TDmonthly Magazine!
December 2006 | Vol. V - No. 12
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Laser and Strategy Games Are All the Rage

Small Children Go "CooCoo" for Rocking Clown


“We usually can’t get a game for that young of a child.” Katie Culotta, Victoria’s Toy Station on Blue Orange’s CooCoo the Rocking Clown
With additional reporting by regional correspondents Virginia Davis, Dennis Furlan, ElizabethGreenspan, Krista Lebednik and Brenda Ruggiero


Retailers weren’t playing around when they told TDmonthly about the hottest selling games for Christmas. New games, such as Blue Orange’s CooCoo the Rocking Clown and Innovention’s (Gift Guide) laser game Khet, were among the expected hits.

What’s New

The games category is experiencing an influx of games that cater to children as young as 3 years.

Katie Culotta, owner of Victoria’s Toy Station in Baton Rouge, has been happy with the balancing game CooCoo the Rocking Clown. “We usually can’t get a game for that young of a child,” she told TDmonthly.

Games by Cranium, including Cariboo — a new matching game for kids 3 and up — also topped retailers’ recommendations.

The Toy Store in Atlanta, and The Wee Loft in Dana Point, Calif., are enjoying great success with Khet (formerly called Deflexion), by Innovention — a strategy game for kids 9 and up that uses mirrors to deflect lasers across a board.

What’s Selling

Returning players include Educational Insights’ Blokus (ToyDirectory), named by half of the 54 retailers surveyed. Other veterans included Apples to Apples by Out of the Box Publishing (ToyDirectory) and The Amazing Labyrinth, by Ravensburger.

Classic games, such as dominoes and checkers are consistent at Toys on the Square in Hummelstown, Pa., according to owner Grafton Stein.

Maricela Anguay, owner of Dragonfire Toy Co. in Woodland, California, called Gamewright’s line of card games great stocking stuffers. She told TDmonthly that Gamewright is “hard to keep on the shelf.”

Here are the games toy-store owners hope will brighten their holidays:




MSRP: $24.99
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



The Amazing Labyrinth is a mind-challenging game that allows players to shape the game board maze in order to win. A player’s wooden piece is moved according to the card games selected and the imagination of the players involved. It’s fun for kids and adults alike.
— Linda Graham, owner of Scheffel’s Toys in Jacksonville, Ore., summed up the game pretty well when she said, “It’s a universal maze game for kids and adults. It’s always different and always changing.”
— “Labyrinth … appeals to many different people. We sell a lot of games to families. They play the game together,” was the answer Valla Wagner, co-owner of Teaching Toys & Books in Tacoma, Wash., gave when asked for the best-selling game in the store. “An old favorite was back this year, Labyrinth from Ravensburger,” said Ron Sebert, owner of Becky & Me Toys in Glenview, Ill., in early 2009.
— Just when you think you’ve found your way out of the maze, someone comes along and cuts you off. The concept is easy but the strategy endless, which makes it challenging and fun for everyone from kids to grandparents. The Amazing Labyrinth is often on the best-seller list when games are mentioned, earning it a TDmonthly Top Seller 2007 award.

Where to Buy: Smart Kids Toys

ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9735      (added 10/23/2006)
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MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 5 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Board Games



There are 140 picture tiles that show segments of rivers, roads and rails. Players put all of the picture tiles face down in the box or on the playing surface. Each player draws two picture tiles from the box and puts them face up. The players then take turns adding their picture tiles on to an expanding network of rivers, roads and rails. But there’s a catch! Some tiles may have rivers and some may just have roads and rails, so players may not always be able to make a match. If this is the case, another picture tile is drawn from the box and the player waits for the next turn. Once the picture tiles from the box are gone, the first player to get rid of all of his or her tiles wins. For one to eight players.
— “Children can pick it up,” retailer Frances Frinfrock told TDmonthly, “but it’s good for adults, as well.” The owner of Aunt Franny’s Toys has had wonderful success with Rivers, Roads and Rails.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5699      (added 11/28/2005)
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MSRP: $29.99
Age Range: 12 and up
SKU or Item #: 7720
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Card Games
General Games



