Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's Spring Fling Day!

Hotrodders, race fans, one day only!

Today is YoYo Joe's first Spring Fling - with events all day. First, joining us from 12-1 is Rocky Bluewinkle, mascot of the Wilmington Blue Rocks. From 1-2, John Flynn will meet & greet with fans and also perform several songs live! (Check out this interview with John on the Fox Sports 1310 AM Phillies fan blogsite - thanks for the plug, Jay!) Also from 1-2, Kat from Laura Novak Photography will be taking pictures of kids at the event, a chance to get real professional photos of your kids grooving with John! From 4-5 is our regular weekly yo-yo club meeting, and don't forget, save 20% all day off the prices of all outdoor toys!

What a day! Don't miss it - today only!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Stupid Spinosaurus...

...caught him digging into the tub o' babies. Naughty Spinosaurus!

PS - Thanks to the unnamed customer on Wednesday night's St. Mary Magdalene shopping night who introduced the Spinosaurus to the babies.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Yes, it's made in China, no it's not chock full of poison

Many people have developed an aversion to Chinese made toys in the past couple of years.
The news reports of unsafe toys almost always refer to toys that are made in China, so why wouldn't people put two and two together and come to the conclusion that Chinese made toys are unsafe?
Well, let's look into that a bit. Here at YoYo Joe's Toys & Fun, safety of the toy is one of the primary things we look for when checking out a new toy. We get e-mails from the Consumer Products Safety Comission anytime there is a recall of any toy, and we keep on top of it. Since we've opened in November, we've had no toys that we carry been subject to recall. We also seek out toys made in the USA, and have some awesome items we carry that are made in the USA (Most of our books, Yo-Yo Jam yo-yos, Lunastix juggling sticks, KEVA wooden planks, Melissa & Doug cardboard puzzles, Gamewright games, Briarpatch games, Make-A-Plate kits, Flying Turtles & more) as well as toys made in the EU (Bruder, Playmobil, etc) - but the vast majority of what we sell are made in China.
Don't make the mistake of assuming that all toys made in China are subject to the same conditions of manufacture. Most of the bigger toy companies, companies like Melissa & Doug, send employees to live in China and keep tabs on the manufacturing of toys. The mistakes that have been made in China generally occur when a company farms out the manufacture of a product with little or no controls on how it's made.
There's also a wide variety of factories in China - some of the best made toys we sell come from China. Take Blue-Orange Games as an example. Their games are made in China - many of them from wood. In addition to making sure all their games are safe - they are extremely active in protecting our environment. They are the only toy company that I'm aware of with a plan to replant trees they use for production. For each tree they use to produce games, they replant two. Read their policy here. They won the first "Green Toy Company" Award from Dr. Toy in 2007 in recognition of their environmental awareness. It would be a shame to completely ignore their products based on country of manufacture. The miYim soft organic toys we just got in stock are made in China, but you'd be hard pressed to find a plush company with a bigger dedication to the safety and quality of it's materials.
The simple fact is that companies feel pressure to move manufacturing to China in order to maintain competitiveness in terms of price. Things are changing in China - both because of the safety concerns that have arisen over the past couple of years and by the staggering growth their economy has seen over the past ten years. Will that just cause a move in manufacturing to another country? Possibly - I've seen more "Made in Vietnam" tags on my clothes over the past couple years. Will it cause a reversal and move manufacturing back to the USA? I certainly hope so, as part of our mission here is to shop local - keeping money as close to home as possible - but we also have a responsibility to make sure that the toys we sell are also fun and within the price range of our customers.
So, when shopping for good, quality toys, don't dismiss 'made in China' out of hand - use it as one of the factors when considering your purchases.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

8 Best toys that YoYo Joe's got at/since Toy far - #3

3 - Tracksters - They're sorta like Webkinz, only for cars. You buy the Hot Wheels sized die cast cars, but that's only half the story. You get a code with each car to enter online to get your car activated. Once you have your car, you can race it, hop it up (with codes from packs of cards sold separately), give it a new paint job. Not your daddy's Hot Wheels. It's sorta like a toy and video game all wrapped into one!

