July 23, 2018

TDmonthly Magazine

August 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 8

See What Attendees Said About ASTRA 2008

Find Out What Excited Your Peers at Foxwoods

By Alison Marek
August 2008

At the end of June, ASTRA retailers converged at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut to see some of the newest products from specialty toy manufacturers, and TDmonthly Magazine was there with its camera crew. Here's what the retailers (and two manufacturers) had to say about the show, followed by a listing of some of the toys that caught their attention:

Manufacturers: Find out how a TDmonthly Video attracts buyers. Videography by Chelsea Whitaker; edited by Alison Marek
Kathleen McHugh, president of ASTRA, discusses the success of this year's meeting and her hopes for 2009.
David Norman, president of Goliath Games LLC, is extremely excited about the company's Rolit strategy game. Yael Golad, daughter of the inventor of Rolit, touts another Goliath game, Exago.
Ilene Godkopf from Pocket Full of Therapy is looking forward to the upcoming Game Night.
Sprig trucks made an eco-friendly impression on Amanda L. Toth.
This retailer is happy about re-establishing relationships with Playmobil and Darda.
Rob Pickering was impressed by the speakers at the ASTRA Marketplace sessions.
Mary Homan enjoyed beating coworkers with Marky Sparky bats.
Mary Karges and Heather Edwards of Snickelfritz Toys liked Funstreet's Pile It Up and Ruckus, plus Brain Noodles and a new painting-with-paper kit.
Hans Masing, co-owner of Tree Town Toys in Ann Arbor, Mich., discusses new energy at ASTRA.

Sprig Adventure Series Sidekick Baja Scout Dune Buggy by SPRIG TOYS, INC.

The Baja Scout is full of spunk, eager to take Miki Flinders and a second Adventure Guide cruising the dunes. Baja Scout is a companion to the Discover Rig as part of the Sidekick line of smaller, pump-action powered vehicles, including the Rally Racer car. The Sidekick vehicles activate electronic light features only.
— Sprig Toys is a best seller at Tales & Toys in Venice, Calif., Owner Elizabeth Ryan told TDmonthly in fall 2009. "It's all selling well," she said. "We're hard pressed to keep it in stock; I keep ordering every couple of weeks." 6/10/2008 (Age: 3 and Up)

Sprig Adventure Series by SPRIG TOYS, INC.

Sprig Adventure Series by SPRIG TOYS, INC.Sprig Toys is a new, environmentally responsible toy company created by award-winning industry veterans (former Mattel and Radica designers). Its line of kid-powered, totally green adventure vehicles for preschoolers is made from Sprigwood™, a child-safe bio-composite material derived from 100-percent recycled wood and reclaimed plastic. The Sprig Adventure Series harnesses the natural energy of push- and pump-action play to power lights and other electronics — all without batteries. Adventure Guide characters wearing LED-lit hats plug into durable, attractively designed vehicles and engage preschoolers with audio that guides them through exciting adventures as they play. Launch date: Fall 2008.
— "The sets were attractive, nicely packaged in recycled/biodegradable material, and had a rugged, tactile quality," said TDmonthly reporter Marie Raven, also a buyer for Over the Rainbow in Anchorage, Alaska, at Toy Fair 2008. "It's a small line but felt to me like an appropriate number of items for a nice in-store presentation while appealing not only to the eco-sense of our customers, but also providing active and stimulating educational play."
— “I was really impressed by all the angles that it covered,” said Jennifer Klein, who in early 2008 ordered all three Sprig Toys vehicles for her store, Earth Child, in Sebastopol, Calif. Five of 24 retailers told TDmonthly this was one of their favorite lines at Toy Fair. (Watch the Sprig Adventure Series Video Watch Video) 1/17/2008


BANANAGRAMS® by BANANAGRAMSThe 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
— 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
— 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." (Watch the BANANAGRAMS® Video Watch Video) 6/19/2006 (MSRP: $14.99; Age: 7 and Up)


Meteor Ball by THE PENCIL GRIP INC.The ball features a great texture that makes catching easy and fun. Additionally, the ball comes with five special modes of music that suggest over 50 creative movements. The ball’s sound track is specially timed for slower auditory processing. Get caught with the ball when the music stops and one will need to perform a special move or task. A game book is included. 1/8/2008 (MSRP: $50.00; Age: 3 and Up)

