July 2006 | Vol. V - No. 7
Games Grow in Sophistication … and Sales
Manufacturers See No Slowing in Years-Long Trend
“Our research shows that there is a mini revolution in progress by parents to limit the ‘screen time’ of their children,” said Alex Zelikovsky of Sevinpold Castles Inc. (ToyShow), makers of Darkness Falls on Sevinpold. “Parents are desperately trying to connect with kids and the only way to do it is to engage kids in a conversation. Board games are a perfect tool to do that.”
“People are getting burned out on computer games and are rediscovering the fun of direct social contact with live opponents,” agreed Donald Benge of Conquest Games (ToyShow).
"The online world, and specifically online gaming, has created a new type of social connection, but it's a virtual relationship, not one with our family and friends," pointed out Mark Kaufmann of Days of Wonder (ToyShow).
“We’re social animals; we need the gratification that can only come about by socializing with each other. What better way to satisfy this need then through play?” commented Steve Hart of Front Porch Classics (ToyShow), whose new Bookshelf Edition Valley of the Pharaohs is due out in September. “I think people are recognizing the value that gaming can bring into their lives and thus embracing the game experience as a way to unplug from the stress and boredom of life.”
“I really believe that you can pick out a family that plays games together just by watching them walk down the aisle in a shopping mall,” added Ev Johnson of We R FUN Games (ToyShow), whose Life on the Farm game just won a 2006 Teacher’s Choice For the Family award. “They look at each other when they communicate and have in general a happier attitude about life.”
“Families want to be together and games bring them together,” seconded John Scott of J. Roundtable Enterprises (ToyDirectory), makers of the new Total Play Football card game.
“Games truly offer people a break from the pressures of the modern world,” summed up Will Niebling, CEO of Mayfair Games, which makes Hey! That’s My Fish.
But Dominic Crapuchettes, founder of North Star Games (ToyShow), which makes Wits & Wagers, had a different explanation for games’ growing popularity: “The biggest factor is an importing of innovative ideas from the European industry,” he told TDmonthly. “This board game renaissance began with a German game design competition called the Spiel Des Jahres. The winner of this competition can expect to earn half a million dollars from sales of his game! Consequently, a growing class of professional game designers has emerged whose life-time dedication to game design has brought about many undeniable improvements.”
“Games are becoming more sophisticated in terms of strategies, which makes them more entertaining for adults while teaching kids to think and be creative,” agreed Laura Cipullo of KelMar Games Corp. (ToyDirectory), which publishes Tricky Town.
“Innovative and exciting new games are being published,” seconded Russell Grieshop of R&R Games, makers of Sketchword.
“When it comes right down to it, it’s more fun to play games with friends than it is to play alone. Video and computer games tend to isolate people, whereas multi-player games bring them together for social interaction as well as brain stimulation,” pointed out Mark Gross of Matter Group (ToyDirectory), which publishes the environmentally conscious Xeko.
“Video game excitement has flattened a bit as the consumers get more used to the graphics, play ability, etc.,” agreed Bill Walker of Deep Creek Enterprises (ToyShow), makers of TriQuest.
“On one hand, playing strategy games helps to develop and improve thinking skills. On the other hand it gives the children the opportunity to play with other children and help them develop their social skills,” noted Zafir Kazula of Smart Zone (Toy), whose strategy game Hive could be described as “chess with insects.”
“Games have become events,” concluded Erik Smith of Pizza Box Football. “Hundreds of people around the world played Pizza Box Football to predict the winner of the Pittsburgh vs. Seattle Super Bowl — before it happened!”
