A LITTLE MONSTER
IN NEED OF A HUG
Big Hugs Elmo, $60, www.playskool.hasbro.com
When Tickle Me Elmo was released in 1996, demand for the toy created such hysteria that its name became insider shorthand for a hot holiday seller. Every year, analysts guess which toy will be “the next Elmo.” Hasbro is hoping that this year, that toy will again be Elmo.
Hasbro has been making Sesame Street-licensed toys like Elmo through its Playskool unit since 2011. And this year, Hasbro went big, releasing Big Hugs Elmo, its first life-size Elmo doll.
But Hasbro also returned to the innocence that made Tickle Me Elmo special. (A version of Elmo introduced a couple of years ago banged on bongos in a rock ’n’ roll band). True to his name, Big Hugs Elmo hugs when you hold him close.
The new Elmo also loves to pretend. Press his left foot, and he invites you to join him in an imagination activity, like pretending to be an astronaut, a frog, a horse or a rabbit. Cradle him when he’s tired, and he will sing a lullaby and go to sleep.
APP lets you take
Facetune, $3.99, www.facetuneapp.com
One reason celebrities look so polished in photos is that there are Photoshop artists to smooth every wrinkle, minimize every pore and erase every blemish. The rest of us? We have to live with poorly lighted mobile phone selfies.
An app called Facetune helps you look your Hollywood best, even in photos taken on mobile phones.
The app, available on the iPad and iPhone, has taken the tools most commonly used by Photoshop experts and made them simple to use. Touch the button for “Whiten,” rub your finger over your subject’s teeth, and voilà! A Julia Roberts-quality smile.
Other tools let you remove blemishes, diminish dark circles, smooth skin and create many effects that normally take considerable Photoshop training to master.