Plotting Playtime with Plush Pals

Set round a table with gingham and lace,
It’s a tea party for soft friends; come take your place.

A six-foot Teddy, Chewie, Darth and more.
Don’t forget Sharkey, he swims on the floor.

There’s room at the table for all our plush friends,
Even a dragon and pony to play pretend.

Sharkey said enough small talk, let’s plan adventures at sea.
We sipped and plotted and planned our trip
To take all the plushies on a playhouse pirate ship!

 

sharkToday is National Plush Animal Lovers’ Day and we have several tea-party-ready soft friends for a special child in your life…or even yourself!

See our selection of huggable plush animals. Unique and especially appealing is our Plush Star Wars Collection, featuring The Talking Plush Yoda, The Talking Plush Darth Vader and the Mini Talking Chewie.

All of our plush friends are ready to be loved and they’re all ready for adventure, to sail away in The Pirate Ship Playhouse!

Saluting an Old Softie – The Teddie Bear

Today we celebrate those who, at certain points in our lives, have alleviated a little stress…namely, our teddy bears. Yes, it’s National Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work Day.

Your childhood bear may well have been your very first best friend. If you still have your favorite stuffed animal, have a little fun with it today. You may want to dress your bear in business attire and take a few pictureGiantTeddys of him on the job…typing on the keyboard, answering the phone or giving a presentation in the conference room. Your old friend might even still have the power to soothe some of that workday stress.

If you don’t have your old bear, today is still the perfect day to reminisce with coworkers or friends about your favorite toys from days long gone by. You may even find yourself longing to get a new teddy bear, perhaps our recreation of the original 1926 teddy bear.

Like everything else, teddy bears have changed since we were kids. The Customizable, Interactive Plush Teddy Bear sings songs with children, plays games, and tells stories—but unlike similar toys, this fellow can be continually updated and customized to match a child’s interests and development.

And if you want to embrace your teddy in a big way, there’s none better than our 6 Foot Teddy Bear. This gentle giant is good for hundreds of hugs, from kids of all ages.

Bunyanesque games for the family.

In popular folklore, few legends loom as large as those of Paul Bunyan. Befitting someone of his stature, June 28 marks his annual day, one of the longest days of the year.

Historians debate the origins of the Bunyan tales, but it’s generally agreed that the legends began in the 1880s among lumberjacks who entertained themselves by telling stories, competing to determine who could outdo the others. Shortly after the turn of the century, the oral yarns evolved to printed stories with a unifying character. In 1914, an ad campaign for Red River Lumber Company depicted the giant lumberjack and solidified Paul Bunyan’s place in American folklore.

Paul Bunyan stories have been told around campfires for generations. Some say he created the Great Lakes so his huge blue ox, Babe, would have water to drink, and that Babe’s tracks created Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. One of the most popular legends holds that he taught ants – carpenter ants, of course – to carry felled trees in Maine’s logging country.

Even as a baby, Paul was enormous. They say it took five storks to deliver the infant to his parents. To have fun as a child, he played with The Giant Monopoly Game and kicked around The Giant 40 Inch Soccer Ball.

Why not celebrate Paul Bunyan Day by reading one of these larger-than-life tales to the wee ones in your family? You can even track his travels on The World’s Largest Write On Map Mural. May he live on for decades as a symbol of strength, hard work and ingenuity!

Kewpie Doll’s Charm Transcends Childhood

Kewpie DollThe Kewpie Doll holds a place in America’s hearts and a place on the shelves of collectors of kitsch.

Rose O’Neill, the creator of these iconic dolls, was an acclaimed artist and author whose works went far beyond her cherub-like characters. Born 139 years ago today in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and raised on the plains of Nebraska, O’Neill began developing her talents at a tender age.

Young Rose’s parents were highly supportive. Her father left art supplies and pencils around the home so she could sketch whenever the mood struck. At one point, he even considered withdrawing her from school to focus her time and energy on art.

His efforts paid off. At the age of 13, Rose won first prize in a children’s drawing contest sponsored by the Omaha World Herald. Within a few years, she fully launched her career, illustrating for several periodicals. The payments she earned helped supplement her father’s meager income.

