Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New Video Games Due This Week

As I mentioned last week, the next few weeks are going to see a lot of high profile games entering the market and this week is no exception. For the young gamers, we have a slew of new titles featuring such popular characters as Barbie (Barbie as The Island Princess/GBA, DS, PS2, Wii), Cars (Cars Mater-National/GBA), and Ben 10 (Ben 10: Protector of Earth/DS, PS2, PSP, Wii). Older kids will be excited about the latest Naruto release (Naruto: Rise of a Ninja/Xbox360) and of course, High School Musical (High School Musical: Sing It!/Wii). Probably the game that everyone will be talking about and wanting to play is Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Xbox360, Wii, PS3, PS2). I expect this to be one of the biggest hits of the season and likely to sell out quickly.

Barbie as The Island Princess/GBA, DS, PS2, Wii
Battalion Wars 2/Wii
Bee Movie Game/DS, PC, PS2, Xbox360, Wii
Ben 10: Protector of Earth/DS, PS2, PSP, Wii
Cars Mater-National/GBA
Dementium: The Ward /DS
Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness/PSP
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock/Xbox360, Wii, PS3, PS2
Hellgate: London/PC
High School Musical: Sing It!/Wii
Manhunt 2/Wii, PS2, PSP
Naruto: Rise of a Ninja/Xbox360
NBA Live 08/PC
Shrek: Ogres and Dronkeys/DS
The Simpsons Game/Xbox360, PS2, DS, Wii, PS3
Virtua Fighter 5/Xbox360
The Witcher/PC

- J. McKinney

Friday, October 26, 2007

Family Dollar Stores Recalls Halloween Pails

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Family Dollar Stores, of Charlotte, N.C., announced a voluntary recall of the Purple Halloween Pails with Witch Decorations. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

This recall involves purple Halloween pails with a picture of a witch figure silhouetted against a green moon. The pail measures about 6 1/2 inches high. “Distributed by Family Dollar, Inc,” SKU number 1033953, and UPC number 017845000591 are printed on a label on the pail. Orange Halloween pails with black jack-o-lantern decorations are not included in this recall. The recalled items were sold at Family Dollar stores nationwide from August 2007 through October 2007 for about $1.

Consumers should immediately take the recalled Halloween pail away from children and return it to any Family Dollar store for a full refund. For additional information, contact Family Dollar at (800) 547-0359 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.familydollar.com

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Get With The Program

By now you are probably already aware that on February 18, 2009, TV broadcasters will stop transmitting analog signals and switch exclusively to digital. So just what does this mean for non-digital television sets? It means that any TV, which is not attached to a digital cable or satellite service nor equipped with a special converter box will no longer work after this switch. Chances are good that this will prove to be a sticky situation as currently, more than 60 million U.S. households rely on antennas or analog cable, and cable operators are required to guarantee their customers will receive broadcast channels until February 2012.

Last week, Best Buy, one of the nation's top electronics retailers, announced that its stores would stop selling analog televisions entirely and pull all remaining stock from their shelves. Best Buy is the first retailer to go exclusively digital but expect more to follow soon.

Have you made the switch to digital yet?

-J. McKinney

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New Video Games Due This Week

As we head into the holiday shopping season, we can expect every week to have tons of great new games getting released. Just take a look at this week's list below and how many popular franchises and entertainment properties have games coming out. Also, over the coming weeks, you can expect more kid-friendly titles in stores, which should help if you have a youngster you have to shop for this season.

Here is a look at most of the games expected to arrive in stores this week:

Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation/Xbox360
Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties/PC
Barbie as The Island Princess/PC
Battlestar Galactica/Xbox360, PC
Cars Mater-National/PC
Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles/PSP
Clive Barker's Jericho/PC, Xbox360, PS3
Conan/Xbox360, PS3
Dancing With the Stars/Wii, PS2
Dawn of Magic/PC
Ed, Edd 'n Eddy: Scam of the Century/DS
Eye of Judgement/PS3
Hannah Montana: Spotlight World Tour/Wii
High School Musical: Sing It!/PS2
Hot Wheels: Beat That!/PC
Mega Man ZX Advent/DS
Namco Museum Remix/Wii
Naruto: Path of the Ninja/DS
Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution/Wii
Painkiller Overdose/PC
Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction/PS3
Warriors of the Lost Empire/PSP
Zack & Wikki/Wii

-J. McKinney

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sony Confirms $400, 40GB PS3

SCEA President, Jack Tretton, announced today that Sony will release a new 40GB version of the PS3 at a suggested retail price of $400. The new model will feature some slight hardware tweaks including a reduction to two USB ports instead of four and no ports for the different memory card types. But these changes are minor compared to the bombshell that this new 40GB PS3 will not be backwards compatibility with PS2 games, making this the first PS3 to completely ignore PS2 titles.