What they lose in margin, they make up for in volume...

Being in retail, I'm always apt to notice signs displayed in stores that I can find inspiration from. Also, I'm fond of those signs be missing something. Last year, I found a sign posted at an intersection that advertised a "prosfessional painter." It was one of those printed signs on plastic that are typically used for political campaigns. It was awesome in it's irony.

Now, to the point, I found this pic on the internet. Sure, 500% sounds like a lot, but if they sell more merchandise, it will all even out, right? That's sorta how the whole thing went years ago, right?

Monday, March 23, 2009

8 Best toys that YoYo Joe's got at/since Toy far - #4

#4 - Miyim Soft Toys - Not only are these plush toys awesomely soft and lovable, they're organic & won't break your budget.
For the past two years at Toy Fair, I've seen lots of toys that are jumping on the renewable, organic & recycling bandwagon. Alas, these features usually come at a price, it's just a part of the industry that needs to grow more for prices to come down. We were thrilled to find miYim organic toys at this year's Toy Fair, as they fit the bill as far as quality and price.
Consider the "Baby Fred Plush Monkey" on the left. It's 9 inches tall, made from soft organic cotton, colored with non-toxic dyes and chemical free. He comes wearing a white hemp jacket, and it's only $22.99. It even comes in a recycled box that makes for great gift-giving.
The Bunny Lovie Blankie (right) is 10x10 and is also made from the organic cotton material and dyed with non-toxic dyes. It's only $15.99.
All their items are appropriate for all ages

Thursday, March 19, 2009

8 Best toys that YoYo Joe's got at/since Toy far - #5

5 - The Dripstik - This is one of those 'now, why didn't I think of that?' items. It's just a plastic handle with two sides. One side holds a popsicle stick, the other will hold an ice cream cone. Both sides have a drip catching moat around the handle. You know, sometimes when you're (um...your child) is eating an ice cream cone and it starts dripping? Yea, it's for that. Toldya

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nothing says 'baseball' like the Dizzy Bat Race....

I've loved baseball since I can remember. I love watching the game, playing the game and coaching the game. I love the smell of a fresh cut field of grass in the spring and seeing the players on each team doing their warm up tosses. I love the sound of the scratchy PA system at tiny ballparks when the announcer comes on to say who's at bat.

So, when I had my son and brought him to his first professional baseball game at Blue Rocks Stadium, I was a little surprised that his first reaction was, "who's that?"

Me: Um...that's Rocky Bluewinkle.

Son: He's silly.

My son proceeded to pay attention to Rocky for most of the game. Sure, he glanced at the game every once in a while, but Rocky was the hit. And so was Mr. Celery. And that inflatable baseball dude that's another of their mascots. The games held his attention too, like the Dizzy Bat Race. So I learned several lessons that day

- perhaps 3 was a 'bit' too young to expose my son to a baseball game.
- little kids love mascots and dizzy bat races.

So, it pleases me to announce that, for the 2009 season, YoYo Joe's Toys & Fun will be the official sponsor of the Dizzy Bat Race at every Wilmington Blue Rocks home game. Um, that's the Dizzy Bat Race, brought to you by YoYo Joe's Toys & Fun in the Concord Gallery, baby!

8 Best toys that YoYo Joe's got at/since Toy far - #6

6 - Hex Bugs - Little robotic bugs at little prices. The smallest of the 'bugs' has antenna that act as a guide - when it bumps into the wall, it turns around and heads in a different direction. There's also a little crab that automatically seeks dark places (emo crab?) and a remote control 'worm' that spins and walks at your command. They run from $10.99 - $22.99.

Wanna geek it out? They seem to be popular targets for people to modify. Don't believe me, search for 'Hex Bug' on youtube or check out this blog posting of a hack to your HexBug to add a PCI board to it.

Check this Toy Directory video from Toy Fair:

Watch Video

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

8 Best toys that YoYo Joe's got at/since Toy far

7 - Woodstock instruments.

