Thursday, December 14, 2017

Skullduggery Max Traxxx Tracer Racers Remote Control Infinity Loop Set {Review}

Skullduggery logo
Although there have been a lot of parenting surprises over the years, one that I did not anticipate was the increasing difficulty that comes with buying gifts as my children have gotten older. Back when they were younger they seemed to have more focused interests, but these days? It's like pulling teeth to get them to name anything in particular or come up with something that actually elicits excitement.

Therefore, after spending far too long looking at online suggestions (all of which I did not purchase) and aimlessly wandering the aisles in big box stores (which also left me empty-handed), I was thrilled to be introduced to an award-winning toy that I instantly knew would be a hit for both of my kids this holiday season.

More unique than traditional cars and much more entertaining than other remote control toys that I've seen, I had no doubt that Max Traxxx Tracer Racers from Skullduggery would create a stir as soon as they were out of the box. In all honesty, I couldn't wait to dig into the Max Traxxx Tracer Racers Remote Control Infinity Loop Set myself!

Maxx Traxxx RC Infinity Loop Set

As a leading toy manufacturer for 30 years, Skullduggery's vast product lines appeal to toy-lovers of all ages throughout the world. But while their craft kits and fossil replicas do look interesting, the Max Traxxx Tracer Racer car line has had my attention from the beginning. Who can resist an adjustable, customizable, glow-in-the-dark racing system?

I couldn't wait to see these Tracer Racers and the Infinity Loop Track Set in person!

Max Traxxx Infinity Loop Set

Right out of the box it was clear that Skullduggery had included just about everything needed in order for young (or, ahem, young-at-heart) racing enthusiasts to start putting together the endless racing circuit of their dreams.

Max Traxxx glow in the dark track

Including more than 46 feet of glow-in-the-dark track, two Tracer Racers and remote controls, 26 X-BLOX construction brix, and more, the only thing that this set needs to get started are the batteries.

After opening up each of the remotes and setting the four AA's into place, I simply plugged the cars right into the cord on the top and flipped the switch to 'charge.' I love that the remote controls are the actual chargers instead of needing to keep track of a separate cable or plug (which would immediately get lost into the abyss of my house).

Max Traxxx Tracer Racers charging

While the Tracer Racers charged up, it was time to construct the unique Infinity Loop Track Set. I adore that Max Traxxx parts are able to be mixed and matched and snapped together and constructed in just about an endless number of ways. Talk about a workout for the imagination!

To begin, however, I opted to build the original figure eight shape to check out just why these loops, corners, and straightaways had won multiple awards. Could it really be all that cool?

Max Traxxx Infinity Loop track
Don't let the angle of this photo fool you. This set is BIG!

In a matter of minutes, the full track was together (each piece simply slides/snaps into the next) and it was time to rev up our engines. Hint: there is an on/off switch on the remote control AND on the bottom of the car itself. Make sure you have both turned to on for racing to begin!

Max Traxxx Tracer Racer review

Oh, man!

While Skullduggery had pointed out that the Tracer Racer Cars have a top to-scale speed of 500 miles per hour, I still wasn't prepared for how quickly they truly zip! Each little car can go forwards or backwards depending on the direction that users move the lever on the remote control and boy, oh boy, they can go fast!

In fact, we found there to be a small learning curve when it comes to driving, as putting the pedal to the metal can lead to Tracer Racers flipping off the track as they come shooting around the corners. At the same time, driving too slow doesn't give enough speed to make it up and around the loop, so finding the sweet spot in the variable speed takes a little skill.

But that sure didn't mean that Little Sister B was any less excited to race again and again and again and again!

Max Traxxx Tracer Racer cars

Although my young speedster was already having a blast simply zooming both Max Traxxx Tracer Racers around the track, as soon as I said, Now watch THIS and turned off the lights, her mind was officially blown.

Max Traxxx Remote Control Tracer Racers

Even better, not only does the glow-in-the-dark track light up (which is cool), but the Tracer Racers themselves utilize Light Trail Technology and blaze streaks of light as they go (which is REALLY cool)! Each car has two small lights on the bottom that, when combined with the glowing track, leave a glowing path that slowly fades long after the Racer has passed.

These really couldn't be much more amazing to see racing, twisting, and turning in a dimly lit room!

