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January 2011 | Vol. X - No. 1
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Innovations of 2010

Stepping Backwards Into the Future


According to 16 specialty toy store owners during 4Q 2010 by TDmonthly Magazine, the most notable trend last year was a move away from innovation and technology toward simplicity and value.

Simple, Sturdy, Self-Contained

Johnny Williams, owner of Boss Robot Hobby in Berkeley, Calif., was impressed with the new durability of radio-controlled products: ''RC cars and helicopters don't break anymore. That's pretty incredible. Electrix and E-flite are brands that we've had that are good.''

''The big buzz hasn't been about new technological things, whereas in the past it could be Zhu Zhu Pets [CEPIA LLC] or have some kind of electronic or gimmick,'' noted Karen Leppman, owner of Finnegan's Toys and Gifts in Portland, Ore. ''It's been simple toys that have been really big.'' She cited BC Industries' Iwako collectible erasers and the various permutations of shaped silicone ''rubber'' bands as examples.

Barbara Finebluem owner of Barston's Child's Play in Baltimore, Md., noted a trend toward, '' things that you hold by hand, like [Hasbro's] Simon was. Perplexus [by Plasmart] — games you can play be yourself. They're all contained, and go well for traveling.''

''It seems that in terms of games, the aesthetics are more beautiful, they do more with printing and manufacturing in novel ways,'' pointed out Dean Smith, co-owner of JaZams in Pennington, N.J. ''It was cost prohibitive before, but games are far more beautiful than any I've seen — in wood, paper, even metals.''

The New Buzz

As far as what they think will continue to trend upward in 2011, the retailers were even more succinct:

Spot It [by Blue Orange Games],'' said Maryalice Miner, co-owner of Miner's Doll & Toy Store in Ocean Springs, Miss. She predicted it would usurp Bananagrams by the end of 2010.

Green games and, new this year, games for older kids, were mentioned by two retailers.

''Zoobles and [Mattel's] Loopz sprang to mind, but other than that, no trends,'' Nathan McKelvey, manager of Toy Castle in Jonesboro, Ar., summed up for TDmonthly.

Here are some of the toys mentioned above:




MSRP: $179.99
SKU or Item #: ECX1100
Category: Remote Controlled
Vehicles - Small Toy



This rugged stadium truck is easy to use, but it’s also hard to abuse. It’s built from a strong, durable nylon composite material. You can customize the body with the included decal sheet. And thanks to the standard components and mounts, you can hop the Circuit up with additional bodies, tires, and parts and accessories. Nylon composite material gives it high strength and durability. Clipless battery retaining system means there are no body clips to lose. Oil-filled shocks provide great handling that is also adjustable. AA batteries also included.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31360      (added 12/21/2010)
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MSRP: $199.99
Launch Date: January 2010
Category: Hobby Goods
Aircraft
Remote Controlled



E-Flite Blade SR is a single rotor collective pitch remote-controlled helicopter with LiPo battery and a Spektrum 2.4ghz radio. It is 100% factory-assembled, test-flown and ready-to-fly. Launch date: 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 27651      (added 3/19/2010)
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Launch Date: September 2010
Category: Novelties
School Supplies
Collectibles



These unicorn erasers have removable puzzle parts so they can be taken apart and reassembled. The collection includes six pastel colors.
— In summer 2010, Margy Peine, owner of Tree House Toys in Cumberland, Md., told TDmonthly her store sells about 75 Japanese erasers per month.
— Thirteen percent of 38 specialty retailers named Japanese erasers a best-selling product in July 2010.
— Linda Laramy, owner of Crackerjacks in Easton, Md., told TDmonthly in an October 2011 survey that they don't sell many tween items other than collectible erasers, which they sell about 4 dozen of each month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 29936      (added 8/10/2010)
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MSRP: $4.95
Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Novelties
Tween
Collectibles



This patent-pending version of an elastic bracelet takes it to a whole new level – perpendicular to the wrist. Piggybacks, “The Bandz That Stand™" have incorporated a mini shaped band that “piggybacks” on top of the traditional shaped rubber band allowing, the top shape to be easily seen when placed on the wrist. A Piggyback Bandz looks similar to many other band bracelets until you slide it on your wrist and watch it stand at attention, upright. The bandz can be layered with one, two or a half-dozen more to create a word, a secret code, a design or whatever the imagination whips up.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31321      (added 12/16/2010)
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MSRP: $24.99
Age Range: 6 and up
SKU or Item #: BL100
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill
Educational
Family Games



The first member of the Perplexus family, this see-through sphere houses a 3-D labyrinth game with 100 barriers, turns, twists and cliffhangers that serve as obstacles to getting a small steel ball to the end. Invented in 1970 by Michael McGinnis, a design teacher, Perplexus helps develop motor and dexterity skills, along with hand-eye coordination.
― As of 12/17/2012 this product had 4.4 out of 5 stars from 393 reviews on Amazon.com and was No. 12 on the top 100 bestselling toys and games.
— At Izilla Toys in Seattle, "Perplexus is selling really, really well for us," Co-owner Jude Larene told TDmonthly in late fall 2009.
— In summer 2010 this game was a top-10 best seller at Dancing Bear Toys in Asheville and Hendersonville, N.C..
Awards: 2012 Parents’ Choice Awards - Silver, 2011 Time Magazine – 15 Smartest Toys for Young Geniuses, 2011 Parent Tested Parent Approved – Seal of Approval, 2011 Grand Prix Kidexpo – Elu par les Parents (Parents’Choice), 2011 Children of Museum of Indianapolis – Top 10 Toys of 2011, 2011 Canadian Toy Testing Council – Children’s Choice, 2011 Babble List – Best Kids Toys, 2010 Toy Insider – Hot 20, 2010 The National Parenting Center – Seal of Approval, 2010 Prémio Brazil – Award of Excellence, 2010 Parents’ Magazine – Top Toys, 2010 NAPPA – Gold, 2010 ASTRA – Best Toy for Kids
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26245      (added 12/2/2009)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $16.99
Age Range: 7 and up
SKU or Item #: FOX-310543
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



