It's actually been a little while since I've seen a Hasbro Star Wars collection commercial on television, but earlier today a new spot surfaced on YouTube in promotion of the Star Wars Bladebuilders Role Play Gear. Classic dress-up and old-school imaginative play continues to be big for Hasbro, and one of the latest offerings of note is The Empire Strikes Back Electronic Yoda Mask. Think along the lines of The Force Awakens Electronic Chewbacca Mask but avoiding when "Chewbacca Mom" swooped-in and made it creepy.
What Hasbro says about their new Yoda mask:
Imagine training the Jedi like the legendary Jedi master Yoda with this Yoda Electronic Mask, with chin-activated sound effects and phrases, so when kids open their mouths while wearing the mask, they can imagine teaching the next generation of Jedi how to use the Force! Move mouth to activate effects and to wiggle the Yoda mask’s ears! Inspired by Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, this authentically detailed mask fits most head sizes. You can get it now at HasbroToyShop.com (affiliate), Amazon and more.
Space-based play is a big deal here at Rock Father HQ, a fact that I've often mentioned both here and in my column over at The Toy Insider. Two Christmases ago, our youngest daughter had just one request for Santa Claus: "A Space Station." While he delivered on that wish, this year an even bigger orbiting craft arrived here at HQ, and it's something that our girls can actually climb inside of. The folks at Pacific Play Tents recently sent us their Space Station Tent and Tunnel Combo, and it's become a regular base for out-of-this-world adventure. When paired with the "Get Real Gear" Astronaut Suits and Jr. Astronaut Helmets from our friends at Aeromax Toys (based right here in Illinois!), they've got the perfect accessories for endless imaginative play! Take a look at the video below. Will SpaceX be sending kids into space?
Get ready for a PJ MASKS Halloween!
"It had been a night not unlike any other... a band of brave heroes, heading out into the darkness ready to face off against fiendish villains to stop them from messing with your day. Indeed, while millions enjoyed a night full of restful sleep, three children would once again be responsible for saving the day... proving definitively that night time is the right time to fight crime. Amaya becomes Owlette... Connor becomes Catboy... and Greg becomes Gekko... the colorful trio known as the PJ MASKS hitting the streets in search of adventure, while serving-up swift justice to wrongdoers. After leaving HQ and discovering that Night Ninja had gone missing, the PJ Masks would soon find that their biggest foe, that marvel of mechanical mischief, Romeo, had completed his most impressive creation yet, the Growy Uppy Machine - a tool able to turn any child into an adult for a small bit of time. Slowed by Luna Girl's sinister Moths, Gekko and Catboy had their hands full, leaving Owlette to face Romeo alone, after he had tested the Growy Uppy Machine... on himself!"
After what felt like a little bit of a lull, the past couple of years have delivered some fantastic new ways to foster hands-on creativity. One company that's been leading the charge is Spin Master (an outfit whom you've no doubt heard me mention on occasion), and this year they've got a new spin on creative play with Bunchems Alive!, the latest iteration of Bunchems - winner of the coveted 2016 Activity Toy of the Year Award, presented by the Toy Industry Association. These little balls stick together, allowing for endless possibilities in what kids can create. Squish, connect and create the creatures, characters, structures and vehicles shown on the box, or just free-form to create your own - this is open-ended imaginative play... with NO MESS. And now, with Bunchems Alive!, kids can add motion to their creations, bringing a whole new element into some already rockin' play.
If there's one place I should be right now, it's in New York for the 113th North American International Toy Fair. Instead, I'm covering virtually from Rock Father HQ in snowy Northern Illinois, and tonight comes news that the Toy Industry Association (TIA) has released their list of the Top Toy Trends for 2016. Working with toys (toymakers) year-round myself, I'm in complete agreement with this year's list - one compiled in the weeks leading up to Toy Fair, as global toy companies identify what families will be playing with in the year ahead, leading into the all-important holiday season - something I watch with great interest as I compile my annual Holiday Wish Guide. Check out what's hot this year...
I'm a big fan of the icons, but sometimes even the most established brand comes to a point where evolution is an absolute necessity. For Mattel's BARBIE line, evolution is something perhaps long-overdue - a result of changing times and ideals, and even Mattel admits (in a video on TIME) that today's announcement comes partially-rooted in what's most important to shareholders - sales have been slumping, and something had to be done. For the past two years, in a time when Barbie has gone through much scrutiny, behind-the-scenes a team of around 20 people at Mattel were hard at work on a secret initiative called "Project: Dawn." The result is the biggest change in Barbie ever - a new line of Fashonistas that feature 4 body types (three new: Curvy, Tall and Petite), 7 skin tones, 22 eye colors, 24 hairstyles, and countless on-trend fashions and accessories. Take a look at the introductory video...