Max Traxxx review
Even a crash or wipe out looks incredible when all lit up in the dark!

From the first day that we opened the Max Traxxx box, Little Sister B and I have spent endless afternoons cheering on our Tracer Racers as we send them flying around the track. There have been more times than one that we've only stopped playing because the cars begin to slow and the lights on the bottom don't shine, meaning it's time to let them stop and recharge. Fortunately, it's just so easy to plug them right into the remote controls and set them down until next time!

Plus, while Little Sister B is happy to keep the Infinity Loop as is, but I have no doubt that in the future we will construct and reconstruct the various parts into our own creative layouts. By using the existing X-BLOX construction brix (and including our own compatible bricks of another brand), the sky is the limit on forming a track that goes up, down, and around in any number of ways!

kids love Max Traxxx

Whether you have a beginning or advanced race fan in your life, Max Traxxx Tracer Racers can provide hours of entertainment for all ages. This set is recommended for ages 6+ and I agree — it is easy enough to slide the pieces together and use the remote that younger children can do it on their own, yet the fantastic wow factor will keep older kids coming back for more.

I dare you to spend less than a minute watching this video and not want to start playing with these yourself!


The complete Max Traxxx Tracer Racers Remote Control Infinity Loop Set retails for $119.97 and can be purchased directly from Skullduggery.com (with free shipping!) or on Amazon.com (where one of their sellers, 4% Change for Children, not only offers a $20 off coupon on certain days but also does amazing work donating to non-profit organizations that help children and families).

There is still time to order this incredibly unique remote control track set in time for the holidays, so be sure to visit Skullduggery's website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest pages to find out more about this and all of their creative and fun products.

Other than the Max Traxxx Tracer Racers Remote Control Infinity Loop Set that I was provided by Skullduggery in order to facilitate my review, I was not compensated or enticed to do this post in any way. This post is solely my honest opinion about this product.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Keep Your Internet Safe with the CUJO Smart Firewall from Best Buy {Review}

CUJO logo
The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

A few decades ago, the phrase home security would likely have conjured up images of cameras and motion detectors and signs indicating that an alarm would silently ring if a window was forced open.

These days, there's no question that we're all still careful to lock the doors to our houses. However, home security means so much more now that there are virtual entrances to our lives that also need to be protected. After all, the plethora of connected devices in our homes — TVs, game consoles, phones, computers, tablets, printers, cameras, baby monitors, thermostats, vacuums, and much more — are really only as secure as the networks that they access, right?

Therefore, until our tech gadgets begin to be created with built-in security, it is up to us to provide it — to not only block malicious sites, viruses, and hacks, but to give peace of mind that you and your family are safe online.

That's where CUJO comes in!

CUJO firewall

A firewall for the connected home that is designed to bring business-level security to a home network, CUJO is the one device needed to secure any and all technology that connects through your internet. Just plug it in, set it up, and this simple yet sophisticated gadget monitors the activity on all of your connected devices for anything unusual. When that occurs, it immediately blocks the threats before they have a chance to compromise your online safety or private information.

Pretty great, right?

As I don't consider myself a technology expert, I was looking forward to seeing just how user-friendly CUJO would be and if I would be able to get it up and running all on my own.

CUJO review

Right out of the box and it was clear that CUJO is just about as close to "plug and play" as possible. All that I needed to do was take the device, the power cord, and the Ethernet cable, plug it all in (to a power source as well as to my router), and I was good to go.

CUJO firewall review

Registering my CUJO and going through the setup process couldn't have been much easier, as I simply downloaded the app (available from the App Store as well as Google Play) and followed the instructions one by one.

In less than 10 minutes, our home was protected and CUJO was already at work identifying our devices.

CUJO setup

From that day forward, CUJO has been amazing for keeping all of our technology safe and secure. I love the way that it was designed to automatically block any threats it detects (users then have the option to leave the block or to unblock), as this proactive method ensures that I won't have to deal with problems after they occur. I've spent too many hours stressing over computer viruses to ever want to go down that path again!

Instead CUJO keeps our entire network and every single device we own protected and it lets me know in two different ways. The unit itself has "eyes" (that my kids adore) that indicate if the device is in standby mode (full eyes), protection mode (smiling eyes) or that it has detected unwanted activity (sad eyes).

