July 2006 | Vol. V - No. 7
Get Up and Go!
Outdoor Toys in Winter
TDmonthly found that many manufacturers stressed the indoor/outdoor quality of their products, actually focusing on that fact for certain markets. Donald Benson, owner of Eclipse Ball Inc., explained, “Our stuff is indoors and outdoors. When we go to conventions, we point it out. We emphasize that. When I first demonstrated the Satryn Ball and its games at a convention, there was a line of people all the way down the row and around the corner to buy them.”
Kevin Williams, a partner with Ogosport LLC (ToyShow), told TDmonthly that they positioned their Sports Discs to reps and buyers as a year-round item. “It may be a little more popular in the warmer months — we’re sold out til July right now – but whatever the weather, our motto is: ‘Oh Go Outside.’”
NITE IZE Inc.’s Brenda Isaac, marketing manager, feels that “the outdoor toy market is flooded with products that, while fun to play in the summer sun, don’t make an impact or move in the innovative direction that toys and games need to in order to capture and inspire the younger market. Children want to play with toys and games that are different, new and cool — the Flashflight addresses this desire and really does inspire children to turn off the computer and play outside summer or winter.”
Dennis Binkley, president of Geospace (ToyShow), aims their toys all year long. “We normally try to develop product that has 3+ seasons. That’s true of most of our products. They give kids and youngsters an excuse to go outside no matter what. Snow or otherwise, the weather doesn’t matter unless it’s windy or howling. Cold and frigid doesn’t matter.”
Blongoball Family Fun’s (ToyShow) John Michael Long pointed out that the Blongoball rubber ball sets are “specially designed for indoor play but also are great sellers for our youth participants.”
Cyndi Ryan, account executive for Aviva Sports, pushes the aspect of outdoor, backyard, indoor, playroom. “The new Arctic Bunker can be used in the home, in a little playroom. It brings outdoor fun inside the house if the little ones get cold.”
Dennis Chupa, president and owner of WaDaYaThink, Inc. has designed products that at one stage can be indoor, at another, outdoor. “We call it a hybrid, or modified toy, where the kid can personalize it, or finish it themselves, for indoor use or outdoor. Our Design Your Own Pro-Sport Helmet moves kids away from a technological world, gets them involved in something that will expand their creative art side and then becomes a functional toy that they can use, not just sitting around.”
But for some, dedication supersedes the season: SBI Enterprises’ principal, David Jargowsky (SBI are the pogo stick people), related that “any place people bounce around in cold weather, they’ll use our products (though bouncing on ice is a no-no).”
“Disc golfers are a unique breed,” elucidated Charlie Hutchenson, owner of Gotta Go Gotta Throw Inc. “They’ll be out there in their snowmobile suits and boots. It’s a year-round sport depending on how crazy you are. We ran a tournament at the St. Paul Winter Carnival in February, where it was close to 20 below with the wind-chill, and we had our highest turnout. Quite amazing.”
“Any time of year: sun, rain, snow, any reasonable weather condition,” Eric Andersen, owner of Captain Smiley Toys (ToyShow) and creator of the new sport of “Paddle Battle” told TDmonthly. “It just depends on the hardiness of the players.”
Finally, there are times when seasonality takes a backseat to simply getting the word out. Sam Otal, founder and CEO of Training Wings Inc. (ToyShow), said, “We haven’t thought that far ahead. We’re at the stage of guerilla marketing to get the product name out there.”
Inside, outside, the outdoor toys of winter do it all.