Here are the games that manufacturers believe will help the growing trend of game playing stay strong for 2006:
GOLO is fast, fun, simple, portable and addicting. Anyone can learn to play in five minutes and the game can be played anywhere. Though it’s easy to learn, it’s difficult to master, which makes it “addicting and compelling to play again and again,” P.J. Shea of Front9 Inc. told TDmonthly. He added that GOLO is about to break into the mass market, and it’s been a growing success for the past six years. People can even play GOLO on their cell phones. Launch date: June 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8001 (added 5/25/2006)
Bookshelf Edition Valley of the Pharaohs by FRONT PORCH CLASSICS
Other products from FRONT PORCH CLASSICS
Egypt 1926. The Valley of the Pharaohs holds many secrets, but none so great as the Scepter of Amun-Ra. On your quest to secure the Scepter you will face desert bandits, blinding sandstorms and the ill wishes of your fellow players. But safe haven and good fortune can be found within the oasis of the friendly Bedouin. Collect resources to overcome obstacles or lay obstacles to hinder your opponents. Roll doubles and you control the mummy, but beware — no one masters the mummy for long. Cast metal playing pieces, metal coins and individual character cards provide rich context and detail to this exciting family game of fortune and peril. “Many of Front Porch Classics games feature natural materials, archival designs and other elements that make them an attractive décor piece,” pointed out Steve Hart of sales and marketing. “ As a matter fact, the majority of our retail partners are gift retailers whose clientele purchase our product not only for the wonderful game play but also as a display or conversation piece.” Launch date: September 1, 2006.
—Nancy Teed, owner of Once Upon a Time in Stowe, Vt., said, "It's a really neat cooperative game. You have to work together to win — from little kids to adults."
— "We’re really excited about new games being released from Front Porch Classics," endorsed David Correa, buyer at Mrs. Tiggy Winkles in Tucson, Ariz.
— "Front Porch Classics products are designed to live in a family room, office or den. We use natural materials combined with classic designs to give our games a decorative aesthetic and enhance the game play experience," said Steve Hart, creative envoy and marketing coordinator for Front Porch Classics.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8002 (added 5/25/2006)
Craniumb Zooreka is a new board game that has players dodging danger and encountering outrageous events in a race to build their ultimate zoo! Food, animals and shelter are the currency in this animal kingdom as would-be zookeepers try to collect and trade them for one-of-a-kind animal habitats. Every turn keeps all the players thinking and planning their way to ribbon cutting. First to complete a zoo celebrates Opening Day. “Zooreka provides the perfect opportunity for young and old alike to bond and spend endless hours laughing and enjoying time together,” Heather Snavely, Cranium Head of the Hive told TDmonthly. “The combined elements of chance and strategy allow players from grandparent to grandchild to engage in game play on an even playing field that leads to laugh-out-loud fun and brings excitement and shining moments to any holiday gathering.” Launch date: Fall 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8003 (added 5/25/2006)
Deceptively simple and surprisingly intense, Spy Alley keeps players on the edge of their seats. Players become a spy for their given country and try to uncover their opponents’ identity while keeping their own identity a secret. Players use deductive reasoning to expose other spies while attempting to complete their mission by obtaining the necessary codebooks, disguises, keys and passwords.
— Dan Leighter, manager of Totally Toys in Orlando, Fla., has nothing but praise for Spy Alley: “Parents come in all the time saying they’re hooked as well as their kids. They want to share it, so they do a lot of birthday gift buying with it.”
— It sold out at three different online sites.
— It has won multiple awards including those from Mensa, Family Life Magazine, Games Magazine and Parents' Choice.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4608 (added 9/14/2005)
Who can tell who's really an idiot and who's faking? Each round, everyone is dealt a card telling them whether they are an idiot or not. The current genius asks one trivia question from the cards they hold. Everyone writes down his or her answer, but if a player is an idiot, he must answer incorrectly. Once all the answers are revealed, the player must figure out who's definitely an idiot. But if someone is erroneously called an idiot, he can steal the accuser’s points. Idiots who don't get caught get bonus points. So the question to be asked in this game is ... who's really the idiot and who's just fooling?
