TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 Awards
The Toys That Everyone Wants to Play With
Wow … what an amazing selection of toys TDmonthly Magazine has reviewed over the past year! We’re proud to finally announce the 20 toys that have earned the TDmonthly Top Toy award for 2007.
The most prestigious of the four awards in TDmonthly’s new program, this honor goes to products that not only demonstrate superior design, safety and play value, but also represent innovation in the way the product is conceived and executed.
Concerns about the environment and society bring a level of seriousness to many of these toys that will be appreciated by adult buyers, but of little concern to the kids — who’ll just be thrilled by how much fun they are. We believe that a few even have the capacity to one day become classic toys.
Some of the newer items are not yet proven in specialty stores, but based on retailer excitement at trade shows and critical review by TDmonthly staff, they are likely to make an impression in the coming year.
Here are the top specialty toys for 2007, with a price range for every type of store, from mom-and-pop to super high end:
Automoblox Minis are a reinvention of the classic wooden toy car — a fusion of heirloom craftsmanship and ultra-modern styling, transformed into a mix-and-match design system that allows kids to create their own special car styles. This truck features blue wheels and a transparent blue top. “The fact is, there are no similar products. That’s what sets the Minis apart from everything else,” Manager of Public Relations Tina Noelle Mezzina of Automoblox told TDmonthly. Launch date: October 2007.
— A smaller version of the original Automoblox, the Minis earned a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award by coupling classic wooden design with sleek, colorful modern appeal. Automoblox vehicles drive away with a prize because they have a construction component, feature quality materials, come in various styles, are virtually indestructible and are ideal for both play and display.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15246 (added 9/19/2007)
Bendominos play like regular dominoes, but the innovative, curved design gives players more control over the game. In this twisting game, a new Bendomino must match by number to either end of the chain, but also has to fit. "Watch a new pattern emerge as the shape creates a chain that snakes and twists across the table. The high-quality pieces are visually stimulating and irresistible to touch" Adeline Beatrix, sales manager of Blue Orange Games, told TDmonthly. "In addition, the design of the pieces presents new opportunities for creative play beyond dominoes." Under the new “Tree Campaign,” Blue Orange Games is committed to planting two trees for every tree used to create its games. Awards: 007 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold, Parent to Parent Adding Wisdom, Spring 2007 Dr. Toy Best Products, 2007 Creative Child Seal Of Excellencep; 2007 Toy Man Seal of Approval, Award of Excellence and E-Choice awards. Launch date: February 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11503 (added 2/19/2007)
Corolle’s 17", multilingual baby doll communicates in French, English, Spanish or Italian. Through a simple, well-hidden and secure battery system, little girls can activate Lia’s language skills using different Corolle charm bracelets. Specific, gentle touches and tickles to Lia result in endearing, realistic responses. She is dressed in velour pajamas and a cap. Accessories include a bib, bottle, pacifier, teddy bear and charm bracelets. AAA batteries are not included.
― “I like working with … Corolle as I can order only what I can use for the time period,” Owner Patti Tepper-Rasmussen of Learning Tree Toys in Oklahoma City, Okla., told TDmonthly in spring 2007.
— “I think people want more interactive dolls,” said Nellie Fais, owner of Toy Magic in Bethlehem, Pa. Twenty-seven of 62 retailers said in spring 2007 that Corolle is their best-selling doll brand, with sales ranging from six to 25 units per month. Corolle’s Lia and Lila are best sellers for Brain Station and Tree Town Toys in Ann Arbor, Mich., Owners Hans and Tricia Masing told TDmonthly in fall 2007.
— Interactive Lia is a precious baby doll from a company that’s popular with specialty retailers. She earned a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award for educational value, as she speaks pertinent baby phrases, such as “I’m hungry!” in four languages. Her little baby voice is as pleasant as her pretty pink outfit and accessories. She’s much more than the average baby doll, and vanilla-scented at that.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12707 (added 5/8/2007)
PlayFoam by EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS INC.
Other products from EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS INC.
PlayFoam provides hours of creative fun with its lightweight, colorful foam-sculpting material that won't crumble, stick to skin or surfaces or dry out. According to an Educational Insights press release, PlayFoam was being “pre-ordered by the hundreds” at Toy Fair 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5962 (added 12/14/2005)
Put side-by-side with a real, live cat, it would be hard to tell the difference from this puppet. True to its breed, this cat looks and feels like the living feline — floppy, relaxed and almost boneless. It is made of long, spiky plush in browns and tans with white paws and face, and has a long, fluffy tail.
