Blog Archives

ToysBulletin.com Update – New Site and Content Migration

cropped-cropped-Toys1.gifThis site has been up and running for more than four years, and we have been asked by a few people why we have never updated the design. The short answer is that the site worked, and we’ve learned before that if something works online, don’t mess with it. But the time has finally come for a refresher, a new design and layout that provides a host of benefits for readers.

First of all this new site will load much faster. The previous site was code heavy and a bit of a patch work Frankenstein job that accumulated a lot of excess size over the years. This new site is optimized to run much faster.

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Posted in Apps and Video Games, Baby and Toddler, Board Games, Building, Card Games, Christmas, Doll, Electronics, Figures, Games, Girls, Information, Learning, Nostalgic, Novelty, Outdoor, Remote Control, Riding, Sports, Uncategorized, Vehicles

The Best of 2013 from Toys Bulletin

ToysBulletin.com lists its favorite toys and games of the year.

 

Each year this task gets much more difficult for our staff here at Toys Bulletin.  As has been the case in past years, we continue to see so many quality and exciting new products during the year that it is especially difficult to single out just a few standouts.  Plus, we also know that we cannot possibly test and review every toy and game released by every manufacturer in the past 12 months, so there is no doubt that we may have missed some good ones.


Here are the guidelines we follow in making our selections.  “The Best of 2013” is based solely on the toys and games that we have reviewed on our website from November 2012 through October 2013.  We have purposely excluded some older items, which may have been reviewed during that period, because that toy or game has been around for a number of years.  However, in some circumstances, we have also included an item that was new to us at Toys Bulletin, even though it may have been available for purchase prior to November 2012.

 

And most importantly, we followed our mission statement of providing a list of the “Best Toys and Games You’ve Never Heard Of...”


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

THE BEST OF 2012 FROM TOYS BULLETIN

This task has not gotten any easier since we published our “Best of 2011” 12 months ago.  We see so many quality and exciting new products during the year, making it especially difficult to single out just a few standouts.  Plus, as mentioned last year, we cannot possibly test and review every toy and game released by every manufacturer in the past 12 months, so there is no doubt that we may have missed some good ones.

Here are the guidelines we follow in making our selections.  “The Best of 2012” is based solely on the toys and games that we have reviewed on our website from November 2011 through October 2012.  We have purposely excluded some older items, which may have been reviewed during that period, because that toy or game has been around for a number of years.  However, in some circumstances, we have also included an item that was new to us at Toys Bulletin, even though it may have been available for purchase prior to November 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.”

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

Custard ‘n Jelly – Dolls That Can Help Other Kids

It is always nice to run across a product that truly does give back. "Custard 'n Jelly" dolls were designed by a young 8 year old, named Ally, who is the daughter of Sam and Julie Mollo. There are seven dolls in the collection, each approximately 7"- 8" in height. They are beautifully crafted, and each doll can be registered at their website, "custardnjelly.com." The unique thing about these dolls is that a portion of the sales goes directly to one of three partnering children's charities, and the kids can choose which one...

Posted in Girls

American Girl Crafts – Creative Fun for Pre-Teens

"American Girl" and "EKSuccess Brands" formed a partnership in 2009 to create an innovative line of craft products aimed at girls ages 8 to 12. The entire catalog now includes over 300 products, allowing young girls to create great looking crafts by following simple step-by-step instructions.

We at "Toys Bulletin" wanted to look at a variety of different "American Girl Craft" kits, so our review will include our take on the following four crafts....

Daisy Design Bracelets
Sew & Shares
Fancy Flower Wreath
Mirror Message Board

Posted in Girls

Adora Dolls – Even Better Than Expected

“Adora Dolls” are truly adorable. This California based division of the Charisma Brand has introduced over 150 new Adora Doll products. The collections we will review include “Playtime” babies, for ages 12 months old and up, “Giggle Time” babies, for ages 2 years old and up, “Nursery Time” babies, for those 3 years old and up, and the 20″ “Toddler Time” dolls,” for ages 6 years old and up.
 

