TDmonthly Magazine!
January 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 1
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Innovations of 2006

Toymakers Talk About What Made Their Toys Different


Described by Trikke as “skiing with handlebars,“ the 34-pound Skki is easier than skiing or snowboarding.
TDmonthly Magazine asked manufacturers about their most notable and innovative toys from 2006. According to their responses, products implementing music, media and outdoor fun were among the most remarkable products that graced toy shelves last year.

Zizzle, a manufacturer renowned for its innovative electronic products, introduced a series of arcade pinball machines, with popular themes from Pirates of the Caribbean to the princesses of Disney.

“At two thirds the size [of a conventional pinball machine], and one tenth the price,” Scott Goldberg told TDmonthly, “it’s truly a fascinating and innovative item.

On a musical note, Nooboo Symphonic Stacker by Manhattan Toy (ToyDirectory) struck a chord with toddlers and infants, teaching them valuable new skills and enhancing their senses.

Allegro Rainbow’s Piano Wizard was also playing an innovative tune in 2006.

“Piano Wizard utilizes the most intuitive and revolutionary approach to teaching music to ever come along,” Brian Metcalf of Allegro Rainbow told TDmonthly. Using the Piano Wizard 4 Step Method, anyone can learn to play piano in a matter of minutes, he said.

Not all innovations require batteries or electrical outlets. 2006 saw a number of advancements in outdoor toys, including a new and improved basketball design kit by Design Your Own.

“Our kits cross multiple product categories — arts and crafts, creative activities, sporting goods, and outdoor play,” Nicole Shum told TDmonthly about Design Your Own’s latest product in their sports craft line.

Trikke Tech is also taking innovation outdoors. To the slopes, to be exact. Skki, a human-powered ski and scooter hybrid, is great fun for kids and adults alike. Described by Trikke as “skiing with handlebars,” the 34-pound Skki is easier than skiing or snowboarding.

Here are some of the other toys with a twist from 2006:




Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Action Figures



This 1:6 scale Adventurer Figure Set contains a collection of artifacts for early history collectors. This all-authentic design comes in a deluxe display box set. Jacques has stitched hair and beard, and is dressed in correct voyageur clothing. This set is great for home or school. Other figures available.
— According to John Driscoll of Manitou Free Traders, Jacques is “historically correct” and was designed with “great articulation.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9425      (added 9/20/2006)
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MSRP: $12.99
Age Range: 5 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Aircraft



Children of all ages are mesmerized by the aerial acrobatics of planes, helicopters and aerial rescue crews. With the Command Force Micro Chopper Patrol, they can engage in rescue missions of their own. The tethered chopper rests on its helipad along a 12” base. Separate flight control levers for throttle and pitch allow precision flight movements up, down, forward and backward 360°. The Command Force Micro Chopper Patrol comes with two supply crates that a skilled pilot can pick up with the helicopter’s retractable grappling hook and return to the helipad to complete the rescue. “We’ve taken a classic toy concept and updated it with realistic details and features for a new generation of kids,” said Jasman Toys Vice President Brian Bonnett. “Our licensed Chopper Patrols use actual sounds from real helicopters — the Super Cobra makes a thumping rotor sound, and the Apache makes the more whiny engine sound of  the real-life version.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8679      (added 7/24/2006)
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MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 3 to 8
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Gifts
Play Sets
Pretend Play



10-year-old Max Rothschild co-invented these storage bins/toys with his father, Wayne. Unzipped, the Dinosaur ZipBin becomes a dinosaur island activity surface for use with dinosaurs, animals, vehicles, boats and action figures. Fantasy play is encouraged by a prehistoric world featuring a volcano, a river, a tar pit and a mysterious cave. ZipBins also come in Road & Rail, Castle, Medieval Castle, Farm, Unicorn and other versions. ZipBins were launched in January 2006.
— Katherine and John Hodge of Neat-oh! International consider their Zip Bin line of toys to be a “a new way to play ... and put things away!”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6828      (added 2/6/2006)
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Age Range: 3 to 8
SKU or Item #: 5214
Launch Date: February 2007
Gender: Boys
Category: Action Figures



