The Smurfs Dance Party for Wii - My Kid's Review



Currently my children have Smurf fever. In the early part of the summer they went through a mild obsession with the Smurfs iPad game and spent weeks trying to farm enough fruit and flowers to earn Sumurfette. The iPad game also did a pretty good job of introducing them to all the characters as well as hyping the movie (which releases today - 7/29). They even used their Build-A-Bear gift cards from their birthdays to get the “exclusive” Smurfette and Clumsy Smurf. Trust me, I’m pretty Smurfed-out these days.

Their favorite video game on the Wii however is “Just Dance 2”  - a dancing game where you dance along to pop songs (either by yourself or with friends) and the Wii manages to give you points based on how well you are following along. It’s a great game -  fun to play and probably funnier to watch someone else playing. And the fact that they are up ad moving around kind of assuages the parent’s guilt that they are letting their kids play a video game when they could be outside doing something. Kind of.

So when I got the opportunity to review the new Smurf video game for the Wii - “The Smurfs Dance Party” it seemed like a perfect fit.

The game is basically a Smurf version of the “Just Dance” video games. There is a Smurf on the screen (all characters from the movie of course - including Gargamel) and you follow along and dance with them to songs from the movie. There are a couple of other modes - a story mode that basically tells the whole story of the movie (apparently my kids have no problem with spoilers) and a mode where you can dance to all the songs in one giant loop.

My girls (ages 5 and 7) have been playing it for a few days now and they are far more qualified to review the game than I. Here’s what they had to say about it.

My 7 year old:

This video game is almost like Just Dance 2. It has different Smurfs that dance, and there are also lyrics that you can read along with the music. The music is cool because it has songs that people know, but with Smurf words in it. Also, each Smurf has their own special song.

The only thing I didn’t like about the game was in some of the songs Gargamel dances instead of the Smurfs, and I thought that Gargamel looked kind of creepy. I’m not going to blame the actor though.
I liked the game a lot, and I think it’s just as good as Just Dance 2.

My 5 year old:

I liked the game because it was fun. There was a lot of dancing in it, and it was kind of like exercise - kind of like a Zumba thing. There aren’t many songs with Smurfette by herself, and I wish there were more. I also didn’t like Gargamel because he was kind of creepy. I liked the songs because if you’re doing one player, the person who is waiting can sing along to the songs with the person who is dancing.

This game would be good for people who like Smurfs and Wii. But if you don’t like to dance you should not get this game.

So there you have it. I sure didn’t think they would like it as much as Just Dance 2, mostly because the songs are (to me at least) way more annoying. There are only a few songs that people would recognize and a lot of filler - songs that seem written for the game. But my Smurf-crazy kids didn’t seem to mind at all. And when I had them load in the Alvin and the Chipmunks game for a comparison, it’s obvious that a lot more effort went into The Smurfs Dance Party.

Now I can only hope the movie is also better than the Squeakquel.

The Smurfs Dance Party, $33.24 (and almost sold out??) from

Barbie's Dream Car Is Really Dad's Dream Car


Six-Year-Old Daughter: Dad, you know that Barbie convertible that Santa brought me last Christmas?

Me: Yeah. Sure.

Six-Year-Old Daughter: There's a problem with it. None of the boy dolls fit in it. Not Ken or any of the princes.

Four-Year-Old Daughter: Yeah! Them legs don't fit!!

Six-Year-Old Daughter: It's kind of a problem.

Me: Remind me to get you one when you're sixteen.

Barbie Glam Convertible, $24.75 at

iPad App of the Week: Phaidon Design Classics


Phaidon Design Classics is a book (or really, a three volume set) for design nerds like me. In it they curate and chronicle 999 objects that they deem are noteworthy for their innovation, influence and are "perfect in their design." The objects are numbered and ordered chronologically, starting with Chinese household scissors from 1663 and ending with the most modern products of today.

Though you could buy the three volume set at Amazon for $110.25, for $19.99 you can get all of that content and more on your iPad - plus an extra product (product 1,000 - the suitably chosen iPhone). It's an awesome collection of things both historical and current, allowing you to browse through not only the history of object design but human history as well.

