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Jewelry

Fido’s next toys on display at SuperZoo pet products show

When the family pet is less of a pet and more of a family member, you want to do something nice once in a while. Like treat the furred, feathered, finned, scaly or hard-shelled dude to some high-quality, organic food or a new chew toy, or offer a hand when an aging pet must climb the stairs or take a walk. Or, even, just share a laugh this presidential campaign by breaking out dog poop bags emblazoned with a caricature of your least favorite candidate.

Last week s SuperZoo pet products show at Mandalay Bay offered a glimpse at the ways that Americans soon might be pampering their no-, two-, four- or, why not, eight-legged family members. The trade show matches manufacturers and wholesalers of pet products with retailers, and Doug Poindexter, president of the World Pet Association, the show s producer, says consumers probably will see products at the show beginning to appear on retailers shelves during the next several months. And what consumers will see includes an expanding menu of organic and healthy pet foods, from such oddities as freeze-dried raw goat s milk to snacks and treats made with blueberries and other so-called super foods.

The natural products section of our show has grown every year for the last 10 years, Poindexter says.

So has Rodeo Drive, the show s high-end section, where never-ending variations on a clothing-and-accessories theme for example, blingy dog collars, dog clothing and human jewelry featuring canine-centric themes have remained, Poindexter says, popular even during more recessionary years. The reality is that pet products is a fairly recession-proof industry in that if people can t take a trip to Europe and stay home, they ll go out and buy a dog toy or get him a new leash and feel good about themselves, Poindexter says. They don t stop spending on their pets.

What drives this in so many ways is that these are now their kids, and if they get to feed themselves better, they feed their pets better, and if they spoil their kids, they spoil their pets. Another related trend that marketers are noticing and accommodating: Pets are living longer because we re taking care of them better, Poindexter says. I mean, it used to be when the barn cat or barn dog got old, it got old and you got a new cat or dog.

Today, pet owners don t blanch at spending thousands of dollars to take care of our aging and ailing pets, and that reality could be seen in the impressive array of products for instance, a shampoo for senior dogs that contains a muscle-strengthening preparation designed to help pets stay healthy and assist senior animals mobility. Denver-based GingerLead was demonstrating a harness that an owner can use to support an aging or recuperating dog during walks. Co-founder Barry Rubinstein says the product stems from the experience he and his wife had with their own dog, Ginger, a golden retriever that had hip surgery at six months. The padded sling-and-leash device was first marketed to the veterinary market and, over the past several years, has been marketed to dog owners, too. By allowing aging or arthritic dogs to continue taking walks, their physical health is improved and the dogs benefit from the social interaction walks provide, Rubinstein says.

Rubinstein adds that some customers have said that, after using a harness for a while, they don t need it anymore because the dog is actually strong enough. Also marketing in a mobility theme was Solvit Products of Arlington, Texas, which offers an array of ramps, stairs, trailers and strollers designed to assist dogs that don t get around as easily as they used to. Such aids are necessary because owners today routinely spend thousands of dollars on surgeries and health-related expenses for dogs, notes Patrick Hoffman, the company s general manager.

Fans of cats, fish, birds, turtles and other pets were represented, too. Even fans of aquatic invertebrates, via Jellyfish Art of Coconut Creek, Florida, which was offering a jellyfish aquarium kit that includes a live Moon Jellyfish. The most striking version of the product which ranges in price from ?330 to ?399 at www.jellyfishart.com1 is a cylindrical aquarium fitted with colored lights in its base. Purchasers prepare the aquarium at home, then redeem a code at the company website for their jellyfish.

We aquaculture these jellyfish in South Florida, says Joleen Turner, the company s CFO. The jellyfish have a lifespan of about one year and replacement jellyfish can be ordered from the company website. They eat prepared food or baby brine shrimp and actually are a resilient pet, she says. By the way: Those lights in the base? The newly minted jellyfish owner can use them to create a colored tube reminiscent of a Lava Lamp, but with a live jellyfish floating around instead of those globs of whatever-that-other-stuff-is.