Hockey Guys is a boxed set of 2" plastic hockey players.  Inside each easy-to-carry plastic case are two hockey teams, one referee, one oversize puck,  two hockey goals and a white mat designed to look like a hockey rink. "Other companies sell individual collectible hockey figures but no other company offers a box filled with two full teams of players and all the necessary equipment for them to set up their own imaginary game,” Christy Kaskey of Kaskey Kids Inc. told TDmonthly. Launch date:  February 2007
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10829      (added 12/28/2006)
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Age Range: 4 to 12
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Remote Controlled



Skate Ranger is America’s latest super-hero. This unique remote-controlled action-figure toy follows in the exciting and enormously successful tradition of Superman, Batman, Spider Man, and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. This roller-blading, body-gyrating, dare-devil action figure is great for kids aged from 4 to 12. According to  Jonatan Domatov of Skate Ranger Action Figures, “Kids love it.” Launch date: 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10830      (added 12/28/2006)
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MSRP: $299.99
Age Range: 5 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Electronics



Zizzle Arcade Floor Pinball has a stylized look of a real arcade pinball machine. Two players can compete for a high score, playing on a wood cabinet that houses a colorful bold playfield design that includes arcade pinball features, such as pop bumpers, spinners, solenoid controlled flippers, multilevel ramps, led lighting, roll-thru lanes, wire ball guides, backlit LCD scoring, slingshot kickers, targets, tilt and more. The machine truly comes to life with real sound effects and independent flipper buttons that control all the wild pinball fun.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9748      (added 10/24/2006)
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MSRP: $14.99
Launch Date: February 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Electronics



Tamagotchi Connection Version 3 includes three new games (for a total of five games), and 20 more characters (for a total of 52). Using the interactive, electronic egg-shaped Tamagotchi Connection, fans can go online and visit TamaTown.com. Here, they can shop in the TamaTown mall, eat in the international food court, watch a movie at the theater, visit with their virtual pet’s parents and grandparents, meet the King and even travel the world, just as long as they have their official Tamagotchi passport. And through the exchange of passwords, special items and treats can then be collected in the Tamagotchi egg as well. New colors and design styles include Tropical Green Flowers, Jungle Camouflage, Ice Cream, Oceanic Wave, Metallic Silver and Translucent Yellow.
— According to Cliff Jin, a public relations rep for Bandai America, Tamagotchi,is “…the world ’s first and most popular virtual pet.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6849      (added 2/7/2006)
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MSRP: $14.99
Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Pretend Play



The alien adventures of Ben 10 come to life with the realistic Omnitrix F/X.  This awesome role-play toy can be worn on the wrist — just like the one our favorite hero Ben Tennyson wears — and features red and green flashing lights, as well as sound effects direct from the show.  Turn the dial to select from one of the 10 alien characters and then press down on the face of the Omnitrix to launch the cool transformation action. This lineup will return in 2007 with different alien characters, as well as new unique features once they have been transformed.
— Cliff Jin, a public relations rep for Bandai America, described Ben 10 Omnitrix F/X as “mini role-play toys.” He told TDmonthly that, “It’s like having two different toys in one.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9753      (added 10/24/2006)
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MSRP: $39.99
Age Range: 4 and up
SKU or Item #: BE-644
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Girls
Category: Musical Toys
Electronics
Licensed Products



The Barbie Jam With Me Karaoke Guitar looks and plays just like a real electric guitar. It comes with three top hit songs included on a cartridge and a karaoke microphone so girls can sing along with their favorite pop hits. There’s even a dock for her iPod nano so she can jam to her own MP3s. The free-play option and the automatic “Jammin” chords let kids rock out, while the pulsing lights, working whammy bar and microphone add to the rockin’ fun.  It also includes a line-in jack for other audio sources. Launch date: 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10110      (added 11/15/2006)
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MSRP: $199.95
Age Range: 5 and up
SKU or Item #: WFH-M49E0-GY-0
Launch Date: January 2003
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Musical Toys
Educational
Video Games