Apples to Apples is a wild, award-winning card and party game that provides instant fun for four to 10 players. It’s as easy as "comparing apples to apples" ... players need only open the box and deal the cards to be ready to play. They then select the card from their hands that they think is best described by a card played by the judge. If the judge picks their card, they win that round. Everyone gets a chance to be the judge. Each round is filled with surprising and outrageous comparisons from a wide range of people, places, things and events. Fast moving and refreshing, Apples to Apples is perfect for any get-together with family and friends.
— "Sales have doubled every year," enthused Matt Mariani of Out of the Box Publishing in 2005. "We´re struggling to keep up to the demand." [Game previously available from Out of the Box.]
— Gwen Bowden, manager of Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Springfield, Va., told TDmonthly that she expected Apples to Apples to sell well during Christmas 2006.
― In early 2009, retailers reported sales of up to 40 per month of the Apples to Apples game.
― “We probably sell 25 a month,” Mike DiAndrea, manager of Hardware Center in Paoli, Penn., told TDmonthly in early 2011.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3423      (added 4/22/2005)
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MSRP: $29.99
Age Range: 5 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



The next in the series of the international best-seller Blokus. Designed for two to four players, it was launched in 2006. THIS PRODUCT IS NO LONGER DISTRIBUTED BY EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS. 12/4/08.

ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7199      (added 3/10/2006)
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MSRP: $16.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



This game is well suited for the young and growing mind. Kids don’t have to know how to read to start playing. They learn as they go along. Advanced cards are provided as players become older. It comes with a game board, two sets of playing cards (beginner and advanced), six colorful treasure balls, key and the treasure chest. It’s designed for two to four players.
— “The Cranium games are very popular because they’re educational as well as a lot of fun. I think a lot of teachers use them. You can start as young as age 3, and play all the way up to the teens,” summed up Lee Ann Stern, general manager of The Village Toy Shop in Canton, Mass.
— “Lately, it’s been Cariboo by Cranium,” was what Daniel Janoska, of Talbot’s Toyland in San Mateo, Calif., said when asked about the best-selling game in his store.
— Cranium “Head of the Hive” Heather Snavely was excited to talk about this popular game. She told TDmonthly, “Cranium Cariboo is a shining star in its category because it engages preschoolers in the thrill and excitement of a treasure hunt, while reinforcing letter, number, shape and color recognition. ... Cariboo also fosters parent-child interaction, as it’s designed in a format that’s fun for adults to play along.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9736      (added 10/23/2006)
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Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



A new line of games and activities from HABA includes Dancing Eggs, which let kids play a variety of games with rubber and wooden eggs. Wooden Magnets come in 95 classic wooden HABA shapes and colors, and are sure to entertain and inspire creativity. Classic beech Wooden Blocks are specially sized to integrate with HABA’s award-winning Ball Track Construction Set. Ranging from 26 pieces to the giant set with 102 pieces, each of these sets and accessories is heirloom quality and good for hours of open-ended play.
— ”It’s a fun action game for ages 5 to 99 – a nice age range,” Jane Worm, manager of Crackerjacks in Maryland told TDmonthly about Dancing Eggs.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 1651      (added 12/7/2004)
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MSRP: $20.98
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



Kids and adults have got to move quickly with the Do You Sudoku? Game, because the hottest puzzle the world’s seen since the crossword is now a great electronic game. The game, for two or more players, contains 2 game trays, 2 sets of 81 number tiles, 100 puzzles, die, instructions and solutions.
— “Do You Sudoku? by University Games is doing well,” was the comment from Cathy Foland, manager of Imagination Station in Fenton, Mich.
— University Games sell well “because the chain stores do not carry these,” was the observation provided by Alyssa Cox, owner of Animal Quackers in Raleigh, N.C.
— Games of strategy are big at The Wee Loft in Dana Point, Calif, according to co-owner Annette Garcia, who mentions Sudoku games as one of the season’s hottest games for kids.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6767      (added 2/1/2006)
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MSRP: $29.95
Age Range: 7 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Wooden Toys