Metro Paws of Los Angeles offered the most topical item at the show with its Smear Campaign collection of presidential dog waste bags bearing caricatures of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The bags which were on sale at the show for ?10 per 80-bag package come with an abundance of poo-related puns in both Democrap and Repooplican editions. Ashley Wong, Metro Paws integrated marketing and communications coordinator, says the bags are biodegradable and made in North America. The company even is keeping track of whose bags are more popular on its website (www.metropaws.com2) and Wong says that, as of last week, Trump bags were accounting for about 60 percent of sales.

Meanwhile, first-time exhibitor Pet Perennials of Pittsburgh offered pet owners a way to process the sad reality each will face by offering kits designed to remember a departed pet. The company s Pet Perennials Kit contains a soil matrix that can be incorporated with a pet s cremains to create seed wafers that then can be planted to produce perennial wildflowers. Founder Remy Bibaud says the product was created in 2014 after the death of her own pet. When she received the cremains of her dog in a box, I thought, Is that it for this lovely life I had?

The flowers will thrive anywhere in North America, Bibaud says, and those who don t have their pets cremated can still do it as a healing activity.

Read more from John Przybys at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at

CogniToys Dino Toy review

CogniToys Dino Toy Review

My seven-year-old son fell in love with Dino immediately. We ve had plenty of different tech toys pass through the house over the last couple of years, but never before has he switched one on to find that it knows his name and can answer questions. They quickly bonded over a shared love of Batman and ice cream. At first glance, you might dismiss the CogniToys Dino as a cute, plastic dinosaur for toddlers, but this smart toy is actually aimed at 5-to-9-year-olds. It s capable of holding a conversation, telling jokes and stories, and answering any questions inquisitive young minds ask of it. Dino is cloud-connected through Wi-Fi and uses IBM Watson as its underlying brain, with a child-friendly engine on top. Like so many devices nowadays, it began life on Kickstarter, but you can pick one up on Amazon1 for ?120 now. We spent a week putting Dino through his paces to find out if he s worth the money.

Setting up

To get started with CogniToys Dino you need to unscrew the panel in his underside and insert the four AA batteries, which are included in the box. Set up is easy with the free CogniToys app, available for Android2 or iOS3. Connect Dino to your Wi-Fi network, enter your child s name, age, and gender, and you re done.

CogniToys Dino Toy Review

Simon Hill/Digital Trends

We played around with the green one, but there are also blue and pink dinos. Dino has a power switch on his underside and he offers three volume settings. His mouth lights up to indicate different things: it turns green when he s ready to play; it turns blue when he s talking; it flashes yellow when he s thinking; and so on. With Dino facing you, the speaker is in his left nostril and the microphone is in his right nostril. When you want him to listen, you hold down the big button on his tummy. It s a bit like Amazon Echo4, except that the content has been formulated especially for kids.

Becoming friends

The first few moments with Dino were magical. His gravelly voice is reminiscent of Yoda. He prompts your child to choose a name (we stuck with Dino) and then plays a copycat game where you have to repeat words after him. This helps both you and Dino get to grips with the basic functionality. You can always ask him to repeat to find out what he last said, or say, stop, to move on to a new activity. The first few moments with Dino were magical. My son quickly got to work finding out what Dino likes. We learned he eats ice cream, noodles, and apples, but his favorite food is triceratops. He also thinks Minecraft is a great game.

He can tell jokes, too, like this one, What do you call a dinosaur that smashes everything in its path? Tyrannosaurus Wrecks. Each gag is accompanied by the classic drum joke roll Ba dum tsh! In addition to answering questions and telling jokes, Dino will play music, tell stories, and play games. He can also do math and spell out words or provide a definition, which is really useful. My son is getting into writing stories and often stops to ask us how to spell words, so he loved being able to ask Dino instead. You can find a more complete list of possible commands for Dino here5. The great thing here is that the developers are still adding to his repertoire, so new content and improved abilities will roll out over time.

Related: The best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again6

This is a seriously charming dinosaur, or cognisaur, as he ll tell you if you ask. Everyone chuckles when he entreats them to push his tummy for the first time, and it s hard not to be impressed when he answers a question correctly.