Piano Wizard Premier combines the fun of a video game with the fundamentals of piano lessons. That means children can sit up to a keyboard today and play anything from Bach to Bon Jovi. What once felt like practice now feels like play. Children can choose from four different fantasy worlds to play in. They can change the speed, the instrument sounds, the skill level and more. And in addition to the MIDI songs that come standard with Piano Wizard Premier, thousands more can be downloaded from Internet libraries. The software can be sold with or without the keyboard. According to Allegro Rainbow’s Brian Metcalfe, "The Piano Wizard Method teaches anyone to easily play piano in 4 steps. With Piano Wizard, the child is playing the piano the instant the game is started. They learn intuitively to hit the right note at the right time." Allegro is planning on releasing the highly anticipated Guitar Wizard. Launch date: 2003.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5847      (added 12/9/2005)
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MSRP: $29.99
Age Range: 1 and up
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



As little ones thread each soft ring on the post, they hear a different sound — a total of four instrumental sounds — to stimulate auditory development and reinforce cause-and-effect learning. Such interactive activity also helps babies develop motor and problem-solving skills. What’s more, an array of fabrics, including stretch nylon, delivers textural appeal. Bold colors and organic shapes add visual impact. Launch date: January 2006.
— According to Marketing Coordinator Maggie Henjum, “The NooBoo Symphonic Stacker [is] a fun twist on a classic stacking toy that helps babies develop valuable new skills and senses.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9752      (added 10/24/2006)
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MSRP: $17.95
Age Range: 4 and up
Launch Date: December 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books



From the amazing success of the documentary "March of the Penguins" to the popular penguins in "Madagascar," to this fall’s upcoming penguin-themed movie "Happy Feet," penguins are everywhere! That’s especially true for the family in "365 Penguins," who finds a penguin mysteriously delivered to their door every day for a year. At first they’re cute, but with every passing day, the penguins pile up — along with the family’s problems. In a large format, and with lots of opportunity for counting, "365 Penguins" is sure to become a perennial wintertime favorite. Launch date: December 2006.
— Valerie Ralph of Abrams Toys told TDmonthly that “They’re coming … not one, not two … 365 Penguins! The fun adds up in more than just black and white this December. And launching January 1, 2007, look for the 365 Penguins blog on www.abramsyoungreaders.com to find out the back story on each penguin.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9751      (added 10/24/2006)
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MSRP: $24.95
Age Range: 7 and up
Launch Date: January 2004
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books



This book reveals sweeping, truly visionary writing strategies through sound grammar tips; tactile, interactive sense prompts; and graphic spreads. Launch date: 2004.
— This book presents “a grammar-based strategy that absolutely works all the time across the board for fiction and non-fiction. It has been a real surprise to people in the writing world,” author Josephine Nobisso told TDmonthly, noting the book’s six awards. It gives parents “a real tool for shooting their children ahead in writing,” she added.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9745      (added 10/24/2006)
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MSRP: $15.95
Age Range: 2 to 8
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books



Put on your shoes and become a superstar athlete, a daring mountaineer or an adventurous pirate. “My Shoes Take Me Where I Want to Go” celebrates the beloved relationship between kids and their ... shoes. Fun and easy-to-read, this lyrical story invites children on a playful journey through the imagination, simply by donning a favorite pair of shoes. Bold, colorful artwork depicts intriguing "what if I could be..." scenarios, giving children plenty to dream about. “My Shoes Take Me Where I Want to Go” turns the everyday routine of putting on one’s shoes into an imaginative experience.  Any child can relate to and see themselves in the role of each character throughout the story, Colleen Niznik of Marianne Richmond Studios said. Launch date: January 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10111      (added 11/15/2006)
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MSRP: $899.99
Age Range: 14 and up
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Sporting Goods & Accessories
Vehicles - Riding
Outdoor Fun



The Skki, a cambering snow vehicle designed for fun, fitness and sports/recreation, is enjoyed by people of all ages. The apparatus is equipped with three short carving skis — two at the back under each foot, and one at the front — connected to the handlebars. The steering design allows riders to turn and lean simultaneously, naturally and gracefully leading the rider across the slope. Because the direction and angles of all three skis are fluidly engineered by the Skki’s three-point cambering system, everything is kept in line as the machine tracks effortlessly across the snow. Skki makes carving like a professional made easy. Launch date: 2006.
— According to John Simpson and the folks at Trikke Tech, “The Trikke Skki is most of all a fun product. Riding the Skki brings a smile to your face, because you are in control, feeling  free and enjoying the ride.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10109      (added 11/15/2006)
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MSRP: $14.99
Age Range: 6 and up
SKU or Item #: RBSKB
Launch Date: August 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts



