February 2012 | Vol. XI - No. 2
Top Toys and Games of the Year Unveiled at “OSCARS®” of the Toy Industry
LeapPad Explorer from LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. Garners Coveted “Toy of the Year” Title
More than five hundred toy industry executives and guests from around the globe gathered in New York City tonight to honor their peers at the 12th annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards and Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
A Toy Industry Association (TIA)-administered event in support of the Toy Industry Foundation, the glittering gala held in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center kicked off the 109th American International Toy Fair and paid tribute to today’s superstars, tomorrow’s bright up-and-comers and illustrious toy industry icons.
Interspersed with the presentations of twelve TOTY Awards were two inductions into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame: Arnie Rubin, Founder and CEO of Funrise Toy, and the late Frederick August Otto Schwarz, founder of FAO Schwarz. The new inductees join a distinguished roster of nearly 60 toy industry luminaries who have been inducted into the Hall since its establishment in 1985.
“Tonight’s event was a wonderful way to celebrate the launch of Toy Fair week and recognize the absolute best in toys and children’s entertainment,” said Carter Keithley, TIA president. “Thanks to the outstanding work of the talented individuals and innovative companies honored tonight, kids around the world are brought joy each day through play!”
Award winners were selected with the input of consumers (on ToyAwards.org), retailers (mass and specialty), media and members of the toy industry. The five ballots – open from November 21, 2011 to January 15, 2012 – were weighted and used to determine the category winners as well as the overall “Toy of the Year” award.
LeapPad™ Explorer by LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. received the coveted “Toy of the Year” title and was awarded Educational Toy of the Year and Preschool Toy of the Year. The awards program included 77 finalists across the 11 categories.
And the winners are…
Recognizing an outstanding toy that inspires creative play through various forms of activity, the Activity Toy of the Year was presented to LEGO® NINJAGO Fire Temple by LEGO Systems, Inc.
Recognizing an outstanding toy developed for boys of any age, the Boy Toy of the Year was presented to Hot Wheels ® Wall Tracks ™ by Mattel, Inc.
Recognizing an outstanding toy that helps children develop special skills and knowledge through play, the Educational Toy of the Year was presented to LeapPad™ Explorer by LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc.
Recognizing an outstanding children’s board, card, CD-ROM or electronic game, the Game of the Year was presented to Angry Birds Knock On Wood Game by Mattel, Inc.
Recognizing an outstanding toy developed for girls of any age, the Girl Toy of the Year was presented to Fijit Friends™ Interactive Figures by Mattel / Radica®.
Recognizing an outstanding toy developed for infants and toddlers up to 36 months, the Infant/Toddler Toy of the Year was presented to Elefun Busy Ball Popper by Hasbro / Playskool.
Recognizing an outstanding toy that combines innovation and play value, the Innovative Toy of the Year was presented to Hot Wheels ® Wall Tracks ™ by Mattel, Inc.
Recognizing an outstanding toy that is designed for outdoor play, the Outdoor Toy of the Year was presented to Rockboard® Scooter – Mini by M.Y. Products LLC.
Recognizing an outstanding toy developed for preschool-aged children (ages 3-5) the Preschool Toy of the Year was presented to LeapPad™ Explorer by LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc.
Recognizing a property that has had the greatest success spreading its brand throughout the industry, Property of the Year was presented to Angry Birds™ by Rovio Entertainment Ltd/ Striker Entertainment (Licensing Agent).
Recognizing an outstanding toy that is distributed primarily through specialty toy retailers, the Specialty Toy of the Year was presented to HEXBUG® Nano® HiveHabitat Set TM by Innovation First Labs, Inc.
Descriptions of each TOTY-nominated toy and links to each manufacturer’s website can be found online at ToyAwards.org. The finalists were selected from nearly 600 products and properties submitted for consideration. Nomination committees comprised of academics, journalists & toy trend experts, play therapists, toy inventors & designers, and toy retailers narrowed the field to the slate of 77 finalists.
Event sponsors for the evening were JAKKS Pacific, Inc. (diamond level), PlaSmart, Inc. and York-Jersey Underwriters (gold level) and Dallas Market Center (silver level).
For more information, please visit ToyAwards.org or the Toy Industry Hall of Fame website.
About the Toy Industry Association (TIA) (www.toyassociation.org)
TIA is the not-for-profit trade association for producers and importers of toys and youth entertainment products sold in North America, representing 550 companies who account for approximately 85% of domestic toy sales. Toy safety is the number one priority for the toy industry. TIA has a long history of leadership in toy safety including development of the first comprehensive toy safety standard more than 30 years ago, and working with government, consumers and industry on ongoing programs to ensure safe and fun play.
About the Toy Industry Foundation (www.toyindustryfoundation.org)
While other organizations provide food, shelter and support services to children and their families, the Toy Industry Foundation sees to it that these children have toys and opportunities to play in an attempt to restore both fun and a sense of normalcy to their lives. The Foundation currently fulfills its mission through core programs including The Toy Bank™ and grants to organizations whose missions are in line with that of the Toy Industry Foundation.
Though sleek and thin, the LeapPad can withstand kids' roughhousing and dirty fingers. Designed to be flipped, shaken, and turned by little hands, the LeapPad comes with a tilt sensor for game control that puts kids in the middle of the action. A 5-inch color touch screen makes it easy for kids of all ages to learn and interact. There are more than 100 learning games, videos, books, and apps available, and topics covered include spelling, phonics skills, mathematics, science, music, geography, and more.