— This relaxed feline garnered a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award for its realistic fur and overall appearance, as well as its friendly persona. It’s a loveable creature that kids can carry around while “speaking” to others by manipulating its mouth.
— As of 05/13/2011 this product had 4.7 out of 5 stars from 13 reviews on Amazon.com. Cons: One user said that the eyes looked "demented and pretty scary" and that "Its little mouth is red and open, as though ready to take little nips out of me while I sleep."
Where to Buy: Really Great Toys
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14608 (added 8/13/2007)
This cooperative game is fun for all ages. Together, two to four players have to grab the wooden pieces and stack them to match the picture on the card. But watch out! If they fall, the King gets closer to the castle. Together, we can be strong and beat the king!
Where to Buy: Camelot Kids
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14409 (added 7/31/2007)
The Original PlasmaCar continues to intrigue and fascinate. Powered by kid power; no batteries, gears, or pedals needed. Just sit, put your feet up, and turn the steering wheel to propel yourself forward. The patented safety seat design places riders in a safe, comfortable position and minimizes tipping. Moves up to 6 mph on any smooth, flat surface. Supports up to 220 lbs. Visit www.plasmacar.com to see all the wonderful colors available.
— In a March 2015 survey, two out of 10 retailers told TDmonthly that Plasmacar is a best-selling outdoor toy.
— As of 05/13/2011 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 122 reviews on Amazon.com. Cons: Does not work well on surfaces that aren't completely smooth.
— This top-seller in specialty stores earned a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award for its distinctive aerodynamic design and ease-of-use. TDmonthly believes it has the potential to become a classic due to its fresh, contemporary appeal and application in a child’s formative years.
Awards: 2012 Parents Choice Awards Recommended, 2009 Green Parents List Check Mark, 2009 DisneyFamily.com Top Action Figures and Toys for Toddlers, 2009+2008+2005 The National Parenting Centre Seal of Approval, 2008 iParenting Media Toy Award, 2008 Fat Brain Toy Award Active Play, 2006 TIA Outdoor Toy of the Year - Specialty Toy of the Year, 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, 2005 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award, 2005 Dr. Toy Best Vacation Products, 2005 Creative Child Seal of Excellence, 2001 International Patent Fair, Hong Kong Gold Medal
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3829 (added 6/28/2005)
The Playful Chef set includes 10 kid-sized cooking tools, one toolbelt apron and five healthy hands-on recipes, all packed in a backpack for easy storage. The Chef gives children safety tips, color-coded measurements, 10-step instructions and 11 illustrated learning lessons. It also helps them learn how to plan a healthy meal, shop for nourishing ingredients and cook with the right tools. This cooking kit received a 2007 iParenting Media Outstanding Product Award and was selected for Dr. Toy’s Best Products Resource Program Spring 2007. Launch date: November 2006.
Where to Buy: The Satin Button
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13956 (added 7/6/2007)
Engage your gladiators with competition in the arena. Features include audience seating with trap doors to the lions cages, wide gate and large battle area. Also comes with eight figures, two lions, a double-harness chariot and lots of accessories for hours of fun. "Playmobil toys allow the child's imagination to soar, while playing and learning!" Michelle Winfrey, advertising and marketing manager of Playmobil Inc., told TDmonthly. This product is a winner of the 2007 Oppenheim Gold Award. Launch date: August 2007.
Where to Buy: Really Great Toys
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10909 (added 1/4/2007)
Poppo! is a fast-paced word game that is educational and fun for the whole family. Parents want fun, challenging and educational activities for their kids. Kids want to play right away, hate to wait, love challenges and definitely want to win. Peter Poppo and his pals come together in this exciting, new game specially designed for emerging readers. Your child pops the lettered dice in the poppers and matches them with the word or picture on the card. Being able to rearrange and assemble letters into words in a fast-paced setting is challenging and fun. Once children master the fundamental connection among the letters, the words and the pictures they see, they will be well on their way to becoming excellent readers. Poppo! received a 2007 Major FUN Award, The National Parenting Center's 2007 Seal of Approval and a Spring 2007 Best Products Award from Dr. Toy.