Players try to get four wooden columns in a row. The pieces can be moved after they’ve been initially played on the grid.
— Kathie Dockstader, buyer for Top Ten Toys in Seattle, said, "people like it because it´s visually stunning … it adds an element. It makes you want to play." Jude LaRene, owner of Izilla Toys in Seattle, recommended this for Christmas because: “It’s still a game many don't have yet and everyone loves.”
— “Customers are looking for word games; I call them logical-thinking games. [Games] such as Gobblet by Blue Orange,” Terry Myers, owner of Kaleidoscope Toys in Round Rock, Texas, told TDmonthly.
— Two of 44 retailers named Gobblet as one of their absolute best sellers in late fall 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3950      (added 7/15/2005)
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MSRP: $26.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Board Games



Agriculture has never been so much fun. Kids battle to harvest their crops before the ravens descend on the farm. The board features colorful wooden fruit pieces. Kids can join up and play as teams.
— “It’s an expensive game, generally speaking, but it has a very good following of people who know it and recommend it and then other people buy it,” said Jason Oliver, chief operating officer of Oompa Toys, based in Los Angeles. “We have three versions of the game. The regular sells the most. It’s consistent.”
—  “It probably sells best of our HABA games,” said Owner Alex Goedrich of Maulika in Carlsbad, Calif. “HABA does a really nice line of games with wooden pieces that are fun and quick and easy to learn,” retailer Diane Robinson of Essex, Mass., told TDmonthly before the 2006 holidays.
— This game is a top seller at Stone Soup in Bar Harbor, Maine, Catherine Higgins said in May 2008. Two other retailers, out of 66 surveyed, also named HABA items as best sellers in their stores.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4887      (added 9/30/2005)
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MSRP: $14.99
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Board Games



Balloon Lagoon brings home all the fun of a day at the carnival, with colorful illustrations and festive games in an immersive 3-D environment. More fun than a ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl, Balloon Lagoon allows children to show off their talents as they compete in four activities while the merry-go-round music plays. This fantastically fun game gets kids thinking, matching, flipping and fishing as they collect balloons to win.
— “I have this set up in my shop,” explained Vincent Spiropoulos, owner of Spiro-Gyro Toys in Walla Walla, Wash., “and kids can’t stop playing with it, so parents have to buy it. Sneaky, but it works.”
— “One of my top sellers,” said Denise Kahn, co-owner of Toy Town in Athens, Ga.
— Alisa Feinstein of Cranium Games told TDmonthly that "the game's exciting sights and  sounds make spelling, matching, and counting fun …so kids learn as they  play."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6151      (added 12/22/2005)
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Age Range: 10 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



In a Pickle gets the creative juices flowing with creative and imaginative elements. This is a great game to stretch the brain. Kids can create outrageous scenarios and challenge themselves (and their opponents) to think outside the norm.  Winner of  National Parenting Center Seal of Approval,  Creative Child Magazine Preferred Choice Award, Dr. Toy's 10 Best Games of The Year, Dr. Toy's Top 100 Children's Products, iParenting Media Award , and Canadian Toy Testing  Council  (Highest Rating).
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10249      (added 11/27/2006)
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MSRP: $44.95
Age Range: 9 and up
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



Khet combines lasers with cstrategy in an award-winning game that takes minutes to learn but yields infinite possibilities. Players move Egyptian-themed, mirrored pieces around the playing field, ending each turn by firing a laser that bounces around with the goal of knocking out an opponent’s pharaoh. The silver player wins the game by deflecting his laser around the field and hitting the red player’s pharaoh. With the addition of fog or smoke, the laser beam becomes visible for more high-tech excitement. Khet (formerly known as Deflexion) caused a stir in 2006 at Toy Fair and Pomona. “The game truly spans the generation gap, with enough technology to interest the 'video-gamers' of the younger crowd while maintaining enough classic strategy ... to interest their grandparents and everyone in between,” Luke Hooper of Innovention Toys told TDmonthly.   It received a 2006 MENSA Select Award and was a 2007 T.O.T.Y. Game-of-the-Year Nominee. Launch date: 2006. Read Review
— "Khet ... is great seller for us. It's new and did well — even at $50," summed up Danny Givens, owner of Little Dickens in Lynchburg, Va.
— "I put my money on Khet," Co-owner Michele Gietz of Where'd You Get That? in Williamstown, Mass., said in October 2008 about anticipated holiday best sellers. "We only bring in 15 at a time, but the price doesn't scare anybody off — just have to hit the right people."
― Taka Andrews, owner of Miller's Toy Store in Mamaroneck, N.Y., said Khet is a top seller for tween boys, despite the allure of video games. Seven of 39 retailers told TDmonthly in October 2009 that board games are their go-to items for tween-aged boys.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3719      (added 5/27/2005)
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Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Board Games