At YoYo Joe's, we pride ourselves that we try to listen to our customers. So, when a customer came in sometime in January looking for a decent quality kids guitar, we made note. We have carried a guitar that is not too expensive, but wooden and works. It did have a couple issues - the strings had a hard time staying tight. Really, it is made more for a child to pretend to play guitar, but if you're gonna buy a guitar for your child, why not get make it playable?

We agreed, so we sought out a company with a decent kids guitar at Toy Fair. When we got to the Woodstock Percussion booth, we felt we found what we were looking for. It's a wooden guitar - a little bigger than our older one - it's 27 inches long. What I like about it is that the strings stay tight. You can really play it! You can actually listen to it being played here. And while it's more than our old guitar, it's still not terribly expensive.

Woodstock also makes other cool things, we especially like the mini chimalong, chimes that are easy for kids to play songs right out of the box.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

8 Best toys that YoYo Joe's got at/since Toy far

8 - Uglydoll action figures. Why? Cause they're Uglydolls!, and they're action figures! They're two, two, two toys in one. Little vinyl figures of your favorite Uglydolls. Note to consumer: Ugly means Awesome!

Meet folk singer John Flynn at YoYo Joe's

John Flynn, a noted folk & award winning children's artist, will be on hand at YoYo Joe's on Saturday, March 28th from 1-2 pm to perform several songs and meet with fans old & new.

John sung at one of the Phillies playoff games in 2007 and will sing the national anthem at the Phillies 2009 Spring Training opening game. He was featured on WXPN's Free At Noon concert series on December (you can listen to it here)

You can check out John's webpage here and his myspace page here.

I've never seen John perform, but he did a show at my son's school a couple years ago, and his son (Ethan) and my son (Ethan) were the two Ethans in their Cub Scout pack.

We're working on scheduling several other music acts at YoYo Joe's, including a nationally known rock band!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Frogs have taken over at YoYo Joe's

We found lots of new stuff at Toy Fair, some which we loved, some which we hated, some which we had no idea whether it was good or not.
Under the last category was the EcoAquarium. It's a small square plastic aquarium with a living eco system inside. Each aquarium includes 'living gravel,' a living stalk of bamboo, at least one snail and two dwarf African frogs (or in the case of our current stock - three frogs since they sent us some extras). The aquariums are small (4x4x5), and require only minimal maintenance. You feed the frogs twice a week (a years supply of food is included - although with a 'bonus' frog, it may only last 2/3 of a year). You clean out the water twice a year with spring water (no tap water, no distilled water). The snail should clean out the Oh, and they're all male, so no mating will take place (or no successful mating, anyway)
The frogs have been an endless source of entertainment to us since they arrived last week. They seem to be partial to 'voguing,' seemingly freezing into poses for several minutes, then lauching into motion. We have several names for their poses.

- The Ahhnold Scwhartzenfrogger - Posing like a muscleman (no girly frogs here)
- The Dead Frog's Float - We thought one frog was dead, to the point where I opened the aquarium and poked him a bit and he didn't move. I told the customer that I felt the frog was 'no longer with us,' when the frog launched into action.

- The Leap Frog - one frog is piled up on another
- The Running Man (er...frog)- seemingly posing mid stride. 

One of our goals this year is to beef up our book selection. We sold books well last year, and since we're partial to books we want to increase the number and quality of the books we sell. As such, I've been trying to do some research into kids books. While researching, I've come across a couple awesome kids book resources - I blogged about Al Roker's kids book club before, and now I want to let you know about another great kids book website -
The website was founded by James Patterson, a writer of both children's and adult books who sold more than 16 million books in 2007 alone. was established to, according to his website "help parents and educators connect their children with the books that will turn them into lifelong readers"
It's a great clearinghouse of reviews, suggestions for books within four categories (illustrated, transitional, pageturners and advanced) for all ages & they also suggest books for girls & boys.
If you're not sure what books you should recommend for your child, this is a great place to start.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snow Day!

Welcome to March. 

It finally snowed here in Delaware, and it was enough to cancel school. It's supposed to snow until noonish, and it's, well, noonish, and it's still snowing. We opened a bit late today, and have even had some customers come in! 
We did get a couple orders in - from new company eeboo, and reorders from Douglas plush, Keva construction planks, Elope hats and more...