=&0=& LittlePrincessBrnBrnGirl_2The “Playtime” baby is a 13″ baby powder scented vinyl doll weighing just 12 ounces.  The bean bag weighted bottom gives the doll a very lifelike feel, and is a perfect size for a 12 month old’s first doll. The baby comes wearing a diaper, sleeper, headband and even includes a baby bottle to complete her accessories.  The doll is machine washable, and Adora also offers a choice of 5 ethnically diverse skintones and eye combinations.  MSRP for the “Playtime” baby is $29.95. This particular doll was recently shown on the hit TV show, “Modern Family.”  The featured doll was of medium skin tone, with dark hair and brown eyes, just like the character Lily on the show. =&1=& 2021049carrier1We also loved the new 14 1/2″ Adora “Giggle Time” babies.  This doll comes with its own baby carrier, removable “giggle” mechanism, fleece sleeper and a magnetic pacifier.  Much like the “Playtime” baby, this doll is handmade from lightly baby powder scented vinyl, and is also machine washable, after removing the “giggle” mechanism from the back of the doll. The “Giggle Time” Collection is available in 5 styles, with 3 different skin tones and eye combinations. The detail on the hands and feet is incredible, and the facial features are extremely real.  Additionally, we were very impressed with the quality of the clothing, and the carrier too……so well made.  Any 2 year old would simply love this baby with its soft non-irritating giggle.  The dolls are age-graded for doll lovers 2 years old and up and have a MSRP of $39.95. =&2=& NurseryLtBRAfter seeing two incredible looking baby dolls, how could it get any better!  Well, both reviewers fell in love with the “Nursery Time” Babies.  This little cutie arrives in its own beautifully crafted cloth bassinet.  The 7 piece set includes……. a 16″ baby powder scented vinyl doll, a carrier, a ribbon edged fleece blanket, infant sleeper gown, a striped cap, diaper and a birth announcement. The shading and detail on the face, hands and feet of this doll were even more impressive than the previously mentioned dolls.  This baby has realistic looking eyes and eyelashes and the same soft doeskin weighted body for a true baby feel.  The sculpted hand allows the baby to even suck on their own thumb.  MSRP on this doll is $79.95, and it is very suitable for ages 3 years old and up. =&3=& DenimandDaisies_2Our next task as reviewers was more difficult.  We wanted to choose two 20″ “Toddler Time” dolls to review.  After much debate, we chose “Denim & Daises” and “Black Velvet.”  “Denim & Daises” is a blue eyed sandy blond haired toddler doll.  She is dressed in a mod denim and daises three piece ensemble.  Her layered look includes a warm mauve sweater over an emerald green shirt, with daisy capri pants completing the outfit. Again, we were blown away by the quality and detail of the clothing.  A lot of real baby clothes are not made this well.  “Adora” says it best themselves, “Each lifelike face is hand-painted and each costume is hand sewn……one by one…..using the finest materials available.”  How can we argue with that. BlackVelvetBlack Velvet” is another winning doll.  She has black hair with brown eyes.  She sports a black velvet dress, adorned with a hot pink and black polka-dotted bow.  Matching hair ribbons and leggings add to her charm.  White anklets and black patent leather Mary Jane shoes complete her look.  Again, the clothes are impeccably crafted.  The MSRP for each of the 20″ dolls is $94.95.  They are recommended for ages 6 years old and up. FOCUS GROUP COMMENTS Next, we introduced all 5 dolls to an age appropriate focus group. This time we decided to use a neighborhood focus group consisting of moms and little girls ranging in age from 18 months to 12 years old. One of the mom’s provided a great first reaction by exclaiming, “Wow, those look like real babies.” A second mom commented, “Look at the gorgeous eyes on these dolls, they almost look moist and animated.”The older girls gravitated toward the 2 well-dressed 20” “Toddler Time” dolls. They loved the flowered capri pants and pink sandals on “Denim & Daisies.” The girls thought the dolls were to easy to dress and undress. One girl asked if more outfits were available, and we nodded our heads.The 18 month old girl was handed the “Playtime” baby. She hugged the soft baby and then tried to feed the doll with the included baby bottle, after first trying it herself. She then proceeded to drag her baby around by the arm. The doll seemed to easily handle the abuse of the aggressive youngster.

