Saturday, November 1, 2014

2014 Holiday Gift Guide: Amazing Fun from Brilliant Sky Toys and Books {Review and Giveaway}


Every year the toy catalogs come out, we roam up and down the aisles of big box stores, and search for ideas online for the perfect holiday gifts. While this has become part of our yearly tradition, we also have added looking for award winning toys at specialty toy stores. We have a few stores close to us, where we look for things that will not only entertain our kids, but encourage them to explore and learn, be something that can be active with, and something age appropriate. After being introduced to this next company, I really, really wish we lived closer to one, because it would for sure be on my list of places to shop all year round.
Brilliant Sky Toys and Books, founded in 2002, in Lansing, Michigan, is an upscale specialty toy store with 17 locations across the US, with a base in Brentwood, Tennessee. The founders believed that having the right playthings, would give children the best opportunities for physical, emotional, and cognitive development. Brilliant Sky Toys and Books has an amazing approach in their atmosphere (aesthetic designs using rich colors and woods, low sight lines, and custom fixtures) to allow for active and interactive exploration with over 10,000 high quality specialty items.

Just five years ago, Brilliant Sky Toys and Books decided that their amazing products needed something even more special, and created the Brilliance Awards. The Brilliance Awards are given to a few of their favorite products based upon quality, value of open ended play, and the simple beauty of a child's fascination and delight. These items are from 10 different brands, with prices ranging from $10-$40. The products on this list have given parents and grandparents a guide for holiday shopping and birthday gift giving, there is truly something for everyone with Brilliant Sky Toys and Books.