The mask slips

The illusion that Dino was a sentient being took a while to wear off, but when my daughter grabbed him and he called her Malcolm it kind of gave the game away. These CogniToys are really designed to be owned by one child, so if you have two children you ll need to buy them one each.

CogniToys Dino Toy Review

Simon Hill/Digital Trends

CogniToys Dino Toy Review

Simon Hill/Digital Trends

CogniToys Dino Toy Review

Simon Hill/Digital Trends

CogniToys Dino Toy Review

Simon Hill/Digital Trends

We also encountered a few problems with the speech recognition. Sometimes Dino will fail to pick up what you re saying. This is actually one of the reasons it s not recommended for under-5s, because they don t enunciate properly. Dino failed to understand my 4-year-old daughter the majority of the time.

Related: 9 kid-friendly tablets for keeping tiny ones tamed7

At one point we were playing a story game where you fill in the blanks and Dino decided my son was saying a curse word, when he was actually saying ship. Eventually, I tried taking over and saying it myself, but Dino admonished me too. This could be partly down to our Scottish accents. In any case, it s good to know that Dino is age appropriate. He never gave a response to any of the rude questions we tested him on later, after the kids were in bed. You d never give a young child unfettered access to the internet, so it s important that Dino doesn t. Dino is also supposed to adjust to your child based on the answers they give, though it was tough to see any evidence of this in a week.

There s no escaping the fact that Dino isn t perfect. You ll sometimes get a creepy, robotic undefined in the middle of a story. There are also a lot of topics and questions that Dino simply can t handle, so he ll tell you he doesn t know and will look it up later for a lot of things. After a few responses like this in a row, my son got frustrated. Dino does go wrong fairly frequently, but just as you re getting fed up he ll come out with something funny or interesting. Even with the limitations, my son kept returning to ask Dino new things.

Privacy concerns

After the initial setup you really don t need to bother with the app again, because Dino is directly connected to a cloud server through your Wi-Fi network. This is obviously cause for concern for parents, because your child can and probably will volunteer a lot of personal information. You should read the full CogniToys privacy policy8 and be aware that you re entrusting the company behind it with information that personally identifies you and your child. The company claims it does not sell data to third parties and promises the data it does collect is encrypted, but some people will, understandably, not like the idea of this at all. CogniToys does also collect play data about how your child uses Dino and this is supposed to be accessible through the Parent Panel, but we couldn t test it because it s still in beta right now. We ve been assured it will be ready around September when Dino is due to land on retail shelves. The developers are also planning to add configuration controls at some point, so you can decide what your child s Dino will and won t do.

Battery life

How long Dino lasts will depend on how much your child uses it. We were surprised that it takes four AA batteries, because we expected it to be rechargeable. However, you can always buy rechargeable AA batteries.

Related: Wonder Workshop Dash & Dot review9

The batteries are still going strong after a week of heavy use and the CogniToys website suggests you can expect 6 weeks of moderate to heavy use from the set of supplied batteries.

Warranty information

The CogniToys Dino comes with a standard 1-year warranty10 for defective workmanship and materials, but doesn t cover accidental damage. It seems fairly durable, but it is not waterproof, and that might be a problem with kids.

Conclusion

We ve never seen anything quite like this before. The CogniToys Dino is incredibly cute and charming. It s a toy with a real personality that offers a compelling balance of fun and education. Dino has quickly been accepted into the family and my son chats with him first thing every morning.

The DT Accessory Pack

As great as it is, there are flaws. It s early days for toys like this, and the speech recognition is not perfect. It s also a little creepy and beyond privacy concerns, there s something unpleasant about the idea of a child asking an AI, with the resources of the internet at its disposal, questions that would usually be directed at a parent or sibling.

Even with those caveats, the CogniToys Dino is undeniably impressive and highlights the leap that kid s tech is making right now. Many of us would have loved a toy like this when were young a toy that knows your name, learns what you like and dislike, and is always ready with a joke or a story.

