Thursday, December 17, 2009

Behold, the Angels of Destruction*: Best Recall This Week

The holidays stress me out. I'd rather clean cookies out of the VCR* than buy gifts that evoke a very merry "meh" from their recipients.

But today the CPSC delivered unto me a seasonal greeting that appeals to my coal black heart.

Precious Moments angels may burn down your house. Starting with your Christmas tree.

That's no star, it's an incendiary device.

Platter-eyed cherubim just got edgy.

Merry bah humbug to y'all!

*Yes, we still have a VCR because Richard Scarry DVDs are impossible to find while the VHS tapes are plentiful and cheap on the resale market. Also, the Raptor likes to trap her hand inside while using the flippy door for toy storage. Also, we use it to watch the excellent Notes Alive! Nutcracker.

**Yes, the title of this post was stolen wholesale from Keith Donahue's book. The book's title is easily its best attribute. Check out his earlier The Stolen Child if you're looking for something to read.

***And while we're on books, I just asked the library to buy Scroogenomics: Why We Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays. This, rather than visions of sugarplums, dances in my head.

Baby Toolkit is written by geek parents who are having a hard time embracing the holidays. We're Amazon affiliates, so if you're just dying to buy something through our Amazon links we get a percentage of the profits. We have no affiliation with Precious Moments, the CPSC, or other media we mention, and we may get a cease & desist notice for the Firestarter cover hack, so you absolutely didn't see it here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CirKis by Hasbro: Circles + Stars= Fun

There's a great deal at Amazon* today: Hasbro's new family game CirKis is only $7.99 which is 60% off its standard $20 price.

Jim, Ranger, and I first played CirKis at GenCon 2009. I expected a knock-0ff of Mattel's clever Blokus territory acquisition game; the tiles, the shallow grid board, and even the names struck me as similar. Instead CirKis reveals a very different mechanism and strategy despite the superficial similarities.

In Blokus, players arrange luminescent tiles on a standard grid to acquire as much of the playing surface as possible. At the end of the game the winner is the player holding the most tiles.

With CirKis the grid is a repeating geometry of stars and circles. The tiles are odd polygons varying greatly in size and shape. It takes more discernment to lay tiles, but there are still multiple options for playing each tile. CirKis exercises lateral, spacial, and strategic thinking simultaneously; that sounds complicated, but Ranger really enjoyed playing.

CirKis' scoring is ongoing throughout the game. A player earns points when they complete a circle or star, and the winner is the first to reach 40 points.

While Ranger currently needs help playing (at age 4), I don't think he's far off from playing independently. For now, he can happily play with it as a tile drawing toy (which helps develop his placement skills for future game play).

The pieces are strong and plentiful, so this isn't something I'd want scattered all over the living room floor after the lights are out, but the game looks like it should hold up to regular use by children.

We tried to buy a pre-release copy at GenCon, but CirKis was entirely sold out and even the demonstration copies were reserved. I'm actually glad we didn't get one then because I was able to get two for less than $20 with this current sale price.

CirKis is a great game for families and adults. It scales nicely to different ages and abilities; while a preschooler can be involved with assistance it can also be very competitively played by adults.

*Baby Toolkit is an Amazon affiliate, and we make a small percentage off purchases made after clicking through from our site. We're geek parents who LOVE games. We have no extra-consumer relationship with Hasbro or Mattel nor have we received compensation from them or their affiliates for this post.

Friday, December 11, 2009

More Muppets: Ringing of the Bells

I'm stifling the urge to wake the Raptor (the biggest Muppet maniac in the household). A new Muppet video was released tonight, and it rocks.

The Nerdist observes "this wave of new vids make the Muppets feel like The Muppet Show again."

Muppet Studios' YouTube channel is well worth a subscription.

***Baby Toolkit is the independent opinion of a couple of geek parents. We have no financial interest in or relationship with the Muppets or their parent company (who we actively dislike). However back in 1990, Adrienne did pull off the expressway to cry after hearing of Jim Henson's untimely death.

Word on Sesame Street: Free eBooks!

Ranger and I spent part of the afternoon listening to lovable, furry old Grover read the audio eBook There is a Monster at the End of this Book. Each word is highlighted as Grover narrates. The audio effects cracked Ranger up.

To celebrate its 40th birthday, Sesame Workshop issued its most popular title ever in ebook form [trivia: There is a Monster at the End of this Book hasn't been out of print since its original printing]. They plan of offering a new free ebook every week. Some of the ebooks will have audio and interactive capabilities. Early in 2010, Sesame Street and Impelsys (the technology provider) plan on offering even more titles for individual purchase and subscription.

The eBooks can be viewed through a web browser, but do not seem to have a download option (please let me know if I'm overlooking something).

Users can print pages from coloring and activity books like the seasonally appropriate Celebrate.

Sesame Street ebooks can be found at

For more information about the future of Sesame Street's eBooks, read Impelsys' recent press release.

***Baby Tookit is the independent opinion of a couple geek parents. We have no fiscal, social, or familial relationship with Sesame Street, Children's Television Workshop, PBS, or Impelsys. Heck, we're actually suspicious of newfangled characters like Elmo and Abby Cadabby and we feel like Big Bird doesn't get enough air time, but these eBooks are cool- especially while they're free.

In addition, we are affiliates, so if you click through the picture above and buy the book (or other stuff), a small percentage of the sale will go to support Baby Toolkit (thanks!). We do own this book, and Ranger loves to hear it read by Jim even more than the ebook (sorry, Grover).