The interface is fairly easy to understand, and while the clicking sounds it makes when you transition to a new object are kind of hokey, they do help you navigate through the enormous collection. You can also narrow down the number of objects shown by choosing categories or by running keyword searches on the titles and descriptions.

Running a search on "children" yields 49 results, among which there are some of the things you might expect, like the Mammut Chid Chair sold by Ikea, the Tripp Trapp Child's Chair from Stokke or the Eames Hang-It-All. There are also many objects that are taken for granted but are nevertheless incredibly innovative, like Crayola Crayons, Pez candy dispensers, the very first Jigsaw Puzzle (made in 1776), or the very first Teddy Bear (made in 1902). I must admit that I never really gave much thought to the Classic Red Wagon from Radio Flyer (pictured), but two paragraphs later not only do I know the history behind how it was designed and developed, but I appreciate it all the more.

Phaidon Design Classics for iPad by Phaidon Press, $19.99 from the iTunes App Store.

CES 2011 - All the Great Stuff for Men


CES was way over a month ago, but I just wanted to point your way to my final posts on the subject that are up now on the man/father super blog Man of the House. Here's the breakdown of everything I saw that was great for men and fathers:

CES 2011: Best New Gear of the Year - Most Useful - The Road Torq from Eton saves your bacon when you've got a flat tire

CES 2011: Best New Gear of the Year - Coolest Toy - The AR Drone iPod-controlled remote control helicopter.

CES 2011: Best New Gear of the Year - Best Television - The Samsung 8000 Series LED Television

CES 2011: Best New Gear of the Year - Most Innovative - The Razer Switchblade

CES 2011: Best of CES for Guys - And these are the "honorable mentions" of the things I saw at CES that were great, specifically for guys.

Recreating Joy Division Through Playmobil


I knew there was a reason I "Liked" Joy Division on Facebook. Apparently someone took the audio and (visual cues) from a live television performance of one of my favorite bands, Joy Division, and recreated it with stop motion animation using Playmobil toys.

But which toys? Although there isn't a "Joy Division on BBC 2" Playmobil set, the person who made the video cobbled it together from multiple sets. Here's what I could find...

I'm not sure about the figures he used, but he definitely used the guitars from this decidedly heavy metal "Guitar Player" (Playmobil 4512) and the drum sets from both the new and old versions of "Circus Band" (Playmobil 3723 and 4231). He also used the television cameras (and microphone I'm assuming) from this discontinued set "Studio Crew" (Playmobil 3531).

If there was ever any doubt in the awesomeness of Playmobil, then this should settle it I think.

(Yeah, I said "awesomeness".) 

New Nintendo 3DS Not Safe For Kids Under Six. Really Nintendo?


Nintendo says their new gaming system the 3DS might hurt the eyes of children under six, but eye doctors are saying that's not necessarily true. Aren't the big bad companies supposed to be putting our kids at risk (for a profit) while doctors are supposed to warn us against this kind of stuff?

It's an interesting swap of expectations, and the subject of my latest post on Man of the House.

New Nintendo 3DS Not Safe For Kids Under Six. Really Nintendo? [Man of the]

LeapFrog Text and Learn - Did Toy Rotary Phones Seem Strange In 1930?


(This post from Engadget is about a year old, but I hadn't seen it before. I found it by following a link from Dave Caolo's Twitter Feed. Apparently it looks a lot like the new Microsoft "Kin".)

My kids take their toy phones and pretend to text and take pictures, so it shouldn't be any surprise LeapFrog figured this out and made something they can really type text into. And the fact that it kind of looks like a Blackberry is kind of funny.

But it looks like just another toy with a horrible monochrome screen and lame "educational" games. Why haven't kids' electronic toys progressed much past Speak 'n Spell? It would be way cooler if they came in pairs and you could send messages back and forth.

Besides, my 3 year old uses my wife's iPhone so much, I'm not sure she'd recognize this as something she was supposed to have fun with in the first place.

Modern Day Dad At CES 2010. Oh. And Lady Gaga Too.


Well, I did the quick calculation this morning, and this is officially the 7th CES I've been to, and while some were fun (the first few) and some were really underwhelming (last year), this year's is proving to be a little better, if only for the fact that I pretty much kicked it off by going to a Lady Gaga press conference at the Polaroid Booth.

