Hatchimals Week of WOW

We recently participated in the Hatchimals Week of WOW – and what a fun week it was!

Getting to try out and review one of the hottest toy sensations around was bound to be fun – But being able to giveaway the products to our loyal followers made it all the sweeter.

We kicked off our weekly reviews with the Hatchtopia Life Plushies. They come in large, beautiful eggs, and once hatched they reveal an adorable plush toy. We managed to hatch one of the 6 Rainbow Rare plushies and the girls were thrilled!

We also reviewed the Hatchimals CollEGGtibles 12 pack egg carton. This was from the season 5 mermal magic collection so they’re super on-trend at the moment.

There is so much fun in cracking these pretty eggs to see what mermal is hiding inside. The best part is they change color in warm water so the girls now insist on taking them into the bath each time.

https://twincessdiaries.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/editvideo2.movThere’s also a 4-pack (+bonus) of these mermal eggs that are more cost effective, yet still gives the same thrill and anticipation that comes with each “hatch”.

The Hatchimals Pixies might be my favorite. Not only are the eggs colorful, large and beautifully decorated but inside lies a sassy Pixie complete with sparkly wings and hair, and a fabulous outfit. There are 8 pixies in this collection and each come with 3 unique accessories.

But the product the girls enjoyed the most is definitely the Mermal Magic Coral Castle. It encourages role play – which the girls are very much into at the moment, and it folds away tidily after they’re done, so mom is happy to. The castle also comes with two exclusive Hatchimals characters so it can be enjoyed on its own without having to purchase other items from the range.

Having had a chance to dive into the range this past week, I can certainly see where the appeal of Hatchimals lies. The range meets 3 of the top characteristics of successful toys these days:

1. Unboxing: the effect of cracking and slowly peeling open the egg

2. Surprise: the anticipation! Not knowing what you’re going to get

3. Collectible: the need to complete a collection

These 3 characteristics can be seen in most of the top toy ranges currently, and Hatchimals do it with fun and flair.

The eggs would make ideal stocking fillers this holiday, while the larger purchases such as the Coral Castle can make a beautiful stand alone Christmas present. Happy Holidays!

– With Just Fun Toys

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One Like Me! – Dolls and Diversity

One of the first toys a girl will own will most likely be a doll. In the past that doll would, in all likelihood be light-skinned, blue-eyed and perfectly proportioned.

Thankfully today, more and more toy manufacturers are diversifying their doll options to reflect society’s diverse populations.

If you follow any of our social media channels, you’ll know we are huge fans of the Our Generation Doll brand. One of the biggest reasons is that Our Generation understands the need for diverse dolls that represent all girls. The OG range includes dolls of color, dolls of different ethic backgrounds, dolls with disabilities, dolls with different eye color, hair texture and skin complexion. There are both girl and boy dolls available.

There is so much more at stake in the toy aisle than we realize. Our Generation knows that dolls are one of the first and most common toys that children will have, so in turn will provide a great deal of play and learning potential.

There is a huge scope for dolls to help children- from a very early age – to negotiate their racial identity, form a healthy self image and a well-rounded world view.

This is particularly important for me, as a mom raising mixed-race daughters in the cultural melting pot of South Africa.

Children of all races need to see themselves represented in a positive light. And because a child’s identity becomes so wrapped up in their doll, representation has never been more important.

When a parent gives a child a doll that looks like her, they’re saying: ‘There are people like you in the world. You matter just as much as anyone else.’

And Our Generation is taking this empowering message even further with their career dolls. Girls can be anything, and everything they want to be. Astronaut, Pilot, Vet, Doctor… the OG range has it all.

So when a brand commits to building a generation of strong, fearless girls, with limitless potential, you can be sure it’s a brand I will support time and time again. Thank you Our Generation for empowering our girls through your diverse and accomplished range of dolls.

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Top 5 Airplane Activities for Toddlers

 

We recently flew from Durban to Europe – two long haul flights – with twin toddlers.

