Blog Archives

Bobble Bots – Moshi Monsters – Robotic Pets That Move


Innovation First International, the Company that released the very successful "Hexbugs," has created a new world of robotic creatures for kids 3 years old and up. They are called "Bobble Bots," which feature 24 different battery operated robotic pets. The "Bobble Bots" have been partnered with the "Moshi Monsters" brand, hugely popular global collectible characters, which boast their own on-line world, as well as books, trading cards, and TV...
Posted in Figures

Miniature Replicas – Toobs by Safari Ltd





We came across an inexpensive but fun collectible from Safari Ltd. They have assembled collections of small plastic replicas of various animals, famous buildings, tiny babies, butterflies, pirates, glow in the dark insects, trains, trees and Indians, to name just a few. Each set includes an assortment of 14 replicas, all packaged in a 12" Toob, which provides a great storage container for youngsters at the end of the day. Each replica measures approximately 1 1/2"- 3" in length, and the sets are recommended for ages 3 years old and up.

We got a hold of the "Ocean Toob," which retails for just $10.00, and included a Sea Lion, Starfish, Dolphin, 2 types of Sharks, 2 different Whales, an Octopus, Turtle, Penguin, Eagle Ray and an Eel. We also had an additional Starfish and Octopus in our Toob. All were painted in bright colors, similar to their real life appearance.

We opened the "Ocean Toob," and spread the replicas out on a table in front of 6 kindergarten age kids. We told them to look at each replica, and then pass it on  to the next boy or girl. Next, we gathered up all of the replicas, and asked the kids if they knew the name of the animal represented by the small detailed figure. They were asked to shout out the answer, and they actually got more than half of them right, although distinguishing between the shark and dolphin did cause some confusion. It was also a great learning experience for the group to learn the specific types of sharks and whales represented in the  collection.

The teacher was very enthusiastic about the product, commenting that there was such a wide assortment of different Toobs to choose from. The educational opportunities were endless. The parents loved the price, while the kids loved holding them, and trying to make the sound of the actual animal.


Posted in Figures

Cubebot from Areaware – A Most Unique Wooden Robot



"Areaware" is a New York based design company. They produce unusual takes on everyday objects using many of the most up and coming designers around.  David Weeks is responsible for the "Cubebot."

It is a wooden toy robot that comes packaged as a cube, measuring approximately 2.5 inches on each side.  The robot is constructed of Cherry Wood, with all of the movable parts attached by strong elastic bands.  When the cube is expanded by moving the various body parts, the result is a robot that stands 6.75 inches high with an arm span of 9.25 inches.  This is the size of the basic "Cubebot," and the size does vary slightly depending on the model.

The "Cubebot" was actually fashioned after the popular Japanese Shinto Kumiki puzzles.  In Japanese, the word Kumiki means "to join wood together."  Continuing in that Kumiki tradition, the "Cubebot" is of such high quality that it is virtually unbreakable.

Once the robot is in play mode, he can be posed in various ways by moving his legs, arms and head.  If you want to return the "Cubebot" back into its original cube, that can also be done.  However, it does take a bit of time to figure out how to twist and shape the robot back into a cube.  But that is meant to be part of the fun.

We had three different versions of the "Cubebot" available to us.  Each had a little different appearance, and varied only slightly in size.  We decided to show this product to a group of youngsters in the age range of 8-10 years old.  We did this in an after school setting at a local elementary school and assembled a group of 4 boys and 2 girls.  We set aside only 30 minutes or so, and placed each of the three "Cubebots" on a large craft table.  We gave a brief explanation about the product, and then ask they take turns giving each "Cubebot" a good workout.

The kids did not disappoint as they twisted, turned and spun the various body parts around, until the full size "Cubebot" was ready for play.  Despite the strenuous testing done by the kids, the "Cubebots" received no damage of any kind, confirming their durability.  When there was only about 15 minutes left in our allotted time,  we ask that they try to return the "Cubebot" back to its original cube shape.  No one could do it, although one little boy got very close.  We told them that it takes most adults more than 15 minutes to figure it out, especially the first time or two.  The kids seemed to really enjoy the flexibility of the "Cubebot," thanks in part to the elastic bands allowing multiple shaping options.  Both the kids and their parents were very impressed with the "Cubebot." 

The "Cubebot" is intended for youngsters ages 3 years old and up, retails for $30.00, and can be found at Amazon.com.
-- RJ Cullen

Posted in Figures

HoodiePet – Clothes + Plush Animals



The "HoodiePet" is one of the more unique items we have come across lately. The idea sprang from the mind of Louise Kemp out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who designed a children's' long-sleeve fleece sweatshirt with hood that can be coupled with a small plush animal which is attached to the front of the garment by Velcro.  There are currently 11 different animals that can be purchased to complement each "HoodiePet." The fleece sweatshirt also comes in 5 different colors, so the combinations are almost endless.