You see, she's now a Creative Director at Polaroid for a special line of New Imaging Products or something. In the conference she made it very clear (while she tried her best to hide her face with her bizarre hair-hat), that this wasn't a typical endorsement deal, and that she and "The Haus of Gaga" (I couldn't make that up if I tried) were going to be very involved with new products.

Hey, that's great I suppose, and I know that Polaroid who haven't had anything exciting going on with them in about, oh, twenty years or so, are probably thrilled with the association. But all that stuck out to me during the whole thing was, there's a guy who works for Polaroid, one of the last great brands in photography, up on a platform saying "Lady Gaga" as if it were the most normal thing anyone ever uttered. Maybe I'm old or something, but it was kind of funny to me.

So anyway, if you're interested in my posts about stuff I'm seeing at CES this year, check out my posts over at's product blog, Droolicious.

Modern Day Dad at CES 2009: The Consumer Electronics Showcase.


So tomorrow I'm heading out to my sixth (can it really be six?) CES - the consumer electronics gadget extravaganza here in Las Vegas. And like last year I'll be blogging about a lot of what I see over at In fact this year I even got a special "Blogger" pass which, as far as I can tell, gets me free lunch in the blogger lounge (while supplies last), extra attention from exhibitors, and the slightly condescending looks from those holding orange "Press" badges.

Oh, and I got a free bag which, even though it says "CES" all over it, is pretty sweet.

I'll be looking mostly for anything related to children, parents, parenting or (of course) dads. If you've heard about anything that I should check out, please leave a comment and let me know. This show is so massive, it's going to be hard to even get to the stuff I'm planning, let alone find stuff I never even thought of before.

Wish me luck.

[Check out my posts from CES 2009 over at Droolicious on]

Top Ten iPhone Apps to Distract Your Kids With


[UPDATE: Looking for my favorite iPhone Apps for children and parents? Check out this new feature on Modern Day Dad - iPhone App of the Week. I'll be reviewing and sharing my favorite iPhone and iPad Apps for children and parents.

iPhone App of the Week on Modern Day Dad]


Over at I just posted something that I want to promote here too - Ten Best iPhone Apps for Distracting Young Children. Throwing my keys or random pieces of paper in my pocket to quiet a toddler in a shopping cart is nothing new to anyone, but with the new iPhone there are a lot of new and interesting diversions to throw at them. Provided of course you make sure they don't actually throw your phone back at you.

Read it over on Droolicious at

Nintendo's Wii - probably the best video game system for families.

Wii It's no secret I'm a big fan of the XBOX 360, but after playing with my new Nintendo Wii for a week or so, I have to say that it is much better suited for families. Although it's missing some features in my opinion, it's got the other systems beat in a few key areas.

First is the price. If you can find one in the stores, it's only going to cost you $250, which is $100 cheaper than the standard XBOX 360 and $250 cheaper than the standard Playstation 3. Sure it's not going to play BlueRay DVDs (or even regular DVDs) but for a next generation video game system (that plays great games) it's a bargain.

Next is the interface or "usability" of the system itself. Everything is based around using a remote control (or "Wiimote") and everyone that's tried to use it in my house - from my 3 year old daughter to my parents - understand how to use it immediately. Not only does the game know you're pointing it at the television, it also knows if you're rotating, tilting or moving it around anywhere. Personally I think it's easier to use than an XBOX 360 controller and way more approachable to kids and novice video game players.

And let's be honest, the biggest reason it's probably best for families is - it's Nintendo. Nintendo did something smart and didn't try to create a system that would be all things to all people. Instead they created a great little console that plays games (that are challenging but easy to play) with some of the most classic names in video game history like Mario, Zelda, Metroid and all the rest. One of my personal favorite things is that you can download via an internet connection old-school Nintendo games like Temco Bowl, Super Mario Brothers, Punch Out, and Wave Race 64 right to your Wii.

There are a few things I wish were different. You can view pictures on your Wii, but unfortunately you can't connect it to another computer in your house to view photos or listen to music like you can with an XBOX 360. I was able to download a web browser and view pictures on my flickr page, so it's kind of possible, but not as simple. The web browser (which the 360 doesn't have) is pretty useful - my aunt uses the web browser to listen to her Sirius Satellite Radio online through her home stereo, which works out well.