— As of 8/29/2011 this product had 4 out of 5 stars from 96 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: Larger screen than other LeapFrog products; works with Leapster explorer games and apps; comes with extra stylus in case one gets lost. Cons: Screen and camera resolution are low; takes 4 batteries; processing is slow; most apps need to be purchased separately.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 32523 (added 6/30/2011)
Battle for control of the four Spinjitzu weapons has begun. Sensei Wu, Kai, Zane and Nya need help to keep Lord Garmadon and his evil skeleton army from taking the ultimate Spinjitzu weapon – the Dragon Sword of Fire. As the temple splits into two, the fearsome Fire Dragon emerges to protect the sword by spitting fire at Lord Garmadon. Set also includes Samukai and Kruncha figures, all four golden weapons and 14 other weapons. 1174 pieces. Launch date: Summer 2011.
— As of 10/14/2011 this product had 4.7 out of 5 stars from 3 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: Helps build fine motor skills and logic skills; challenging. Cons: Finished structure not very durable.
— As of 10/14/2011 this product had 5 out of 5 stars from 2 reviews on ToysRUs.com. Pros: Very detailed; lots of moving parts.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 33047 (added 10/14/2011)
These new tracks for Hot Wheels cars can be mounted on the wall using sticky mounting strips by 3M Co. that won't damage walls or wall paper. Kids can bring their tracks to new levels of fun with Hot Wheels Wall Tracks. Compatible with all standard Hot Wheels cars, these innovative tracks are mounted to the wall using sticky mounting strips from 3M Co., that can safely be removed from walls without leaving residue or stripping the paint. Wall tracks can also go up doors, accross corners, and can be connected with standard Hot Wheels tracks too.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31705 (added 2/18/2011)
One player draws a construction card and builds the structure shown. Next, an opponent loads an Angry Bird onto the launcher and catapults the bird to knock down structures and pigs. The player with the most points and knockdowns wins. Features three Angry Birds, four green pigs, one slingshot-style launcher, structure pieces and multiple mission cards. For one or more players. Launch date: May 2011.
— As of 12/17/2012 this product had 3.9 out of 5 stars from 252 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: Great alternative to the app for parents who want to reduce kids' screen time; fun for the family to play together; helps kids develop dexterity and patience. Cons: Certain structures are too elaborate to build and don't seem to be grouped in the correct level of difficulty; kids with short attention spans may lose interest in building the structures; structures are easy to knock down, which can be frustrating for younger players.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31720 (added 2/18/2011)
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)
Once the balls pop out of the elephant's trunk, it's anybody's guess which way they'll roll — into the belly for put-and-take play, across the room for baby to crawl after, or back through the trunk for more poppin' surprises. With 10 fun tunes to play and this elephant's trunk controlling the poppin' direction, the play is exciting, engaging, and fun.
— As of 10/18/2011 this product had 2.9 out of 5 stars from 8 reviews on ToysRUs.com. Pros: Entertaining; helps develop hand-eye coordination; music is cute. Cons: Fan that blows the balls is loud; balls don't blow automatically so younger kids may have trouble using it.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 33059 (added 10/19/2011)
The Rockboard Scooter uses propulsion technology, allowing it to be ridden without having to put a foot on the ground. It can be used as a kick scooter or a Rockboard. When in Rockboard Mode it requires no kicking, batteries, charging or gasoline. It can also be folded up for easy storage and transport. The Rockboard combines fun, fitness and functionality into one product. "While standing on the deck in Rockboard Mode the rider shifts their weight back and forth, and this powers the drive chain. Propulsion is achieved with each rock, wasting zero energy and allowing the rider to reach speeds of up to 10 mph," Zane Andrews, Account Manager, M.Y. Products, told TDmonthly. Launch date: November 18, 2009.
— Thanks to a product demo in the store, Learning Express of Newton, Mass., had sold at least 15 Rockboard Scooters in 2010 as of July, Owner Richard Gibson told TDmonthly.
— In a March 2012 survey, Grafton Stine, owner of Toys on the Square in Hummelstown, Pa., told TDmonthly that Rockboard Scooters were one of their best selling ride-on toys.
Where to buy:
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 27575 (added 3/15/2010)
HEXBUG® Nano Hive Habitat Set by INNOVATION FIRST LABS, INC.
Other products from INNOVATION FIRST LABS, INC.
The HEXBUG Nano Hive Habitat Set is the first transportable environment that enables HEXBUG Nano architects to customize the design and layout within a HEXBUG Nano Habitat Set. The Hive Habitat Set features an integrated center ramp for multi-level Nano interaction and a floor spotted with attachment points that kids can build off of, further extending its creative play pattern. Each attachment point can be filled with a variety of new playground accessories including pegs, which act as bump points for the HEXBUG Nano, rotating flags, which direct the HEXBUG Nano toward ramps or other obstacles including merry-go-rounds and even a seesaw for the playfully energetic HEXBUG Nano to explore. The HEXBUG Nano Hive Habitat Set can be connected to any pre-existing habitat set or used as a stand-alone product that kids can simply pack up to go with a convenient carrying handle. The Hive Habitat Set comes with one extremely rare HEXBUG Nano mutation and 35 easy-connect construction pieces including 16 pegs, 16 adjustable flags, two merry-go-rounds and one seesaw. HEXBUG Hive is CPSIA approved for kids 3 and up. Launch date: mid-August 2011.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 32621 (added 8/2/2011)
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