The "HoodiePets" come in various sizes as well, for ages ranging from 1-10 years old.  The plush animals available include a Tiger, Panda Bear, Polar Bear, Cheetah, two different Bunnies, Puppy, Unicorn, Bear, Zebra and Ape.

The fun part of a "HoodiePet" is the ability for a youngster to change the entire look of the clothing by simply changing the animal attached to the front.  When detached from the velcro, the animals also have a small hand opening on the bottom, which creates a puppet-like effect.
Our sample "HoodiePet" was red, with Clawie the Tiger attached.  It was a size 5-6, so we took it over to visit one of our older pre-school focus groups.  We had arranged an after-school session with a teacher, her kids and parents to get their opinion of the "HoodiePet."  We explained the idea of it being a fleece sweatshirt combined with a plush animal, that could easily be taken on and off.

We had 5 children available for the test, and we told them that each would get a chance to try it on, remove Clawie the Tiger, look at themselves in a mirror, and pose a bit for teacher and parent.  We also knew the size would not fit all, but in general, that was not a problem, as the youngsters were much more excited about the plush animal and its removal than anything else.

After everyone had a turn, the kids all wanted to take it home, but we explained that it was just a "test model," and it had to be returned to the "store."  While the kids then occupied themselves in another part of the room, we discussed the product with both the teacher and the parents.  

We brought our Ipad with us and brought up the website, "HoodiePet.com," so that the sweatshirt and animal options could be more readily viewed.  This also provided a sense for prices of a typical "HoodiePet."  The Sweatshirt cost $24.99 and each plush animal was $7.00.  However, there were significant discounts available based on kit and quantity purchases.  

The adults loved the softness and quality of the Sweatshirt.  They thought the Velcro for the plush animal was well placed along the middle of the full front pocket.  They also were surprised at the many color and animal options available.  They thought their kids would have a great time wearing them and even exchanging plush animals with other kids, who also had a "HoodiePet." The price took a few by surprise, but most agreed the quality of the product justified the cost.  The mothers' also wanted to make sure the fleece sweatshirt was machine washable, which it was, and we explained that the plush animal required only surface washing with a wet cloth.

At this time, it is best to order "HoodiePet" directly from the website, "HoodiePet.com."
-- RJ Cullen

Posted in Figures

Little Inu – A Very Realistic Dinosaur Pet



"Senario, LLC," a company that produces a full-line of entertaining toys for kids, has released a fantastic interactive pet dinosaur named "Little Inu."

Over the past couple of years, we, at "ToysBulletin.com" have seen interactive robots, dragons, dogs and every conceivable type of action figure supposedly reacting to a human voice or touch. Unfortunately, many of these flat out did not work very well, or had limited playability.

We think "Little Inu" may be the first in a new generation of interactive pets that actually perform as promised. "Little Inu" stands about 9" tall with his head fully raised, and is approximately 16" in length from the end of his tail to the front of his nose. The girth at the widest point is about 16" as well, and "Little Inu" weighs in at a sturdy 2 pounds.

"Little Inu" is powered by a rechargeable battery pack, which is included. Before first use, it takes about 3 hours to charge the pack, which should provide several days of quality interactive play time. An easy to use battery cradle is provided as well.

When "Little Inu" is activated for the first time, he is sleeping, almost snoring. You need to pet him on the head, tickle his chin or scratch his back to get him to wake up and begin to react. The first thing we noticed was how much his skin feels like the real thing. This is not a typical toy with a hard plastic exterior, but instead features a realistic, almost stretchable skin. It takes a few minutes to get used to the feel.

"Little Inu" can walk, but very slowly, and his eyes open and close too. He will react to touch, making appropriate sounds of joy, while moving his head from side to side and wagging his tail. He can also smell both the "Taro Root," and "Coconut," (both included) and will move toward them, as they are sources of food and water. He can hold things in his mouth and even play "tug of war," with you. But, at the same time, he can get frustrated and make angry sounds if he is turned upside down, or you pet him excessively. The "Toysbulletin.com" staff was certainly impressed but we had to see what the kids had to say.

The recommended age for "Little Inu" is 8 years and up, without adult supervision. This is primarily due to the fact that "Little Inu" should not be dropped or placed in water. "Senario, LLC" suggests that "Little Inu" be treated just like a real pet, so utmost care must be taken at all times.

We assembled 4 kids from our elementary school focus group. Their ages ranged from 7 to 11 years old, 2 boys and 2 girls. Before powering up "Little Inu," we explained the interactive play guidelines to the entire group, including how they must treat "Little Inu" as if he was their very own pet. They all nodded their heads, and we let the excitement build just a bit before pushing the "on" button. Once "Little Inu" was activated, we and the parents stood back and watched.