The 2014 award list has 10 winners and are all surprisingly low tech.
The winners of the preschool category are:
  • Squigz Starter Set (24 piece)
    •  Ages 3+ • $24.99 Vendor: Fat Brain Toys
      As seen on NBC-TV's The Today Show, Squigz are fun little suckers. Apply pressure to two Squigz and watch as air rushes out and the fun rushes in! Connecting to each other and to any solid, non-porous surface - Squigz are a species all their own. They are flexible fellows and committed joiners. Squigz and fellow Squigz have one chief enterprise - creating things. Willingly, they assemble to become rockets, vehicles, a cushion for the cat, jewelry... they thrill in uniting as a ginormous octopus or squid. Squigz are scientific sorts - always up for playful experimentation and defying gravity - sticking to bathtubs, windows, school lockers, tabletops (and yes, even office desktops).
  • Plus-Plus Mini-Basic (480 piece)
    • Ages 3+ • $29.99 Vendor: Geared For Imagination
      Picture two plus (+) signs joined together and you "get" this simple shape with endless possibilities. Plus-Plus building bricks allow kids as young as 3 to create mosaics or 3-D designs. This new Plus-Plus Mini-Basic set contains 480 bricks as well as instructions to make 3 specific models. A great way to get kids started with the Plus-Plus product line. The toy line is designed and manufactured in Denmark.
  • Lottie Dolls
    •  Ages 3+ • $19.99 Vendor: Schylling
      Designed in Britain and winner of 10 toy awards, Lottie is a new, innovative fashion doll who stands for positive contemporary values. Her bright, vibrant clothes, silky hair, and creative accessories are tailored to reflect a young girl who is happy, brave, imaginative, and bright - the most positive role model possible. And she stands on her own two feet -- figuratively and literally. At 7", she's the easiest size for girls ages 3 - 9 to clasp, and thanks to bendable joints, she can stand and assume different poses. As children enter elementary school, they are able to play indoors and out for longer periods of time. At this stage, they crave new outlets for their imaginations and their boundless energy.
The winners of the 6+ age group are:
  • Doddle Quest
    • Ages 6+ • $24.99 Vendor: Blue Orange
      Dive below the deep blue sea where there’s fish to gobble, treasure to discover and divers to save! You will complete each quest with the power of your pen, drawing your way through underwater scenes on the quest cards. But it’s not that easy! Players draw on separate transparent sheets and must trust their eyes in order to meet targets and avoid obstacles. This unique drawing game includes 36 illustrations and two levels to master. The bait of the challenge hooks kids for hours of fun! Ideal for 1 to 4 players. Expect to play each game for about20 minutes!
  • Create Your Own Storybook
    • Ages 6+ • $19.99 Vendor: Creatively Ever After
      Imagine holding a real book, written and illustrated by your own child. Kids' minds are alive with imagination. Their stories are so unique and amusing. They love to draw, create and write. Just think how they'll respond when you tell them to write a story and it'll actually become a book -- bound and printed. This kit includes everything -- it only lacks a child's fantastic creativity. Blank sheets, with a border frame to draw in and lines to write on, are waiting to be filled. (The finished book will hold 12 pages, but 18 template sheets are given in case an elbow gets bumped or the storyline changes.) Create a separate sheet for every page; draw a picture on the cover sheet. Fill in the info sheet with the child's name, book title, and dedication. Place all the completed pages into the postage paid envelope and drop in the mail! Creatively Ever After will ship back the final product in 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Super Stadium Baseball Game
    • Ages 6+ • $39.99 Vendor: International Playthings
      Create a realistic ball park where you get to strike out your opponent with fast balls and curve balls. Throw a variety of breaking balls at different speeds. Your opponent won’t be able to predict the pitch you will throw! A unique magnetized infield creates ball movement when the pitches are thrown. There is a spring-loaded bat, counter for balls, strikes and outs. Hit singles, doubles, triples, foul balls and home runs! Choose to bat right or left-handed. Strategically position fielders. The only thing missing are the CrackerJacks!
  •      LoopDeLoom
    • Ages 8+ • $29.99 Vendor: Ann Williams
      Weaving just got faster and even more fun! Loopdeloom is the new sister of the popular Loopdedoo. Simply stated, it's an ingenious new loom design with spinning pegs to make weaving effortless. Say goodbye to traditional looms as LoopDeLoom puts a new spin on weaving. Make purses, cuff bracelets, headbands, cell phone and tablet cases, potholders and more. Move up to making clothing and decorator items like scarves, wraps, pillow covers and throws. Weave items any length, and up to 7”wide using one loom. It's a great gift for tweens and teens. Kit includes spinning peg loom, 120 yards of yarn and detailed instructions.
  • Sew Cute Sets
    • Ages 8+ • $9.99 Vendor: University Games
      Get sewing with the My Studio Girl Sew-Your-Own Sew Cute Kits. Girls will love stitching up tiny, adorable animals and dolls with these easy to do kits. The 8-piece set includes easy-to-follow instructions, pre-cut felt pieces, stuffing, child-safe needle, and thread. The finished project will be approximately 6'' - 9'' tall. The My Studio Girl collection was developed for the creative side of every girl -- inspiring creativity, self-expression and empowerment.
  • Illustrated Adventure Stories and Illustrated Fairy Tales
    • Ages 8+ • 19.99 Vendor: Usborne
      Take your pick -- end the day with a bedtime story that's as fascinating to look at as it is to read! Adventure: This collection contains five rip-roaring classics of daring, revenge and chivalry, all brilliantly retold for easier reading. The thrilling adventures included are: The Count of Monte Cristo, The Prisoner of Zenda, Don Quixote, The Three Musketeers and The 39 Steps. Fairy Tale -- Open these pages and enter an enchanted realm of proud emperors, pretty princesses, helpful fairies and magical animals. This charming collection contains ten classic fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen and others. Stories include: Sleeping Beauty, The Emperor and the Nightingale, Beauty and the Beast, The Dragon Painter, The Frog Prince, The Elves and the Shoemaker, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, The Swan Princess and The Emperor's New Clothes.
  • Paint Your Own Porcelain Bowls
    • Ages 8+ • $24.99 Vendor: Mindware
      This is one-of-a-kind art that's both fun and functional! Kids can paint and oven-bake their creations for a glossy, permanent finished product (non food-safe). The Porcelain Bowl Set includes 3 bowls (each 4 1⁄2 inches in diameter), 12 colors of porcelain paint, a paint brush and illustrated instructions.
Brilliant Sky Toys and Books offers all of these winners and more in their stores, click here to find a store near you. This neighborhood toy store honors some amazing toys and books, you do not want to miss out on them. The staff of Brilliant Sky Books and Toys are play experts and make it their mission to find each child something they can love for a long time. Like I said before, I really wish we had one closer to us, I value shopping local, especially for gifts for the ones most important to me.
Discover, experience, explore, interact, and enjoy. That's the Brilliant Sky way.
We were offered the chance to review some of these award winners for ourselves and share them with our readers. We also get to offer one of these award winners as a giveaway, so make sure to enter below.

Here was our Brilliance Award Winner wish list:
Squigz Starter Set $24.99
Create Your Own Storybook $19.99
Lottie Doll-Snow Queen $19.99
Sew Cute Sets $9.99
Our Brilliant Sky Toys and Books box is here!
S and C were thrilled to open the big box and see what was inside. B was at school, so he missed out on the big reveal, he was pretty bummed.
Squigz Starter Set
I went with the Squigz because they had actually been on one of the kid's wish lists from 2013. I had seen them in a magazine as being a "hot holiday toy" so I knew we wanted to try them out.
 
 
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This open-ended toy has been tons of fun for all three kids (1,5,7). They are building, stacking, and exploring all the places they can get the Squigz to stick. They even work in the shower!

 Create Your Own Storybook
I chose this product for B. He has been a book writer since he was about 3 years old. He started drawing pictures and then telling me the story, which I would write. He has progressed to creating and writing on his own now, but this takes it one step further. I can't wait to see what he creates and has published for him to keep forever.

