What’s in store: Holiday gifts for kids

Published: Monday, November 19, 2012 @ 11:34 AM
Updated: Monday, November 19, 2012 @ 11:34 AM

For our complete holiday gift guide, visit www.accessatlanta.com/s/atlanta-holiday-guide/.

Like many American businesses, the toy industry isn’t all fun and games right now.

U.S. toy sales were down 2 percent last year, and have dropped in four of the past five years, according to the Toy Industry Association. The decline has been attributed to everything from a dearth of new hits, free mobile games such as Angry Birds taking a bite out of the market and the rise of smartphones and tablets that have cut into video-game sales.

But don’t cry, little Baby Alive doll: Even while in a slump, toys still rang up $21.2 billion in U.S. sales last year.

Here is a quick roundup of some of the choices that caught our eyes (at major toy retailers and Amazon.com, unless otherwise noted):

1. “The Avengers” conquered not only a galaxy of bad guys but North American box offices this year, holding down first place to the tune of $623 million. “The Amazing Spider-Man” flung a tenacious web in multiplexes, its $262 million in ticket sales raising it to fourth place. You might say then that Build-A-Bear Workshop has 885 million reasons to think that there will be strong demand for its furry friends decked out as a trio of “Avengers” — Captain America, Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk — and Spidey. (Ages 3-plus; costumes, $15; the bears as pictured, $15-18; www.buildabear.com)

2. Kids get into music at earlier and earlier ages. And parents concerned that young ones will have shredded eardrums before they even hit their teens can rest a little easier if the small-fry are listening through Griffin Technology’s Crayola MyPhones earbuds or headphones. Both styles limit volume and keep sound pressure to levels recommended as safe for young ears (peaking at 85 decibels). The earbuds come in a carrying case shaped like Crayola crayon, with three sizes of soft ear cushions, available in Purple Pizazz, Cotton Candy, Caribbean Green and Blue Berry. (Ages 6-plus; earbuds, $14.95; headphones, $24.95)

3. There’s no concern about National Hockey League lockouts when the A League of Its Own Air Hockey Table from Land of Nod is in the house. The 40-inch-by-20-inch game can fit on a table top or, if you like, 28-inch-tall legs are available. For parents facing off against clutter, it can, at 8 inches high without the legs, easily slide under most beds for storage. (Ages 8-plus; game, $89; legs, $19.95; www.landofnod.com)

4. Mr. Potato Head has gone over to the Dark Side, becoming Darth Tater, a tubular cousin to “Star Wars” movie villain Darth Vader. This Darth dons the trademark black helmet, mask and cloth cape and wields a red light saber. Classic accessories including the googly eyes and red nose are included, of course. If you want to pit some good vs. the Darth evil, Playskool has spud versions of Chewbacca and Yoda available, as well. In any guise, Mr. Potato Head encourages the development of fine motor skills. (Ages 3-plus; $9.99)

5. Most kids hate it when they’re playing ball outside and it starts to get dark. With the Nerf Firevision Sports Football, that’s when the fun is just beginning. Sporty kids can see it in the dark with the two pairs of included Firevision glasses, which make the graphics and ball surface reflective in the dark. Thanks to something called Microprism Technology, the soft ball generates a glow, even in the light. One pair of glasses reads the light as red, the other as green. The range is 100 feet, which should get happy young’uns glowing with sweat. (Ages 6-plus; $19.99)

6. For budding mechanical minds, Worx Toys vehicles provide insight into how things work. The Apex Police Helicopter gives children a clear look inside the toy and identifies each of some 20 parts with lights and sounds activated with a touch-pad code. A corresponding hard-bound storybook explains what each part does while taking the reader on an adventure in the vehicle. Also included is a transmitter that remotely activates the different parts — including rotors, engine, landing gear and instrument panel. (Ages 6-12; $34.99)

7. We don’t know if Po, the littlest Zoo Atlanta panda, has an iPod or iPhone. But if he does, we can guess which of this Electric Friends quartet of animal-themed portable docking stations from Noetic that he’d choose. In addition to presumed favorite Sing Sing the Panda, you can select among Chew Chew the Dog, Ki Ki the Cat and Kwack Kwack the Duck. While cute as heck, they feature two five-watt speakers that produce plentiful sound. The eyes hide the speakers; the ears serve as volume controls. (Ages 5-15; $59.99 at Toys R Us stores, staples.com, bestbuy.com)