Big Jack™ Bat & Ball by MARKY SPARKY TOYS

Big Jack™ Bat & Ball by MARKY SPARKY TOYSThe lightweight bat features patented air pressurization, which strengthens the bat while sending the ball long distances. An equally innovative ball is also included. 3/27/2008 (MSRP: $19.95)

Doinkit™ Dart Board by MARKY SPARKY TOYS

Doinkit™ Dart Board by MARKY SPARKY TOYSThis dartboard set includes six balanced darts that feature N-35 Neodymium rare earth magnets and the lightweight, durable Doinkit material that keeps the darts flying perfectly true. The darts will work on any magnetic dart board.
— Owner Elaine Hackney of Boing! JP’s Toy Shop in Jamaica Plain, Mass., told TDmonthly in summer 2007 that she has been selling lots of these dart boards for years. “The quality is great. The holding power of the magnets is great. The price is right,” she explained.
— Doinkit Darts have been “unbelievable” for Piccolo Mondo Toys of Portland, Ore., Owner Michelle Smith told TDmonthly at the end of 2008. JoAnn Farrugia, owner of JaZams in Pennington, N.J., reported sales of about three dozen per month of Doinkit Darts in a March 2009 survey of best sellers.
— “The [Doinkit] Darts sell really well for kids and adults,” said Lauren Obenour, manager of Portland, Oregon’s Green Frog Toys, where the product is among the best-selling sports and outdoor toys, as of spring 2009.
— Doinkit Darts are a “longtime best seller” at Totally Thomas Toy Depot in San Diego, as reported in July 2010 by President Cynthia Wyatt. “The rare earth magnets in the darts are super strong, stay put, and don’t bounce off. They’re very safe and don’t damage your walls. Nothing but fun!” she said.

Past Videos: ASTRA 2008 (Watch the Doinkit™ Dart Board Video Watch Video) 8/13/2007 (MSRP: $22.95; Age: 3 and Up)

Create-a-Course Building System by DARDA INC USA

Create-a-Course Building System by DARDA INC USAThis 150-piece game set allows kids to construct their own racing system. It includes instructions for 30 raceways as well as track, connectors, loops and two cars in a reusable storage bin with handles and a top that locks.
— Products by DARDA, including this set, are best sellers at Kazoodles in Vancouver, Wash., Co-owner Mary Sisson told TDmonthly in early 2008.
— Racing sets were best sellers at Twirl Toystore & Playspace in Taos, N.M., in early 2009, according to Owner Molly McMullin. “They are a great example of how having a demo out to be played with makes all the difference in selling,” she told TDmonthly. “Our salespeople all love showing people how to get the most effective run out of the pull-back cars.” (Watch the Create-a-Course Building System Video Watch Video) 1/28/2008 (MSRP: $109.95; Age: 4 and Up)

SuperSet Dream Garden by PLAYMOBIL INC.

SuperSet Dream Garden by PLAYMOBIL INC.The Dream Garden comes with a magic fountain, a prince, a princess, a swan, a peacock, a unicorn, butterflies, a tree, flowers and more. The fountain features a waterspout that works with a hand pump. All pieces come stored inside an easy-to-carry box with a handle. Launch date: January 2008.
— Playmobil is a best-selling line at Aunt Jean’s Toys & Treats in Montclair, N.J., Owner Jeanette Lauture said in summer 2008. “I find this ‘gold standard’ to be awesome for girls and boys for a wide age range (1-1/2 to 12 years old),” she told TDmonthly. “I’ve been selling this item since I opened [in spring 2007].”
— Jamie Burdette, owner of LB Toys in Media, Pa., told TDmonthly in July 2008 that he sells 60 units of Playmobil per month.  “We go through them like there’s no tomorrow,” noted Bill Sartain, co-owner of Tutoring Toy in Salt Lake City, Utah.
— Seven of 66 retailers named Playmobil as their overall best seller in summer 2008. (Watch the SuperSet Dream Garden Video Watch Video) 5/13/2008 (MSRP: $25.99; Age: 4 and Up)


Exago by GOLIATH GAMESExago is a fast game for two to six players. The object is to form a straight line of four hexagonal pieces of the same color. It takes about 20 minutes to play. 7/9/2008 (Age: 7 and Up)


Rolit by GOLIATH GAMESThe object of Rolit is to observe, block, and change the balls' colors to your own. The victor is the one who has the most Rolit balls in his or her color. The oversized game board, for two to four players, is perfect for tournaments and schools. The game takes about 20 minutes to play. (Watch the Rolit Video Watch Video) 7/9/2008 (Age: 7 and Up)

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