Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Buzz on Animal Mastermind Towers

For the lawyer's personal pleasure: I was given this game by Pressman Toy for FREE to review and you can bet your sweet bippy, I will be keeping this game at the end of my review period.

And the winner......... was Hunter's Prize!!

At BlogHer this year, I meandered through the Expo Center twice, hesitantly. My heart just was not into it this year, but I did want to at least see it. However,  I came across the Pressman Toy Corporation and was more than happy to talk to them - games are a pretty serious business in my family and I have confessed to having devoted a linen closet to my collection of them. (I also recognized Pressman as the makers of the Let's Go Fishing game, for which I have actually paid my very own real dollars.  A game from which we have gotten HOURS of entertainment because Team Chaos plays with the fish separately as well - the little fish make great bait for their angler fish and sharks, apparently. And yes, I just reviewed something for free, something that I paid for because as I have already admitted, I don't really get this reviewing thing.  Obviously.)

Whoa.  Tangent much?

So!  Pressman!  They had a couple of games that we could actually play in the booth - Mastermind (ages 8 and up) and Animal Mastermind Towers (ages 6 and up).

I was sent the Animal Mastermind Towers for review.

Official Description:

Like classic MASTERMIND, the new Animal Towers version is a game of logic, problem solving and fun that challenges players to figure out their opponent's code in as few turns as possible.  To play, children stack their animal tiles in a special tower.  Players take alternate turns trying to guess the order of the animals in the other player’s tower by asking questions such as, “Is your giraffe below your pig?”  This new vertical children’s edition of MASTERMIND teaches important skills in three levels of gameplay, entertaining children as their matching and logical thinking skills progress. 
Animal MASTERMIND Towers is the first in a series of MASTERMIND games in the new vertical format.  Upcoming editions will feature licensed children’s entertainment properties such as Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants™, Disney Fairies™, Disney®, and kids’ favorite Looney Tunes™ characters.

My kids are a wee obsessed with animals in general and I thought that my nearly 5 year old son would dig the animal tiles, at the very least.  And I was correct.

When the game arrived, we immediately set it up.  It was actually hard to control his excitement because as I suspected, he wanted to just fool around with the cards and tiles.  I let him have "his moment" of playing with the cards and tiles (and yes, there is a unique satisfaction with sliding the tiles in the tower - think of that cozy feeling when you drop checker in Connect Four.  Yeah, that feeling.)What I really liked about this game is that you can ease your kid into it - we played with 4 tiles at first, then added the 5th tile when he got the hang of it. He's probably ready for the 6th tile next time.  I also appreciated that as an adult, I needed to pay attention to the game (I have live-Tweeted Candyland games.  Not my proudest parenting moments.)  Is this a compelling game chock full of serious strategy?  No.  And it was not meant to be.  However, it is a pleasant way to spend some time with your kid.

Christmas potential?  Pretty high - this is the sort of present that parents love and that makes the giver look thoughtful - a game! and it is educational! Furthermore, it is something the kid can open up right away and immediately begin fiddling with the tiles while the adults continue to suck down their eggnog. I do think this could be given to a 4 year old, but that would probably be the lowest age - my daughter is 3 and she is certainly not ready for this game yet.   I would say the maximum age is 8 or so, given the adult version is age 8 and up.

I have a copy of the game to give away! Here is the deal:

Comment on this post and tell me your favorite children's board game.  (If you answer Candyland, your entry will be disqualified.  Kidding.  Maybe.)  And please, please include an email - otherwise, I have no way to contact you if you do not already have a Blogger profile!  Your email will not used for any other purpose than contacting you if you win.  I solemnly swear on the eternal soul of my recently departed tarantula, Sofia (may peace be with her. Sniff.)

Short version to winning?
Comment and tell me your favorite children's board game.  Leave an email if you want me to contact you if you have won.  That is it!  Contest will be closed at Friday, September 24th at 12:00pm CDT.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Buzz on "Yum-Yum Bento Box" by Crystal Watanabe and Maki Ogawa

For the lawyer's personal pleasure: I was given this game by Quirk Publications for FREE to review and you can pry this book from my dead, cold hands.  Or, I could just leave it to you in my Last Will & Testament.  That might be easier. 

Confession:  When I saw that I had a message from Quirk Publications, I got a little excited.  They are a publisher of amusing, unusual reads and I knew they were probably offering to send me something worth reviewing.  And when I realized they were offering to send me a copy of book solely about bento boxes, I knew I had hit some Review Blog Gold.

When I received Yum-Yum Bento Box by Crystal Watanabe and Maki Ogawa, I sat down to read it and finished it one sitting.  It was entertaining and some of the results were just too twee for words (the mushroom on the cover is "Capital A" Adorable.)  This book also left me with a strong hankering for an egg mold.  Ahem.

Official Description:
Divided into “Cuties and Critters,” “Fairy-Tale Friends,” and “Special Day Treats,” Yum-Yum Bento Box also includes additional recipes for mini snacks and save-it-for-later lunches, a glossary, and much more. Inside, readers will learn:

·         Which tools are needed to craft bento boxes and where to find them.
·         How to style and shape foods into charaben (or cute characters) using bento basics and advanced techniques.
·         How to make a Piggy Burger, plum flowers, miniature omelets, animals, elves, princesses, and more!

Whether you’re an experienced bento maker eager to expand your repertoire or a bento newbie looking to spice up a ham and cheese sandwich in a fast five minutes, Yum-Yum Bento Box: Fresh Recipes for Adorable Lunches has something for everyone. Why spend money on generic, unhealthy packaged lunches when you could be making unique and wholesome bentos?
The upshot?  If you are a beginner to bentos, this is a good place to start - the book is crammed with all sorts of little photo insets which provide step-by-step instructions that demonstrate how to create many of the items displayed.  There are also "quick tips" offered throughout this book as well.

We have the Laptop Lunchbox systems (which hey, I totally paid for with my own real dollars!).  However, in regard to lunches, my kids are still in their granola bars, nuts, cheese and applesauce moods.  In the meantime, I am keeping this book for future reference. 

If you are currently doing lunchmeats, cheese and crackers for your kids' lunches, you can already get some mileage out of this book just on those ingredients alone.  For the more experienced bento enthusiast, there are some more complicated creations as well.

This is a bright, colorful and perky publication with a sturdy construction.  Definitely, it is gift quality.

And I still have plans to get that egg mold the next time I am at our Asian superstore. Yes, my kids love hard-boiled eggs.