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8006 (added 5/25/2006)
aBRIDGEd is a refreshing new take on the game of Bridge — the card game that has been enjoyed around the world for decades. aBRIDGEd plays just like the classic game of Bridge, but without the complex bidding. With the newly designed cards and simple instructions, players will be immersed in a game in no time. It only takes 20 minutes to learn and 30 to 40 minutes to play. The game includes two 52-card aBRIDGEd decks, four quick reference cards, four score pads and pencils and full-color rules. “Millions of Bridge players have been looking for a way to introduce family members to the game of Bridge. But current Bridge rules are too complex,” explained Matt Mariani, president of Out of the Box Games. “These Bridge players cannot wait for us to bring out this product. It makes playing Bridge easy … and brings a whole new generation into what many people consider to be “the greatest game” – Bridge.” Launch date: July 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8007 (added 5/25/2006)
Chinese Checkers by FABRICAS SELECTAS USA (FS-USA)
Other products from FABRICAS SELECTAS USA (FS-USA)
This retro style metal board game has checkers on one side and Chinese checkers on the other. It comes with playing marbles and checkers. “This is the kind of game that's coming back because it appeals to people who played it when they were young,” Donnamarie Seen, director of sales and marketing for Fabricas Selectas (formerly Mega Marbles) told TDmonthly. “Those people now have kids and grandkids and they enjoy playing it with them.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8008 (added 5/25/2006)
Global warming has melted the great ice sheets. No polar caps remain. The oceans are free. Gone are the magnificent harbours that once dotted the shores of every land. The waters have risen more than 80 meters. Land is everything! Millions are starving. Fertile plains are no more. The great grain belts of the world have been tightened. Tension runs high yet there is hope. Four rallying hosts prepare in haste. One dominion can save but a few ... the race is on. Armies are raised with every man coming forth. Unite and fight ... conquer or be lost. Combine your forces, assemble your fleets and breach the storms. Clouds clear for one last stand. The prize is yours ... Antarctica.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7339 (added 3/28/2006)
This card game is designed for non-stop action. Players compete to win more sets (one set is equal to one football quarter) than their opponents. It takes 10 or more points to win a set. Placing an Offensive card in play for “points scored” scores points. Points are also scored by the Defensive card play when matching the correct corresponding Defensive card play “number” to “number” and “word” to “word” to a played Offensive card. Any player can make a play for points or deny points at any time which adds even more fun and excitement to the game. No one will feel excluded from playing Total Play Football because the game terminology does not require football lingo.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8012 (added 5/25/2006)
Darkness Falls on Sevinpold by SEVINPOLD CASTLES INC.
Other products from SEVINPOLD CASTLES INC.
Darkness Falls on Sevinpold is a revolutionary new board game that's fun for the entire family. Sevinpold is a world where every castle is filled with secrets, perils, powers and magical creatures; where the heroes, known as the Valiant, must play as a team against the menacing Darkness in order to win; where victory cannot be declared until the very last roll of the dice when the Scepter is reunited with the Living Throne. With excitement at every turn, Sevinpold is a game that never plays the same twice. It challenges players every step of the way and maintains their interest so they want to play again and again. With two patents pending for its distinctive movement and innovative "team play" concepts, Sevinpold has changed the way board games are played.
— “Sevinpold hits that demographic of 8 to 14,” said Darren Turbeville, owner of Toy Chest in Healdsburg, Calif. “We average a piece every 10 to 14 days.”
— Sevinpold does “very well” at Thinker Toys in Carmel, Calif., said owner Mark Phillips. “I’ve sold through two or three re-orders. It’s selling without even being demonstrated. Knights and dragons and pirates are the biggest category in the world.”