8. We wouldn’t be the first to note the irony of Zynga’s popular mobile word app Words With Friends, which was based on Scrabble, morphing into a board game itself. But we doubt you’ll hear many “Wordies,” who can now challenge family and friends to a face-to-face showdown, complaining. Younger players in particular can’t help but build vocabulary. The Hasbro game includes full-size board, four curved tile racks, 104 tiles and a storage bag. (Ages 13-plus; $19.99)

9. The princess with whom you share a less ornate castle undoubtedly will be drawn to this Princess Fantasy Castle from Playmobil, with turrets, gilded entrance gate, grand staircase and many rooms to display the things of life. (The set includes two figures, throne, chairs, chaise, chandelier, jewelry box, tea set, goblets and flower bushes.) Windows and doors can open, and the dance floor revolves. There’s even room to store the royal jewels in the tower’s secret hiding place. Full-size tiara, bracelet and ring for real lifeprincesses are included. (Ages 4-10; $149.99)

10. If you prefer wood to plastic and hand-crafted to factory-produced, another option is by Once Upon a TreeHouse, which produces handmade dollhouses, furniture and dolls, including 4-inch-tall Buttercup the Ballerina, sewn of cotton and wool with wooden feet. (Ages 3-plus; dolls $12-40, dollhouses $120-$325; www.onceuponatreehouse.com)

11. Kids need bling, too! The Blingles Bling Studio from Moose Toys provides more than 320 gems and tools that allow crafty children to make their own designs or to decorate the 10 pre-set patterns. The resulting bejeweled stickers can proudly bling up bedazzle smooth surfaces including cell phones, stationery and art projects. (Ages 6-plus; $19.99)

Memorial Day sales: What to buy and what to skip

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017 @ 2:08 PM

If you’re out and about shopping this Memorial Day weekend, you might be wondering what’s really a good deal and what’s not. A bargain shopper’s greatest fear is spending their hard-earned money on something, then finding it at a better price later on!

To avoid this quandary, here are some tips on what to look out for this Memorial Day weekend.

Read more: 50+ great Memorial Day freebies, deals and sales this weekend

What to buy

Appliances

Memorial Day weekend is one of the best times to buy appliances from retailers like The Home Depot, Lowe’s and Sears — but it’s not the only time. Though you’ll find savings from these stores up to 42% off, you’ll also find great deals around Labor Day and Black Friday. However, if you’re willing to take a scratch and dent appliance, you can save a ton! Here’s how.

Some notable deals right now:

Read more: 11 ways to pay less for appliances

Outdoor furniture

Patio furniture and outdoor dining sets are being heavily promoted right now, due to the weather getting warmer and demand increasing. You can find a few good deals on outdoor furniture, such as this Garden Oasis 7-piece outdoor dining set for $300 or this 6-piece Mosaic outdoor dining set for $88 at Academy Sports. However, you’ll also find closeout deals on outdoor furniture at the beginning of fall as the weather gets cooler and people spend less time outdoors.

Grills

If you broke out the grill only to discover it was in serious need of repair or irretrievably broken, it might be time to take a look at a new grill! There are some decent sales on grills right now, but October is also a great time to shop for grills as the summer grilling season winds down.

Here are a few good buys:

Mattresses

Mattress retailers are cranking up the savings on mattresses right now. Mattresses are typically the best deal around Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Labor Day, among other holidays. February is also a great month to buy a mattress, according to Consumer Reports.

For more on how to pick the best mattress for you, check out Clark’s guide on the best mattresses for your money.

Cars

As it turns out, May is one of the best months to buy a new car, according to True Car — as are October, November and December. This is due to new models of the following year beginning to arrive in June. If you’re thinking of buying new, Consumer Reports ranked the top 10 new cars of 2017, considering factors such as road tests, predicted reliability, owner satisfaction and safety.

If you want to save the most money on the car, check out why Clark says it’s best to buy used.