Look for the new 40GB PS3 as well as a price reduction for the 80GB units, which will go down to $500, on November 2.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Huffy Recalls Bicycles

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Huffy Corp., of Miamisburg, Ohio, announced a voluntary recall of 2007 Huffy “Howler” and “Highland” Bicycles. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

The recall includes 2007 model year, multi-speed bicycles with 26-inch, 24-inch or 20-inch wheels. The “Howler” was sold in black (model K3587, boy’s model), blue (model K4587, men’s model), and red (model K6587, men’s model). The “Highland” was sold in white (model K4597, women’s model) and blue (model K6597, women’s model). The name "Howler" or "Highland" is printed on the frame of the bicycle, and the name "Huffy" is on the front of the frame. Model numbers are located on a label on the bottom of the frame where the crank is attached to the bicycle.

Recalled Bikes were sold at Kmart stores nationwide from May 2007 through July 2007 for between $80 and $100.

For more information, contact Huffy Corp. toll-free at (888) 366-3828 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm's Web site at www.huffybikes.com

Monday, October 15, 2007

New Video Games Due This Week

Overall, its another great week for game releases. One of my favorite DS picks makes the jump to the Wii this week with Backyard Football 2008 from Humongous and Atari. Disney princess fans have two new magical games to choose from this week as Enchanted Journey arrives for the PS2 and Magical Jewels sparkles onto the DS. That crazy Katamari gang is back with Beautiful Katamari. This latest game will undoubtedly please existing fans while rolling up a whole new group of gamers into its ball of fun. Two great games that I have blogged about in the past, Crash of the Titans and the Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night are now available on the PSP and Wii (respectively).

Here is a look at what else should be on shelves this week:

Avatar: The Last Airbender -- The Burning Earth/Xbox360, PS2, Wii
Backyard Football 2008/PS2, Wii
Beautiful Katamari/Xbox360
The Bee Game/DS
Crash of the Titans/PSP
Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey/PS2
Disney Princess: Magical Jewels/DS
Guilty Gear XX Accent Core/Wii
Hannah Montana: Music Jam/DS
Heroes of Might and Magic V: Tribes of the East/PC
The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night/Wii
Mercury Meltdown Revolution/Wii
Petz Wild Animals: Dolphinz/DS
Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis/Wii
Spider-Man 3/PSP
Sega Rally Revo/PC
Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe/Xbox360
SWAT: Target Liberty/PSP
Tony Hawk's Proving Ground/Xbox360, PS2, Wii, PS3, DS
Victorious Boxers: Revolution/Wii
Zoo Tycoon 2: Extinct Animals/PC

Friday, October 12, 2007

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth Extended Battery Life

Most of us would be lost without all of our electronic gadgets. From mobile phones to MP3s, we are living in a Lithium-ion world. Unfortunately, many of our most beloved gadgets and devices have a limited life span - its true, they just don't make them like they used to.

The helpful folks over at Real Simple have assembled a list of tips to help prolong the life of some of these gadgets including iPods, flat-screen TVs, cell phones and more. Here is an example:

"Because parts can fail (read: melt) if a TV overheats, keep the vents clear so they can "pull in air to cool the unit," says Dan Wiersma, senior vice president of service for Sony Electronics. Dust with a soft, dry cloth, and skip the cleaning spray, which can cloud the screen."

You can read the full list here. For more tips and suggestions, check out RealSimple.com

-J. McKinney

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Starbucks Recalls Children's Plastic Cups

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Starbucks Coffee Co., of Seattle, WA, announced a voluntary recall of Starbucks Children’s Plastic Cups. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

The recall includes four styles of Starbucks children’s plastic 10-ounce cups. Styles include “Dot” Red Ladybug; “Dash” Green Turtle; Bunny Pink; and Chick Yellow cups (pictured below). The cups were sold exclusively at Starbucks stores nationwide from May 2006 through August 2007 for about $6.