— “I love it!” enthused 11-year-old Sara Seagle. “I think it has beautiful illustrations on it.” TDmonthly's Homeschooling Roundtables families played with Sevinpold an average of seven times each from January to July 2006. VIEW ARTICLE, VIEW CHART
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5838 (added 12/9/2005)
The 4-player game is unique in that all players must get into the fray immediately. All conditions of victory require... demand active, aggressive play. Passive play is suicide. Any time you can attack and win more than you lose, it is to your advantage. Thus, every game is fast moving with action on every round. One winner per game. There is no second place. You may play the regular game (every man for himself) or partners. However, partners may not talk to each other so that the strongest player cannot dictate the moves of his partner. Players must look ahead to see how to coordinate their moves with each other to bring about victory. "You cannot help but have fun with the first game since you get to make 20 moves per turn, interrupted only when you make a capture," said Donald Benge of Conquest Games. "Conquest is a thinking game, but it is fun because you can do so many things, and yet the rules are very easy to learn."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 1895 (added 12/10/2004)
Kids can create a “doodle” with a few rolls of the Doodle Dice. There’s a different doodle pictured on each card of the deck. When players build a doodle that matches one of the cards, they take that card. Players can block an opponent's turn or take one of their cards away. Players who collect one card of each color win. It’s the fun, challenging way for everyone in the family to be a "doodle artist." Instructions come in English and Spanish. For two to six players, Doodle Dice launched in February 2006.
Awards: A TDmonthly Classics Award for being an all-time favorite toy.
— As of 7/21/2011 this product had 4.8 out of 5 stars from 45 reviews on Amazon.com.
— "We like Doodle Dice from Jax. It sold well for us this last year even though we hadn’t seen it before," said Bill Rayment, co-owner of Toy Crossing in Harbor Beach, Mich.
— "A great game from Jax is Doodle Dice. It's inexpensive and made for varied ages," commented Bob Breneman, co-owner of G. Willikers Toy Shop in Portsmouth, N.H. It’s his 7th-best-selling product.
— Cindy Levine, president of Jax, told TDmonthly, "Doodle Dice involves very different game play. Participants from age 6 to adult have an equal and full chance to win. It engages players and has a style unlike any other game out there."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6845 (added 2/7/2006)
Wits & Wagers is trivia made fun. Not a trivia buff? It doesn’t matter. Wits & Wagers brings out the excitement of a Vegas casino by letting you bet on the answers of other players. So you can win by making educated guesses, playing the odds or knowing the interests of your friends. Strike it big with one of your friend’s high payout answers and you’ll be cheering like you just hit the jackpot. Wits & Wagers has received 10 industry awards including Games Magazine's 2007 Party Game of the Year and the Mensa Mind Game award. Wits & Wagers takes two minutes to explain and 25 minutes to play, and can be enjoyed by up to 20 people. It is the perfect after-dinner activity at large family get-togethers or late night parties. (See Review)
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6700 (added 1/25/2006)
Join OX, Wedgehead and the rest of the Uglydolls in their first ever fast-action card game. Turn over cards until you spot three matching Uglys. Then race like an Ice-Bat out of Heck to grab a match before they all get snatched. Claim the most cards and you claim the game. Winning isn't always pretty, but it's always fun. “Players love how this game gets your blood pressure going in a very silly environment,” Jason Schneider of Gamewright told TDmonthly. It received the 2007 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7525 (added 4/12/2006)
This unique two-player card game teaches kids about endangered species and environments. Game play is set up as though all events take place in a mystical world, yet the world described is that of Earth. Players compete to collect cards with different skills and helpful animals and tools on them. Turf Wars occur wherein they must defend the Xeko-system they've created with the cards they've collected. The set includes 50 cards. “Xeko is more fun than other card games because the heroes of the game are the real animals of earth’s wildest habitats,” Mark Gross of Matter Group told TDmonthly. “Xeko fans know all kinds of cool facts, like which African frogs ooze poison and the name of the world’s smallest primate.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7341 (added 3/28/2006)
Hive is a board game with a difference: There is no board! The pieces are added to the playing area, thus creating the board. As more and more pieces are added, the game becomes a fight to see who can be the first to capture the opposing Queen Bee. The soldier ants battle to control the outside of the hive, while the Beetles climb up to dominate the top. Spiders move into holding positions as the Grasshoppers jump in for the kill. Each piece has its own particular way of moving, as in chess, but the moves mimic the way the insect itself moves. For instance, the Grasshopper is the only piece that can jump. Hive has been on the market since 2001 but recently underwent cosmetic revisions to make it more durable and marketable, said SmartZone co-owner Zeev Zahavi.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7328 (added 3/27/2006)