What to skip

Generally speaking, TVs, electronics, laptops and tools are not the best deal right now, so it may be best to wait for these types of items.

Tools

When it comes to tools, we’ve seen prices increase over the last several months, but heading into Father’s Day, prices on tools are expected to drop. Be on the lookout for tool deals at stores such as The Home Depot, Lowe’s and Sears!

TVs

TVs are generally the best deal around Black Friday or in January before the Super Bowl — especially if you’re looking for a brand name. But if you’re like Clark and you don’t care so much about the brand, there are a few deals around on TVs, like this 55″ 4k TV for $300 at Walmart.

Laptops

Laptops are typically the best deal around the back-to-school season and heading into the Black Friday shopping season, so it may be best to wait for a deal on a laptop, unless you find a good one-off deal like this 11.6″ 4GB HP Chromebook for $99.

Furniture

Since new furniture styles come out in the spring, January and February is the best time to take a look at furniture to get the best price. Definitely skip this category unless you find a great one-off deal! However, if you plan on buying used (usually a fraction of the cost of buying new), yard sales are in full swing and you might have some luck finding gently-used furniture at a huge discount.

When it comes to getting the best deal, the best rule of thumb is to always price check and do tons of research on the item you plan to buy before taking the plunge.

Read more: 10 best deals of The Home Depot’s Memorial Day sale

Other stories you might like from Clark Deals:

This is definitely the craziest playground slide in Dayton

Published: Tuesday, July 12, 2016 @ 11:42 AM
Updated: Sunday, May 28, 2017 @ 12:44 PM

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to fly through a forest?

You may not be able to sprout wings, but you'll definitely be zipping through the trees on one of the craziest series of playground slides in Dayton at the Archeological Adventure Zone at Carillon Historial Park.

>> MORE: 6 hidden playgrounds to explore this summer

There is admission to enter the greater park, but once you've gotten your thrills, there's plenty of interactive exhibits both inside and out to help you come back down to earth at a less-than-extreme speed.

>> SUMMER FUN: Dayton Summer Bucket List: 50 things to do this summer

>> FREE EVENTS: 20 things to do with the kids this summer

>> MORE: Cool off at these spray parks and splash pads

WATCH: Cat nurses orphaned puppies at shelter

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017 @ 8:44 AM



ActionNewsJax.com via Okefenokee Humane Society

A cat named Miracle is nursing newborn puppies at the Okefenokee Humane Society.

On Monday, a man brought seven puppies to the humane society, saying he couldn’t care for them.

He said his dog, the puppies’ mother, had been shot and killed by a neighbor.

That person told police the dog tried to attack him and his children and he had to shoot it.

>> Read more trending news

The dog’s owner said she just gave birth to puppies the day before and must have been protecting them.

“I really felt like we could help (the puppies) in some way, and then Miracle happened,” said Danielle Barcomb, a humane society employee. “So I put these two puppies that I've been fostering up to her, and she took right to them like they were her own.”

Barcomb said it’s not recommended to put such young puppies with another litter that isn’t the same age, but they really didn’t have any other options.

“Love knows no bounds,” Barcomb said. “Doesn't matter if you're a different species or not, you're just a mom trying to give love to some babies.”

To learn more about how you can help the Okefenokee Humane Society, visit their YouCaring page or their Facebook page.

Deer the goat makes stop in Dayton

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 5:08 PM

A Florida man has been traveling around the country with his therapy goat Deer.

Eric Brown of Destin, Fla., made a pit stop today in Dayton. 

He has been on the road with Deer since April 2015. 

STORY: Large iguana on the loose in Beavercreek reunited with owner

Brown is the founder of the Rock Club foundation, which he hopes one day he can turn into a national nonprofit. The mission statement of the Rock Club Foundation, according to its Facebook page, is to empower the people by encouraging creativity, igniting passion and spreading love. 

"We are here to help people smile," said Brown, "and help people come to terms with their own destiny and own realities." 

STORY: Cop rescues baby deer from drain

Brown also has other people who travel with him, and he said all are welcome to join the road trip. Brown plans to help out at soup kitchens and other service areas around the city. 

Brown said he's not sure where he will head next. 

Anyone who wants to support Brown and Deer can go to their go fund me page at 

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