Thanks so much to everyone who took a moment to weigh in on yesterday’s poll (which will stay open for a week). It was immensely helpful! Several of you expressed interest in gift ideas for kids – especially things you might not find at your local Toys-R-Us.
Everyone, meet Shen the panda. Not just your run-of-the-mill teddy bear, this guy is a brand new mixed breed: part stuffed animal and part dress-up doll. Created by a mom whose kids were becoming frustrated in their attempts to find suitable dress-up clothes for their teddy bears, Shen and his friend Zylie are an award winning duo and MPMK’s newest sponsors.
The nice folks behind The Adventures of Zylie the Bear recently sent Shen for C’s birthday and we got to see first hand why these bears are earning so many accolades. Before we get to what the kids thought, let me give you the bullet points on what I appreciate about this little guy:
- He’s a doll a boy can get behind – Once we added a girl to our family the presence of baby dolls in the house inevitably followed. C has been simultaneously interested and a bit confused by this. I think Shen is just the “boy doll” for him. Which is awesome because playing with dolls comes with all kinds of benefits, including the development of traits like empathy and responsibility, and they’re great for role playing too.
- He’s a man of the world – The first step in raising global citizens is making your kids aware of their world and all the places in it. Along with his stylin’ backpack and drum sticks, Shen comes with his own passport as well as a 55 page book all about his adventure in his homeland of China.
- He encourages reading – That book I mentioned is one in a series that follows Shen’s pal Zylie on her global travels. Although a little old for C, I can really appreciate the thought that went into these books. The one we got has eight chapters, a glossary, some lovely illustrations and even some bonus pages at the end for the kids to write and draw in.
But enough about what I thought, the important thing here is that the kids dug Shen too. He seemed to be equally appealing to both 15 month old S and 3 year old C.
When I pictured what the toy makers meant by a stuff animal/dress-up doll, I was thinking of something soft on the outside but stiff and rigid on the inside. I was surprised to find that Shen’s hands, feet, and lower torso were filled with a bean bag material and the rest of him was basically a stuffed animal. This made him very flexible but also soft and cuddly through and through. That, along with his larger size, made him easy for S to manipulate.
C was all about Shen’s cool outfit – complete with cargo pants and leather jacket. (By the way, there are also other ensembles available including pajamas, a martial arts outfit, and a very sleek “rocking in the rain” get up). The clothes are easy to remove due to Velcro openings on the back. I thought having the pants come apart in the back instead of the front might be confusing to C but he didn’t seem to notice.
I think he was just happy to finally have a doll to play with that didn’t have long eye lashes or a dress.
So now for the fun part – We’re giving away your choice of Shen the Panda or Zylie the Bear (a $49.99 value) to one lucky MPMK reader. To enter, simply leave a comment below ALONG WITH AN EMAIL ADDRESS. For bonus entries, become a fan of The Adventures of Zylie the Bear’s facebook page and/or MPMK’s facebook page and let me know with a comment below. YOU MUST LEAVE A SEPARATE COMMENT FOR EACH OF THE 3 POSSIBLE ENTRY METHODS. This contest is open to U.S. residents only and will end at midnight EST on Thursday October 27th, 2011. Good luck!