The fast-paced football strategy game comes packaged in an extra-sturdy, deep-dish style pizza box. In this intense and realistic head-to-head battle, football fans of all ages can feel like a coach, a player and a fan all at once. Expansion packs are also available. “We have the coolest free giveaway every year,” Erik Smith of On the Line Game Company told TDmonthly. “We let people download free team cards made especially so that they can play the Super Bowl before it happens and predict the winner.” Launch date: April 2005.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6948 (added 2/21/2006)
This is an outrageous party game where the object is to ultimately reveal what you really have or have not done. This game will keep players on their toes (and in their cups) as they land on the various drinking activities across the board. A player may have to take drinks, give drinks, dance, sing, spin in a circle, etc. The player who gets to the finish first wins the game (but win or lose, it's about the journey). The game comes with game board, rules, dice, eight playing pieces and 100 I've Never ... ? questions, including 10 blank Make Up Your Own questions. It takes maybe an hour or two to play. BYOB. “The 'I’ve Never Game' offers adults something that is lacking in so many games today,” Jay Vohra of Ini LLC told TDmonthly. “Adults need to have fun and laugh again … In addition, the I've Never Game was played on the hit TV Shows ‘The Family Guy,’ ‘LOST’ and ‘The Bachelor’.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5966 (added 12/14/2005)
Alphabet SQUIGGLE on-the-go is a portable game that helps children learn the alphabet, improve penmanship and strengthen vocabulary as it stimulates their creativity and builds confidence. With its compact size, it makes a great addition when taking the kids to daycare or while on vacation to keep them occupied and learning. Its educational component would also be beneficial to any home-schooling program or transition to kindergarten. “Our games are for children to adults and offer creative, basic fun without loud noise or the need for batteries,” said John Kiely Chief SQUIGGLER and president of Randomline. “We believe that our games are more fun to play because they not only stimulate creativity, but also boost confidence and children gain a sense of accomplishment.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7394 (added 3/30/2006)
In Syzygy, each player makes his or her own crossword puzzle drawing from the 304 letter tiles. The game is very interactive and quick. Families and friends of almost any age can play together. The game has been around since 1997, but it hasn’t been picked up by major retailers. Betty Nobles, buyer for The Village Toy Shop in New Hartford, N.Y., told TDmonthly, “We’ve had good luck with Syzygy. A customer requested it … They’d played it and had so much fun, somewhere in Oregon. We sold out and forgot it, then someone asked again and I got it and sold out!” Inventor Lorraine Spiering told TDmonthly that the popularity of her game “spreads by word of play. That’s the proof of a great game.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7327 (added 3/27/2006)
This board game combines the exhilaration of horse racing with the atmosphere and sounds of the racetrack. Players act as jockeys aboard their own thoroughbred horse, forced to decide whether to bolt for the early lead or to hold back and try to overtake tiring horses down the backstretch. The game incorporates modern technology with traditional board game play. “Today's game buyer is more sophisticated and thus much more hard to please than previous generations,” pointed out Deep Creek Enterprises’ president Bill Walker. “Since TriQuest is able to match superior technology with the tradition of board games, it is unique in its ability to attract players of varying generations.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7338 (added 3/28/2006)
Big Sunday Strategy Football Board Game by THE RANDOLPH ROSE GROUP
Other products from THE RANDOLPH ROSE GROUP
This game is perfect for kids and adults curious to learn the intricate rules of football. During game play, the defense reveals its play while the other team rolls the dice. The outcome of the play is revealed and yards are gained or lost. It teaches players about the two-minute warning, fumbles, interceptions, penalties, kicking game, passing game and running game. Here is what Mike White, Superbowl winning coach had to say about Big Sunday. "In our mechanized world, Big Sunday is a throwback to the family oriented activity around the dinner table. It can be played by all ages and will match all types of skill levels. In my opinion it is the closest thing to real football. It has all the strategy and flow of an actual game. Players are involved in play selection, defensive deployment, down and distance, and all varieties of scoring combinations.It also includes fumbles, penalties, use of clock and time outs, a complete kicking game and the exciting 2-minute warning."
