Monday, March 31, 2014

Win the Ultimate Easter Basket of Awesomeness! #Giveaway

Hi all! When DragynAlly heads to events like Toy Fair always comes home with so much stuff! Case and point the picture above. It's insane how much there is. And here's the kicker, that's just the stuff she saved for you guys. Yes one of you will win this entire Ultimate Easter Basket of Awesomeness! It is filled to the brim with fun toys and other things to make your Easter (or just spring) super special.

A few rules: The winner must take the basket in it's entirety. No substitutions no exchanges. You won't know what's in the basket but I promise it will be awesome!

Rules in the rafflecopter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 28, 2014

Honest Characters Trump All


So I've heard enough arguments in my life as a playwright over who can write what race or gender of characters. Can a white man be allowed to write black people. Can a man write women well or can a woman even be allowed to write a man? It goes on and on with any number of permutations. And after a while I've gotten tired of it. So here's my two cents to add to the argument and we can move on with our lives...

To solve the problem of what race to write your characters try this first. First try to write honest characters and the rest will be easy. That's it. No one has ever gotten mad because someone wrote a complex, gripping character. If when you start out to write your play you're starting with a story that hurts you to the bone and spend the time to write characters that are so real they could be sitting right next to you then no one is going to care at all.

Now you can achieve this honesty in a few ways. First write what you know. A musician that only plays strings doesn't try to compose a tune for a bassoon. Think of Stephen Adly Guirgis' work. His plays have people of all colors and all walks of life. He is white but no one has called his characters into question because these are the people that he knew living in Hells Kitchen New York. The second way to approach this play is to do your research. To follow my music analogy the person doing strings can write a song for bassoon if he reads up on what the instrument can do and how it sounds. Whenever you're trying to write about a culture that you don't know do your research. And always have a reason why you're writing this play. What is so special about this story that you just have to write it?

And lastly please don't go about trying to write a "black" play or a "white" play or etc. Just worry about writing a good and gripping play first and the rest will follow. I think sometimes the theatre has gotten too compartmentalized recently and while a balance is great good stories are kicked to the curb because they don't fit a certain mold. Find a good story and share it with your audience. If you truly engage them they'll follow you everywhere.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rethink Bullying #TFNY #TF14

Hey Guys and Dolls it's DragynAlly again. This is my last Toy Fair post in the Lounge. I know. You'll miss me. But you can always visit me in the Lair!

Today I want to talk about something kind of serious. Bullying. I was bullied as a child and some of that still affects me today. Even though I am stronger now I wish my childhood self could've avoided some of the pain.

What if I told you there is an app that not only helps kids talk about being bullied but also help kids realize that their behavior could be hurting others? Alicia Keys and Bento Box developed an app called The Journals of Mama Mae and LeeLee Mookey. It talks about how it isn't right to mistreat others just because they are different.

It is a fabulous app and at only $1.99 in the app store it is a great resource at a great price. What I love most about it is that it is colorful and well animated. I also love the in app games and other features. But most of all I love that it helps kids (and adults) talk about bullying in a new way. It isn't about blame or punishment. It is about understanding yourself no matter what side of bullying you are on.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Edition Skylanders #TFNY #TF14

Hello Guys and Dolls! It DragynAlly here with more Toy Fair goodness. How many of you have started thinking about what to put in your Easter baskets? Or how about a fun a cool gift for springtime? Well Skylanders has you covered! They are coming out with 3 spring figures that work with your Skylanders game. My favorite is Trigger Happy who's pictured at the bottom. When he enters the Skylanders game he is the same springtime (Easter) pattern you see on the figure. Bonus he used the egg shaped missile as a weapon. He is bright colorful and full of springtime destruction. So what do you think? Are you going to get one (or all 3)? Which is your favorite?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dino Egg for Easter #tfny #tf14 #giveway

This is the time of year when we're focusing on new life. New flowers are in bloom and the ice from winter is starting to melt. Soon we'll be hiding eggs and eating chocolate bunnies. So what better way to celebrate than with a Safari Ltd. T-Rex hatchling. Have you always loved dinosaurs? The giant monsters that are forever buried in our prehistory? Well with the mastery of Safari Ltd's scale replica models our ancient prehistory has been brought to life.

If you saw my last review of Safari Ltd's dinosaurs you already know that I think that they're the most anatomically correct scale models you're going to find on the market. And who doesn't love attention to detail. Each of these models are extensively researched and hand painted. I agree with their statement that it's like a 3D textbook in your hand. And did I tell you that these things are super durable? I work in a nursery so I know the kind of punishment these toys can take. But you can throw a Safari Ltd Dino up against the wall and they'll still be ready to play the next day. I love the toys that can take the licking and keep on ticking.

I like how this little guy is so cute and yet looks so real. I don't know if this is what they were driving for but the T-Rex Hatchling is just cute enough to be a cute kids toy but realistic enough to be a model you would see in a museum collection or in a science teacher's bookshelf.

