By Rina Baraz Nehdar
When I was offered an invitation to go to the Julius Jr. toy launch party June 24 at The London West Hollywood, I jumped at the chance. Not so much because I am such a big fan (although I do like that cute little monkey), but it’s summer and I have two very demanding munchkins at home who need constant entertainment. This seemed to be the perfect opportunity. Plus, they would not hesitate to tell me their opinions. I’ll call them Critic 1 and Critic 2.
I figured it’d be pretty casual since I’ve been to a few of these before and they mostly involved people hanging around in T-shirts and jeans with kids crawling over every available surface. I figured it’d be extra hot in that part of town, so shorts and a tank or T-shirt seemed like an appropriate outfit for everyone.
Well, yes, it was hot, but it turns out The London is a little fancier than I expected. We were greeted in the driveway by valets who were letting women adorned in pumps and designer summer dresses, with sweet young girls in swirly pink tulle at their heels, out of their cute little convertibles. I glanced back at my Critics in basketball shorts and sighed.
The event was well executed on a large outdoor deck overlooking the city, and we rode up in the elevator with Shwayze and his 4-year-old son, Hendrix. We stepped onto a play set surrounded by Julius Jr. and his adventurous companions, Clancy and Ping. Good thing there was a parade of photographers to capture the moment.
Julius Jr. is the diminutive version of Paul Frank’s iconic Julius monkey, and he has his own cartoon in it’s first season on Nick Jr. Julius Jr. lives in a magical cardboard box with his friends Clancy, the world’s shortest giraffe who is not short on courage; Sheree, a girly-girl raccoon who loves baking and sparkly things; Worry Bear, a bear who lives up to his name and Ping, a fun panda who is the youngest of the bunch and relies on the support of his big-kid friends. Together they turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. The show aims to inspire kids to create new things from the objects they normally see. It’s audience is the pre-school sect.
The point of the party was the launch of a new toy line featuring Julius Jr. and his entourage, and I immediately thought, If the toys are anything like the party, we’re in! There was a ball pit filled with toys and kids, sitting in front of a DJ who played fun music. There were waiters passing appetizers to adults while kids binged on ramekins of mac n’ cheese, white-bread peanut butter or jelly finger sandwiches with the crusts cut off, plates of fruit and cups of veggie sticks staked in dressing. A bartender poured lemonade and real watermelon juice.
The lunch table was filled with crafts for kids to work on while they munched on their goodies. I’m pretty sure we shared a table with Bree Turner from NBC’s Grimm and her 4-year-old daughter, Stella.
Although the Critics loved the lunch, they were most impressed with the dessert table, adorned with a cornucopia of sweets ranging from gummies to jelly beans and cupcakes. Critic 1 grabbed at a rainbow lollipop and Critic 2 followed. Then the Critics got a chance to preview the toys, and rendered their well-thought-out opinions.
Overall the Critics enjoyed the day, but the best part may have been that they got to take some of the toys and activities home with them.
Now the Critics are really into the little Julius Jr. monkey (especially because he was so patient with the endless high-fives they gave him at the party) and asked to be allowed to watch the show on Nick Jr. I have no problem with that. It’s a lot better than the programs where the characters are fighting each other, inspiring my guys to try out some of those moves on each other. No, creative learning is much better than mortal combat. In our house, anyway.
Rina Baraz Nehdar is a write-at-home mom who can also be found at www.mommyhasastory.blogspot.com.