— "We offer educational, character-building products that help to bring adults and kids together," Chief Executive Optimist Michael Vien told TDmonthly. "Specialty stores are going to be able to create a Poppo! package of games, books, toys and plush characters in a way that will let customers consume products in the way they want to, by interacting simultaneously across multiple-delivery methods." He added that there will soon be a Poppo Pals virtual online community for kids and parents to learn and play together.
— Poppo! garnered a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award for being a simple, yet useful, educational word game with the undeniable fun factor of poppers. It also introduces new characters and thrives off of the company’s well-articulated and executed mission of enriching lives through play.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9840 (added 10/27/2006)
Multi-award winning and multi-directional Wheely Bugs, distributed in the United States by Prince Lionheart, go backward, forward, sideways and 'round and 'round. These ride-on bugs have a magical mind of their own. Their bodies have a padded layer of sponge, which is covered with a tough polyurethane skin that can easily be wiped clean. Handmade and crafted from the highest quality materials, Wheely Bug features multi-directional casters and unlimited mobility on all level surfaces. “The fact that the Wheely Bug is multi-directional, encourages gross motor skills and at the same time is heaps of fun,” explains its appeal, said Sarah Eastman, sales and marketing associate at Prince Lionheart. “In addition,” she continued, “this is a great product for the specialty market because it is handmade and beautifully crafted. Now moms can let their kids play with bugs, worry-free.”
― Wheely Bug was a Toy Fair favorite spotted by Terry Myers, owner of Kaleidoscope Toys in Round Rock, Texas. It was voted Toy of the Year in BabyTalk's Dec. 2006/Jan. 2007 issue and received the 2007 Silver Award for Best Baby & Infant Product in The Netherlands.
— This handmade Australian toy earns gold stars for everything — wooden base, sturdy construction, simple design, adorable themes, easy-to-clean seat, multi-directional motion and two size options — all adding up to its receipt of a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award.
— Two of 60 retailers in a March 2009 survey listed Prince Lionheart Wheely Bugs as a best-selling ride-in in their stores. The Wheely Bug was a best seller at Golden Apple Learning Store in Pleasanton, Calif., in summer 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10241 (added 11/27/2006)
This dynamic, new line of 44-key baby grand and upright pianos, launched to coincide with Schoenhut’s 135th anniversary, features true piano sound … without the use of electronics. The mid-sized piano is less intimidating for small children who want to learn to play the piano. This line is not intended to replace Schoenhut’s vintage models that feature chime-like tones, such as those originally developed by Albert Schoenhut in 1872. Rather, the introduction is in response to requests from customers for a “new” sound. It’s available in black, white or red. Launch date: January 2007.
— If parents wish to start their kids on the piano before they’re ready for the real baby grand, this stunningly beautiful instrument with authentic piano sound is the way to go. It received a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award for innovation in mechanics and design within the category of musical instruments for children, as well as its ability to grace any space while furthering a young child’s music education.
Toy Fair 2007
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11647 (added 2/26/2007)
DC Comics™ DC STARS™ TCF Collection by TONNER DOLL COMPANY
Other products from TONNER DOLL COMPANY
Licensed by Warner Bros. Consumer Products on behalf of DC Comics™, Wonder Woman and Supergirl are the first Tonner Character Figures released. The 16"- to 17"-tall dolls feature hand-painted faces, multiple articulated joints for expression and mobility, rooted hair, removable clothing and additional clothes and accessories available for purchase. Other characters in the line include Superman, Lois Lane, Batman and Batgirl. Launch date: 2007. Watch Toy Fair demo video
— This is one licensed product that doesn’t miss a beat going from comic book to collectible-action figure. Sleek and elegant figures, beautifully hand-painted faces, articulated joints for movement and posing, outfits that capture the superhero(ine) spirit, and shiny, artfully styled hair are some of the reasons Tonner’s DC STARS™ dolls earned a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award. Plus, even a guy in the office couldn’t resist posing Bat Girl a few times.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11331 (added 2/2/2007)
“Kids” can create radio-controlled, rumbling robots and pit up to six of them against each other at a time, thanks to six interchangeable RC frequencies. Working with sturdy, yet flexible interlocking Uberstix components, builders utilize physics, engineering and creative skills to design robots that can trounce their opponents. In the heat of battle, UberBots employ jabs and hooks and even speak preprogrammed Japanese phrases designed to conquer all foes. Knocking down an opponent three times is a win. Then the fighters retire to redesign their Bots and devise another unbeatable strategy for victory. The 621 kit includes two UberBots, 250 Uberstix pieces, two remote controls, two flags, 14 rechargeable Ni-Cad batteries, two chargers and building instructions.
