Tuesday, December 12, 2017

#HGG2017: Hottest Stocking Stuffers for Kids

Stockings may be my favourite part of Christmas, likely because they were always such a big deal at our house growing up. Lots of small surprises - toys, candy, chocolate, and always a toothbrush and new underwear. I keep these traditions going with my boys now. Here are a few stocking stuffers we think you will enjoy this year.

Zing Toys has a number of fidget and skill toys under their EDP (#EveryDayPlay) brand that would make great stocking stuffers. Tumbstix are pretty much exactly what they sound like - small sticks that roll, stop, stall, do tricks, and light up. They come in either red, green, or blue, and while easy to play with, they are challenging to master. Zing Dama is a palm-sized version of the ball-in-cup game. It has three different sized skill cups, for different difficulty levels, and both the ball and the rings light up. Again, this one is all about learning and finessing a variety of tricks, and comes in red, green, or blue. Michael's favourite of the ones we tried is the Metal Chuckz. These are the new version of Thumb Chuckz, with a patented metal coating that is actually quite soft and light. You can learn and create tricks with these, or just fidget with them, as Michael does. Metal Chuckz come in Gold, Silver, Onyx, and Copper. These are all recommended for ages 4 and up.

More great fidget toys are available from Zuru, the makers of the original Fidget Cube. The Fidget Cube is available in a variety of colours and designs, and provides a different fidgety activity on each of its six sides. Michael relies on fidget devices to help him think and stay focused. This cube is particularly good for him as it has variety, keeping the fingers interested. There are things to click, roll, glide, and flip, keeping restless hands busy. Fidget Cubes are available at Walmart, ToysRUs, and Mastermind Toys.

Perhaps my favourite fidget toy is Zuru's Tangle. This one is a classic that I started playing with probably 20 years ago. This is the original fidget toy, and provides great motor and sensory stimulation. It comes in four styles, including metallic, sparkle, classic, and "crazy" (multi-coloured). You can twist them, shape them, randomly fidget with them, wear them as a bracelet, whatever! Tangles are available at Walmart for about $5.

Play Tape from In-Road Toys is a must for the stocking of any fan of playing with cars and trucks. This is a roll of tape designed to look like a road that you simply unroll, tear, and stick to create a track of your own design. It adheres to any flat surface, comes up easily with no residue, and is recyclable. Want curved corners for your tracks? You could fiddle with smaller pieces of the tape, or you can purchase curve packs to use with the rolls. This would be great to have on hand while visiting friends and relatives over the holidays - instant roads for your child's toy cars wherever you find yourselves. Play Tape is available in Canada at Walmart stores, in black, red, and blue. MSRP $4.97 for a 30 foot roll.

Hexbug Gladiators are the newest fun from Hexbugs. These guys will battle each other, and they come with customisable battle armour and weaponry. They come in a variety of designs, are recommended for ages 3 and up, and have batteries included. There are good guys and bad guys in this line, so you might want to choose carefully. You can also purchase a battle arena or battle stadium for your Gladiators. Purchase Gladiators online from Hexbug.com for $8.99 each.

Disclosure: I received complimentary review product. No financial compensation was received. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own, or those of my family.

#HGG2017: Mayka Toy Block Tape {review}

For the lover of LEGO and other building brick systems, let me introduce you to Mayka Toy Block Tape, from Zuru Toys.

What is it? Mayka Tape is a non-toxic, flexible, silicon tape with raised dots designed to be compatible with major building brick brands, including LEGO and Kreo. It has a strong adhesive on the underside, allowing it to be attached to a variety of surfaces. Glass and plastic, non-porous, non-painted surfaces are best, but I have attached some to painted shelves here, with no ill effects (i.e., the paint stayed on the shelf, not on the tape, when I did a test removal after a couple of weeks.) Mayka tape can be removed and re-used multiple times, but eventually the adhesive will lose its stick if moved around a lot.

The tape comes in a variety of colours, in either 2 or 4 stud widths. The 2 stud width can be purchased in lengths of 2 metres or 4 metres, and the 4 stud comes in a 4 metre size. To use, simply cut the length you need, remove the protective backing and stick.  Across a shelf, around a window, upside-down under your desk - wherever! Mayka tape is an easy and flexible base for any building brick project.

I used a strip on the shelves in my office. Now I can display my Dr. Who LEGO mini-figures without them constantly tipping over.

