo Glo Inkoos, and Looney Toons stuffed animals. Meanwhile, I absolutely loved the Annoying Orange dartboard. She loved the Hello Kitty Shoulder Buddy one of the super nice ladies from The Bridge bestowed upon her, she insisted that I instagrammed it (you can see it here)!

We had a complete blast – and I have successfully solidified my reputation as one of the coolest sisters ever!

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* All opinions presented here belong to The NYC Talon and are not influenced in any way. I did not receive compensation for this post. I did receive a gift bag at the event, for more info please see my PR tab above.

Welcome to Hotel Transylvania!

This past week Shawn and Juliet (my little brother and sister, for those of you who don’t know) were one of the few lucky kids who were invited by The MOMs to attend an advance screening of fall’s new hottest family film- Hotel Transylvania! And at the end of the film, we were all treated to an exclusive Q&A with the voice of the bride of Frankenstein – Fran Drescher!

Yummy after-school snacks that were waiting for us at the screening :)

Now, I grew up with the nasal -er- dulcet tones of Fran Fine ringing in my ears. In fact, I didn’t even have to guess which character Fran was voicing- I knew it the minute the big-haired, blue-skinned, bride of Frankenstein appeared on the screen. And being the awesomest older sister ever, I’ve gladly shared and cultivated proper Fran Fine fans in Shawn and Juliet – that way they were equally excited when they heard they were going to get to meet her in person!

Eunice (Fran Drescher) hugs Mavis (Selena Gomez) with her father Dracula (Adam Sandler) watching in HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, an animated comedy from Sony Pictures Animation.

Now for the movie. Dracula, owner of Hotel Transylvania – a lavish resort dedicated to providing a safe haven to monsters- has invited all his monster friends (hello invisible man, Frankenstein, the blob, and other classic scaries) to celebrate his daughter Mabel’s 118th birthday. However, Dracula’s plans to keep Mavis safe from the human world go awry when the hotel is visited by Jonathan – a human, who’s unlike anything Dracula ever expected.

Johnnystein (Andy Samberg) and Mavis (Selena Gomez) with Dracula (Adam Sandler) looking on in HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, an animated comedy from Sony Pictures Animation.

I have to say, Hotel Transylvania is one of those adorable films that you just can’t wait for it to come out on DVD so you can add it to your home movie collection. It was like Father of the Bride met the Halloween section in Party City, and had a movie love child. It was cute, it was funny, it was heartfelt, and it was wildly entertaining. Shawn and Juliet loved it and are demanding to see it again when it hits theaters.

After the movie, we had a chance to talk to Fran. She was so nice (and yes the voice is real) – and had a lot to say about making Hotel Transylvania, as well as her Cancer Schmancer non-profit and the Trash Cancer movement- an initiative started by Cancer Schmancer designed to support people in cleaning their home of toxins and cancer-causing agents. I don’t know about toxins, but I was having The Nanny flashbacks involving Fran, Mr.Sheffield, Sylvia, Grandma Yetta, and Gracie.

Shawn, Juliet, and I had such a great time and absolutely LOVED Hotel Transylvania! We’re seriously going to go see it again- we all gave it a five star review, so be sure to head to your local theater and see it yourself – you’ll love it! Hotel Transylvania opens the weekend of September 28th.

*Disclosure: I was invited to the advanced screening of Hotel Transylvania by the lovely Melissa and Denise of The MOMs. No other compensation was provided.

Playing Football on Top of the World and Making it Epic : My Zamzee Review

This summer the whole family has spent a boatload of time being active outdoors. But getting out and about while the sun is blazing is never an easy task. In fact, most kids (and adults) would prefer to spend their time chilling in a room being blasted with air conditioner. But to get the kids- and by kids I mean my awesome younger sibs who will be hereafter known as Juliet and Shawn- excited about moving I turned to Zamzee!

