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Toy Story

Our favorite finds from Toy Fair 2016

2016 toy fair review

Toy Fair is a yearly exhibition of vendors held in NYC. Designed to give toy distributors and manufacturers from around the globe a chance to showcase their products to buyers and the press, The Hudson Valley Parent staff traveled to the Jacob K. Javitz Center last month to catch a glimpse of the games, dolls, crafts, and other unique items making their way down the pike.

We stumbled upon lots of cool things to play with, but here’s a rundown of a few best bets for the children in your life (divided by age group to help make things just a little bit easier):

Baby bits

tubby tableIf bath time with your toddler leaves as much water on the floor as in the tub, Tubby Table might help make bathroom clean-up a little less stressful. Invented by parents of twins looking for more bath time fun with less mess, Tubby Table gives kids a stable place to pour, splash and play. Strong suction cups keep it in the center of the tub, allowing plenty of leg room underneath so more than one child can play at a time. When the bath is all done, Tubby Table folds up for easy storage. Additional activity mats and toys can be purchased separately to keep the boredom at bay. $39.99 on the Tubby Table website.

buggy britesAlmost hit by a car while out walking with her child and stroller, Nadeen Guyaux came up with the idea for Buggy Brites, a caterpillar-shaped light that can be clipped onto any stroller or bike frame. Since National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data indicates that one in every five children under the age of 14 who were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians, Buggy Brights light up by flashing, scrolling or as a solid rainbow to help vehicles see children and their parents as they are crossing the street or approaching an intersection. $12.95 on the Buggy Brights website.

Flipple sippy cupIf you’ve ever struggled to help your baby or toddler drink water, juice or anything else from a container other than a baby bottle or sippy cup, you know that more liquid usually ends up on them rather than in them. The Flipple makes hydrating your little less messy by converting any regular water bottle into a baby bottle or a sippy cup. Simply screw the device onto the water bottle opening, attach a standard nipple or sippy top and voila. $6 for the nipple top and $7 for sippy adapter at flippleshop.com.


Young learners

snapo blocksToys with lots of pieces can understandably give parents and caregivers pause, but Snapo makes large, plastic building blocks that let kids under 3 build to their heart’s content. The colorful blocks snap on all sides, rotate and can even connect with most other name-brand plastic blocks. Sets start at $24 on snapo's website

Eco-crayonsDesigned to look like sea rocks, eco-crayons are made in Maine with bee, carnuba and soy wax along with mineral pigments. The earthy-colored crayons are made by the same company that introduced eco-dough in 2006. For ages 3 and up, a bag of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown and black eco-crayons retails for $9.99 from eco-crayons' website  or locally from Waddle n Swaddle in Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck and Beacon as well as Echo Boutique in Beacon.

Huggles DollPerfect for squeezing, 34” tall My Friend Huggles dolls were designed with the goal of helping children learn important life virtues through imaginative play. The cloth dolls have cute tags explaining their unique characteristics like kindness, honesty, generosity and confidence. In addition to cheerful Kira, kind Lily, and grateful Rubi, courageous Miles is also available. $29.95 to $45.95 on the My Friend Huggles website.


Grade-school goodies

Renegade MadeEncouraging good deeds is a tough lesson to consistently teach, but Renegade Made Altruism Kits provide a fun way to get the point across with a “street art” meets “random acts of kindness” feel.  Four different craft and activity sets – including “Sidewalk Chalk Tagging,” “Random Act of Flowers,” “Made You Look,” and “Fairly Painless Tattoo Lounge” (which lets kids 8 and up raise money by covering people in colorful temporary tattoos then donating the proceeds to a favorite charity) help teach kids that making others happy is the right thing to do. Says founder Nikole Jacob, “We all want to teach our kids that they should be kind not for recognition or rewards, but kids have to enjoy what they're doing.” $19.99-$24.99 per kit. Available soon from the Renegade Made website.

pocket angels for kidsAfter the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, an 11-year-old named Riley McNitt wanted to make a somehow difference. Hoping to make Christmas a little brighter for the families touched by the tragedy, he created Pocket Angelz, zipper pulls – originally designed for kids to carry in their pockets so they could feel safe at all times. For ages 4 and up, 16 different designs are available from $2.99 each (through March 31) on the Pocket Angelz website.

I am Elemental action figures for girlsFemale action figures that don’t look like miniature swim suit models aren’t the easiest things to find these days, but I Am Elemental is aiming to make the search a whole lot less futile. Dressed in body armor with names like Creativity, Ingenuity, Logic, Curiosity and Courage, the poseable figures don masks and grey, purple, green, pink or blue skin and hair to encourage girls and boys to create their own superhero stories. Launched in 2014 after a successful Kickstarter campaign, 4" and 6.5" action figures start at $9.99 on the I Am Elemental website.


Tweens & Teens

cubelets robot blocksAs STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning initiatives move full-steam ahead, toys that encourage robotics are often seen as a great way to introduce ways to understand how things work. Designed to get hands and minds working together to build things that go, Cubelets are robot blocks that communicate with each other and can be combined to build bigger robots that do different tasks. Easy to connect and work, they range from $159.95 (for a set of six) to $499.95 (for a set of 20) on their website.


dot to dot book Low-tech (all you need is a pencil or pen) and completely portable, Dot-To-Dot books have been a go-to learning aid for a long time – but The Greatest Dot to Dot! Books are far from the old tried-and-trues that you grew up with. Using symbols, odd/even numbers, arrows, words and other non-traditional sequencing methods to unveil a hidden image, it’s hard to tell what the picture is supposed to be until you reach the end. From $5.95 on their website.

macreme terrariumIf your child is into digging in the dirt, the Macramé Terrarium can provide fun even in the dead of winter. Complete with everything needed to make a hanging, plastic terrarium – including chia and wheat grass seeds, potting mix, colorful sand and gravel for layering, Macramé cord, and hanging ring – it also teaches how to tie a few simple Macramé knots. $19.99 on their website


Honorable Mentions

kitrex KitRex – A puzzle craft that lets kids of all ages build dinosaurs out of paperboard. Kits come with pre-cut sheets, a pair of googly eyes and instructions for making a Pterodactyl (with Triceratops and Brachiosaurus kits coming later this year). $19.99 on the KitRex website.


AZIAM Girlz – A collection of jointed azaiam Girlz dollsand posable dolls based on the eight limbs of yoga – an outline of moral, ethical and societal guidelines. The sale of each doll is donated to a charity related to her theme. $29.95 each on the AZIAM Girlz website.


yoxo blocks for kidsYoXo – Pronounced YOCK-so, these sets encourage designing and building with recyclable Y, O, and X-shaped links that can connect with things like paper towel rolls and cereal boxes and even other building sets (LEGO, Mega Bloks and more). $12.99 to $64.99 on the YoXo website.

prettie girls dollsPrettie Girls! – Tween Scene- Yes they're dolls with makeup and cute clothes, but unlike most multi-cultural dolls, they actually have facial features that don'e make them look like they were simply dipped in brown paint. Fifteen-inch Lena, Valencia, Kimani, Dhara, Alexie and Hana - along with their fashions - are available for $9.99 to $23.94 at walmart.com.

Felicia Hodges is the editor of Hudson Valley Parent.