I didn't like so much the texture of the egg. I some parts it's the same hard plastic of the dino but in the back it's soft and pliable like a bouncy ball. For someone who is very tactile like me it's a little jarring. But with everything that's so awesome about this guy I think I can live with it to have a great addition to my Safari Ltd. Dino family.

In conclusion this little guy is gonna be a welcome addition to your kid's toy box or your model collection. And now you can win a T-Rex Hatchling of your very own. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Color Clix Review

Disclaimer: I was given Color Clix to review. All opinions are my own. 

So if you're like me you played with Legos or building blocks of some kind. You know the drill...they're all rectangular and they all connect to each other someway. But what if I told you that there was a new kid in town that was thinking way out of the box? How much so? There ain't a rectangle in the place. 

Great Things Lie Inside
Colorclix by Aliquantum International is a building system that emphasizes volumetric structures. Using connecters with Isosceles, Equilateral, Rhombus, and Rectangular connectors ColorClix can get you building the same kind of structures that form the building blocks of the world. DNA molecules, Atoms, and Crystals all have the same connecting angles so while you're building you're learning.

These shapes come to you almost imme
I was given the 200 piece intermediate pack. I like that they're simple enough that you can start building with them right away but unlike square building blocks they're just challenging enough to make it challenging. You actually have to experiment and work with these toys as you go. You can start working right away at it and you keep going the lightbulbs start going off in your head and you begin to make more and more complex structures. I actually started to feel my spacial reasoning skills getting better as I did this. 

Getting a little Tubular
I also love that even with 200 pieces you can start making big models. And they go a long way. Some building sets you get enough just to get a taste but you feel like you wouldn't be able to build anything recognizable until you buy four more expansion packs. I will warn you. After you start building you'll immediately want to buy more. I was starting a set of boxes when I ran out of pieces, the first thing I though was, "Aww I need more!". I can see you easily getting addicted to these things. 

You can even make practical Things like this Iphone Stand
The best thing I see is that if you have a kid like me who has Tourettes or some other kind of dis-inhibition these are very tactile and seem tailor-made for those kids who think in 3D or need help with their kinesthetic skills. These blocks really force you to think outside of the box but when you finish a model you find it's very rewarding. 

They probably never thought of wall art when they made these things but I think it's a great way to store them. 
 In conclusion these are great building blocks that are only limited by your imagination. I'm waiting for the day when I can buy a huge tub and start building some epic models! You should definitely try them out! Just ask DragynAlly.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Even Dollies Need to Relax #TFNY #TF14 @beanbagchairs

Hello Guys and Dolls! It's still your friendly neighborhood DragynAlly here in the Lounge. We are still talking toys and Toy Fair.

Today it's Ahh! Products Bean Bag chairs. "Hey you can't trick us! Bean Bags aren't toys." Wanna bet? The makers of Ahh! Bean Bags realized something. When you are chilling out and watching TV on a big comfy bean bag maybe your dolls and stuffies want to join in on the fun. Don't they deserve a great bean bag all their own? Of course they do!

Meet the Lil Me Bean bags! They are perfect for your 18 inch dolls and stuffies. Bonus: Ahh! Products can match your dolls bean bag to almost any of their human sized bean bags. Yes you and your dolls can match and your bean bags can match your decor.

What's that parents? Worried you kids will spill bean bag filling everywhere? Don't sweat! Ahh! has equipped each bean bag with a child resistant zipper that can lock. So that way you don't have to worry about the mess or your kids getting into danger.

I love that Ahh! Bean Bags come in fun and bright colors. They are perfect for kids(and kid-like adults) to hang out on. Now with the addition of Lil Me bags you can have a place for your dolls that isn't as bulky or cumbersome as regular doll furniture and still fully functional. What do you think? How would your dolls look hanging out in bean bag chairs?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Retro TMNT Review!

Disclaimer: I was given retro TMNT toys to review. All of the opinions are my own.
I didn't know my inner child could be mailed to me.
When I opened the box I couldn't help but scream "my childhood"! I'm not joking when I tell you that I played with some of these toys when I was younger. When I was a child I had the first run of these toys. Well I really only had just the four Turtles. I begged my mom and dad to get me their van and more figures as a kid I guess it took a couple decades for Santa to send them my way. And Nickelodeon was very generous.

I love that Nickelodeon and Playmates are giving 90's kids their toys and memories back but I also love that they're giving them something that they can share with their kids. These are real toys folks and they can be thrown up on the wall while still in the blister packs or you can open them up and start some Turtle-ific fun with your kids. TMNT has officially spanned two generations so it's great that while your kids get their toys you can have yours too.

The Retro Collection figures and The Party Wagon make a complete set for lots of fun. I love that the turtles have multiple weapons. Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michaelangelo can team up with Splinter to battle the evil Shredder and they can do it in style with their cool ride. I like that each of the turtles and Splinter can fit in the Party Wagon and that you can get them in and out easily and you don't end up shaking it upside down to get everyone out. And I love that this thing is made of sturdy plastic. All the figures will take a beating and live to fight another day.