To say I was having sleepless nights prior to the trip is an understatement. You see, prior to having my own kids, I was extremely intolerant with children on flights. I was the mean woman staring you down if your baby would not quiet, and the one tutting at parents whose toddlers threw tantrums.

I judged frazzled, overwhelmed parents without a shred of mercy… so I was convinced that my karma would come back to bite me in the rear. I imagined one (or both of my girls throwing epic tantrums onboard) and a million eyes staring me down with accusatory judgement. I mean, I would deserve it, right?

Since having kids, it’s clear that those parents were not out to get me when their kids cried on my flights. It wasn’t about me at all. It was about toddlers who were bored mindless because they’re not made to sit still for 8 hours at a time. It’s about little babies who’s ears are painfully adjusting to the altitude differences. I know that now, and am able to empathize – something I wasn’t able to do before.

But since I was convinced my kids would be monsters on the plane, I did a ton of research into activities that would keep them busy on the long haul flights.

I can highly recommend the following, bearing in mind that my children are four years old.

  1. Melissa and Doug Water Wow books

This was a standout winner for us. This exciting paint-with-water coloring book includes four reusable pages and a refillable water pen. Simply use the pen to color in each scene–details and vibrant color appear with every stroke! Magic! The girls played with these books for hours on the flights, and they’re still not bored of them months later!

  1. Play Doh

A universal favorite with kids of all ages, we packed a few cans of Play-Doh in the girls backpacks for in case of emergency (aka meltdowns). It is the perfect quiet-time activity and kept their attention just when the flights were starting to feel endless. I didn’t take any cutters/accessories, worrying the girls would lose them, but in hindsight, I should have carried a few to keep them engaged for longer.

  1. Dot to Dot Coloring Books and crayons

I bought inexpensive dot-to-dot coloring books for the girls, along with a pack of crayons each. Emirates Airlines provides a cute activity book for kids as well. We pulled this out when the girls started getting antsy about sitting in one place for over 6 hours. Since they were newly introduced to the dot-to-dot concept, the found it very entertaining.

  1. Melissa and Doug Puffy Stickers

I would recommend this for children who are slightly older (above 5, I think). These reusable stickers come with a folding board scene that can open up to create a playmate for the stickers. You can find different scenes such as Vehicles, Town, Safari and Riding Club. I bought the Fairy and Mermaid ones for the girls. I would recommend it for older kids as I found my girls didn’t fully grasp the concept of creating a “story” with the stickers, and rather stick them on the tray table!

  1. Wrapped surprises

I read this tip on numerous blogs, and it works! Wrap a few inexpensive toys in gift wrap, and present it to the child who’s extremely bored/on the verge of a tantrum. The excitement of opening a ‘present’ will instantly transform their mood and grab their attention. I bought 2-3 cheap toys from the Crazy Store and wrapped them up before the trip. I only had to use this tactic once, but it really does work!

Like I said, I was worried sick about their behavior on the long flights, so I prepared in earnest. You could use just one of these tips -or all- depending on your level of OCD!

If you’ve flown long-haul with little kids before, let me know what’s worked for you!

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Review: LOL Surprise Dolls

I have heard about the LOL Surprise craze sweeping the nation, but never really understood what all the fuss was about.

Then we received some of the latest LOL Surprise Doll items to review and I saw the sheer joy and excitement on my kids faces!

For those who aren’t in the know, the LOL Surprise Dolls are little dolls that come wrapped inside a surprise toy ball. Each ball has different layers that contain stickers, secret messages, mix and match accessories until finally- you unwrap the doll. You don’t know which doll you’re getting until you get to the last layer. The fun lies in unwrapping and discovering the surprises along the way, and in collecting all the dolls in the series.

The LOL Surprise Under Wraps is the latest offering that includes 15 surprises! The girls used their spy glass to unlock secret codes which finally revealed their doll.