The world's a stage, especially when kids are playing the Kids on Stage Game. Perfect for even young kids because no reading is required, Kids on Stage Game gives kids the chance to act out items in this charades-type game meant to put every young player in the spotlight. Every player gets to act and move and have fun, and they can do it on their own since an adult doesn't have to read for them. The Kids on Stage Game is the creative game that encourages activity and helps develop communication skills — plus it is fun to see what each player is going to do next.
— “We sell a lot of games called Kids on Stage, said Christine Hildebrand of Alphabet Toys in Davis, Calif. She claims to have had such great success because of the wide age range the game appeals to, and “probably because we kind of like it,” she told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5696      (added 11/28/2005)
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MSRP: $26.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill



This alphabet puzzle toy was designed to combine fun and learning. It comes with large pieces containing letters and drawings that are visually and intellectually appealing to the growing mind. It’s handcrafted of solid wood.
— "We sell a lot of puzzles. Most of the ones we sell well are Melissa & Doug. They’re a really great company," said Rene Leonardi, assistant manager at Ouray Toys in Ouray, Colo.
— Owner Elaine Hackney of Boing! JP’s Toy Shop has carried these chunky puzzles for a couple of years and said they are best sellers due to their graphics and play value. “Each puzzle piece stands alone and can be used for pretending as well as for the puzzle,” she told TDmonthly in summer 2007.
— Rick Davis, from marketing at Melissa & Doug, told TDmonthly that “We just try to make it fun to sell our toys, and from what we hear from our vendors, customers, and from the media, it sounds like we’re succeeding.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9730      (added 10/23/2006)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 5 and up
SKU or Item #: 4005556213122
Launch Date: January 1990
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



Piling penguins takes some great balancing skills. Take a penguin and put it wherever you want on the iceberg. Sounds simple, but as more penguins are placed on the iceberg by all of the other players, it gets pretty tricky ! If any penguins fall while a player is trying to put a penguin on the iceberg, that player must take all of the fallen penguins. The first player to put all of his or her penguins on the iceberg wins the game. Penguin Pile Up teaches careful planning, and cause and effect. Angel’s Toy Barn in Greensburg, Pa., told TDmonthly that “… for preschoolers, Ravensburger’s Penguin Pile Up does well.”
“Ravensburger quality is what sets this  product apart.  Everything we make adheres to the world's highest toy  quality standards making all Ravensburger products ideal for the specialty toy  market,” shared Phil Aberbach of Ravensburber. Launch date: 1990.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10128      (added 11/17/2006)
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MSRP: $9.99
Age Range: 7 and up
SKU or Item #: 10437
Launch Date: July 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



Multi-award-winning Professor Noggin’s games help children learn and communicate while having fun. Other titles include Explorers, History of the United States and  Countries of the World  (best-selling title). “We’ve been doing very well also with Professor Noggin’ by Outset Media,” said Mary Walsh, owner of Greenfield, Mass.’s Magical Child. Launch Date: July 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10250      (added 11/27/2006)
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MSRP: $29.95
Age Range: 8 and up
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



In this exciting strategy game, players use colorful rings to challenge each other to win the most territories. It takes finding the right balance between gaining majorities and controlling the opponents to capture victory. Fast-paced and addictive, this beautifully crafted all-wooden game will please the whole family. For two to four players, playtime is approximately 20 minutes. The game includes a wooden playing board with 25 territories, 1 starting base, 48 wooden rings and instructions. Launch date: 2006.
— “Blue Orange Ringgz is great. It has a beautiful wooden board,” said Cathy Albrow, owner of Creative Learning Toys in Grand Rapids, Mich.
— "The best-selling toys are hands down those from Blue Orange. All-wooden games is what they do. Their games are original designs and ideas," said David Correa, buyer at Mrs. Tiggy Winkles in Tucson, Ariz.
— Adeline Bertrix, from sales and marketing at Blue Orange, told TDmonthly, “It’s a completely new concept. There is no strategy game out there like it. It can be played by two, three or four players. The colors are very lively. The design is very simple. It’s a beautiful game. It’s very addictive. Both adults and children can play it, and I think that’s very important.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7326      (added 3/27/2006)
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Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