Soon after, O’Neill moved to New York, where she obtained a number of high-profile clients including Kellogg’s and Jell-O and publications such Harper’s Weekly, Bazaar, Ladies Home Journal. At the same time, she was exposed to sculpture and modern art, further broadening her horizons.

The Kewpies were born in a dream O’Neill had and she began including them in the backgrounds of her illustrations. At the request of Ladies Home Journal, she created a series of drawings featuring the characters. They became popular with both children and adults and spawned a series of cartoons and books.

Popular demand led to the manufacture of the dolls, which O’Neill created in 1912 while attending art school in Paris. They were an instant hit on the international marketplace, making O’Neill a wealthy woman.

O’Neill was a female working in a field which, in the era, was dominated by men. This may have inspired her dedication to the suffrage movement. She created several posters to support women’s rights. She also backed many charities and gave money away to friends, family and other aspiring artists.

In her later years, O’Neill moved to the family estate of Bonniebrook near Branson, MO. Having exhausted the fortune she made from the Kewpie line, O’Neill passed away impoverished in 1944.

To this day, the International Rose O’Neill Club Foundation holds an annual convention in Branson to celebrate the woman and her Kewpies.

At 33 years and chomping, Pac-Mania persists.

As most celebrities can attest, it’s difficult to maintain one’s popularity for a single year, let alone for more than three decades. (Take it from us, we know a thingor two about longevity.) That’s why Pac-Man’s staying power—especially in the fickle world of video games—merits special recognition.Pac-Man Arcade

Released on May 22, 1980 by Japanese video game developer Namco, Pac-Man quickly scarfed his way to international stardom. More than threedecades and several billion quarters later, the globular yellow gobbler shows no signs of slowing down. Perhaps it’s his diet of fruit, power pills, and the occasional ghost.

Consider these facts culled from the official Pac-Man web site:

  • The first perfect score of 3,333,360 points was achieved on July 3, 1999 by Billy Mitchell of Hollywood Florida who successfully chomped his way through 256 screens without losing a single life.
  • To commemorate Pac-Man’s 30th anniversary in 2010, Google famously transformed its home page into a Google Doodle of the arcade game. Though not a single quarter was spent, its estimated the game cost employers lost nearly 5 million manhours from distracted workers.
  • Pac-Man inspired students at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications graduate program to create a real life version of the game played on New York City’s streets—Pac-Manhattan.

Today, players can indulge their appetite for pac-dots anywhere via a free app (first level only) for the iPhone/iPad. For the video game purists, we offer The 30th Anniversary Authentic Pac-Man Arcade Game, a full-size console that plays just like the original.

Wocka wocka wocka indeed.

Winter Fun

Sure it’s cold. And the days are short, the nights are long. But that shouldn’t stop you from having fun with winter. Snowball Slingshot

50 Foot Snowball LauncherThose neighborhood snowball battles seem to get more competitive every year. This time around, get the upper hand with The 50 Foot Snowball Launcher and his trusted sidekick, The Snowball Slingshot. Each is uniquely designed to help your troop of warriors protect your front yard snow fort and restore order on the block.

Bavarian Zipfel BobsledFind yourself a hill, then let gravity and momentum take care of the rest. The Bavarian Zipfel Bobsled combines the speed of Olympic luge racing with the effortless fun of coal shovel racing. There are even World Series competitions held in Europe annually, so you need to get to practicing! For more serious downhill fun, The Snow Cycle,  designed in Oberndorf, Austria, set the Guinness World Record for the longest vertical drop of 107,400′ in 11 hours. You might not have that much time, or a big enough hill, to achieve the 66mph top speed reached by the record holder though.

So go on, get out there and have some fun! Before you know it, we’ll have blinked and our windburn will be replaced by sunburn.

Treasure Hunt Game

This is The Award Winning Treasure Hunt Game, that tasks young players to find hidden treasures using a series of clues. A wonderful game in which the whole family can get involved, it won a Parent’s Choice Toy Award.