There was an initial hesitation by all four youngsters after touching "Little Inu's" skin for the first time. It was a new experience for them, just as it had been for our staff, but they went back for more, and began petting, scratching and rubbing "Little Inu." He quickly came to life with happy sounds. Two of the older children had been assigned the "Taro Root," and the "Coconut." They were able to get "Little Inu" to walk toward both items moving his head up and down and opening his mouth as well. We also knew if too many hands got involved in the play, "Little Inu" could get a bit grumpy. We were lucky, as the kids seemed to take turns playing with him. We had to shout some reminder instructions from time to time, but the kids were well behaved. After about 20 minutes or so, we said it was time for "Little Inu" to take a nap, and turned him off.

We interviewed the youngsters and their parents immediately afterwards. Before starting, we advised the parents that "Little Inu" retailed for $149.99. Here is a range of comments.

From the Kids:
"That was the neatest thing I have ever seen."
"Why can't he run?"
"Where is the remote control?"
"I wish I had gotten that for Christmas."
"He is so cute."
"Can he talk, or just make sounds?"

From the Parents:
"That is very nice, but a bit pricey."
"We will definitely be buying one."
"That was an amazing toy."
"Where can we get one?"
"Maybe next Christmas."
"Could make a great gift for my nephew."

We answered all of the concerns, including that "Little Inu" cannot speak, only make dinosaur sounds, that no remote was needed, and that this dinosaur could only walk not run. We told the parents that "Little Inu" could be bought at Amazon.com. We also mentioned that there were many additional accessories available to enhance playing with "Little Inu," including a "Ti Leaf," a catnip like toy, a special "Leaf Nest Bed," a "Preemie Glow Egg" with a hatching baby dinosaur and even a "Native Doll," a "Baby Squid," and some "Lil' Fishes" to play with.

Our final thoughts after listening to the focus group are that "Little Inu" is an outstanding interactive toy, with the feel of real skin and the ability to communicate and even change moods based simply on touch and changing circumstances. Despite the fact it is fragile, and would be an expensive investment for many parents, it could also be the "gift of the year" for some lucky little kid.
-- RJ Cullen
Posted in Figures

Xia-Xia – Playful Hermit Crabs












"Xia-Xia" is pronounced Shah-Shah, and describes an entire collection of lovable hermit crabs, their collectible shells, and some colorful playsets. "Xia-Xia" was released by Cepia LLC., which may be best known for creating the popular ZhuZhu pets in 2009.

The fun starts with the 4 principal "Xia-Xia" pets. There is "Bimini," with a pink polka-dotted shell, "Trinidad," grey and orange with spotted skulls, "Turks," red with pink bows and "Tobago," sporting a totally blue exterior. Each colorful hermit crab is approximately 2 1/2" L x 2 1/2" W and 2 1/2 " H. They have a handy power switch, and when turned on, a simple tap of the claw activates the "Xia-Xia" pets. The pets move quickly, and change direction when the claws bump into another object. Batteries are included so they are set to go right out of the box.

In addition, the outer top shell of the "Xia-Xia" pet can be removed revealing a tiny friend inside. More collectible shells can be bought separately with different friends hidden inside. All of the shells fit any of the individual "Xia-Xia" pets.

The playsets add to the fun. The "Rio de Trio Village" includes 3 separate enclosed rooms, allowing the "Xia-Xia" pets to scurry from one to the other, bumping and changing directions along the way, while the "Confetti Cottage" is basically a colorful carrier for all of your "Xia-Xia" pets. The "Copacabana Playset" is much like a tree house for playing with all of the "Xia-Xia" pets and their accessories.

We assembled a focus group of children, ranging in age from 4-8 years old. We set up the three playsets described above on 3 separate tables, placing 1 or 2 "Xia-Xia" pets at each of the locations. We showed each child how to turn on the pets and how to turn them off. We explained and demonstrated the differences in the individual playsets and even popped off a few of the shells for the older kids.

We turned the kids loose and we watched along with their parents as the kids played with the "Xia-Xia" pet hermit crabs and all of the accessories. The youngsters loved the way the pets moved and switched directions. They seldom used the "off" button. Instead they just picked the pet up and ran to another table. The "Rio de Trio Village" playset was probably the favorite, as it seemed to have more play room and was a bit larger. We wish we had a few more of the pets available for the focus group, as several of the younger kids had to patiently wait
their turns.