What is Zamzee? The Zamzee is a meter that measures physical activity, and works with the website to monitor and provide kids with an interactive online experience that makes moving a fun and rewarding activity. Which basically means that your kids (or nieces, nephews, younger siblings, etc.) get a meter, join the Zamzee website, create a profile and avatar, wear their meter, track their progress, and can actually earn rewards towards cool prizes!

Juliet and Shawn were really excited about their Zamzee’s- and had a blast creating their avatar’s. Minutes after opening the package, we had their accounts successfully set up and their Zamzee’s fully running- which I was really pleased about. If you’ve ever struggled with removing a Barbie from her box on Christmas morning, or pulled out your hair over complicated packaging, start-up instructions, or a million get started steps, then you can understand how invaluable a really easy seamless set up is.

I really wish I had one of these as a kid! Juliet and Shawn insist all the time now for me to take them out to the library or park, and to sign them up for challenges, and upload their Zamz. They are determined to score something really cool from the Zamz store!

Zamzee was established in 2010 by HopeLab, a nonprofit research organization that uses the power and appeal of technology to improve the health of kids. The goal for Zamzee was to create a profitable business, while also achieving their social mission of getting kids and families moving more. Zamzee targets an audience of kids mainly between the ages of 9 to 15 – that rough spot where physical activity begins to decline, and kids are forming lifelong habits.

Click the image above for access to my Zamzee Britely book!

I really admire the idea of a company whose product is designed around an admirable social goal. I’ve found that the Zamzee’s appeal to the competitive and fun-seeking nature of kids. They want to run more, they want to go out, and they want to work towards their own goals. Here’s what Shawn and Juliet had to say about the Zamzee meters:

Juliet:

“I liked it because I got to customize my avatar, and when I exercise I’m working towards getting something. I also like that you can get awards and become “friends” with other kids on the Zamzee site- what can I say? I’m a social butterfly!”

Shawn:

“I like the rewards, it gives you something to work towards. I also like making Whamz whenever I upload my points- you can make really cool ones like ‘Football on top of the world and making it epic’.”

The Zamzee is definitely the most favorite accessory in my home right now. I would definitely recommend as a birthday, or Christmas present, or even as a tool to start getting your kids excited about moving!

For more information about the Zamzee, their history, and how it works – click here! You can also follow them on facebook or twitter. If you have any questions about the Zamzee or our experience with the Zamzee- feel free to leave a comment below, I promise I’ll answer ASAP!

Update: The super kind folks at Zamzee are now offering a discount code to my readers (that’s you!) that will take 25% off your Zamzee purchase on the website! Just use the code “LUVZZ2012″ at checkout!

*Disclaimer: I received two Zamzee’s to review. No other compensation was provided. My opinions are always my own, if I didn’t love it I would blog about it – for more info on that check out my PR tab above. Thank you!

August Favorites – The Hit List!

August has been a whirlwind month for me. Between BlogHer ’12, getting ready for back to school, and enjoying the last days of summer, I’ve managed to find so many new favorite products!

At the top of my list is the hottest toy at my house right now- the Perpluxus Epic 3D Puzzle! I can honestly attest to the fact that this game, despite being marketed to kids 8+, thoroughly appeals to puzzle-lovers of all ages. Picked up at the BlogHer ’12 swag echange at the Hilton, everybody in my house has had a go at solving it (although not everybody has actually solved it, including *cough,cough* yours truly). We love it, so if you’re looking for a game for a birthday, or if you’re already making a gameplan for Christmas – definitely look into getting your hands on one of these. Although, you should be careful, because if you drop it (or if it rolls off your bed, like ours did) – then a little piece could pop off the puzzle and render it semi-broken (like ours is).

The next item on my list is another product that I’ve absolutely fallen in love with, and that’s Kiss’ Impress Nails. This has already received a lot of hype all over the internet, in magazines, everywhere- but this is really one of those rare products that actually is deserving of all the hype surrounding it. So get your talons on a set of these, they’re perfect for when you’re on the go and want chip-proof, professional looking nails. Check out their designs, and get a $1 coupon here!