So if you're starting to think about a video game system for the family for Christmas this year, I'd definitely give the Wii some serious consideration. If you can find one.

Shop for Nintendo Wii stuff on

More Mattel toy recalls.

Hot on the heels of one of the Chinese executives in charge of the lead paint debacle killing himself, Mattel has announced even more toy recalls. This time it's not just for lead paint, but also for some magnetized toys. According to the Wall Street Journal, Mattel could be seriously damaged over this, and I for one am glad.

Check out the video message from Mattel's CEO Robert Eckert on their "Voluntary Safety Recall Facts" page (by the way, "Voluntary"? I hate these euphemisms. Some marketing d-bag must have decided "Mandatory" sounded too negative). It's a video of a guy doing everything he can to save his (and his company's) ass. Oh, and he's got kids himself, which is supposed to make me feel like he really knows what it's like when you have to explain to a two year old why he can't play with the favorite toy he got for his birthday last month.

As a parent of four children myself, I know that absolutely nothing is more important than the safety and well being of children.

(Well, that is not if you count cutting corners in China to help the profit margin of the company I run. But besides that nothing is more important. Seriously.)

See the video for yourself here. "Voluntary Safety Recall Facts: because your children are our children too" (Thank god that's not true.) []

Mattel CEO Announces He's A Dad! Also, That They're Recalling 10 Million More Unsafe Toys []

Mattel Does Damage Control After New Recall [WSJ]

Fisher Price lead paint recall.

Poison_chef_doraFisher Price, like pretty much every other company, manufactures their stuff in China. This time however someone decides a little lead in the paint might be a good idea. It's a wonder this stuff doesn't happen more often.

But you know what I'm even more pissed about? Information about the recall ISN'T ON THE TOP PAGE OF FISHER-PRICE.COM. Don't you think inadvertently poisoning kids might be reason enough to put information about the recall in the easiest place you can think of online?

Check out this web page to see if you've got any stuff you've got to send back. I've got a few things actually (sorry Chef Dora, your days are numbered).

Here's the link again for official info about the recall.

At Toy Stores, Recall Casts Doubt On Trusted Friends [Washington Post]

Send old toys to Iraq.

IraqukidsKeeping a handle on reducing the clutter of toys was tough enough with one kid, but with two it's twice as hard. And now that my smallest is outgrowing some toys, I've got to find something to do with them. I could try to garage-sell them, but the other day on Parent Hacks I found a better solution: donate them to kids in Iraq.

A member of the Army Corps of Engineers is over there giving away stuffed toys to children who have literally nothing, With all the devastation, I can't think of a better thing to do with some of the stuffed animals we have that are no longer played with.

Check out the post about it at Parent Hacks, and mail your stuffed animals, toys and school supplies (now through November 2007) to:

Edmay Mayers
APO AE 09331

UPDATE (OCTOBER 2008): Edmay is no longer serving in this capacity. The new person/address to send the items to is:

Tonya Myrick - TOYS
Building 511
APO AE 09331

Unfortunately you'll now have to fill out a customs form, which will require a trip to the Post Office, but this address should work for the forseeable future. -mdd

10 most "dangerous" toys.

Antigrav_bootsI was checking out this article in Fortune Magazine on line today (another piece about expensive baby gear - but this one doesn't have a quote from me unfortunately, so I was, as you can imagine, not very interested) when I saw a link to this: 10 most dangerous toys.

Now I don't know what it says about me, but I was expecting some really heinous stuff - wood burning kits, poisonous chemistry sets, giant plastic bags. But these dangerous toy lists every year (apparently put out by W.A.T.C.H. or World Against Toys Causing Harm) must be working, because the stuff in this year's list doesn't seem all that scary. There are toys that have small parts or fur that could cause choking, guns that shoot toy arrows or silly string at a high velocity, and those giant foam fist-hands that "made the list because it could cause blunt impact injuries." Duh.

The scariest thing on the list is a pair of "anti-gravity boots" (pictured) that look like a broken arm waiting to happen. They also look like the most fun.

So check out the list to find out which toy horse has poorly rooted fur, and congratulations to W.A.T.C.H. for keeping the really scary stuff off of the store shelves entirely. And don't be surprised on Christmas if little cousin Jimmy starts smacking you with his new giant fists.