All of the girls really loved the “Giggle Time” baby, and each took turns wearing the baby carrier. The “giggle” feature made them all smile the way little girls do, and they all enjoyed playing with the magnetic pacifier too. One mom felt the baby needed a little more pink shading in the cheeks, as she thought the doll looked more like a boy than a girl.

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Posted in Doll, Girls

Wacky Jax – An Update to an Old Favorite



"Wacky Jax" is a toy brand under the SV Toys, LLC banner out of Neptune, New Jersey. Everyone remembers the simple game of "Jacks," that has been played by youngsters, mostly girls, for many years. The version I most remember included pointed metal objects with six tips, and a small rubber ball. As the ball was bounced, one or more of the jacks would be required to be picked up before the ball landed back in your hand. Additional checking found that the game actually dates back over 2,000 years ago, when animal bones or pebbles were used for the jacks.

Further variations evolved over the years, including a very popular version in the 70s and 80s called "Chinese Jacks." In that version, small plastic bundles formed the jacks. As suddenly as they appeared, and despite their enormous popularity, "Chinese Jacks" became hard to find. They would pop up on Ebay from time to time, but could not be found in stores.

Now, parents and kids alike, need look no further, "Wacky Jax," has reinvented "Chinese Jacks." "Wacky Jax" are sold in a plastic container holding 50 multi-colored plastic rings. There are 5 different colors of rings, each with 10 rings each. To play, 9 of the 10 rings of each color are attached to one matching center ring, resulting in 5 plastic clusters or jacks. Players choose a color and on alternating turns they must toss one or more jacks in the air, picking up the remaining jacks before the one they tossed hits the playing surface. We knew immediately that we needed to show this game to a pre-teen test group, and get their opinion.

We set up a group of 5 kids, 4 girls and 1 boy. We were fortunate to get a pair of twins, a boy and a girl, to participate, as there is a natural tendency to consider this a toy just for girls. The parents were happy to agree to have both twins take a closer look at "Wacky Jax." Although there are other ways to play, we stuck with the more traditional rules, as described on the back of the packaging.




First, we were surprised to find out that 2 of the girls were very familiar with the game and how to play. Although they did not own "Wacky Jax," they knew the game of "Chinese Jacks." This made things very simple, and we had a game started in a matter of minutes. We played on a table top and let everyone play at the same time, since we had 5 different colors of jacks. Play progressed quickly, especially since they would lose a turn if they did not pick up the jacks quickly enough or even miss or drop them. Each time they tossed jacks up in the air, it became more difficult to grab more than one set of jacks before the tossed one landed on the top of the table. Scoring was based on catching as many of the jacks on the back of their hand during the final phase of their turn. And everyone found that to be very difficult, especially since their hands were smaller than an adults.

Honestly, the girls screamed with delight throughout several test games. They were also much improved by the end of the final game. It was an obvious hit with the 4 girls, based on their reactions throughout the games. We privately talked to the twin boy, who was 10 years old, and asked what he thought. He had not been a winner, but he had done as well as most of the girls. He simply said in a very quiet voice, "I did kind of like it."

We mentioned that "Wacky Jax" could be worn as rings, or bracelets, and the game would be fun at sleepovers and parties, and of course, we got more approving screams. We also told the kids that additional shapes and colors would be coming soon, and that was met with more smiles and looks of approval. We believe "Chinese Jacks" is back in a big way with the arrival of "Wacky Jax," which retail for just $4.99. They can be purchased at the "Wacky Jax" website. Lastly, be sure to watch a demonstration video on "YouTube" on "how to play Chinese Jacks."
-- RJ Cullen

Posted in Games, Girls

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








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