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April 2011 | Vol. X - No. 4
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Toy Fair 2011 Top Trends


TDmonthly Magazine's toy experts went to the American International Toy Fair to scope out the year's hottest trends.

Many new toys are combining technology and communication with fun. For instance, Phone Frenzy by Buffalo Games has kids calling and texting their friends and family on their cell phones to complete challenges in the game. Other toys, like Fijit Friends from Mattel, use "chirp" technology to respond to online apps, social media websites, and television commercials. Even infants and toddlers are getting their electronic fix, with toys such as the Baby iCan Play by Fisher-Price enabling kids to start using technology like iPhones at younger and younger ages. As the social technology found in smart phones, electronic tablets like the iPad, and online networking sites like Facebook and Twitter become a part of everyday life for most Americans, we are seeing these trends trickle down into children's products. The InnoPad by VTech is another example of kids' toys mimicking those of their parents. While some remain wary of such high-tech toys, they were indisputably some of the most prevalent products at Toy Fair.

"Brain Games" were another trend— games and puzzles that stimulate the mind. For instance, Roman Town by Dig-It! Games uses an interactive computer game to teach kids about archaeology, while Science Wiz Cool Circuits by Norman & Globus, an electronic game that involves looping circuits, tests players' puzzle skills against 40 different challenges and various skill levels. You can read more about toy trends in our interview with the TIA's Toy Trend Expert, Reyne Rice, here.




MSRP: $22.00
Age Range: 14 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Interactive
General Games



Phone Frenzy is a board game that uses everyone’s mobile phone as the primary game component for calling, texting, and sending photos.  Every turn, players are given a challenge or activity that can only be completed with the help of one or more of their phone contacts.  A challenge might be a race to receive a correct response to “Finish this lyric by Journey:  ‘Just a small town girl’…”  Players pick who they think are the right contacts from their phone and send them a text message with the question.  The first player to receive the correct text message wins the round. Launch date: Summer 2011.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31732      (added 2/22/2011)
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MSRP: $49.99
Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Interactive
Dolls
Robotics



Made of soft, tactile skin that enables lifelike movements, girls can poke and squeeze a Fijit Friend for a verbal reaction.  With word recognition capability, Fijit Friends can understand and respond to more than 30 verbal commands, culling from more than 150 built-in phrases and jokes. Girls only have to turn up the music dial to transform their Fijit Friend into a dancing machine. With Beat Detection functionality, Fijit Friends can recognize different types of music and perform different dance moves for each beat. Fijit Friends includes four original songs of their own. Fijit Friends come in an assortment of four that each feature distinct colors, voices, ears and personalities and feature integrated Sonic Chirp technology - special audio coding embedded into an external device or media platform (mobile applications, webisodes, television commercials and more), that when detected by Fijit, triggers various programmed reactions. Launch date: Fall 2011.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31700      (added 2/18/2011)
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MSRP: $14.99
Age Range: 1 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Electronics
Electronic Games
Infant & Toddler



The Baby iCanPlay is an iPhone protector. Babies and toddler's can explore apps and games on their parent's iPhone without damaging it. The protector features large handles for gripping and chewing, a rubberized screen protector, mirrors on the back for added entertainment, and a special cover over the "home" button so baby can't exit out of the app. Launch date: July 2011.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31719      (added 2/18/2011)
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MSRP: $74.99
Age Range: 4 to 9
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Electronics
Educational
Electronic Games



This multi-function tablet is like a starter laptop for kids. It offers interactive reading, gaming, and creative activities. It features a 5inch color touchscreen, a tilt sensor for game control, microphone, interfaces for USB, SD card and a headphone jack, and plays MP3's. VTech will offer more than 100 software titles for InnoPad including Dora the Explorer and Toy Story programs.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31715      (added 2/18/2011)
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MSRP: $39.95
Age Range: 8 and up
Target Age Range: 9 to 12
Specialty: Yes (as of 2010)
Made in: United States
SKU or Item #: RT001
Launch Date: January 2010
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Software - Educational
Video Games
Educational



Roman Town lets the player be an archaeologist and manage a team of diggers while learning about archaeological techniques and uncovering ancient objects. Graphics rendered in 3D let players explore Roman buildings and immerse themselves in Roman history. One can put pots together, exercise puzzle skills with fun mini-games, and find out what archaeologists really do. President of Dig-It Games Suzi Wilczynski told TDmonthly, "Roman Town is unique, educational and, most importantly, lots of fun!"
Awards: The Tillywig Brain Child Award; NAPPA Honors; The National Parenting Center 2010 Seal of Approval; Creative Child 2010 Game of the Year Award; Dr Toy’s Best Vacation Product; five 2010 Life Buzz Parent-to-Parent awards.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28295      (added 4/29/2010)
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Part of a line of ScienceWiz Thinking Games, this puzzle game created by Harry L. Nelson and Hiroshi Yamamoto provides 40 challenges at different skill levels. Players put a puzzle card down and solve the puzzle by making sure all the pieces are looped together, at which time the board will light up with the solution.



ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18203      (added 3/31/2008)
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Justina HuddlestonWriter's Bio: Justina Huddleston graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emerson College with a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing in 2009. After graduating she was the on-site director of the Boston Children's Museum gift store for a year, selling educational, developmental, and creative activity toys that tied in with the museum's exhibits. Justina also interned at children's book publisher Candlewick Press before moving from Boston to Los Angeles, where she is now Editorial Director of TDmonthly Magazine. Read more articles by this author

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