The LOL Surprise Bling Series is a limited edition series with extra bling for your buck! With 7 glittery surprises, the girls finally revealed their super sparkly doll who I’m told is called Pranksta. Kitted our in pink and turquoise I must admit she is one of the cutest LOL dolls I’ve seen.

We also received the LOL Surprise Lil Sisters ball and the LOL Surprise Fashion Crush. Lil sisters is also a collectible series with a – you guessed it – little sister for your LOL doll and an accompanying handbag. The Fashion Crush ball had a new outfit and other accessories hidden under layers of jelly!

As a parent I can certainly understand the excitement around the LOL Surprise concept. The unwrapping, the surprises, the need to complete a collection… it has all the elements of a successful toy series. There is however a huge amount of plastic waste that is generated in the unwrapping process, and in an effort to be more earth-conscience perhaps the creators of the LOL Surprise Dolls should look into using more recyclable options in the products.

I am quite surprised to say that a week later, the girls are still very into their LOL Dolls. They carry them around in the Under Wraps case and create little stories as they play. I would have expected them to be bored of the little dolls by now, but I suspect the unwrapping process gives them a sense of ownership that has allowed them to be a little more invested in their dolls.

With that, I can safely say: the LOL Surprise craze is here to stay.

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Review: Little Tikes Music Series

We always knew that music would be an important part of our children’s lives as they grow up. We encourage music classes at school, expose them to a wide range of musical choices and ensure they get to go to local music shows at least once a month.

Which is why we were so thrilled to receive some of the Little Tikes musical instruments to review.

The Tap-a-Tune Xylophone is perfect for letting your child explore sound and movement. It’s even suited to smaller kids as the design is chunky and sturdy with a tough plastic backing that will withstand most knocks and falls. The Little Tikes Xylophone would make a great toy for OTs as it improves hand/eye coordination and boosts fine motor skills.

Older toddlers will also love this instrument, as they are introduced to different musical notes, pitch and rhythm. The Twincesses love banging out a tune on their xylophones and the bright colors and flawless design is irresistible.

What’s more, it comes with wheels and a carry-handle, and the mallet is attached by cord (short, so minimises hazards) so it’s easy to take along wherever they go.

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We also received the Pop Tunes Keyboard which is such a hit with my girls. I don’t know if it’s the light up keys, or the pre-loaded songs which they sing along to, but the love it!

It’s obvious from the video below that they still need extensive lessons… lol, but just the fact that they are being introduced to music and notes at an early age makes me happy.

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The Little Tikes keyboard comes with fully functioning major and minor keys and the volume button doubles as the power button so it’s pretty simple to use, and easy to start playing right out the box. Again, the material is study and durable, which means it’s built to last.

These Little Tikes musical instruments would make perfect birthday gifts, or a special gift for parents wanting their child to be more exposed to music and the joy and wonder it brings.

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Review: Our Generation Dolls

There is something to be said about empowering girls. And that’s exactly what Our Generation is on a mission to do.

They believe we are raising an extraordinary generation of girls, each different and each with a unique story to tell.

An Our Generation Doll is more than just another doll for girls to play with. They are dolls that inspire girls to be who they want to be, giving girls their own unique voice, in a generation where there are increasing pressures for girls to be a certain way.

I love the ethos behind this brand, and as a mother of two little girls myself, I cannot be happier about the message they are promoting!

It helps too, that the products themselves are flawlessly made and of the highest quality. We took the girls to Toyzone and let them pick out their favorite doll. Fair warning, the choice is extensive! There’s a doll for every little girl out there, something about the dolls character or unique clothes that will speak directly to her.

In the end Harper chose Alexa because the ballerina doll resonated with her. Avalon went for Holiday Hope, loving the carefree, spirited clothing choice that was girly yet bold.

The dolls are beautiful! Standing at over 45cm tall, they make the ideal companion for the Twincesses. They have the softest, almost life-like hair, which I find doesn’t get into tangles and knots as much as other dolls do.

