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December 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 12
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December 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 12
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Top-10 Holiday Toys on VIDEO!

Get Inspired for Last-Minute Shopping


Ever wonder why most top-10 hot toys lists show you the same old things over and over? Many of the biggest toy companies pay spokespeople to inundate the media with their products during the holiday season! Unless you visit us at TDmonthly, it will take a lot of research and effort to find innovative, high-quality toys that you know the kids on your list will play with for months or years to come.

If you're looking for high-value gifts that show your loved ones they're worth more than mainstream junk, watch this video of the top-10 toys from TDmonthly's 2008 Specialty Toys Report: "Positive Toys for a Promising Future."™ You'll find a fierce-looking two-headed dragon that's cuddly enough to sleep with, a "magic wand" that makes an object levitate, soft hexagonal construction bits that let the whole family go wild creating, and lots more! Best of all, none of the companies featured in our videos or in our Report paid to be considered or included!

If you have time, you may even want to view our Top-20 Holiday Toys video, too (at left), which shows you the top 10, plus another 10 fantastic toys and games to make this holiday memorable. It's about 10 minutes long.

Happy Holidays!


Top-10 Toys Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Julie Jones with ToyDirectory and TDmonthly Magazine at TDmonthly.com. We'd like to show you some of the products that our staff and reviewers have found to be the most innovative, creative and exciting toys of the year.

So, to start off, we know that building blocks are such a staple in children's play. But the thing that makes Stack & Stick different is that the pieces actually come on this base here and they stick together so that the structure can be carried from room to room and not fall apart.

The HEXBUG from Innovation First: This little creature moves along, senses when objects are in its path and goes a different direction. It also responds to claps and other loud noises.

This is the Double-Headed Dragon from Bullyland Toys, and unlike most animal figures, this is much larger, as you can see. It's also got kind of this squishy, soft material for realistic play. It's poseable, and you can even move the wings around.

Right here, a little creative toy. These are the Puzzibits by Manhattan Toy. Its flexible, interlocking pieces that kids can use to make this turtle or other little animals. He's even got a shell over him.

Here we've got this adorable little orangutan from Folkmanis. It's a WebWild, and this is one in a long line of online plush that have followed the ever-popular Webkinz by Ganz. Now the difference with this guy is he's a puppet, and the line has an educational website that was developed in partnership with a nonprofit called Globio. And there are a lot of great educational features and videos that show animals in their natural habitats.

Another great stuffed item that's really one of my favorites are the Zoobies, and this baby version makes them even cuter. This size is perfect to ride along in a diaper bag. It can just be unfastened right here at the bottom to turn into a soft pillow. And then you just unzip to reveal a blanket. And this one, because it's designed for babies, even has a fuzzy comfort corner.

Now if you're talking about gifts for tween girls, this is a big hit right here — Sticky Mosaics from The Orb Factory. It's kind of like paint-by-number, all these little numbers on the box. But it comes with these adhesive jewel stickers that go right on the surface and create a really fun and pretty design. It can be used for storage after it's created.

These are Brain Noodles from Brain Noodles, and they take making crafts with pipe cleaners to a whole new level because they're huge. They're these soft, fuzzy, pliable noodles that you can really make anything you want. But they also come in kits that give you instructions for making a puppy, for example.

Here we've got a play set for boys. It's the Neat-Oh! Softie Wheelie Zipbin from Neat-Oh! International. It opens up on both sides with the zipper along the wheel, and then you simply un-Velcro right here. Opens up into a racetrack, and it comes with these two die-cast cars and parking for even more cars if you want to add to the set.

Wouldn't it be awesome to be able to make an object levitate? Well, that's exactly what kids can do with this FunFlyStick from Unitech Toys.

If you'd like to know more about the FunFlyStick or any of the other items I've shown you here today, you can simply go to tdmonthly.com and click on the Specialty Toys Report icon at the top of the page. You'll find so many other wonderful products for children in the Report, and you can even watch videos of many of the items featured.

Again, this is Julie Jones, wishing you "Happy Holidays" from TDmonthly Magazine.


Top-20 Toys Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Julie Jones with ToyDirectory and TDmonthly Magazine at TDmonthly.com. Given the economic crisis in our nation, this holiday season is bound to be different than in years past. And we know that, because budgets are tight, you want to make sure your money is well spent. So as you consider what investments to make for your children this season, and which toys will really contribute to their overall development through healthy play, we've got some to show you that our staff and reviewers have found to be some of the most exciting, innovative and creative options for this year. Now, all of the products that I'm going to show you are in TDmonthly's 2008 Specialty Toys Report, "Positive Toys for a Promising Future," and most of them are among the 44 winners of a 2008 TDmonthly award.

So, to start off, we know that building blocks are such a staple for development for kids, and this one is different because these blocks — Stack & Stick from Peters' Group — actually stick together. They come on this base so they can be carried from room to room once the creation is built.

Right here we've got a fun science kit, Snap Circuits from Elenco Electronics. They can build on this circuit board and make doorbells, alarm radios, and the book has more than 300 projects. Also on the science-y end of things, we've got the HEXBUG from Innovation First, and, normally bugs aren't so friendly, but this little creature moves along, senses when objects are in its path and goes a different direction — also responds to claps and other loud noises (clap, clap, clap). It comes in a lot of different colors and some different designs.