Elegant design, natural materials and simple game rules are combined to offer players an exquisite and original game. Each player tries to be the first to place six of their pieces on their opponent’s camp while ensuring that their remaining game pieces are not left too far behind. An environmentally friendly and beautiful game.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 29073      (added 6/23/2010)
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Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games
Card Games



Spot It is a party game for two to eight players. It's played by laying a random assortment of cards on the table and all players racing to find one image that matches between two cards. This fast-paced game is designed to never be the same twice, and though it has very few rules to remember it requires a sharp eye to master. The set of 55 round cards transports in its own carry tin. Watch Spot It: Top-5 Video, Toy Fair 2010
— Spot It has been been a top seller for retailers surveyed by TDmonthly since early Spring 2010.
— In a March 2012 survey, 3 out of 12 retailers told TDmonthly that Spot It was their overall best selling product, and had been for more than a year.
— Dean Smith, Co-owner of JaZams in Princeton, N.J., told TDmonthly in a Summer 2011 survey that he sells 50-60 copies of Spot It each month.
Awards: 2010 TDmonthly Top Seller, Dr. Toy 100 Best Children's Products - 2010

Where to buy:
SOUTH
NORTH EAST
NORTH WEST
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 27018      (added 2/11/2010)
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MSRP: $14.99
Age Range: 7 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games
Educational
Award Winners



The fast-moving word game consists of 144 ivory-like letter tiles in a zippered banana pouch. Players place the tiles face down on the table and randomly select 21 tiles. They turn their letters right-side up simultaneously and proceed to form as many intersecting and interconnecting words as possible, rearranging their own letters as many times as desired throughout the game. Awards: TDmonthly Top Seller 2007; 2009 TOTY Game of the YEAR, 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal; 2007 iParenting; 2007 Parents' Choice Recommended; 2007 Dr. Toy Best Products. (Read Review)
— This product has been making the TDmonthly Best-sellers lists since 2007.
— As of 05/13/2011 this product had 4.8 out of 5 stars from 456 reviews on Amazon.com.
— Eight of 66 retailers vouched for its best-selling status in May 2008; seven of 63 did in Sept. 2008. Shani Watmough of Planet Toys in Rockland, Maine, said her store sells 60 per month.  Fifteen of 38 named it a top-selling game in Feb. 2010.
— As of April 5, 2010, Bananagrams had spent 570 days in the top-100 best-selling toys and games on Amazon.com.
— According to owner Brett Sommer of Figpickels Toy Emporium in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho,  “It was the 2009 game of the year. The brilliant packaging definitely helps this product."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8301      (added 6/19/2006)
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MSRP: $9.99
Age Range: 4 to 11
Specialty: No
Gender: Girls
Category: Animal Figures
Interactive



These colorful critters "come to life" when placed upon their "happitats," rolling, popping open, or blinking their eyes. Each Zooble comes with stickers for customization.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 30598      (added 9/21/2010)
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MSRP: $29.99
Age Range: 7 and up
Launch Date: June 2010
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Interactive
Musical Toys
Puzzles & Skill



LOOPZ™ takes the timeless play pattern of memory games to a new level by adding light, music and motion. This interactive game is a test in rhythm and coordination consisting of four semi-circular rings with infrared sensors that light up to create challenging patterns players must follow. Seven different game modes allow players to play solo, head-to-head, host up to 4 players or even turn LOOPZ™ into a musical instrument.
—As of 1.07.2011 this product had 5 out of 5 stars on Walmart.com and was the #2 bestselling item in the Games & Puzzles category. Pros: Seven different games; single player and multi-player options. Cons: Some levels are not challenging enough for older children.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 27620      (added 3/17/2010)
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MSRP: $6.99
Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Plush
Interactive



Zhu Zhu Baby hamsters have a roller ball under their tummy to rock and roll around when nudged. Butter Cheeks is a yellow hamster with a pink diaper, and comes with three "baby" accessories.   
  — As of 8.16.10, this product had 5 out of 5 stars from 3 reviews on ToysRUs.com and was listed No. 26 in best-selling toys and games. PROS: Durable, easy to control, realistic movements.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 30067      (added 8/16/2010)
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Alison MarekWriter's Bio: ALISON MAREK is an award-winning writer, director and cartoonist whose work has been published by Fairchild Publications and DC Comics (Piranha Press), broadcast on Showtime and other cable networks, and viewed worldwide in film festivals. See her short films and print work on www.alisonmarek.com. Watch her nefarious villains in the web series www.MuggsMovers.com. Get inspired by her cartoons "Daily ARFFirmations to Unleash Your Inner Fido" at www.ARFFirmations.com. Phew! And then ...  Read more articles by this author

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