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April 2011 | Vol. X - No. 4
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Toy Fair And The Year Ahead

Could Surprise Hits Spell Success?

Every year there are products at Toy Fair that are backed by huge marketing campaigns, creating a huge buzz before they are even shown. But this year, several specialty items caught attendees' attention by the merits of their design and execution alone.

Surprise Success
William Mark Corp’s Air Swimmers, remote-controlled, helium-filled balloons shaped like fish or sharks, created a stir while being demonstrated at the fair. Another company, Inventist Inc, created a buzz with their small personal transportation device that is certainly not just for kids. The Solowheel uses gyroscope technology to smoothly propel riders- at a fraction of the size and cost of competitor Segway.  Could the surprise success of these specialty items indicate a healthy and vibrant energy in the toy industry for 2011?

The Year Ahead
This year's Toy Fair saw a 2% rise in overall attendance, as well as a 10% increase in trade guests. In 2010, toy sales grew by 2%, largely helped out by a strong 4Q. Will the new toys shown at Toy Fair catapult sales again this year? We'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, check out TDmonthly Magazine all year long for the latest information on hot toys and industry news.

Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Science & Nature

This habitat for ants and fighter fish allows children to examine the natural world. Including “swimming pools” and “food bars,” this habitat might be a little fancier than what its inhabitants are used to.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31735      (added 2/22/2011)

MSRP: $1500.00
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Bicycles & Tricycles

Gyroscope technology is behind this new self-balancing electric unicycle. Externally, the Solowheel consists of a wheel and two foldable foot platforms. Internally, the inner workings of the Solowheel use gyro sensors, a 1000-Watt motor and a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. All this technology is housed under a slim case with leg pads and a handle for easy carrying. 100% battery operated. Lean forward to go forward and backward when you want to slow down. The lithium ion battery recaptures energy when going downhill or slowing down. It has a two hour battery life and can be fully recharged in forty-five minutes. The Solowheel is easy to learn and very portable, weighing twenty pounds.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31757      (added 2/22/2011)

MSRP: $41.99
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Balloons

These helium-filled clownfish balloons are remote controlled to "swim" through the air. The infrared remote functions include climb, descend, and tail fin control. Up to a 40 ft range. 57 inches long, 36 inches high. Launch date: 2011.
— As of 10/14/2011 this product had 3.3 out of 5 stars from 16 reviews on Pros: Entertaining. Cons: Flimsy; hard to balance; does not work well in areas with AC, fans, or open doors or windows.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31736      (added 2/22/2011)

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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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