Several of the pets were dropped on the floor and seemed to recover without incident. One of the pets did seem to lose some battery life toward the end of the evening, but it was certainly put through its paces for a solid 30-45 minutes. The parents and kids were enthused about the "Xia-Xia" pets. There was certainly interest in the changeable collectible shells, and the price point of the actual pets was asked by every parent. The two small batteries (AG-13/LR-44) required by each pet was a bit of a concern, since constant usage would require regular
battery replacement. However, the staff at Toys Bulletin found that 50 of the batteries could be purchased for less than $7.00, and we mentioned that to the parents.

Overall, "Xia-Xia" pets should be a solid performer and popular toy line for many years. The entire line of "Xia-Xia" products can be seen at Amazon.com. Cepia LLC even offers a line of "Xia-Xia" gear, including apparel. Check out their website.
-- RJ Cullen
Posted in Figures

ToysBulletin.com Announces its Best Toys and Games List for 2011

THE BEST OF 2011 FROM TOYS BULLETIN

It is a difficult task to compile a list of the year's best toys and games, since it is absolutely impossible to have played with every toy and game released in 2011. So, we have prepared our "Best of the Year" list based on toys and games that we have reviewed on our website from November 2010 through October 2011.

We have excluded some older items which we reviewed this year, because the toy or game had been around for years, but at the same time we have included some toys and games that were new to us here at Toys Bulletin, but may have been available prior to 2011. And most importantly, we kept with our mission statement of providing a list of the "Best Toys and Games You've Never Heard Of."

Here we go........

TOP TOYS AND GAMES OF 2011 (in Alphabetical Order)

Automoblox- from Automoblox Company, LLC

The best wood building toy we have ever seen (see review on 11-19-10)

Flip Six Card Game- from US Games Systems, Inc.

Easy to play card game, and so addictive (see review on 6-18-11)
Jukem- from Flying Pig Games

A simple, fun and fast football card game (see review on 3-14-11)
Khet 2.0- from Innovention Toys

A chess type game with laser beams, and simply amazing to play (see review on 3-25-11)
Kid's Safety Trampoline- from One Step Ahead

Sturdy, high quality and a focus group favorite (see review on 7-30-11)
Main Event Boxing- from Downey Games

An amazing Boxing simulation that can be played in just 5 minutes (see review on 10-1-11)
Puzzle Pyramid- from Ravensburger

An astonishing 3D jigsaw puzzle (see review on 7-26-11)
Redakai- from Spin Master Ltd

The new standard in trading card games (see review on 7-9-11)
Revomaze- from Ashton Pitt Ltd

The most fascinating, yet difficult, puzzle ever created (see review on 9-24-11)




Sword and Shield Set- from Rubbabu

Soft, flexible and unbreakable, young boys loved it (see review on 5-25-11)



The Wacky Whiddles- from Wacky Whiddles and More LLC

A truly fun word game, that is witty and clever (see review on 4-30-11)
Word on the Street- from Out of the Box Publishing, Inc.

So simple and easy to play, yet so rewarding (see review on 9-17-11)

-- List by Toys Bulletin Staff

Posted in Apps and Video Games, Board Games, Building, Christmas, Electronics, Figures, Games, Girls, Information, Learning, Nostalgic, Outdoor, Remote Control, Riding, Sports, Vehicles

Squishables – Lots of Love in a Round Package




Squishable.com, Inc. was first formed in 2007, by its two Chief Squishers, Zoe and Aaron. The Company currently has over 75 different huggable, squeezable and super soft creatures available. These are more than your typical stuffed animals, as each begins with a simple spherical shape, before taking on their special
feel and personality. Hats off to the design team.

"Squishables" come in basically two sizes, 15" and a 7" mini-size. There are also several "Massive" and "Understudy"editions that are generally larger, while maintaining the attraction of the smaller ones.

We assembled one of our younger focus groups, ranging in age from 4 to 7 years old. We placed a 15" "Squishable Dragon" and a 7" "Squishable Mini-Panda" on an activity table. We asked the youngsters to pick them up, hold them, squeeze them and most importantly, share the experience with others in the group. Although the older kids took their turns first, everyone, including the parents. got a close up look at the world of "Squishables."

The most frequent comments were, "They are so soft," "It is so cute," and "I want one." Every parent, without exception, wanted
to know more about them and where to buy a "Squishable." We explained that the choice of size and colors was one of the big advantages of "Squishables." They could choose from virtually any type of animal, including a Pink Octopus, a Multi-Colored Platypus,
a Black Raven or a Green Tortoise. We referred the parents to the website, "Squishable.com" so they could see the variety for themselves.

"Squishables" can be purchased at Amazon.com. Most of the larger 15" "Squishables" retail for around $38.00-$42.00 and the
smaller 7" size retails for approximately $19.00.
-- RJ Cullen


Posted in Figures








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