They have fully moveable arms and legs which make changing their clothes fun and easy. Speaking of clothes, the outfit accessories are almost as abundant as the doll choices! There’s everything you could ever imagine, clothes for parties, specific careers, horse-riding, swimming, sleeping… the range is extensive!

The accessories include cars and scooters, home playsets, and a selection of horses and equestrian products.

We got the girls the Dream Bunk Beds which is a beautiful addition to their room. Fully kitted out with mattresses, duvets and pillows, the bed is easy to install and comfortably fits both dolls. You can often find Alexa and Hope tucked in and fast asleep while the girls are in school.

I find that because they’re able to dress their dolls up differently, and have various different accessory options, the girls don’t get bored with their OG dolls. They can spend hours playing independently, inventing different scenarios and letting their imagination run wild.

Definitely an investment in imaginative play!

We just love the Our Generation brand. We love what the brand represents and we love the quality of the products. I would highly recommend these dolls as an investment into your child’s development and imagination. After all, an extraordinary generation of girls deserves an extraordinary generation of dolls.

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Review: Baby Born Doll

Baby Born dolls was introduced to the market in 1991 and since then more than 22 million have been sold! Prima Toys gifted the Twincesses with their own Baby Born dolls and it’s easy to see why they are so popular.

The quality of the dolls are outstanding. The new soft-touch body feels supple, adds a greater dimension of realness, and makes you want to cuddle the doll even more. 

The dolls are 43cm in length which makes them perfect for even the littlest of toddlers. There’s options of boy or girl dolls as well as a doll with a darker skin tone. There’s even a choice of an older sister or brother doll.

The Baby Born dolls come with a full range of accessories including a potty, pacifier, nappies, baby food, bottles, bowl and spoon.

But perhaps what makes them so very unique is the 9 life-like functions that all work WITHOUT batteries. Yep, you heard that correctly – no batteries required!

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So let’s run through the functions the Baby Born doll can perform:

 She can sleep. The dolls eyes automatically close when the baby is laid down.
 She can move. The dolls arms and legs bend and move easily allowing for painless dressing and undressing.
 She can drink. Baby Born dolls come with an adapted bottle from which they can drink water. The Twincesses love to pop the bottle into their dolls’ mouths to feed them.

 

 She can wet her nappy. Whilst actual parents may loathe the nappy-changing regime, the Twincesses eagerly await a chance to change their baby’s nappies.
 She can wee. By pressing on the doll’s belly button, she can make a wee on her potty.

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 She can eat. I think this function sets the Baby Born range apart from other drink-and-wet dolls. The Baby Born dolls comes with sachets of baby porridge that is specially adapted to the range.
 She poops. What goes in must come out, right? A press on the intuitive belly button and the baby porridge is dispelled into the potty, much to the delight of my toddlers.
 She can cry. Real tears! A simple press on the upper chest made tears flow liberally from her eyes. This was the winner for my girls…as you can see in the video below. 

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 She is fully bathable. The doll can be completely immersed in water, so your little one doesn’t have to part with her best friend when she takes a bath. 

The Baby Born dolls provide hours and hours of fun for my girls. They adore giving their dolls a leisurely bath, which has been the perfect activity for this scorching summer days. 

They take so much delight in the doll’s bodily functions (should I be worried? Lol) On another note, if your toddler isn’t yet potty-trained the Baby Born doll in my opinion would make the perfect companion for your little one during this dreaded phase. Children learn by example after all.

The doll comes with cleaning instructions, so you don’t have to worry about mould build-up or clogging the functioning parts.

With special added touches like their very own birth certificate and matching friendship bracelets for both the doll and your toddler, the Baby Born dolls have thought if literally everything.

The quality is immaculate, so I can safely say this doll will be around for ages, and since it has been consistently holding my children’s attention this past week, I doubt it will be relegated to the bottom of the toybox anytime soon.

