Did you miss Part 1 and the OWTK Essence of Toy Fair? Get caught up now!
HEXBUGS (Scroll to the bottom for a HEXBUG Giveaway!)
Hexbugs had a gorgeous booth upstairs at Toy Fair '09. Inside, the bugs were spastic, crawling all over their display platforms. 'Twas a very active scene, into which I didn't enter. Fortunately for me (and for a pair of lucky winners to be determined - see below) I've been in touch with the Hexbug folks post-Toy Fair and have had a chance to demo a few of their products.
For a bunch of mechanical insects, Hexbugs are unusually adorable, especially the crab (the blue one in this photo). While you probably won't be snuggling up with the things in bed, you certainly will not rush to call the exterminator either. The evolution of Hexbugs is evident and exciting to witness. The original bug reacts to touch and sound, with it's wire-thin antenna's recognizing any contact. That contact then triggers the creature's legs to move backwards in an frantic attempt to escape. Very, very clever.
The Crab, my personal favorite, is sensitive to light and sound. It's simply a hoot to play with. A couple nights ago the kids and I grabbed the flashlight and could be heard screaming "Meatloaf!" and "Hey You!" at our red Crab. When the Mrs. came home, having not yet learned what these bugs do and react to, I yelled "attack!" and sent my Crab towards her. Her defense was an emphatic "stop!" thinking the thing was truly voice controlled. The girls and I were hysterical. Her voice, of course, only served to keep the bug moving towards her place at the table.
Finally, the Inchwom became the first Hexbug fully controllable by a tiny remote. The remote is very finicky, we found, needing to be pointed directly at the inchworm for the sensor to pick up your commands. Still it's pretty neat to swirl the Inchworm around and march it forward or backward. We had some enjoyable fight sequences between the Crab and the Inchworm.
The newest Hexbug, which I've not seen, is the Ant. It moves by touch, like the Original, but has wheels that allow it to really zoom around.
The HEXBUGS are durable, withstanding numerous falls from 3 feet+. They're extremely original toys that most any kid would love to play with and enjoy using to scare their friends, siblings and parents. The recommended age for Hexbugs is 8 and up but my 5 and nearly-2 year old played nicely with them when supervised. Left alone for a just a moment though, the bugs could be a victim of toddler crime. For example, the Mouse pulled one of the Original's antennas, unwinding it completely. It doesn't seem to be repairable, yet still is sensitive to touch, even in it's elongated state. Maybe that 8+ recommendation makes sense after all!
See below for your chance to win a HEXBUG of your very own!
Check out the HEXBUG website
Prince Lionheart Balance Bike
I was told by a couple folks at Toy Fair that it's better if your child never uses training wheels. Seems the safety and security of those two little wheels stunts their bike riding development. Instead, there are bikes with just two tires and zero pedals. A child balances themselves with their feet on the ground and simply pushes themselves around. They are supposed to quickly understand the jittery nature of a 2-wheeler and adjust their bodies accordingly, thus developing the coordination needed to ride a big kid bike quicker. I dig the idea and while there were several bike companies unveiling these types of bikes, I liked the Prince Lionheart Balance Bike the best. Prince Lionheart, the company behind those cool Wheely Bugs and bebePod Baby Seats, launched their bike at the Fair. It's got a classic racer-style with #73 on the front and is designed with subtlety (which I love). It's fashioned from a light wood, looking like something you'd find in IKEA, and is already available for purchase.
Mr. Men/Little Miss Puzzles
I'm slowly realizing that the Little Miss & Mr. Men movement is in full swing across America. The evidence of this can be found on end-caps in Target, Claire's Cheap Jewelry Stores and also at Toy Fair NYC '09. Usually, you'll see Little Miss Sunshine, Giggles and Chatterbox - they're the usual suspects. The men, or should I say the Mr. Men, have been a little neglected...until now! Here you see 24 piece puzzles for Mr. Tickle and Mr. Bump and the mini-puzzles of Mr. Happy and Mr. Noisy. The Bear has about 2 dozen of the books (I think Little Miss Contrary is the funniest) and is rather excited about puzzles, and so am I!
Rad Dogs (by Douglas Cuddle Toys)
A very hip, very soft stuffed animal line of dogs with a pretty rad name. Ok, I'm partial to the word Rad, and that's what caught my eye as I wandered past Douglas' enormous upstairs booth at Toy Fair '09. The dogs have neat (or, you could say Rad!) names like Sunny Side Up (the big one pictured here) and would make a very unique gift for either a boy or a girl dog lover.
Check out all the Rad Dogs available.
OWTK HEXBUGS GIVEAWAY!!!
Want a Hexbug in your home? Just leave a comment here before 11:59 pm (ET) on Friday March 27th 2009 and you'll have a chance to win one of 2 Hexbugs. I have an original and a crab to give away to 2 lucky readers!