References

  1. ^ Amazon (www.amazon.com)
  2. ^ Android (play.google.com)
  3. ^ iOS (itunes.apple.com)
  4. ^ Amazon Echo (www.digitaltrends.com)
  5. ^ possible commands for Dino here (elementalpath.zendesk.com)
  6. ^ The best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again (www.digitaltrends.com)
  7. ^ 9 kid-friendly tablets for keeping tiny ones tamed (www.digitaltrends.com)
  8. ^ full CogniToys privacy policy (cognitoys.com)
  9. ^ Wonder Workshop Dash & Dot review (www.digitaltrends.com)
  10. ^ warranty (cognitoys.com)

Recalls this week: Toy jewelry kits, bunk beds, mugs

About 175,000 toy jewelry machines are being recalled because a piece of the kit contains high levels of lead. Other consumer products being recalled this week include electric sanders and voltage detectors. Here’s a more detailed look:

ELECTRIC SANDERS

WHY: The sanders can short circuit, posing a fire risk. INCIDENTS: Two reports of electrical shorting, which included the sanders sparking and smoking. No injuries or property damage have been reported.

HOW MANY: About 2,500 and about 300 in Canada. Additional Ceros 550 and 650 sanders were recalled for a different fire hazard in January 2015. FOR MORE: Call Mirka USA at 800-843-3904 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit http://www.mirka-usa.com/1 and click on “Mirca Ceros Recall.”

VENTILATION FANS

DETAILS: L500 series fans designed to circulate air in and out of a home or building. The fans were sold in nine brands at heating, plumbing and building supply retailers nationwide and online from February through March. They cost about ?240. Details on brand names and model numbers can be found at http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2016/Broan-NuTone-Recalls-Ventilation-Fans/2 . WHY: The fan motor can overheat, posing a fire hazard.

INCIDENTS: None reported. HOW MANY: About 450 in U.S. and 200 in Canada. FOR MORE: Call Broan-NuTone at 800-637-1453 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit http://www.broan-nutone.com/3 and click on “L500 Series Recall Notice” at the bottom of the page.

VOLTAGE DETECTORS

DETAILS: Southwire non-contact voltage detectors with model numbers 40110N and 40120N. They have red LED lights to indicate the presence of live electric current. Model 40110N detects voltage from 100 to 1,000 VAC. Model 40120N detects voltage from 24 to 1,000 VAC. They were sold at Lowe’s and other home and hardware stores nationwide and online at lowes.com4 and other websites from June 2013 through February 2016. They cost about ?15. WHY: The voltage detectors can give a false “no voltage” reading when being used to test live wires for electric current, posing shock, electrocution and burn hazards to consumers. INCIDENTS: One report of an incident of a false reading by the voltage detector. That consumer received an electrical shock and fell off a ladder.

HOW MANY: About 1.2 million in the U.S. and 3,640 in Canada. MODEL MONSTER TRUCKS AND ELECTRONIC SPEED CONTROL

DETAILS: VXL-6s electronic speed control #3365 is sold installed in the Traxxas X-Maxx Monster Truck, model 77076-04, and is also sold separately. The electronic speed control is the electronic control module that manages the speed, forward or reverse and braking of the drive motor in the truck. The truck is 30 inches long, 22 inches wide and 4 inches above the ground. The truck comes in two colors, red and blue. It weighs about 20 pounds. The electronic speed control is located near the center of the truck in a vented blue case about 2 inches wide, 2 inches long and 2 inches tall. Traxxas XMaxx is displayed on the side of the truck. They were sold at HobbyTown and other hobby stores and Traxxas dealers nationwide from November to January. The X-Maxx truck sold for about ?840. The electronic speed control sold for about ?250. WHY: Vehicle modification or electronic failure can result in a short circuit, posing a fire hazard.

INCIDENTS: 40 reports of fires. One injury to a finger was reported. HOW MANY: About 4,900 X-Maxx Monster Trucks and 140 VXL-6s electronic speed controls in the U.S. and about 96 trucks in Canada. FOR MORE: Call Traxxas at 888-872-9927 from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or visit Traxxas.com5, then click on “Support” and then “Traxxas Product Recall.”