I begged my parents for this when I was little!
The only negative that started to come back to me came as I was playing with them. The Retro figures don't stand up so well. You have to get the legs splayed just right to get them balanced. That's probably one feature that I would have loved for them to fix in the new batch.

In conclusion I think that these toys are great collectors' items or great toys for your kids. They really do bring you back. I'm holding memories in my hands and I love Nick for helping to make it happen!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Toys #TFNY #TF14

DragynAlly here again... Actually I'll be here for the rest of the month. :) We are still talking Toys and will be for the rest of the month... You're welcome! Today we are talking about our friends at Spin Master. Now Spin Master makes a lot fabulous toys. I'm a big fan. However as many of you know I am a dragon fan and Spin Master is making How to Train Your Dragon 2 toys! It's like they know me.

There are How to Train Your Dragon action figures, plushies and Ionix bricks. So there are many ways to play with Dragons. There is even one HUGE Mega Toothless (The black dragon in the pics) collectable figure that frankly needs to be on my shelf... Like now. A Toothless plushie even made his way home with me in my swag bag.

My words really don't do Spin Master's How to Train Your Dragon collection justice so check out the pics and let me know what you think. Between you and me I even saw some movie spoilers that I can't share but OMG is this movie going to be fun! As for Spin Master's other toys I will save them for another blog post. Stay tuned!

Monday, March 10, 2014

My Fave 10 Madame Alexander Moments #TFNY #TF14

Hello Guys and Dolls! This is your friendly neighborhood DragynAlly taking over the Lounge. You know you love it! As many of you (some of you?) know I went to Toy Fair last month and WHOA was it an epic fun time. I saw so much there. Make sure to check out my site (The Lair) for some reviews and maybe a giveaway or 2. So what did I see at Toy Fair? Too much to say! But I wanted to bring you back some of my faves. Today we are talking Madame Alexander. Here are my 10 faves from Toy Fair.

10. Did you know the Wizard of Oz (movie) is turning 75? Neither did I. The pic above is what Madame Alexander imagines the Wicked Witch of the East looked like pre-house. Looks like something I might wear.

9. Baby dolls aren't usually my thing but this little cutie is a huge exception! She coos as you hold her and has the weight and feel of a real baby.

8. Muppet Puppets. Game over man! Game over. These are prototypes but the real deal will come out with the DVD release later this year.

7. Disney Dolls. Love them!

6. What happens when a fashion designer and a designer doll company get together? MAGIC! This doll is wearing an outfit designed by Isaac Mizrahi. Color me jealous.

5. Same as previous doll although this outfit is from a more recent collection.

4. Isaac Mizrahi now makes clothes for little girls. So cute! But wait... Every fab little girl needs a fashion forward doll. I did. These dolls are wearing outfits that match what your child can but. So adorable!

3. You thought we could have a 75th anniversary without Dorothy? I think not! This is how Madame Alexander imagines Dorothy looked like before the tornado.

2. Speaking of Oz... Legends of Oz Dorothy's Return comes out this year. It's filled with new characters and the classics. I can't wait to see it.

1. Steampunk Wizard of Oz... I don't know when Madame Alexander started looking through my wardrobe and reading my diary but I LOVE these dolls. They are unique and gorgeous!

So there's my 10. What do you think? Which is your fave?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

4 Acting Tips I never found in Books

I don't think there has been a year gone by that I haven't been acting in a show. I think that acting, next to building a set, is one of the best and most networking activities available to a theater person. People remember you when you've spent 4 weeks working on a show with them. I've had acting training and when you sit around with fellow actors and work on a show with people you never cease to get extra tips from them here are a few of my favorites.

Publicity photo for Last Hope for Twenty Miles

  • Learn your lines backwards: A lot of people will start from their very first highlighted line in the script and start memorizing from there. The problem is when you go up on a line you have to fall back to the last on that you remember, which is the last thing you said. This causes a lot of hemming and hawing onstage. But try starting from your last line ever in the play and going backwards. This way you always know where you're headed when you go up on a line and you can keep moving forward onstage.
  • A Character never lies unless it's tied to action: In real life we often make things up, tell half truths, and blatantly perjure on occasion. But as an actor you need to use the text as your clues to how create this character properly. It's very easy to find a hard piece of text and just say, "oh well he's lying". A lie is an action not a word. Assume that every word the playwright put on the page is there for a reason nad that your character is saying it honestly.
  • Look for the sex: We often don't think about everything we do in our life is centered around sex. In your life we are very aware about how people look and how close they are to us and what we would like to do with them. As a man if a woman I don't know is standing right beside me I'm very aware if I think she's sexually active, I'm very aware if she takes an interest in me, and I'm very aware that if she knew I was that interested I'd be embarrassed. But sometimes we stand on stage and think our characters walk around like nuns. Remember that your characters are sexual beings. 
  • Your characters see as they are: Everyone has little filters that they see the world through. You can often start judging your characters when you the Christian try playing an atheist, or he the ablebodied plays the wheelchair bound, without trying to see the world through the character's eyes. The four lenses are physical, social, psychological, moral. How does your character see through those lenses?
    Film Still from Dead Dog Like Me