Consumers should immediately take the recalled cups away from young children and contact Starbucks for instructions on returning the cups for a refund. Starbucks is also offering a complimentary beverage as an incentive to return the recalled cups. For additional information, contact Starbucks at (888) 288-4008 anytime or visit the firm’s Web site at www.starbucks.com.

Monday, October 08, 2007

New Video Games due This Week!

One of the coolest fighter games I have played in a long time, Bleach: Shattered Blade (rated T), arrives this week for the Nintendo Wii. Based on the Cartoon Network program Bleach, Shattered Blade features visually stunning graphics, fast-paced action and intuitive controls that reduce the learning curve and will have you battling immediately.

If you are looking for a video game for the little gamers in your life, check out Flipper Critters for the Nintendo DS (Rated E). This pinball-style game utilizes both screens on the DS for a full view of the scrolling pinball area. Flipper Critters also packs in a plethora of mini-games that will have players using all of the DS' inputs, including the control pad, touch screen and even the microphone.

Other games due in stores this week include:

Balls of Fury/Wii
Bleach: The Blade of Fate/PC
Bleach: Shattered Blade/Wii
Cheetah Girls: Pop Star Sensations/DS
Donkey Kong Barrel Blast/Wii
FIFA Soccer 08/PC, Xbox360, PS3, PS2, Wii
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions/PSP
Flipper Critters/DS
Half-Life: Episode Two/PC
Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights/PS3, PSP
Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal/PS2, Xbox360, Wii
Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck/DS
Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull/PC
Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer/PC
Sega Rally Revo/PC, Xbox360, PS3, PSP
Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron/PSP
Team Fortress 2/PC
The Orange Box/Xbox360, PC

-J. McKinney

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Toy Wishes Hot Dozen Revealed

Yesterday at an event in New York City, Toy Wishes Magazine and our very own Toy Guy, Chris Byrne, announced this year's Toy Wishes Hot Dozen.

Each year, the editors of Toy Wishes pick 12 items that they predict will be among the hottest selling toys of the upcoming holiday season. This year's list includes The American Idol Talent Challenge, Barbie Girls, Eye-Clops, Guitar Hero III, and Transformers figures and role-play.

Check out the full list with details and images now by clicking here.

- J. McKinney

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Results Are In!

Last month we asked you how the highly publicized toy recalls would affect your toy purchases. Here is how you responded.

When asked "Will the recent Toy Recalls stop you from buying toys?"

  • You answered:
    39% No
    34% I won't buy toys made in China
    14% I won't buy toys from manufacturers who have had recalls
    13% Yes

Thanks for answering. please take a minute to answer October's poll question, in the right-hand column, now.

Monday, October 01, 2007

New Video Games Due This Week

It looks like another great week for game franchises with a new Zelda, new Crash Bandicoot, new Spyro, and new Project Gotham to name a few. I've had the opportunity to play three of these games -- The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Crash of the Titans, and The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night -- and was thoroughly impressed with them all. In addition, one of the most realistic racing games I have ever seen, Race 07-The WTCC Game makes it 's PC debut this week. Start your PC engine and prepare to be blown away by this one.

Sports game fans are also in for a treat this week with several new titles on shelves. Check out NBA 2K8 for a great basketball experience and Backyard Football 2008 designed for the younger gaming fans is also a blast.

Arctic Tale/DS
Backyard Football 2008/DS
Balls of Fury/Wii
Blades & Magic/Cell
Chibi Robo: Park Patrol/DS
The Chosen - Well of Souls/PC
Crash of the Titans/Xbox360, PS2, Wii, DS
Dave Mirra BMX Challenge/Wii
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars/PC
FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage/Xbox360
Holly Hobbie & Friends/DS
Hour of Victory/PC
The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night/PS2, DS
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass/DS
Loki: Heroes of Mythology/PC
MLB Power Pros/Wii, PS2
NBA 2K8/Xbox360, PS3, PS2
NBA Live 08/Xbox360, PS3, PS2, Wii, PSP
Ninjabread Man/Wii
Project Gotham Racing 4/Xbox360
Race 07-The WTCC Game/PC
Siphon Filter: Logan's Shadow/PSP
Spider-Man: Friend or Foe/Xbox360, PC, PS2, Wii, PSP

- J. McKinney