Kids flip and stack this clever loaf of cards to build slamwiches and double deckers. Tomato, lettuce, tomato ... slap! The player who gets there first will win the pile. But he’ll have to catch the thief and stop the muncher from stealing a stack of cards. When he’s out of cards, he’s out of the game. The first player to collect all the cards wins. Slamwich teaches reading readiness skills, such as visual discrimination and sequencing. While kids are flipping and stacking cards, they're actually learning how to recognize a series, make combinations, and anticipate what might happen. "Slamwich includes bread-shaped, die-cut cards. It's a fast-playing card game. It's also Gamewright's first card game," said Jason Schneider, product development and marketing manager for Gamewright.
—    Rosie Morris, manager of Whiz Kid Toys in San Luis Obispo, Calif., told TDmonthly to watch out for Gamewright, naming Slamwich as one of their hottest 2006 sales items.
—    "We have a lot of card games from Gamewright. One of the better ones is Slamwich," Shirley Reilly, owner of Let's Play in Hillsboro, Ore., told TDmonthly. In an August 2008 survey of 64 retailers, storeowners reported average sales of about a dozen per month. Six named Slamwich as a best-selling card game.
— In August 2010, five of 43 retailers surveyed cited Slamwich as a best-selling card game.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10251      (added 11/27/2006)
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Age Range: 5 and up
SKU or Item #: BP06302
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



Players turn up one card at a time, keeping an eye out for matching cards. Players compete to be the first to call out the name of the matched object. The player with the most cards wins. Launch Date: 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10252      (added 11/27/2006)
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MSRP: $34.95
Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Board Games
Educational
General Games



This game teaches geography by having players race around the world. The first one to complete a flight wins.
— “This game is one of our long-term best sellers,” said Hans Isaacson, president of UnclesGames.com. “It’s done really well, and we’re currently out of it.”
— The Highlights for Children Web site states, “Our editors were thrilled with this award-winning Take Off! board game.”
— Pam from The Ark Toy Co. in Berkeley, Calif. has had great success with Take Off! by Resource Games. “I just reordered more,” she told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3602      (added 5/19/2005)
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MSRP: $17.00
Age Range: 3 and up
Launch Date: February 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Preschool



Time for Tea! Kids spin for a plate and napkin first. Then some tea to quench their thirst. Mind your manners if you please … but lose a turn if you see bees! This wonderful tea party game comes with a floral tablecloth for players to gather around. The first player to collect one item from each category, by spinning the tea pot–shaped spinner starting with a plate and building up their tea-time favorites, wins. The Tea Party Game was launched in February 2006.
— Devo Ihonde of eeBoo Corp. told TDmonthly that “children can enjoy choosing different tea cups, saucers and treats.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7009      (added 2/24/2006)
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MSRP: $24.99
Age Range: 5 and up
Launch Date: February 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games
Board Games



This game of laundry madness involves an electronic burping plastic laundry hamper that periodically ejects all of a players' dirty laundry! Oh dear! The two to four players strive to be the first to place all of their dirty clothes in the hamper as they move around the playing board. The game was recently introduced but already is selling at 30 retailers and received an award for 2006. The bright, playful box design was created by a pro at Hasbro to help guarantee the product's success. Launch date: February 2006.
— “The game is a fresh, humorous look at laundry that will appeal to boys and girls aged 5 to 9,” Julie and Scott Kuehn of Bluebonnet explained to TDmonthly. “Since the game isn't in the big box retailers, independent retailers can make good margins and offer something unique.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6363      (added 1/5/2006)
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MSRP: $19.95
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Preschool



Coocoo the Rocking Clown just loves to juggle, but his big curved green shoes make him wobble and keep throwing him off balance. The kid who can help him juggle the most balls without making any of them fall, wins. For 1 to 6 players, this all-wooden game takes approximately 10 minutes to play. It includes one wooden rocking clown, 24 wooden balls and instructions. The game was launched in February 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7325      (added 3/27/2006)
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