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Toys & Collectibles

Who Was That Masked Fan? Toy Insider’s Gift Guide Event Returns In-Person

It’s Toy Tuesday!

The Toy Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide will help relieve toy shopping uncertainties.

Fall arrived with joy filled promise thanks to the folks at The Toy Insider, who held their first in-person post-lockdown Holiday of Play event this week. Led by Chief Toy Officer Laurie Schacht, these play mavens have admirably virtualized their last few events, but there’s nothing like making a personal connection, even if it’s with a socially distanced wave or an elbow bump.

JustPlay offered a variety of safety mask designs for kids

The annual soirée highlights the Toy Insider Holiday Gift Guide lists for best toys of the coming season. They focus on three categories: The Hot 20, The S.T.E.M. 10 and 12 under $20. The guide affords gift givers a head’s up about what are likely to be the most wished for holiday presents. A print edition of will be available in Parents magazine on sale October 4th.

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Young tastemakers took the opportunity to explore the toy industry’s newest batch of playthings at Toy Insider’s Holiday of Play event.

Here’s how the Toy Insider’s 2021 choices stack up.

0-2 years 
• Choppin’ Fun Learning Pot (LeapFrog)
• Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Ultimate Learning Bot (Mattel)
• Flybar Bumper Cars (Flybar)
• Little Tikes Learn & Play 2-in-1 Activity Tunnel (MGA Entertainment)

3-4 years 
• Batman Bat-Tech Transforming Batcave (Spin Master)
• Blues Clues & You! Cook-Along Play Kitchen Set (Just Play)
• CoComelon Deluxe Interactive JJ Doll (Jazwares)
• Disney Princess Ultimate Celebration Castle (Hasbro)
• Gabby’s Purrfect Dollhouse (Spin Master)
• Ryan’s World Lost City Adventures – Mega Adventure Chest (Bonkers Toys)

5-7 years 
• Akedo Ultimate Battle Arena (Moose Toys)
• Got2Glow Fairy Finder (WowWee)
• KidiZoom PrintCam (VTech)
• LOL Surprise OMG House of Surprises (MGA Entertainment) 
• Magic Mixies Magic Cauldron (Moose Toys)
• Pokémon Trading Card Game: Celebrations Elite Trainer Box (The Pokémon Co. International)
• Chuckle & Roar Pop It XL (Buffalo Games)
• Squishmallows Food Squad (Jazwares)

8+ years
• Beyblade Burst Burst Speedstorm Motor Strike Battle Set (Hasbro)
• Tamagotchi Pix (Bandai America)

• Ada Twist, Scientist On-the-Go Lab Set (Just Play)
• Artie Max (Educational Insights)
• Candy Claw Machine (Thames & Kosmos)
• Coding Critters MagiCoders (Learning Resources)
• Game Builder Garage (Nintendo)
• HEXMODS Pro Series Elite Raceway (HEXBUG)
• National Geographic 100-Piece Makeway Magnetic Marble Run (Blue Marble)
• Osmo Math Wizard and The Amazing Airships and Osmo Math Wizard and the Enchanted World Games (Osmo)
• Paper Butterflies Science Kit (Crayola)
• The Young Scientists Club Future Veterinarian (Horizon Group USA)

• 5 Surprise Mini Brands Series 3 (ZURU)
• Care Bears Cutetitos (Basic Fun!)
• Cats vs. Pickles Bean-Filled Jumbos (Cepia)
• Compound Kings 5 Stack Donut (WeCool Toys)
• Crystalina (Skyrocket Toys)
• Dimpl Pops (Fat Brain Toys)
• Koosh Mondo (PlayMonster)
• My Squishy Little Dumplings (WowWee)
• Needoh (Schylling)
• Nickelodeon Cra-Z Sand Bucket (Cra-Z-Art)
• Pom Pops (Sunny Days Entertainment)
• Treasure X Monster Coffin (Moose Toys)

SkeletonPete Says…

Knowing one’s buying options in advance will be especially crucial this year as the pandemic has made supply chains unpredictable around the world.

Andy and I will be pointing out several of our favorites in the coming weeks.

Junior reporters get the lowdown on Pixicade’s Mobile Game Maker Kit.

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Andy Says Music Toys & Collectibles

Sugar, Spice and Rockin’ Good Times: The Beatrix Girls Are More Than Meets the Eye

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When I was growing up, the message I heard over and over again (and hear all too often, even now) was, “Girls can’t rock!” It was all too clear. It was OK for boys to be bass players, drummers, lead guitarists and frontmen, but my aspirations to become the next Ann Wilson, Stevie Nicks, Joan Jett, or Freddie Mercury were frowned upon. After all, you can’t play rock and roll and still be a lady, right? Wrong… so very wrong. Ultimately, it didn’t stop me from joining a band when I was in college (playing with both male and female musicians), but I wonder how much sooner I might have pursued my dreams had I been encouraged, rather than completely disregarded.

What They Are…

Media executive and cartoon veteran Sherry Gunther Shugerman (SimpsonsFamily Guy) must have wondered the same thing when she came up with The Beatrix Girls.  The Beatrix Girls are 12 inch fashion dolls, with brightly colored hair and cool outfits. These adorable dolls are definitely made to appeal to young children, and while still feminine, they’re not too adult (suitable for ages 5 and up).

Why They’re Cool…

What sets this line apart is the fact that it is driven by original music (featuring the writing talents of some of today’s top pop stars), which kids can collect. Each doll is a member of a rock band. The Beatrix Girls band members are Brayden (Guitar), Ainsley (Drums), Lark (Bass) and Chantal (Keys). Each Beatrix Girl has a unique personality and look, as befitting a budding rock star. The Beatrix Girls even have their own fan club and webisodes.

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The idea behind The Beatrix Girls line is to empower young girls to be so much more than just pretty faces. Though fashion-conscious, The Beatrix Girls were created to encourage girls to discover the joy of music and to inspire them to create their own as well. Through friendship, collaboration, hard work and determination, The Beatrix Girls gig, work and play together. Pretty ideal if you ask me.

As if that weren’t enough, the line has partnered with Peavey Electronics to create a customized Peavey-branded guitar geared toward smaller frames (reminiscent of the Daisy Rock line of guitars).

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The Beatrix Girls collection initially hit stores in the Fall of 2013. This Fall 2014, we’ll be seeing The Beatrix Girls London Collection, inspired by the British subculture Mod Movement of the 1960s.

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Andy Says…

I love this concept and hope to see more variety as the line continues to grow. I can only imagine, since the girls have their own webisodes, soon they’ll be starring in their own cartoon. If you liked Jem and The Holograms, or Josie and The Pussycats, why not The Adventures of the Beatrix Girls?

I truly enjoyed getting a closer look at these beauties, and others, at my first Blogger Bash, SweetSuite 2014 Toy Event in NYC last week. Thanks to The Big Toy Book and SkeletonPete for inviting me to the event. Hopefully, it won’t be my last.

The Beatrix Girls are available at Toys R Us and Amazon.com and their songs can be found on Pandora, iTunes and Spotify.