Toys of the Year 2013 (From FamilyFun Magazine)

Disclosure: FamilyFun Magazine asked me to share their Toys of the Year with my readers. Because I know how hard it is to find the “just right” gifts for the holidays, I thought this would be a good fit with my blog. I did not receive product in exchange and am sharing the info from them with you.

FamilyFun magazine has announced its 22nd annual Toy of the Year (T.O.Y.) Award winners, which were tested and picked by families across the U.S.

“Our awards stand out because real families put some of the most unique products to the test in an actual home environment, so you can be sure the toys meet the high standards of fellow parents—and their kids,” said Ann Hallock, Editor-in-chief, FamilyFun. “This year’s winners include the very best of what’s new in children’s play across art, tech, learning, pretend play, crafts, games, and more.”

The magazine has families across the country review more than 300 contenders, narrowing the list for the T.O.Y. Awards down to thirty. These toys have demonstrated outstanding play value and fun factor – along with innovation, durability, and safety.

FamilyFun is featuring the toys in their November issue, and sharing the top 10 with myself and other bloggers. You can check out the full list by picking up the November issue of FamilyFun magazine in print or on the iPad.

Top 10 FamilyFun T.O.Y. Award Winners for 2013:


  1. Zoomer – He sits. He stays. He barks, rolls over, and plays dead. This lovable robotic pup got top honors this year for doing just about everything a real dog does, right down to requiring a bit of training to follow commands. Expressive LED eyes and realistic body movements make this spotted wonder nothing short of fetching. Spin Master Ltd.; $99.99; Ages 5 and up

Zoomer 1


  1. John Deere Monster Treads Radio Control Tractor – This revved-up tractor careens over anything in its path, when it’s not backing up, popping wheelies, or spinning in circles, all on supersized, bouncy wheels. Tomy; $99.99; Ages 6 and up


  1. Hot Wheels Carcade – This fast and furious game allows players to send race cars around a pinball machine–like speedway. The goal (and the fun): crashing vehicles through lit-up targets, up a ramp and into a hoop, all while trying to score major points in 60 seconds. Mattel; $79.99; Ages 5 and up


  1. FurReal Friends Cuddles – Meet Cuddles, an animatronic plush playmate who is programmed with more than 100 different responses. She squeals and blinks, swivels and sighs, and even drinks from a banana bottle. Hasbro; $79.99; Ages 4 to 10

Cuddles 4


  1. Battroborg – This modern take on ‘You-Knocked-My-Block-Off’ uses the handheld, Wii remote–style controllers to have a boxing match between two robots. Players punch their arms in the air and see the same movement played out by the mini ’bots. Tomy; $79.99; Ages 6 and up


  1. Air-Stream Machines – Science and play intersect in this kit themed around the power of air. Learn about mass, airflow, and pressure through the construction of ten air-powered gadgets, including a hovercraft, basketball launcher, and batting machine. Thames & Kosmos; $69.95; Ages 8 and up


  1. R.V. Seeing You Camper – Featuring a comfy, foldaway bed and cozy kitchenette, the easy-rolling, 20-inch-tall camper for the Our Generation line of dolls is a real trip. It’s big enough that multiple kids can play with it together. Battat; $59.99; Ages 3 to 10

RV Camper 7


  1. B-Daman Crossfire Break Bomber Battlefield – In this 2-player, rapid-fire game, (a companion to the anime TV series) opponents face off with humanoid launchers and send marbles flying, trying to be the first to blast three red bricks into enemy territory. Hasbro; $29.99; Ages 6 and up


  1. Pom-Pom Puppies – It doesn’t get much cuter than a Chihuahua made out of pom-poms. That is, until you see the dozen other poufy canines kids can fashion from this DIY yarn kit. Klutz; $19.99; Ages 8 and up


  1. 2-in-1 Shop & Cook – Kids can go from shopper to chef with this clever combo. Fill up the grocery cart with play food, then flip down the sides to cook the feast. Both incarnations make dinner prep deliciously fun with sing-along music and interactive learning prompts. VTech; $49.99; Ages 3 to 5

Kitchen 10



About FamilyFun Magazine

Reaching an audience of more than 4 million, FamilyFun magazine gives parents ideas and inspiration needed to create unforgettable family moments. Part of Meredith Corporation’s Parents Network of brands, FamilyFun is a trusted expert on family cooking, vacations, celebrations, play, creative projects and learning — the full spectrum of fun that enriches the precious time families share. Written for parents with children 3 to 12, FamilyFun is unique in the marketplace, delivering real ideas for — and from — real families.

To learn more about FamilyFun, please visit, or follow @familyfun on Twitter.


Information in this blog post was provided via press release from FamilyFun.

New Blog Feature: Holiday Gift Guide

Last night, while I was on hold with the local hospital (more on that later, perhaps?) I got irritated by hearing Christmas music already. I haven’t even had time to take the Jack-o-Lanterns off the porch! But, I had to step back…because I realized I’ve been in the spirit of the upcoming holiday for far longer than I realized.

Ever since the last gifts were dropped or ordered for Stuff-A-Bus or Christmas Crazy, I’ve been gathering for this year. Ordering extra books from the school book orders. Getting gift cards and coupons ready to maximize upcoming sales. Scouring the grocery store ad to earn Black and Gold bucks for Steelers magic. And…working with companies to review products here on the blog.

