Reviewed by Tiffany Markman, copywriter, editor and mom to an almost-three-year-old, who tries to balance her workaholism with cuddles, books, caffeine & reining in her intrinsic kugelry. Follow her on twitter.
You know a toy is seriously cool when you want it for yourself. To quality check/play with when your kid’s asleep, ha ha. We now have a Bratz doll, and – don’t tell anyone – I’ve been absentmindedly brushing her hair for the last hour. Not to mention the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Barbie Mega Bloks and Furbies I saw last week, at the Prima Toys launch, and that I’m now dying for. Um, for my toddler.
1. So, the TMNTs.
All of the age-old coolness I got into in the late 80s, with all of the high-tech coolness our kids expect now. Look out for play sets, mutant ooze, pop-up pizza, an ooze cruiser, a patrol buggy, power sound figures, electronic swords, sewer subway cars and Ninja combat gear. I love those guys.
2. So, Barbie Mega Bloks.
Maybe it’s un-PC to expect girls to prefer cutesey, ice-cream-coloured, fashion-conscious building blocks to the primary-hued versions. But you know what? I’m equal-rightsish and I love the Barbie stuff. Luxury mansions and topless cars, beach houses and splash pools. What else do you need in life?
3. So, Furbies.
Amazing. How do they make toys that do this stuff? (Interactive programming and robotic engineering, apparently. I’m a complete japie.) I haven’t been a mom long enough to have a grip on what’s out there, but this thing rocks.
It’s a fluffy gremlin lookalike (you know, before they got scary) that develops its own personality based on how your kid interacts with it. Over time, it ‘builds’ a mind of its own. To illustrate, your kid feeds the Furby, chats to it, cuddles it or plays music for it – and its personality is shaped by those experiences.
Furbies have, apparently, been around for a while. What’s new is ten awesome colour combos and the four Party Rockers friends: Furby pals who can, says Prima, get any party started. I could do with one. Bottom line? Your kid can also go online, of course, to watch Furby videos, design a virtual Furby, learn Furbish and download the free Furby app to their (your) iOS or Android devices. Warning: Furby burps.
4. And the star of last week’s show: Tekno Dog.
He’s like Benjy. Remember – from that movie? (Yup, another 1980s throwback.) Essentially an electronic robot puppy, Tekno barks, yelps, walks and wags his tail. His artificial intelligence enables him to do tricks, respond to training, express his feelings, recognise sounds and react to hand gesture technology. Like patting. Your child can also share his/her Tekno’s tricks with friends’ Teknos, and search for additional online iOS and Android content.
If you’re organised, start making your Christmas shopping list now. Start with the items I’ve mentioned, which should be easy to find because Prima Toys are pretty much everywhere: the usual big and small toy stores, Dischem, CNA, Shoprite, Spar.
You may also be interested to know that one of the loveliest parts of the launch was the venue: Smudge, in the Valley Shopping Centre in Craighall Park. There’s crafty stuff to paint, colour and stick; a fabulous dress-up room that’s equally suited for boys and girls; a generous reading area; and a play-dough table. There’s a stylish café section for moms, with friendly staff and strong coffee. My new happy place.