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June 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 6
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Baby Roundtable: Race to the Rescue in Shades

Toddlers Put Out Fires and Have Fun in the Sun


This month the Infant/Toddler Roundtable participants evaluated Frubi Sunglasses from Frubi Shades, which were a hit for some of the kids; the Ernie Fire Engine by WOW — a success across the board; and WOW’s Harry Copter Animal Rescue, which was loads of fun for the older kids, yet still enjoyable to the infants.

Participating in this month’s Roundtable were: Penelope Pauley, mother of Lucy (3); Christy Chambers, mother of Nigel (2); Diana del Pozo, mother of JoJo (1); Rebecca Heinrich, mother of Collin (3); and Sharri Hefner, mother of Sydney (9 months).


Frubi Sunglasses by FRUBI SHADES
Age: 1 and Up
Gender: Boys and Girls
Category: Fashion & Accessories
MSRP: $14.95

TDmonthly rating:



What It Is: Wrap-around sunglasses made of lightweight, soft foam.

What the Moms Thought

The moms appreciated the packaging, and the product information reassured them that the makers believed in their product and wanted to make sure it was used correctly. Rebecca liked that the glasses came in a box, believing this limited in-store try-ons and handling. Penelope respected the glasses because they survived Lucy’s abuse — being dunked in water, dropped on the floor, trampled, twisted and tugged in every direction. Diana liked the hip, simple design, and Christy appreciated the soft construction, because it did not harm Nigel’s eyes when he fell down and wrestled during outdoor play.

What the Kids Said
Once Nigel (2) put them on, it was hard to get them off; people regularly commented how cute the glasses looked on him. Collin (3) loved playing with the glasses — putting them on, taking them off, adjusting the headband, and pushing them up on his forehead. Because the Frubis are small, Lucy (3) put them on herself. She liked the bright color and asked for them whenever her family went outside. Ditto for JoJo (1), who left them on and continued wearing them while she played outside. On the other hand, Sydney (9 months) did not like wearing the glasses and kept pulling them off.

What the Kids Learned
Although the Frubi Sunglasses are not a learning toy or tool, they did open discussion between parent and toddler about the importance of eye protection. Lucy (3) learned that you can see better in the sunlight with dark lenses over your eyes.

How to Improve It
Rebecca wondered if the frame could be made of thinner material, as she thought the thickness limited Collin's view. Sharri found that when she put a hat on Sydney (9 months), the glasses would slide down. Penelope thought ear notches might help with this problem. In addition, Sharri felt the glasses needed an improved fastener, as the Velcro tabs came unglued on Sydney’s pair after a couple of uses.

Would You Buy Another Toy Like This?
The moms were split on purchasing another product like this. Christy and Diana would buy replacements or gifts for friends, particularly for outdoor parties. Even though Penelope did not like the design, Lucy loved them, so she feels that they would be good gifts for other kids. Rebecca and Sharri would probably not buy another pair, unless some of the manufacturing issues where resolved.

Ernie Fire Engine by WOW TOYS
Age: 1 ½ to 5
Gender: Boys and Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler

(WATCH VIDEO)

TDmonthly rating:



What It Is: A friction-powered fire engine toy with all the accessories necessary to fight an imaginary blaze.

What the Moms Thought

The first thing the moms noticed was "No Batteries Required!" Some were also impressed with the on-pack usage information and developmental benefits. They liked the toy out of the box, too.

Rebecca said, “Since the toy has minimal noise, I think it allows Collin (3) to use his imagination more, filling in noises himself. I also like that there is both a male and a female firefighter.” Christy remarked, “All of the buttons and moving parts are perfect for little hands.” Sharri said that even though Sydney (9 months) does not understand all the functions, she still plays with it every day. Sydney’s 3- and 5-year-old cousins cherished playing with the toy as well.

What the Kids Said

Nigel (2) treasured this toy, according to mom Christy: “Nigel screamed when we opened the box. He was so excited that everyone who came to the house got a complete demonstration. … We didn’t show him how to use the truck but he discovered the bell and other features on his own.” Collin (3) enjoyed discovering all the functions, and his mom, Rebecca, said he liked placing the firefighters in different areas of the truck and moving the ladder. He also enjoyed the friction-noise of the “engine.”

Even though the younger kids could not use the toy fully, Diana felt that JoJo (1) really interacted with it. She made engine noises and pretended the people were talking to one another. Sydney (9 months) enjoyed dragging the truck by the ladder and holding the firefighters in her hands.

What the Kids Learned
Christy felt this toy emphasized good old-fashioned play because it is “totally kid powered!” She said she believed it inspired Nigel’s imagination. Collin (3) learned about the mechanics and movement variations, and Sydney (9 months) learned a little cause and effect. Diana felt that JoJo (1) was able to associate the toy with real-life fire trucks.

How to Improve It
Diana wished the accessories were made of heavier material, so that they would stand more easily. Rebecca thought the button that opens the rear compartment could be improved, as it was difficult for Collin (3) to maneuver. Christy and Penelope said this toy was perfect as is.

Would You Buy Another Toy Like This One?
Most of the moms said that they would definitely buy another toy from this line. Penelope has already purchased the Recycling Truck.

Harry Copter Animal Rescue by WOW TOYS
Age: 2 to 5
Gender: Boys and Girls
Category: General Toys
MSRP: $34.99

TDmonthly rating:



What It Is: A toy helicopter with a friction-powered rotor and a magnet tip for lifting toy animals to safety.

What the Moms Thought
Penelope thought this toy was very creative. Lucy (3) loves to play vet, and even though she had difficulty getting her small hands around the trigger, she did not want to put it down. Christy felt that this was a great idea for a positive toy, and Diana appreciated the unique and thoughtful accessories.

What the Kids Said
The helicopter seemed a bit advanced for Collin (3) in terms of physical coordination, but he liked trying to figure out how it worked. His mom, Rebecca, thinks he will enjoy the toy more when he is a little older. Nigel (2) loved playing with this toy in tandem with the fire truck. The kid-powered grip and the magnets made it even more exciting for him. Lucy (3) loved rescuing the animals and helping them. She really liked the bandages on the animals and talked about healing their boo-boos.

What the Kids Learned
Collin (3) learned about magnets and the cause and effect of the trigger moving the rotor. Nigel (2) discovered that kid-powered play is the best kind of fun. JoJo (1) learned some animal noises in imaginative play with her parents. Nine-month-old Sydney did not learn much from the toy — not yet, at least.

How to Improve It
Rebecca did not care for the stickers, as they tend to peel off and look shabby. The other moms thought this toy was perfect as is. However, the older kids responded more favorably than the younger ones.

Would You Buy Another Toy Like This One?
Penelope already bought another toy in the line. Christy, Sharri and Diana said that they would. Rebecca would buy another in the series, but probably not the helicopter.



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Sharri HefnerWriter's Bio: Sharri is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. Most recently, Sharri wrote a one act titled "Spice" for Gene Rhee’s "The Trouble With Romance," which stars David Eigenberg ("Sex and the City"). "Georgia Heat," a script Sharri wrote with fellow NYU alum Mora Stephens, is slated for production Summer 2007 (Janet Yang, Executive Producer). Sharri received her MFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Before NYU, Sharri was graduated summa cum laude from California State, Long Beach. While Sharri was completing her thesis, USAToday selected her as one of the top college students in the country. Sharri is the proud mom of Sydney, who was born in June 2006. Read more articles by this author

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