Blinging up baby (that headline is way too easy) [Fortune on] (via modern day great-aunt Jeanne - thanks!)

10 most dangerous toys []

The bike that isn't a bike.

LikeabikeAt what point in this blogging adventure here do I say, OK. Now I've seen it all. I thought I had with the adult pacifier, but this one is close.

Don't be fooled by the picture. What you're looking at isn't a bicycle. It's a "LikeABike." A wooden toy with two wheels, handle bars and a saddle, but no pedals. The idea is two-year-olds want active toys, and could generally use some forward-motion encouragement during walks around the neighborhood. The LikeABike solves this by giving kids a ride they can push forward with their feet Fred Flintstone style. It's beautiful, made out of wood and costs $279.

Is this genius or absurdity? For the life of me I can't decide. At first I was confused. $279 for a bicycle that doesn't work? Seriously? But then I read some of the testimonials on their web site:

It is so true what the LikeaBike people are saying about how easy it can get to walk your child to pre-school… It used to take me forever, now my daughter happily jumps on her bike and we make it in time... no problem. Petra T. (Brooklyn, Park Slope)

Before we gave our son a LikeaBike for his third birthday he had received physical therapy for more than a year... After learning how to ride that beautiful little vehicle his coordination and sense of balance improved considerably. LikeaBikes should be part of every pre-school's inventory. Jenny and Steve N. (Manhattan, West Village)

Now I'm starting to see the genius. Improve your child's balance, get them around the neighborhood, and give them something fun to do all by avoiding the tyranny of pedals. Still, at $279 I think a resourceful dad, an old bike and a socket set could probably come up with something cheaper.

Check out LikeABike at their official site [via Transport]

Good deal on games.

Princess_monopolyNormally I don't shill for Amazon so blatantly, but this is a pretty good deal. Right now they've got a two for one sale on all Hasbro, Milton Bradley or Parker Brothers games, with free shipping. It might be a good time to stock up on the classics you remember playing when you were a kid like Sorry! Or get your kid a new-school classic like Disney Princess Monopoly Jr., where you:

"Choose your favorite princess and dash around the gameboard to buy homes for as many Disney friends as you can! Then when other players land on your spaces, they must pay you to visit."

Princesses, capitalism and paying for friends. So many mixed messages in one game!

Check out the 2 for 1 sale on games at
  Offer expires 10-15-05.

NOTE: I just tried this and it's pretty confusing. What you have to do is go to purchase the more expensive item, then click the "second one for free" link in the "Special Offer" paragraph on that page. Then get the coupon code for the cheaper item on that page and follow the step by step instructions

If that doesn't work (it didn't for me), then make sure you get the coupon code for the cheaper of the two items, put both items in your cart and use the coupon code when you check out. It should work then.

Momist toy cell phone.

ToycellphoneOne of the gifts Madame got for her birthday this year was the Parents Magazine Play & Learn Record-A-Voice Cellphone. It's a toy cellphone, with buttons that make beeping sounds and a ringer that goes off when you shut the phone. It also has this recording feature, where you can record a something that your child can play back by pressing a button. It's kind of a cool idea and she does enjoy it, but my problem came with a marketing slogan on the packaging (pictured above).

"push a button and HEAR MOM'S VOICE"  (their emphasis)

Shouldn't "Parents" magazine do better than this? How about dad's voice? Or grandma & grandpa's? Or maybe they're just marketing to us stay at home dads, as our kids would probably like to hear mom's voice while she's away at work.

Somehow I'm doubting that though.

Papi in the box.

PapiintheboxOccasionally a gift for my daughter is really more of a gift for me. My aunt, uncle and cousins from New England recently sent this Red Sox jack in the box for Madame's birthday. I wasn't sure what would pop out (I was thinking it would probably be their mascot), so we start the crank up and in the middle of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" out pops David Ortiz. Big Papi. It totally ruled me, or as I probably should say, it's wicked cool.

Apparently baseball card company Upper Deck makes them with all kinds of teams and athletes for the NBA, NFL and MLB. So if you're looking for a gift for a kid who's got a dad who is probably way too into the Lakers, or Packers, or World Champion Boston Red Sox (for instance), you really can't go wrong.

Check out all the Jox Box versions ($18 to $20) at