It flies, it skips on water, it bounces; the Satryan Ball does it all. Part round ball, part flying saucer; it flies by using a wing-like greater surface on the upper portion and centrifugal force for stabilization. You inflate it like a ball and throw it like a Frisbee, turn the Satryan ball on its side and it bounces. Made from soft and flexible vinyl, it comes in three colors: red, purple, yellow.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8148 (added 6/6/2006)
Let the backyard (or indoor) adventure begin with the Snow Bunker Jr. This inflatable igloo is constructed of durable cold crack-proof pvc and can be left inflated outside all winter long. It includes a tunnel for rapid enter and exit. Electric air pump (sold separately) is recommended for rapid inflation.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8149 (added 6/6/2006)
OgoSport is the invention of Pratt Institute of Design professor Rick Goodwin. It is an inflatable disc that can be used to play catch with a ball (it gives like a trampoline and can catapult balls up to 150' in the air) and can also be used at the beach like a frisbee (as a bonus, it floats!). Batteries are not required. Available are OgoSport Mini ($7.50), Single Pack OgoSport Large ($10.00) and Double Pack OgoSport Large ($19.00).
— After the 2006 Toy Fair and Pomona shows, where the toy debuted, OgoSport was shipped to 300 stores within a couple of weeks. Shortly after, Kevin Williams of OgoSport told TDmonthly, "We’re getting great response and reorders already."
— Kate Tanner, owner of Kidstop Toys & Books in Scottsdale, Ariz., spotted OgoSport at the American International Toy Fair 2006 and knew she’d found a winner. “When we played it, we had adults waiting in line to play it,” she told TDmonthly. “When we have fun with it, you know the kids are going to have fun with it.”
— TDmonthly's homeschoolers also loved OgoSport (view article).
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7040 (added 3/1/2006)
Kids simply slide the safe foam Jump Rocket onto its launching pad, jump up and land on the hemisphere-shaped air pump, and watch it blast off to a height of up to 150 feet. A new patented Thrust Booster doubles the flight distance of previous versions. It is perfect for junior astronauts and parents who want to amaze all the neighbors. It includes an air pump, launch pad and three soft foam rockets. “The Jump Rocket is a very strong product for us,” Dennis Binkley, president of Geospace International, told TDmonthly.
— “We have great flying toys. In fact, I think I’m reincarnated from a 7-year-old boy. I just love them!” raved Harriet Story, owner of Leaping Lizards! In Mineral Point, Wis. “We have great rockets.”
— “Land rockets, all the types that you pump with your foot, are good,” affirmed Markie Carlson, owner of Children’s Gift Shop in Northfield, Ill.
— Toy City in Keene, N.H., sells about 50 to 70 Jump Rockets per month, Owner Steve Levy told TDmonthly in July 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6370 (added 1/6/2006)
BlongoBall by BLONGO FAMILY FUN
Other products from BLONGO FAMILY FUN
BlongoBall is a great family game on the beach, at a picnic, on a camping trip, indoors or outdoors. Toss the unique BlongoBalls and wrap them around a horizontal bar to score points. Fun for all ages and skill levels. BlongoBall is easy to learn, exciting to play and will be enjoyed by the entire family for years to come. This Toss It, Wrap It and ScoreGame consists of two BlonGoals (racks) and two sets of BlongoBalls (yellow and orange) — enough for two players or two teams. Each of the two goals is 24”W x 26 ½”L x 39 ½”H and made of PVC. Ball sets include six balls of 1.625” in diameter. The toy is made of plastic, surlyn and nylon rope.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 383 (added 9/1/2004)
shipping in March 2006 — this powerful and updated version of a pogo stick is made especially for smaller kids. Like the Flybar 1200, it gives a trampoline-like sensation to the rider. It is suitable for a weight range of 80 to 180 pounds.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4052 (added 7/29/2005)
Beware: This all inclusive paddle game is highly addictive! It helps build self-esteem and confidence while promoting teamwork and improving eye-hand coordination. It’s easy to learn and fun for the whole family! It can be played on one’s own or with others — at the beach, in a park, or even in one’s own backyard. One mother writes, “My son hasn’t touched his PlayStation all week. When he comes home from school he goes right for his paddle!”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 298 (added 9/1/2004)
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Writer's Bio: Mark Zaslove is an entertainment industry veteran in developing content (writing, directing and producing television and feature films) for the major studios, including Disney, Universal and Warner Bros. A two-time Emmy Award winner for writing and recipient of the Humanitas Prize (for writing uplifting human values in television and movies), Mark is also Head of Content Development for Nice Entertainment. Read more articles by this author
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