— As of 05/13/2011 this product had 4.2 out of 5 stars from 6 reviews on Amazon.com. Cons: The pieces are very small and the lines on the "field" game board were hard to see; rules were confusing.
Past Videos: Pomona 2006
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7172 (added 3/9/2006)
Crackernomics is a highly original and innovative board game — the first of four — aimed at teaching kids the basics of investing and business in the global environment. It is being launched by KSA Interactive Games, a division of KSA International, one of the world's most acknowledged and experienced designers, developers and suppliers of business simulation games for the corporate and educational environments. Kids compete through buying, selling and trading Cracker Mills using different currencies.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7330 (added 3/28/2006)
The Marklin Edition of Ticket to Ride is the third installment in the best-selling board game series that has won 14 international game awards, including the prestigious Spiel des Jahres and has sold over 500,000 copies worldwide. Like its predecessors, Ticket to Ride Marklin Edition is simple, fun and addictive. Players collect sets of train cards that enable them to claim railway routes and fulfill the all-important Destination Tickets connecting distant cities across a map of Germany. The Marklin Edition also introduces a new Ticket to Ride game play element: passengers that pick up valuable merchandise along the routes. Created in partnership with Marklin, the world leader in model railroading, this edition features 118 historical train photographs, each carefully selected from the Marklin archives. Launch Date: April 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8017 (added 5/26/2006)
The fast-moving word game consists of 144 ivory-like letter tiles in a zippered banana pouch. Players place the tiles face down on the table and randomly select 21 tiles. They turn their letters right-side up simultaneously and proceed to form as many intersecting and interconnecting words as possible, rearranging their own letters as many times as desired throughout the game. Awards: TDmonthly Top Seller 2007; 2009 TOTY Game of the YEAR, 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal; 2007 iParenting; 2007 Parents' Choice Recommended; 2007 Dr. Toy Best Products. (Read Review)
— This product has been making the TDmonthly Best-sellers lists since 2007.
— As of 05/13/2011 this product had 4.8 out of 5 stars from 456 reviews on Amazon.com.
— Eight of 66 retailers vouched for its best-selling status in May 2008; seven of 63 did in Sept. 2008. Shani Watmough of Planet Toys in Rockland, Maine, said her store sells 60 per month. Fifteen of 38 named it a top-selling game in Feb. 2010.
— As of April 5, 2010, Bananagrams had spent 570 days in the top-100 best-selling toys and games on Amazon.com.
— According to owner Brett Sommer of Figpickels Toy Emporium in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, “It was the 2009 game of the year. The brilliant packaging definitely helps this product."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8301 (added 6/19/2006)
This game combines the creative challenge of a word game with the fast pace, excitement and variety of poker. The game challenges players to exchange cards with the goal of making a high-scoring word and winning poker hand with the added decision of whether to "Stay" to compete for big bonuses, or "Fold" for guaranteed points. Parlay also features "word-bluffing" as an added strategy and sure source of laughs. This product is a 2006 Games Magazine Game of the Year Award winner. Launch date: January 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8495 (added 7/7/2006)
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Writer's Bio: ALISON MAREK is an award-winning writer, director and cartoonist whose work has been published by Fairchild Publications and DC Comics (Piranha Press), broadcast on Showtime and other cable networks, and viewed worldwide in film festivals. See her short films and print work on www.alisonmarek.com. Watch her nefarious villains in the web series www.MuggsMovers.com. Get inspired by her cartoons "Daily ARFFirmations to Unleash Your Inner Fido" at www.ARFFirmations.com. Phew! And then ... Read more articles by this author
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