Have you ever purchased one really good-for-you sounding snack bar only to find that it’s chock full of sugar and carbs? Yeah, been there, done that. Rickland Orchards new Greek Yogurt Bar’s are the solution to your snacking woe’s (because there’s nothing worse than a snacking woe). Not only do they taste really really good (my favorite is the Cherry Almond one’s), but they only have 22 carbs, and boast 5 g’s of fiber (leaving your net carb at 17), and 7g’s of protein – which is pretty good as far as snack bars go.

I cannot get enough of the smell of the Apotheke:M Coconut Jasmine Enriched Body Creme- it’s definitely my favorite body creme right now. It has a nice coconut scent, without being heavy like most products with shea butter usually are. The jasmine acts as a toner, chamomile as a soother, argan oil as a emollient, and avocado and shea butter acts as moisturizers. I haven’t had a chance to try the whole line (which is priced at $8.99 a piece at Target), but if they’re as good as the creme then I’ll definitely purchase the whole set!

So that’s it for my August monthly favorites! Have you discovered any new products you love??? Let me know in the comments section below!

Mamarazzi with Jada Pinkett Smith & Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted Event

One of the great things about being a blogger is that you get to go to fun, awesome events! This Friday I was lucky enough to be invited by The MOMS to join a number of fellow bloggers for a screening in Times Square of the just released Madagascar 3: Europe’s most wanted. To be completely honest, this was my first “real” event- and I was super nervous about rubbing elbows with a group of seasoned and established bloggers. So I brought along my sister, my best and most loyal wing-girl. However, there was nothing to be nervous about, The MOMS – Melissa and Denise- were super welcoming and made my sister and I feel right at home. Also, the cake pops helped too!

We were treated to a light reception, where we were surrounded by Capri Sun’s new Super V juice, Dogmatic restaurants light and refreshing salads and tasty cake pops from New York Cake Pops.

These were so cute!

Capri Sun’s Super V line contains 1 combined serving of fruits & veggies- plus they taste great!

After the light reception, we got to see the movie (they gave us each a colorful afro, to match Marty’s). Which I totally loved! Trust me, Madagascar 3 really lives up to the comedic standards set by the first and second films from this series. And I loved the casting addition of Martin Short (from one of my film fav’s- Father of the Bride 1 & 2)! We got to see it in 3D- which really enhanced the viewing experience for me. I cannot wait to take my younger siblings to see this flick! You should totally go see it!

Hardcore 3D glasses ;)

After the film, we actually got the chance to meet Jada Pinkett Smith- who voiced the voluptuous and adorable Gloria the hippo. Seated a couple feet away from us, Jada shared advice and a couple stories with an obviously captivated audience. She’s so tiny, and such a warm personality!

After chatting with Jada, guests had a chance to take a few pictures with her. I declined, since she was completely surrounded by adoring fans ;)

Last but certainly not least, we were sent away with an awesome swag back- my sister’s bag even had a $25 gift card to Aeropostale’s P.S. store in it (this is me pretending not to be jealous of my sister)!

Inside: cooler bag, stadium blanket, beach ball, mini speaker, fruit-shaped ice cubes, four colorful pairs of sunglasses, 2 Madagascar pencils, and samples of Capri Sun Super V

I really enjoyed this event and would like to thank The MOMS for having us, and to Capri-Sun and their Super V juice (which is delicious! Believe me, I had plenty so I know what I’m talking about here!) for sponsoring the event. I had an amazing time and got to meet some really nice bloggers like Jennifer who writes the Connect with your Teens through Pop Culture and Technology blog, and Kristen from Hope With Feathers-  both were really nice to lil ‘ol and I hope we get to hang out at BlogHer ’12 this summer! ;)

Update: The wonderful PR people for this event (hi there DKC Public Relations!!!!) were kind enough to send me not only a aeropostale PS gift but also 2 boxes of Capri Sun Super V, and an amazing cooler bag with a plug-and-play stereo feature! Thank you sooo much!