Now, going into the game realm, which are also wonderful to build relationships and a great thing for families to enjoy together, this is Beyond Chess. And there are so many variations of chess, but what makes this one inherently different is that the pieces are all separated. This is actually the game board, and it's kind of a make-your-own board and then move the pieces as you play. Another product kind of in that same vein is Flibbix [by Merillian] up here. It's a design-your-own game board and comes with these brightly colored magnetic tiles that magnetically snap together so that children can build their game board and have a sense of ownership in the games that they're playing.

Now, right up here we've got this cute, little plush orangutan — a WebWild from Folkmanis — and it's one of the many online-plush items that have come after the very popular Webkinz by Ganz. Now, the difference with this guy is he's a puppet. And the line has an educational website that was developed in partnership with a non-profit called Globio. And there are a lot of great very educational features and videos that show animals in their natural habitats.

Over here, sticking with some fun plush, these are the Deglingos distributed by All New Materials. These are designed in France and they have a lot of fun fabrics, a different kind of design element, a little bit more quirky than you'd normally see. And these are the flat version so they're easy for baby to hold, and they kind of mimic the personalities of the big stuffed plush Deglingos.

Right here, a little creative toy. These are the Puzzibits by Manhattan Toy. It's a flexible, interlocking pieces that kids can use to make this turtle or other little animals. He's even got a shell over him. And I've got to tell you, the design and texture of these Puzzibits is really great; they're really fun to play with.

Looking over here, I've got to tell you that Zoobies have been one of my favorite plush introductions in the last couple of years. And this is a baby version — makes them even cuter. You just undo the stuffed animal right here, turns into a pillow, and then you can also unzip it to reveal a blanket. And this one, because it's designed for babies, even has a fuzzy comfort corner. It's a really great, great plush animals to ride along in a diaper bag and keep a child entertained.

Moving on down here, if there are parents looking for an alternative to Barbie [by Mattel] or Bratz [by MGA Entertainment] dolls, these are the Groovy Girls by Manhattan Toy. They're soft-bodied dolls, a little bit bigger than your typical fashion doll, and they really are groovy. They've got lots of fun outfits and accessories, like this scooter here.

Zingo, by Thinkfun. This is a really exciting twist on the traditional Bingo game — a great little sliding mechanism that shoots out the tiles and encourages kids to yell when they see something that matches the object on their card. And we know that games aren't always just for fun or education; sometimes they can be for design, and add a little bit to the décor of a home. And we feel like this wooden strategy game from Family Games — it's called Inversé — would be a great decoration on a coffee table as well as a quick-play strategy for two players.

Also, right here we've got the glitzy and glamorous Pawparazzi Pets from Noodle Head. This little puppy has a whole slew of friends that are tracked in this Pawparazzi magazine here — covers all their goings-on. And comes with this cute little set with accessories and even a necklace for the dog's owner.

Now, when it comes to tween girls, I've got something that is the toy. This is a big hit right here — Sticky Mosaics from The Orb Factory. It's kind of like paint-by-number, all these little numbers on the box. But it comes with these adhesive jewel stickers that go right on the surface and create a really fun and pretty design with a drawer and everything. And it's just a fun project; provides lots of decoration and storage later as well.

And then we go a little bit younger, for the babies. And here, we've got a Calin doll from Corolle, and this is an excellent line of quality dolls. Bean bodies, nice vanilla scent — they smell really good — go-to-sleep eyes for when the baby's resting, and they're also sized just perfectly for a little girl to carry around and pretend like she's mother to the doll. Also right here, we've got a classic for girls, Woodkins by Pamela Drake. And it comes with all these different fabric swatches that you just pop into this template here to change the dancer's outfit.

Right over here, also on the artsy side of things, are Brain Noodles. And these take building with pipe cleaners to a whole new level. As you can see, they're much bigger. They're very soft and pliable noodles that can be used to make pretty much anything, but they also come in these designated kits that tell you, for example, how to make a puppy.

Alright, coming over here, something for boys, mostly. And this is unlike most animal action-type figures in that it's a lot bigger, for one. This is the double-headed dragon from Bullyland Toys — soft and squishy, almost cuddly material, and it's also very poseable, so kids can play with the neck and wings, and add this to their collection of figurines.

And then over here, another playset. This one's by Neat-Oh! International, and it's interesting, it's a storage bin and playset all in one. You just unzip both sides along the wheel, and then you simply un-Velcro right here. Opens up into a race track and it comes with these two diecast cars and parking for even more cars, if you want to add to the set. When you're done, just close it up, zip up both sides, and it's got a handle for easy carrying.

And lastly here, wouldn't it be awesome to be able to make an object levitate? Well, that's exactly what kids can do with this magic wand. It's called the FunFlyStick, from Unitech Toys. So, if you want to know any more about the FunFlyStick or any of these other products, simply go to TDmonthly.com and click on the "Specialty Toys Report" icon at the top of the page. You'll find a lot of other wonderful products for children in the Report, and you can even watch videos of many of the items featured.

Once again, this is Julie Jones, wishing you "Happy Holidays" from TDmonthly.com.




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Alison MarekWriter's Bio: ALISON MAREK is a writer/artist/filmmaker whose work has been published by Fairchild Publications and DC Comics (Piranha Press), among others. Her short films have won awards in festivals around the world and have been broadcast on Showtime and other cable networks. Her new web series, "Mugg's Movers," was sponsored by FlatRate Moving Systems LLC and was selected for an NYU webseries showcase at writerslabwest.org/webshowcase. Alison is also the writer of the 2011 Emmy-nominated PSA "Tell Someone," for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. Read more articles by this author

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