— These Japanese-speaking robotic construction toys received a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award for many reasons: the scientific knowledge they invite in construction and redesign, their RC capability to fight multiple robots at one time, the creativity and inventiveness required when reprogramming the UberBots, and the signature, interlocking Überstix parts that make up their distinctive structure. Finally, Überstix are made from recycled plastic and can be combined with other building toys, setting their kits on a higher plane than other construction toys.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12117 (added 3/28/2007)
Ball of Whacks by CREATIVE WHACK COMPANY
Other products from CREATIVE WHACK COMPANY
A marvel of engineering, the Ball of Whacks is made up of 30 magnetic, rhombic pyramids that can be taken apart and rearranged in endless creative ways. More versatile than a puzzle and lots more fun than a brainteaser, there’s no right or wrong way to use it. Just pick it up and play with it! Designed to be a creativity workshop in a box, Ball of Whacks comes with a 96-page illustrated guidebook providing exercises for creative brainstorming, strategies for problem solving, insights into the creative process, and challenges to construct shapes and mosaics and invent new ones. The game is also a good stress reliever for active individuals working under pressure, the manufacturer informed TDmonthly. "This item is immediately engaging and challenging for all ages up to adult, with endless ways to play," said Creative Whack Company Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Operations Kathryn Cooperman. This product received a Spring 2007 Parents' Choice Recommended Award. Launch date: 2006.
Where to Buy: Escapade Direct
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15866 (added 10/23/2007)
Ernie Fire Engine comes to the rescue with his powerful friction motor and crew of firefighters. Little firefighters can ring his push-button bell and watch his revolving light before using the click-and-turn ladder to fight any imaginary blaze. The firefighter’s hand opens the back door to reveal two emergency barriers. Ernie is great for long-lasting role-play fun.
— “Wow is an excellent line of cars, especially for the 1- to 1½ -year-olds,” said Fred Rosenberg, owner of On the Park in Kingwood, Texas, in spring 2007. “It’s hard to find things as well made as [Wow] that you can actually sell to that age. In the fall , we brought them in, and they’ve done very well.” They’ve also become a best seller for Brain Station and Tree Town Toys in Ann Arbor, Mich., Owners Hans and Tricia Masing told TDmonthly in fall 2007.
— “This is my baby’s favorite toy. She plays with it every day,” shared TDmonthly's Baby Roundtable reviewer Sharri Hefner. She and her co-reviewers voted Ernie No. 1 for lasting value out of the 12 toys they evaluated from March to July 2007.
— Ernie Fire Engine is full of “wow” for toddlers — from its friction-prompted motion and siren to its friendly face and likable figurines. Doors that open and close, a workable ladder and attractive packaging also contributed to its receipt of a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award. Saving trips to the store to buy batteries (it doesn’t need them) helped, too!
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12722 (added 5/10/2007)
Part of the Safari Collection of Zoobie™ Pets, Mashaka the Monkey is a plush animal, pillow and blanket all in one. It wears a light-blue collar, and the blanket is detachable for washing convenience. The Zoobie Pets Safari Line was included on the ASTRA "Best-for-Kids" toy list for Holiday 2007 and received a Best Bet 2007 Award from the Canadian Toy Testing Council. Launch date: February 2007.
— Zoobie Pets' innovative three-in-one design has captured the attention of numerous retailers at trade shows this year, also garnering a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award. In addition to featuring soft, quality materials, the Zoobie Pet’s identity as a stuffed animal, pillow and blanket is executed extremely well, leaving great possibilities for travel and growth with any child.
— The new Zoobies were doing well for Brandy Lindstrom, manager of Little Blue Choo Choo in Scottsdale Ariz. in fall 2007.
— As of 05/13/2011 this product had 4 out of 5 stars from 3 reviews on Amazon.com. Cons: Two customers said they wished they had bought the larger size, because the "baby" size was smaller than they had expected.
Where to Buy: Kazoo Toys; Poopsie's
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15385 (added 9/25/2007)
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Writer's Bio: Julie L. Jones has written articles for both newspapers and magazines. Before joining the staff of TDmonthly Magazine, she worked as a communications writer and provided editorial support for a market research company. Read more articles by this author
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