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Party City's Toy City concept is something I've been covering for a few months now, and now that the holiday shopping season is truly upon us, it's time to get serious about toys! With over 50 temporary Toy City pop-up store locations now open throughout the U.S., Party City today unveiled its Black Friday ad and 2018 Top Toys List! There's familiar picks (including some from The Rock Father's Holiday Wish Guide™) and some unique ones as well, from Rainbowcorns and robots to Hatchimals, dinosaur slime, Harry Potter, and everything in between. Let's take a look!

The adoption process has been a part of play going back decades. From the Cabbage Patch Kids craze of 1983 to Build-A-Bear Workshop and the recent success of Distroller's Neonate Babies, kids have been loving the experience of becoming parents to a snuggly new friend. Now, just in-time for the holiday season comes some squishy new friends from Bulls-i-Toy. Squish 'Ums Pet Boutique Adoption Kits will hit stores as a Target Exclusive (avail: 11/22/18) in the U.S. Recommended for kids ages 6 and up, these new sets feature a trio of all-new super-soft slow-rise Squish 'Ums plus an Adoption Certificate!

Friday, November 16 2018 09:27

A Look at the 2019 Toy of the Year Nominees...

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We're entering award season, and that means we've hit a time of the year in which I question a lot of choices and inject my opinion as awards and nominees are pretty subjective. Earlier this week, the Toy Association unveiled their annual list of nominees for the coveted Toy of The Year (TOTY) in a variety of categories, and while there's some great stuff in the mix - there's some that hit me like the GRAMMYS... a little off and with some that seem to be on the list just to have representation from certain brands. Prime example, Playmates Toys scored a nom for their Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Deluxe Ninja Action Figure Assortment. Overall, the Rise of the TMNT line is fantastic - another huge win for Playmates, but I would've chosen the more extensive (and creative) Basic Action Figure Assortment. Why? I think the "Deluxe" figures sorta suck. They're gimmicky, oddly proportioned (to hide the mechanics of the gimmick), and above all - I see kids play with this stuff on a regular basis. But maybe I'm over-analyzing things... doing my "Tom Hanks in BIG" ("I don't get it?") routine.  It'll be a tough call to choose the winners, and you can take part by casting some votes (early and often, as we say here in Illinois) at www.toyawards.org. Now let's check out the full list...

This week, Nickelodeon served-up something new for its preschool audience, whisking kids away on some magical culinary adventures in Butterbean’s Café. The all-new CG-animated series made its debut on Monday during the Nick Jr. preschool block. Following a fairy named Butterbean and her adventures running her own neighborhood café and bakery, the series is something different - a culinary spin on a magical new world, and kids are already eating it up. While my own girls, The Rock Daughters™, are just a bit beyond the target demo, it's resonated with them, and the ratings show that they're not alone. Created by Robert Scull and Jonny Belt (Bubble Guppies), Butterbean’s Café is the biggest debut for Nick Jr. since Spin Master's PAW Patrol hit the scene back in 2013. Butterbean’s Café showcases creative cooking and features a curriculum with social-emotional lessons that highlight kindness and gratitude, and leadership skills. If your little ones haven't seen it yet, check out a preview of the 40-episode first season below...

Back in April, I shared the news that Mattel and Mills Entertainment had teamed-up to bring characters from American Girl into the realm of live theatre with the launch of American Girl Live. Now comes news on the full cast for the debut performances, which will have their world premiere at The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, Illinois, Dec. 21-23, 2018. The cast of American Girl Live includes Jenna Bruce as Rebecca, Ashley Diane as Luciana, Laila E. Drew as Melody, Shelby Lysette Miguel as Nanea, Monica Potson as Julie and Kelsey Elaine Pressnall as Maryellen. The cast also features Orisa Gutierrez and Mari Skoultchi. 

Dumbo is a bit of a divisive figure in our house. The 1941 animated film falls into that "sad movie" category that my wife generally tends to avoid, so I'm the one that's introduced it to The Rock Daughters™ and got pretty excited when I first heard that the Batman Returns team of Michael Keaton (Batman), Danny DeVito (The Penguin) and filmmaker Tim Burton had come together to reimagine the tale for the big-screen. This coming March, Walt Disney Studios brings DUMBO into theaters, and now comes a new trailer and poster for the live-action adventure that picks-up where the animated version ended. Check it out...

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