That’s right, I’ve joined what is apparently a blogger “thing”, the “Holiday Gift Guide”! The way I’ll be participating is by featuring products just like I always do, but then categorizing them with “Holiday Gift Ideas” so they all pop up under one page, easily accessible from the menu up there in the top right, too!


Hope you enjoy this gift guide – I have a lot of great products to review and share with you. Even better? Some of the items will be able to go to our holiday giving traditions, so I can’t wait to load up the car and give, give, give!


MicroTouch SwitchBlade

Disclosure: I was sent the MicroTouch SwitchBlade for the purpose of this review. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

Sometimes I like to joke with Greg that he’s a caveman. It’s not just the grunts of his morning speak, but his job sort of allows him to get away with scraggly facial hair (which he usually is shaving off for weekends or special nights out). It reminds me of a caveman.

Anyways, I should be a bit happier with his grooming this winter because now he’s armed with the MicroTouch SwitchBlade, a personal grooming tool that “is the world’s first all-in-one, head-to-toe groomer”. Yup, that means he could use it to get hair-free all over. The tool goes from a micro razor to get the nose, ears, and sideburns to one that can be used to trim his hair (I am scared to attempt this though, he’s always got a nice cut) or “manscape”.

Like the name implies, it has a switch-blade action to it, which scared me at first. Greg calmly explained that it doesn’t just “snap” from full-size trimmer to the micro-trimmer with the tap of a finger. You have to actually move it with a ‘lil bit of motion. Phew. There’s a cover that goes over the trimmer, making it a whole lot safer than I imagined just by the name. What do I know about manscaping anyways?!?

Since I could talk all day about the facts (like it retails for $19.99 – super price!), I decided to ask Greg a few questions about the tool.

What do you like most about the MicroTouch SwitchBlade? The design. Because you can lay it almost flat against your skin and not worry about getting cut [without a guard, although it comes with four guards, two for each end].

What do you like least about it? I’ve had other trimmers that have a rechargeable battery. This one requires 2 AAA batteries, and mine didn’t seem to last very long. Not sure if it was my batteries or the machine, but it’s disappointing to go through batteries like that (for a hairy man such as myself)…though it did cut well.

Would you recommend it to your poker buddies? Yeah, it’s got its good qualities. If they need something to keep their beards trimmed up, it would be nice.


You can find the MicroTouch SwitchBlade online as well as Facebook and Twitter.


Disclosure: I received product from Flipeez for the purpose of this review. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

If I had a dollar for every time someone has commented on Arianna’s new hat, I’d be rich. (And I’d promise to share it with her college savings.) She’s been sporting the Flipeez Peek-a-Boo Monster hat and turning heads with the cute. This sometimes shy ‘lil one has been showing off the fun “flip” action of the hat to raise the hands of the monster. It’s made people laugh, and definitely is a conversation piece.

Flipeez are the fun, fanciful, animal action-hats that let kids of all ages “flip their lid”! From the makers of Stompeez, the 2012 pop-when-you-walk slipper sensation that sold 4 million units in 6 months, Flipeez are destined to become this season’s next BIG thing.

There are 4 styles, a cat, monster, monkey, and puppy with an “action” that’s made with the squeeze of a puff-ball in the tassel. Here, let Arianna show you.

(It’s not always easy for her small hands to get the action to happen, but she’s learning and building her strength!)

You can find Flipeez online as well as on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The hats retail for $19.99, and you may have seen them on tv, just like we first did. Whether you are 4 or 104, this hat is sure to please this winter and would be a great addition to the winter wardrobe for kids (and kids at heart).


Disclaimer: I was sent samples of Skwooshi in exchange for a blog review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

About two weeks ago, the kids got a new playtime favorite – Skwooshi. I’ll be forward and tell you that I am in love. You might as well know that going into it.

Source: Skwooshi’s Facebook Page

You see, Skwooshi is a “cool new compound that stretches, molds, and shapes into amazing detail with no mess and will never dry out” (according to their website, and confirmed by me). Literally, I don’t have to supervise the kids’ play. Unlike other products, I don’t care if they play with Skwooshi on my white couch or the coffee table. I don’t have to be sure lids are on the containers holding it. It’s not going anywhere.

I’m still amazed at the fun we’ve had with Skwooshi:

  • Stretching (Arianna and I are amazed at watching the particles that make up Skwooshi stay together)
  • Making fishy shapes
  • Cutting out shapes and they staying the way we made them for hours
  • Wondering what Skwooshi is made of (you can’t find that anywhere!)
  • Skwooshing it! 🙂


It’s really hard to explain the consistency, but I’ll tell you that it doesn’t stick to your fingers or jewelry and feels grainy yet held together. For kids with idle hands, it’s a great match for amazement. Just take a look at their YouTube Video to see what I mean (because my kids and I aren’t that creative, but try!).

Skwooshi comes in 10 colors (yes, if you mix them the colors change – our blue and pink is now one big blob of purple). There are individual packs like this:


or larger activity packs like this:



Although Skwooshi is recommended for kids ages 4 and up, Evan (almost three) was amazed by it and kept it out of his mouth (probably the main reason for the age requirement). I honestly feel safe leaving the kids in one room with the Skwooshi while I am in another working on a household project. There’s no mess, and it keeps my constantly moving and wanting to change plans kids entertained. My only worry? The kids will notice it is missing when I sneak it away for my own stress relief!

Skwooshi retails from $2.99 to $29.99 and is available in stores now.