Lottie Doll-Snow Queen
S loves her dolls and C is really starting to get into them too. Playing with this doll has been endless fun so far. Lottie can go in the dollhouse and play with other dolls, she is very versatile, plus she is a great size for both girls to use and manipulate and very wholesome (which many dolls on the market are not).
We love her outfit, fitting for the winter and all her accessories are super funky too!
 
 

Sew Cute Sets
Cats are our family's favorite pet, so we were super excited to get this make your own kit. S has never sewed and I am not great at it, but I have always wanted to try one of these sew-your-own kits. S is still a little young at 5 for this, so there was a lot of mom help.
The instructions were very simple to follow, everything was pre-cut and ready to go, and there are only 8 pieces to complete the whole project.
S loved working together to create this cat. She has already wanted to get another one.

I can clearly see why all 4 of them items we were sent made the Brilliant Sky Toys and Books Brilliance Winner list for 2014. We all really enjoyed trying them out and have continued to play with them even a few weeks in (which doesn't happen with all toys in our house). I would recommend any of the toys that made the list, I know B has already added the Super Stadium Baseball Game and I have added the LoopDeLoom to both S's list and my list for people I am buying for. I highly encourage you to check out the Brilliant Sky Toys and Books store if you have one close, and I can be jealous of you.

Want It? Buy It!
You can visit the Brilliant Sky Toys and Books store nearest you for all your holiday needs. You can also follow Brilliant Sky Toys and Books on their social media outlets-YouTube, and their Blog.


Want It? Win It!
One lucky reader will win their choice of 1 of the Brilliance Award Winners from the list above. Just use the Rafflecopter entry form below to enter to win. Remember- if the entry field appears in BOLD, it's mandatory. Giveaway is open to US residents, 18 and older.
Click 'Read More' to go to the giveaway.

Thanks to Brilliant Sky Toys and Books for all of our wonderful goodies!





48 comments:

  1. The Lottie Snow Queen doll is adorable!

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  2. The closest store to me is in Littleton, CO and that's several states away!

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  3. I would pick the Plus-Plus Mini-Basic (480 piece)

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  4. Oh I would love the Super Stadium Baseball Game! Carter would love that!

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  5. The Deer Park, IL is closest to us and on the way to our relatives! I am going to stop when we visit for Thanksgiving! Looks like a fun store!

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  6. The CO one is closet (but not really)

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  7. I think I might choose the Sew Cute Kitty or the doll. It's a toss-up!

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  8. I had no idea, but there's a location in Charlotte, NC about 30 minutes from me!

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  9. The nearest store is the Ballantyne store in Charlotte, NC

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  10. The Squigz Starter Set (24 piece) would be great for our son who loves to build things!

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  11. I see there are a couple in IL so those would be closest - maybe Lombard? They need some stores in Indiana!

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  12. The store nearest me is in Ballantyne Center, Charlotte, NC

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  13. The Ballantyne Commons, Charlotte, NC is the nearest store to me.

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  14. The closest store to me is in Charlotte, NC

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  15. The Plus-Plus Mini-Basic sound wonderful!

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  16. Littleton, CO, the nearest store to me, is actually not all that close - it's several states away!

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  17. The one nearest me is in Charlotte, NC at Blakeney

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  18. The nearest store is located in the Ballantyne area of Charlotte, NC

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  19. I would choose the kitten to sew since my son is obsessed with "meows" lately and we cannot own one because we have a boxer and a pitbull and needless to say they don't like cats.

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  20. sadly way too far. There is NOTHING WHERE WE LIVE.

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  21. I would choose the Loom. My daughter is very crafty for her age and she loves to make things

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  22. The closest store is in Cary NC which is over 1000 miles from me.

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  23. I would choose the Lottie Doll for my daughter.

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  24. Our closest store is at the Blakeney Center in Charlotte, NC.

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  25. The nearest one is at Ballantyne in Charlotte, NC

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  26. If I won, I'd pick the Lottie doll for my little girl.

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  27. The Deer Park, Illinois location is the one nearest to me.

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  28. Charlotte, NC is the closest one to me.

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  29. The one in CO is closest to me.

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  30. Charlotte, NC at Ballantyne is the nearest one to me.

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  31. I'd choose the Paint Your Own Bowls Set.

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  32. Illinois would be the closet or online ;)

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  33. North Carolina is the closest store to me. Since that is over 1000 miles from me it might take me awhile to get there.

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  34. My closest store is in Charlotte, NC at Ballantyne

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  35. I like the Squigz set -- think the kids would really have fun playing with this.

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  36. Their store in Okemos Michigan is about 60 miles from where I live.

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  37. I would probably pick the LoopDeLoom

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  38. We dont have a store in our state or close enough to shop at that nearest is in Rochester Hills, Michigan and I live in PA.

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  39. North Carolina is the closest store to me. I live in New Hampshire.

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  40. Ballantyne area in Charlotte, NC is the nearest one to me.

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