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Top Ten Toys- Twincess Tested (Part 10: Scruff a Luvs)

It’s the last Friday before Christmas! That means it’s the final post in our Top Ten Toys series. For this last post, we’re deviating slightly in that the toy isn’t yet Twincess Tested. It will be, in 4 days time as I have two of these patiently waiting under the Christmas tree.

Ever since a fellow blogger’s Facebook post went viral, I’ve been intrigued by Scruff a Luvs.

Inside the colorful box lies an animal that is matted and “ugly”, and with a bit of TLC this animal cleans up to reveal a puppy, kitten or bunny that just wants to shower you with love forever.

Quite simply, the concept is something that resonates very strongly with me (and I’m sure most parents will agree). Teaching a child to rescue rather than shop, to look beyond the appearance to what lies underneath… are all wonderful qualities that every child should posses.

The best part is that you are teaching a child that just a little love and care goes a long way and when it comes to rescue animals, will be reciprocated with loyalty and love.

And this lesson is well learned as it comes across while “doing” instead of just getting a lecture about rescuing animals. Kids are immersed in the extreme makeover from start to finish.

I’m in love with the idea of this toy. I can’t wait for the girls to open it on Christmas morning and see their reactions! I’ll be sure to capture and share.

Merry Christmas to all my followers and readers. Thank you so much for supporting our humble online space this year! May your festive season be happy and blessed xx

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Top Ten Toys – Twincess Tested (Part 9: LEGO Duplo)

I don’t know a single child that doesn’t love building LEGO. My kids are no exception. Earlier this year I bought them their first LEGO Duplo set after being drawn to the bright colours and large blocks in store.

For those who may not be familiar, Duplo is a brand of LEGO that is specifically designed for preschoolers (1-5 years). Duplo bricks are twice the length, height and width of traditional Lego bricks, making them easier to handle and less likely to be swallowed by younger children. But despite their size, they are still compatible with traditional Lego so your kids are still able to continue enjoying them as they grow older.

I picked up the Duplo number train as the girls were busy learning numbers at the beginning of the year. They really enjoy playing with this set and manipulating the blocks in different ways to achieve different results.

And because LEGO is such a fantastic toy to improve fine motor skills, problem solving techniques and lateral thinking, Santa has bought the girls two new big boxes of LEGO Duplo for Christmas this year.

First up, they will receive the Duplo My Town series which contains sets from popular “city” places such as the airport, office, park, pizzeria etc.

Additionally I also bought them a big box of blocks to ensure their imaginations are never limited.

I’m pretty sure the girls are going to be thrilled with their LEGO Duplo presents.

If you have a fidgety toddler on your hands, I’d urge you to grab a box of Duplo from your nearest toy store. It’s bound to keep them interested and engaged for hours on end!

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Top Ten Toys -Twincess Tested (Part 8: Disney Princess Dolls)

Has our Top Ten Toys series given you some great ideas for your little ones? I hope it has! Our final 3 posts are bringing you some of our favorite products this year, such as the Disney Princess doll series from Hasbro.

If you have a little girl, these popular dolls are sure to put a giant smile on her face come Christmas morning.

The range includes some of Disney’s most loved Princesses; including Rapunzel, Belle, Cinderella, Tiana, Ariel and Snow White.

The Princesses are dressed in their iconic dresses from the story/movie, which will make them instantly recognizable by your little Disney enthusiast.

We received Snow White to review, and the Twincesses were thoroughly smitten with their doll. They began role-playing almost immediately, although neither of them wanted to be the Evil Witch. Lol

Kids will love playing out their magical story moments with their favorite princess. The price tag on these dolls makes them super affordable too! They retail at approximately R149 in toy stores, but Pick And Pay currently have them on special at just R79!

At that price I couldn’t resist getting a few more to add to the Twincesses’ Christmas presents! Can you guess which ones??

Disney is timeless, and there isn’t a little I know that doesn’t dream of being a Princess. Make her dream come true with these beautiful dolls and watch her imagination soar!

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