At the same time, I can receive immediate notifications on my phone and/or simply open the app to stay informed. I was amazed when CUJO detected and blocked a threat within the first 24 hours of installation — and it had at least half a dozen more within the first week of use! Where has this been all my life?!

CUJO app

Beyond just being a watchdog for all of our connected devices (which I love), CUJO takes things one step further for parents by including an abundance of parental control features. We all know that kids of every age seem to want to spend every waking minute online, but we also know that there is a great deal of the internet that isn't appropriate for children.

Therefore, being able to have control over access to the internet provides me the perfect solution, as I'm not going to keep my kids off of it entirely. CUJO allows me to not only have an internet filter, but I can set time limits and pause the internet for specific devices, monitor social media sites, receive alerts and reports, and more.

How great is it that CUJO allows me to safeguard my children and what they access online all while it protects our household overall!

CUJO parental controls

I have to admit that prior to the arrival of CUJO, I hadn't put a great deal of thought into our household's internet security. But now that it is here, I couldn't be happier knowing that my entire home, all of our devices, and even my kids are safer!

CUJO is available in three different options ($99 for the device with an $8.99 monthly service fee; $158 for the device with a $59 annual service fee; $249 for the device and a free lifetime subscription/service) and can truly provide the peace of mind you need or didn't know you need in your home.

Find out much more about all that CUJO can do and how much money you can save on it when you purchase from Best Buy today.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Back to School with the Inspire Imagination Box Top Program at Costco

Box Tops for Education
This post is in partnership with General Mills and Box Tops for Education. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

Did you know that there's a way to ensure that our schools are receiving much-needed funding while also benefiting your own family at the same time? It's the nation's largest school fundraising program, Box Tops for Education!

Box Tops steps

A General Mills program, Box Tops for Education began as an experiment on boxes of Cheerios in California with first year earnings of $1 million. Since then, it has grown to include hundreds of participating brands (along with General Mills, others include Ziploc, Kleenex, Lysol, Finish, and more) providing $840 million to more than 70,000 enrolled K-8 schools.

Pretty amazing, right? We make sure to clip each and every single Box Top that we can on our General Mills products (I have found that having a designated Box Tops baggie makes it so that my husband and kids know exactly where to put them) and I absolutely love knowing that such a simple act can have such positive results. We hand our baggie in to the PTO Box Top Coordinator at our school, she mails them in, the school gets a check. What could be better?!

Actually, we were excited to hear that right now there is another reason to be pumped up about Box Tops: the Inspire Imagination Box Top program!

Box Tops Inspire Imagination

I have no doubt that Box Tops are already helping inspire children all across the country, as what school couldn't use a little extra money? That funding may go to field trips, gym equipment, technology, books, art supplies, musical instruments, enrichment programs, game days... the list goes on and on!

Therefore, I love that the Inspire Imagination program is highlighting just that and giving Costco members the chance to win even more Box Tops for their school. It's so simple to enter (*see official rules below)! Here's how:
  • Take a photo of how Box Tops for Education inspires imagination in your child(ren). 
  • Share your photo on Twitter or Instagram using #InspireContest and be sure to follow @BTFE as this is how the winners will be notified.
  • Sit back and hope to be one of the 3,000 Costco members that each will win 100 Box Tops for their school!
Inspire Imagination Box Tops program

Easy peasy, right?

The combination of Box Tops and Costco is a perfect match, as not only do families such as mine shop at Costco every week to stock up on the products and brands that we trust and use regularly, but we score even more Box Tops with our purchases.

For instance, instead of picking up a single box of Kleenex at the store and being able to clip one single Box Top, we can buy a bulk pack at Costco and end up with 10 Box Tops instead!

Kleenex at Costco

With preparations for back to school underway, there's no doubt that I have been shopping at Costco even more than usual lately. There is nowhere else that has everything that I need for all of our lunch-packing supplies at such great prices!

Nature Valley crunchy bars

Along with picking up the food items that my daughters love in their school lunches (as well as to have for breakfast, dinner, snack, and pretty much anytime, as they are constantly eating), on my recent Costco visit I also stocked up on a few of the supplies that are necessary to keep our kitchen running.

Now I can rest easy knowing that I won't open the baggie drawer to find it empty or, even worse, prepare to run our dishwasher and have no detergent for it. Instead, we'll head into September ready to go... and with tons of extra Box Tops in our stash as well!