Part of the Design Your Own sports craft kit line, the Design Your Own Real Basketball Kit combines art and athletics in a unique and unprecedented way.  The kit features a real, youth-sized basketball; an air pump and needle; six specially designed, permanent, double-tipped, colored markers; and an instruction sheet.  Kids inflate the basketball, then customize it with their own special design.  Kids can take their real, personalized basketball out on the court for practice and play.  The DYO Real Basketball Kit is the only craft kit that meets the needs of both artists and athletes, fostering creativity and commitment.  It truly is a one-of-a-kind product. Nicole Shum of Design Your Own stressed the multi-market value and distinctive appeal of the DYO Real Basketball Kit. She told TDmonthly, “Our kits cross multiple product categories: arts and crafts, creative activities, sporting goods, and outdoor play.  Ours are the only arts and crafts kits that feature real sports equipment.” Launch date: August 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9839      (added 10/27/2006)
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Age Range: 1 and up
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Wheeled Toys



Wunderwagon Jr. is a handcrafted wooden wagon that excites the imaginations of children and adults alike. The unique ladybug design provides safe and fun transportation that kids love. Grown-ups appreciate the high-quality materials, smooth ride, and extra-long handle for comfortable pulling. “Besides its unique body style, the Wunderwagon Jr.’s handcrafted materials, front caster wheels, and larger rear wheels give this wagon an extra-smooth, comfortable ride,” said Jack Heller of  Wunderworks of America LLC.  “Its compact design,” he continued, “makes it easy to transport and use in any type of environment.” Launch date: 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10106      (added 11/15/2006)
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MSRP: $14.98
Age Range: 2 and up
SKU or Item #: PUTU 257
Launch Date: May 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Audio & CD



New Orleans is one of the world’s great cultural crossroads, and children who grow up there are steeped in the music of the city. Now, kids everywhere can enjoy the mood-lifting music of the Big Easy with "New Orleans Playground." Part of Putumayo’s efforts to offer relief to victims of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Playground lifts everyone’s spirits as artists from Fats Domino and Hack Bartholomew get their toes tapping. "A portion of the proceeds benefits the Louisiana Children’s Museum," Manager Mona Kayhan of Putumayo Kids told TDmonthly. Beth Blenz-Clucas of Sugar Mountain PR called attention to the native distinctiveness of the CD: “There really isn't another collection of New Orleans songs geared specifically toward children.” This product received a spring 2007 Parents' Choice Gold Award. Launch date: May 22, 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9223      (added 9/5/2006)
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MSRP: $28.99
Age Range: 2 to 10
SKU or Item #: 823860000993
Launch Date: October 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Videos & DVDs



The Practice Time video series focuses on key skills needed to practice in order to perfect American Sign Language (ASL) communication skills. Practice Time’s unique interactive feature enables kids to practice ASL skills with Signing Time star, Rachel Coleman. Practice Time can be used as a companion to the Signing Time videos or on their own. The set includes Practice Time ABCs Level 1 and Practice Time 123s Level 1. “ASL is a beautiful, complex language that is incredibly beneficial for all children, hearing impaired or not,” Karen Gase told TDmonthly. “The Practice Time DVDs take a crucial ASL skill — finger spelling — and makes it easy and fun to practice.” Launch date: Oct 25, 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10107      (added 11/15/2006)
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Age Range: 3 and up
Launch Date: September 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Audio & CD