Treasure Hunt GameA reversible indoor/outdoor map resplendent in 18th-century pirate imagery provides a backdrop for using coordinates to find hidden clues, while the included clue cards and images use “Pirate Speak” to convey hints to treasure locations. Suitable for playing both indoors and outdoors, players search for game coins using the pre-printed clues, or use the blank cards to write your own clues. One clue leads to another, scavenger hunt style, until the ultimate treasure is found.

Whether you’re in need of indoor action during the cold winter months, or a group activity that can be enjoyed year-round, The Award Winning Treasure Hunt Game from Hammacher Schlemmer marks the spot for wholesome family fun!

The Award Winning Treasure Hunt Game

Lexicographer’s Extended Scrabble

The Lexicographer’s Extended Scrabble from Hammacher Schlemmer allows board game connoisseurs to soar to the next level.

Lexicographer's Extended ScrabbleFor many, the Scrabble-style games we’ve been playing on our mobile phones, with their added scoring spaces for huge point opportunities, have left the classic game feeling rather tame. This is the cure. Sporting a game board 21 tiles square, the Extended Scrabble dwarfs the old 15-square surface. And those triple-word spaces your opponent used will seem modest once you drop a quadruple word on them! Add to that 200 tiles — double the tile count of the original version — and you may need a calculator to tally up the damage. Of course, you’ll need to pull out the old dictionary and challenge the words that cyber version thinks are real.

As for your previous combatants, who like to “accidentally” bump the table in a sneezing fit when they trail by 100 points, not to worry. These tiles have pegs that extend into the board to keep it secure. At least long enough to snap a photo of your huge score with that cell phone, now that you don’t need it for playing Scrabble.

Are you ready for the next challenge in letter conglomeration domination? Then you’re ready for The Lexicographer’s Extended Scrabble.

The Lexicographer’s Extended Scrabble

Young Chef’s Foldaway Kitchen Playset

Even the smallest epicureans are too busy to cook all day. Which is why The Young Chef’s Foldaway Kitchen Playset from Hammacher Schlemmer was made with the flexibility to be stored in a closet or under a bed while your little chef-in-training searches for culinary inspiration.

Young Chef's Foldaway Kitchen PlaysetUnlike many kitchen playsets, which are made of plastic, The Young Chef’s Foldaway Kitchen Playset in made from sturdy maple. It unfolds from 6 inches  deep to its full depth of 15 1/4 inches with hinged sides that lock into place with the interior bottom and countertop. Providing all the conveniences an aspiring young chef requires, it includes a four-burner range with temperature knobs that click when turned for a realistic effect. The windowed oven door opens to reveal a spacious interior for imaginary turkeys, pies, and cookies.Adjacent is a dishwasher with cycle and on/off knobs that click. A sink allows washing up from a faucet with turning hot and cold knobs.The backsplash includes two hangers for hand towels and a clock with moveable hands.

Young Chef's Foldaway Kitchen PlaysetWhen playtime is over, the sides fold in, allowing easy out-of-the way storage.

The Young Chef’s Foldaway Kitchen Playset. Allow your cafe apprentice’s imagination to really get cooking, without taking up floor space when idle.

Young Chef’s Foldaway Kitchen Playset

Somersaulting Truck Race Track

This unique-action Somersaulting Truck Race Track is available only from Hammacher Schlemmer. These all-terrain daredevils aren’t content to merely circle the course; they leave it and come back for more!

Somersaulting Truck Race TrackThis is the truck race track with three vehicles performing somersaulting maneuvers when they bounce off the circuit’s built-in trampoline. The track’s pieces snap seamlessly together to form a winding off-road course textured with potholes, fallen limbs, and rocks for the set’s autonomously operating 3 1/2″-long van, wrecker, and SUV, which roll with impunity on knobby 1″ diameter rubber wheels. The course changes to an ascending corkscrew, depositing vehicles down a ramp onto the trampoline’s 6″ x 8″ rebounding surface—each vehicle is weighted to bounce once, flip, and land wheels-down onto an opposite ramp that completes the truck race track’s loop. Each vehicle has a low or high-speed setting, and when turned off, the wheels rotate freely for unimpeded off-track play.

Children will be fascinated watching these bounding little machines, both on their race course and off!

The Somersaulting Truck Race Track