Box Tops products

If you aren't already collecting Box Tops for Education, now is the perfect time to start — particularly with the great selection of products at Costco! Whether you have children attending one of the participating locations or not, schools can never have too much money to improve their classrooms and programs and our kids can never be too inspired. All it takes is a pair of scissors to snip the Box Tops and make a difference!

To learn more about Box Tops visit BTFE.com and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Be sure to also visit CostcoBTFE.com for more information on the Inspire Imagination Box Top Program and enter your photo today!



*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.) 18 years or older. Ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on 9/30/17. To enter and for Official Rules, including odds, and prize descriptions visit www.costcobtfe.com. Void where prohibited by law. Use of “#InspireContest” when posting entry constitutes entrant’s agreement to Official Rules. Sponsor: General Mills.

Each box top is worth 10 cents to redeeming school when clipped from box tops products and sent to the redeeming school. Only BTFE registered schools can redeem box tops. Limit $20,000 per school per year for box tops redeemed through the clip program. See www.boxtopsforeducation.com for program details.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Villain Kids are Back in Descendants 2! {Available on DVD Today}

Descendants 2 logo
While I consider myself to be pretty in-the-know on all things kid-movie related, it wasn't until Little Sister B attended a slumber party more than a year ago that I was introduced to a completely new cast of characters. Mal? Uma? Gil? Who are these people?

Although it initially took a little deciphering to understand Little Sister B's stream of excited storytelling, it all began to fall into place when she got to the they're the kids of the bad guys part. Disney villains moved on with their lives and had children? Sure enough they had!

From that day forward, it was Descendants this and Descendants that as my young fan was officially obsessed. Everything from the plot to the soundtrack was brought up over and over again with glee – only to be enhanced 1000% when we heard the best news Little Sister B could have dreamed up: the villain kids were coming back in a highly anticipated sequel.

It was time to prepare for yet another music-driven smash in Descendants 2 (available on DVD today, August 15th)!

Descendants 2 box art

Overflowing with more action, more catchy music, unforgettable dance numbers, and new Villain Kids, Descendants 2 brings viewers into a deeper story line as the teenage sons and daughters of Disney's most infamous villains try to find their place in idyllic Auradon.

When the pressure to be royally perfect becomes too much for Mal (daughter of Maleficent), she returns to her rotten roots on the Isle of the Lost where her archenemy Uma, the daughter of Ursula, has taken her spot as self-proclaimed queen of the run-down town. Hoping to retrieve Mal, Evie (daughter of The Evil Queen) brings along help and sneaks onto the Isle as well.

But Uma, still resentful over not being selected by Ben (Belle and Beast's son) to go to Auradon Prep with the other Villain Kids, stirs up her pirate gang including Captain Hook's son Harry and Gaston's son Gil, to break the barrier between the Isle of the Lost and Auradon, and unleash all the villains imprisoned on the Isle, once and for all.

The result is swashbuckling action and incredible song and dance numbers that Descendants fans are sure to love!

descendants-2

As well as the 90 minutes of mischief and music included in this fun film, the Descendants 2 DVD also includes fun bonus features to take the enjoyment even further:
  • Cast Secrets – Personal secrets are revealed by cast members Dove Cameron (Mal), Cameron Boyce (Carlos), Sofia Carson (Evie), Booboo Stewart (Jay) and China Anne McClain (Uma) during the filming of the movie.
  • Bloopers – The cast cracks up on set during some crazy takes.
  • Deleted Song and More – Includes an extended song ("The Space Between"), a deleted song ("If Only"), and two alternate endings.
  • Descendants: Wicked World – An ultimate collection of all the animated shorts from Season One.
If you have a young fan of Descendants in your life, you're going to want to bring home a copy of Descendants 2 on DVD today (available on Amazon as well as from retailers nationwide) to continue the singing, dancing, and villainous fun.

As a special bonus, inside the case you'll find a free necklace with five interchangeable villain icons so your little one can show off their Descendants love even further!

Descendants 2 necklace

To find out more about Descendants 2, listen to clips, play games, meet the cast, get party planning tips and recipes, see news, and much, much more, head over to the Disney website.

Other than the copy of of Descendants 2 that I was provided, I was not compensated or enticed to do this review in any way. This post is solely my honest opinion about this product.