Supercharge your sales with Marvel Heroes Music for Me!  This is the first-ever retail-friendly personalized music CD.  It features eight fun and entertaining songs all about a child and his or her favorite superheroes.  On these CDs, the child’s name is used more than 30 times.  Stop trying to guess what names to carry and let Spider-Man and his friends do the selling for you.  No rack system and no special equipment or mass amounts of inventory are required. Each of the eight-song music CDs represents thousands of names in any spelling.  Using “Grab and Go” technology, the customer simply buys the CD from you and completes the personalization at home using their computer and the Internet in less than 2 minutes. Our fun and friendly instructions guide the parent or child through the process from start to finish.  The CDs come pre-packed in a colorful and informative countertop display with audio samples built in to help sell the product for you. Generate more profit per square foot with this revolutionary technology. It retails for $14.95 to $19.95. Launch date: September 15, 2006.
— Daryl Ragsdale of Kids Juke Box told TDmonthly, “With this innovative technology, we can generate more profit per square foot than any other personalized product on the market. While our music CDs have been an exciting addition to the toy market, what we are working on now will change the face of personalization forever.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7751      (added 4/28/2006)
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MSRP: $69.95
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Educational
Kits
Science & Nature



The Teaching Tank Starter Kit is extremely versatile. It comes with Discovery Book 1 and a bag of Clear Growing Crystals. The Teaching Tank will capture your child's natural curiosity in science and enhance his or her understanding of science through a variety of hands-on activities. Paul Reinbold of Captivation Inc. is proud of the acclaim that the Teaching Tank has garnered. He told TDmonthly that the Teaching Tank has received “…not one, but two prestigious awards from Dr. Toy, the first being one of the 100 Best Children's Products for 2006 and the second being one of the 10 Best Educational Products for 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6521      (added 1/11/2006)
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MSRP: $27.50
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: FB024-O
Launch Date: September 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction
American-Made



Dado will engage your imagination and help develop a keen eye for design, color, shape, size, space, balance, proportion and composition. Constructed horizontally, vertically or nested together, Dado invites unlimited visual spatial development and problem solving through design-centered play. Dado features ten cubes, scaled from 1” to 5”. This game is "self-expression revealed through a contemporary palette of play, " Kathy Lorkovic, at Fat Brain Toys, told TDmonthly. This product has won numerous awards, including a 2007 National Parenting Center Seal of Approval Award, a Spring 2007 Dr. Toy Best Product Award, a 2007 iParenting Media Excellent Products Award and a Creative Child Preferred Choice Award. Launch date: September 1, 2006.
— “Dado Cubes forms the foundation of a series of design-centered educational toys,” offered Mark Carson, developer and president of Fat Brain Toys. Dado is “that rare toy that combines intuitive fun with fine design. Equally rare is its ability to entertain young and old alike,” he added. “Beyond Dado, we have a number of products in development that have been inspired by true educational research.”

Past Videos: Toy Fair 2007
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9637      (added 10/6/2006)
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MSRP: $9.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Dolls



Harkening back to good old-fashioned fun and sparking the big dreams of little people, the CutiePatootie WannaBe Babies inspire children to believe that when they grow up, they can be whatever they WannaBe!
“In a marketplace dominated by high-tech toys, the CutiePatooties are refreshingly old-fashioned,” Keaghan Turner, Ph.D., told TDmonthly. “Following our belief that everything old can be new again, our Cuties reinvent the popular Kewpies of yesteryear with a twist for today’s kids.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6629      (added 1/18/2006)
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Age Range: 3 to 8
Gender: Girls
Category: Costumes & Accessories



Following the yellow brick road has never been easier for Dorothy in our adorable gingham dress. And when she wants to fly, she can transform into the remarkable Good Witch Glinda! Style #105: One size adjusts to fit ages 3 to 8.
— Susan Podshadley of Fairytale Fashion told TDmonthly that her company "saw the need for high quality dress up that is made with fine fabrics and sewing techniques.  The garments are not only an exquisite gift of heirloom quality fantasy, but are also built to withstand years of active play.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9820      (added 10/26/2006)
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MSRP: $299.00
Age Range: 3 to 7
Gender: Girls
Category: Furniture & Decor
Preschool
Creative Activities



This lovely pansy pattern includes one table and two stools. The set is extremely durable, with four coats of polyurethane over the hand-painted design. The set is recommended for ages 3 to 8. The table measures 30” W by 23” L and the stools measure 12”W by 12” L. Extra stools are available.
— Terri Foxworth of Teacup Tables told TDmonthly, “The set is extremely durable, with lacquer coated over the hand-painted design, making clean up a snap with a damp cloth. Each table is a unique work of art and is therefore signed by the artist.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6125      (added 12/21/2005)
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