I love that Mayka tape encourages creativity, allowing kids to build upside down or up a vertical surface. I'm thinking of placing a number of strips on the wall, next to each other in a square and creating a LEGO "painting." Or, one little boy on Mayka's Instagram feed has displayed his mini-figures flat on his bedroom wall with this tape (the backs of their legs attach as well as the bottom of their feet.) How would your child decorate their room using Mayka Tape and building bricks? The possibilities are endless! If you are worried about the tape removing paint from the wall (my experience may not be the norm) you could even hang an empty frame or a mirror for them to work on.

Mayka Block Tape is available at ToysRUs, Walmart, and Amazon.ca, starting at around $8 a roll.

Get Social

You can get social and share your creations with Mayka on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube,

Disclosure: I received complimentary product to facilitate this review. No financial compensation was received. all opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own or those of my family. This post contains an affiliate link and if you make a purchase after clicking through, I will receive a small commission from the retailer.

Monday, December 11, 2017

#HGG2017: Gifts for Gamers

Video Games

We've checked out a few new games this season, or maybe I should say the Michael has. He is my resident video game tester. Here are four of our/his favourites.

RiME is a single-player puzzle-adventure game. You play as a young boy, ship-wrecked on a mysterious island. With the help of a local fox, you explore, solve puzzles, unearth secrets, and more, all at your own pace. The graphic in this game are really well done, and the gameplay is engaging. It reminded us of a couple different titles in the Zelda series of games. Rated Everyone 10+, and available on XboxOne, Nintendo Switch, and PS4.

Minecraft Story Mode, Season 2 brings more Minecraft adventures to your favourite console. We reviewed season one back in holiday 2015, so were happy to try out this latest edition, which picks up a few years after the last one ended. Minecraft Story Mode is a choice-based adventure, so each choice you make determines where the story will go next. You could replay with different choices for an alternate outcome. The disc you purchase includes the first episode of the season, and includes a license allowing you to download the remaining 4 episodes as they become available. This is a great gift for the Minecraft fan. Rated Everyone 10+ and available on XBox One, Nintendo Switch, PS4, XBox 360, and PC.

Super Lucky's Tale is an XBox One title, and is a great addition to this console for younger gamers, while providing fun play value for older fans as well. Lucky is an optimistic and adorable little fox trying to help his sister rescue the Book of Ages from Jinx, a scheming and mysterious villain trying to reshape the world. This game has wonderful graphics, straightforward game play, mini-games, secret levels, and adventurous fun. If you like Sonic-type games, you'll love this one. Rated E for Everyone.

Super Mario Odyssey is available on the Nintendo Switch, and is top of list for both my 11yo and 22yo. Michael and I had a chance to play a bit at a Nintendo event, and he confirmed it's actual game play, not just a desire for the latest Mario that has gotten this to the top of his Christmas list. In this adventure, Bowser has kidnapped Princess Peach, and apparently intends to marry her. Mario, and his new friend, "Cappy," must rescue her before it's too late.

The game is filled with huge, 3D kingdoms, and Mario can explore them and battle enemies with new moves, courtesy of Cappy, including cap throw, cap jump and capture. With capture, Mario can take control of all sorts of things, including objects and enemies! Along with the release of the game, Nintendo released 3 new amiibo characters - Mario, Peach, and Bowser in wedding gear. Earlier amiibo will also work with this title. Rated Everyone 10+.

Gamer-Themed Games

Sometimes even the most serious gamers need to get away from their screens. Keep their interest with a board game that speaks to their favourite hobby.  One of the newest versions of the classic favourite, Monopoly, is the Mario-themed Monopoly Gamer. Play as Mario, Princess Peach, Yoshi, or Donkey Kong to round the board, collect properties and coins, and battle bosses. Just like in the Mario games, players drop and pick up coins as they move around, and each has special abilities and power-ups. Recommended for ages 8 and up, and tons of screen-free gaming fun!

Gamer Merchandise

This is of course a broad category, but you can get a lot of great ideas from a store like EBGames.ca. Collectibles like PopVinyls and plush toys depict many video game characters. Or you can choose a jigsaw puzzle, wallet, or T-shirt. Just be sure you know which games they love before you choose a theme.

Video Game Consoles

And of course, don't forget the new console out for the holidays this year - the XBox One S/X is at the very top of gamers' wish lists. High performance, backwards compatibility, I can't wait to see my boys' faces when they unwrap theirs!!

Disclosure: I received complimentary review products to check out. No financial compensation was received. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own or those of my family. This post contains affiliate links, and should you make a purchase after clicking through, I will receive a small commission from Amazon.ca.


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