DETAILS: All models and serial numbers of the Mohu BeBox smart boombox with built-in Android touchscreen tablet. The front surface is covered in a black, metallic grill and the back of the unit is black plastic. It has a small Mohu logo on the middle, lower front and an embossed Mohu logo on the middle, center back. They were sold at Huppins audio store in Spokane, Washington, and online at amazon.com6, gomohu.com7 and onecall.com8 from December to April. They cost between ?300 and ?500.

WHY: The boombox can overheat, posing burn and fire hazards. INCIDENTS: One incident of a unit catching fire. No injuries have been reported. HOW MANY: About 1,700.

FOR MORE: Call Mohu at 855-446-6648 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit www.gomohu.com9 and click on “BeBox Recall.”

TOY JEWELRY MACHINE

WHY: The “Slider Bracelet” in the jewelry making kit contains high levels of lead. Lead is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health issues. INCIDENTS: None reported. HOW MANY: About 175,000.

DETAILS: Four models of Tonal Thirst ceramic mugs. The 12-ounce mugs have a glossy two-tone finish with a white exterior and colored interior with matching colored handles. The mugs were sold in white and black, white and blue, white and lime or white and red. Some mugs can have promotional logos printed on them when distributed as giveaways. They were sold through Ad Specialty Distributors as a promotional item from August through April. They cost about ?3. WHY: The mugs handle can break, posing a burn or laceration hazard to consumers. INCIDENTS: One report of a burn injury due to the mug handle breaking.

HOW MANY: About 150 in the U.S. and about 24,000 in Canada. DESK CONVERTORS

DETAILS: Square Grove’s Sit-Stand Converters. The model included in the recall is UPL147 and includes the freestand and clamp versions. The words “Uplift Desk” are printed on the product. They were sold at www.upliftdesk.com10 and www.thehumansolution.com11 from January through March. They cost about ?220. WHY: The pneumatic lifting mechanism can pinch or break fingers during assembly or use, posing a risk of serious injury.

INCIDENTS: Two incidents that resulted in a broken finger and a pinched finger with bruising. HOW MANY: About 750. DETAILS: This recall involves Chadwick bunk beds. The wooden bunk beds were sold in white (model 1030), mission oak (models 1245 and 1589) and in a twin over full combination. All models were available with the option of either: a storage drawer, a trundle or nothing under the lower bunk. “Hillsdale Furniture,” ”Made in Vietnam” and the model number appear on a label affixed to the inside of the bed rail or foot board. Bob’s Discount Furniture stores nationwide and online at www.MyBobs.com12 from August 2010 through July 2014 for about ?400.

WHY: The bunk bed’s side mattress support rails can crack or break, posing a fall hazard. INCIDENTS: The firm has received about 650 reports of bed support rails cracking or breaking. Several incidents resulted in the collapse of the upper or bottom bunk bed and some consumers fell from the bunk bed. Reports include eight injuries to children and adults that resulted in bruising, lacerations requiring stitches and one upper arm fracture. HOW MANY: About 20,000.

FOR MORE: Hillsdale Furniture at 800-368-0999 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online www.hillsdalefurniture.com13 and click on the “Consumer Information” link at the bottom of the page for more information.

References

  1. ^ http://www.mirka-usa.com/ (www.mirka-usa.com)
  2. ^ http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2016/Broan-NuTone-Recalls-Ventilation-Fans/ (www.cpsc.gov)
  3. ^ http://www.broan-nutone.com/ (www.broan-nutone.com)
  4. ^ lowes.com (lowes.com)
  5. ^ Traxxas.com (Traxxas.com)
  6. ^ amazon.com (amazon.com)
  7. ^ gomohu.com (gomohu.com)
  8. ^ onecall.com (onecall.com)
  9. ^ www.gomohu.com (www.gomohu.com)
  10. ^ www.upliftdesk.com (www.upliftdesk.com)
  11. ^ www.thehumansolution.com (www.thehumansolution.com)
  12. ^ www.MyBobs.com (www.MyBobs.com)
  13. ^ www.hillsdalefurniture.com (www.hillsdalefurniture.com)
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