July 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 7
My Pal Scout by LEAPFROG
Turn My Pal Scout into a true best friend by personalizing the learning online. With 14 fun activities built-in and more than 30 melodies to choose from, this snuggly custom pal is a lasting learning companion. WIth a USB cord, you can program Scout to say a child's name and refer to his or her favorite foods or colors. Launch date: 2009.
— LeapFrog informed TDmonthly in June 2009 that My Pal Scout was recalled due to potential removal of its paw decals. A redesigned My Pal Scout, available August 2009, replaces the decals with embroidered paws. ( Watch Video) 5/12/2009 (MSRP: $19.99; Age: 0 to 3)
Text and Learn by LEAPFROG
Little learners play in a grown-up way with Text and Learn. The pretend browser and play text messages with Scout the dog lead to real-life skills as children explore letters and QWERTY keyboarding in fun on-the-go games. Launch date: 2009. ( Watch Video) 5/12/2009 (MSRP: $21.99; Age: 3 and Up)
Little Box of Ballet by BARRON'S EDUCATIONAL SERIES
The Little Box of Ballet includes an illustrated storybook, "Little Book of Ballet Stories" with the tales of "Sleeping Beauty," "Giselle," "Swan Lake" and "The Nutcracker"; an instruction booklet with photos, "Little Book of Ballet Steps: An Introduction to Ballet Dancing"; a pink tutu; a matching headband with rose decorations; and a slipper pendant on a ribbon necklace. ( Watch Video) 6/9/2009 (MSRP: $16.99; Age: 3 and Up)
Qwirkle by MINDWARE
Requiring no reading from its players, Qwirkle is a simple-to-learn but stimulating game based around matching the attributes of the game play tiles. Players build rows and columns by placing tiles adjacent to tiles they share an attribute with (shape or color), and score bonus points if they can think ahead and put a tile down touching multiple other tiles. While the game is easy to understand, a good eye and quick thinking make Qwirkle challenging enough for a wide range of ages to play together.
Awards: 2011 Speiele des Jahres (German game of the year).
― “We sell a lot of Qwirkle,” Sue Banducci said of popular games in her Danville, Calif., store, Games Unlimited. “Qwirkle was best-selling over Christmas,” said Shirley Reilly, owner of Let's Play in Hillsboro, Ore., in January 2009.
― When asked about his top-selling games in early 2009, Tye Steinbach of Thinker Toys in Portland, Ore. told TDmonthly, “It was probably Qwirkle. We're not huge gamers in our family, but it's really fun.”
— Four of 44 specialty retailers named Qwirkle as a best seller in late fall 2009. Ages & Stages Toy Box in Golden, Colo., sells about 10 Qwirkle games per month, Manager Holly Anvers told TDmonthly.
— As of 12/17/2012 this product had 4.8 out of 5 stars from 483 reviews on Amazon.com and was No. 6 on the top 100 bestselling toys and games. Pros: Exciting; intellectually stimulating, easy to learn. Cons: Some said it took too long to play; only had 3 reviews less than 3 stars, however. ( Watch Video) 2/9/2009 (MSRP: $24.95; Age: 6 and Up)
Square Up! by MINDWARE
Square Up! offers a new twist on the slider puzzle – playing an opponent! The object of the game is to slide the squares to match the cube shaker before your opponent finishes. It’s a fast, two-player, visual thinking game. Each board measures about 8” square.
— This game was listed as a best seller by Michele and Ken Gietz of Where’d You Get That!? in Williamstown, Mass., in fall 2008. “It’s great for travel or restaurants,” they said. “It’s two-player, but each gets their own sliding squares board and special shaker. We’ve sold many for a small store in the last six months.”
— Brooke Andrews, owner of Millers Toy Store in Mamoroneck, N.J., told TDmonthly in late 2009 her store sells about 12 units per week of this game. Two of 44 retailers named it as one of their top-three best sellers. ( Watch Video) 9/19/2008 (MSRP: $19.95; Age: 6 to 10)
Caillou ABC by CHOUETTE PUBLISHING INC.
Featuring the main character from the Caillou television series, this board book showcases the ABC Train, which has removable puzzle pieces designed to help kids learn the letters of the alphabet. The pieces can be connected outside of the book to create a lengthy train puzzle. ( Watch Video) 6/9/2009 (MSRP: $12.95; Age: 3 to 5)
Bamboo Mancala by TOYSMITH
Featuring a board made from the renewable resource bamboo, this game, a version of the ancient Mancala, challenges players to collect the most pieces. ( Watch Video) 6/9/2009 (Age: 5 and Up)
Junior Golf Journal by EXCEL PUBLISHING
Designed for young golf players, this journal has colorful graphics and divided sections that allow kids or teens to keep track of their goals, lessons, statistics, practice, tournaments and more. It also includes a pocket for scorecards and quotes from famous golfers throughout. ( Watch Video) 6/9/2009 (MSRP: $26.95)
Junior Groovies™: At the Seashore by INNOVATIVEKIDS
A hermit crab is in search of a place to be alone by the seashore, but he discovers that many creatures call the seashore home. Sidebar facts about sea lions, starfish, pelicans, and other amazing animals introduce kids to life at the seashore. By Ruth Koeppel (author) and Scott McBee (illustrator). ( Watch Video) 5/7/2009 (MSRP: $12.99; Age: 3 to 6)
My First Piano II by SCHOENHUT PIANO COMPANY
Schoenhut's bright red, wooden, 25-key tabletop is the perfect choice for a toddler's first piano. Both fun and educational, it is an ideal instrument for developing eye-hand coordination and encouraging musical creativity. Chromatically tuned, the lovely chimelike notes are produced by little hammers striking precision-ground, German steel music rods. The tone never changes nor will the piano ever need tuning. Schoenhut's patented Learning System, with its play-by-color teaching method, makes playing simple and fun. A removable color strip fits behind the keys to guide small fingers from chord to chord. The chart also works on adult keyboards, since keys on Schoenhut toy pianos are of corresponding width. This teaches children proper finger placement from the very beginning. The accompanying Songbook contains a collection of familiar tunes. This Learning System has been specially designed to build a child's confidence and develop basic playing skills. It comes in red and white. Launch date: 2005.
- This model was Schoenhut's best seller for 2010. It was also the model given away by TDmonthly's Charitable Kid, Kimberly (then 14) of South Carolina -- 100 times over! As a reward for her charity and careful selection of institutions to receive the toy pianos, Kimberly was given a number of other high-quality Schoenhut instruments, many of which she shared with her younger sisters. ( Watch Video) 6/29/2007 (MSRP: $59.95; Age: 3 and Up)
JAM Bracelets by WIRTHWARE LLC
JAM Bracelets are stretchy fabric bracelets that each have a sterling silver alphabet letter beaded on. Multiple bracelets can be stacked on the wrist to spell a name, a message or a favorite team, for example. "People can purchase as many different 'letter bracelets' as they like to spell out whatever message they want to display on their wrist. The price point is set low to allow the freedom to purchase multiple bracelets," Laura Gastwirth, owner of JAM Bracelets by Wirthware LLC, told TDmonthly. Launch date: April 2009.
— Richard Gibson, owner of Learning Express in Newton, Mass., named Jam Bracelets as one of his store's top sellers in July 2010. ( Watch Video) 5/22/2009 (MSRP: $7.00; Age: 5 and Up)
Sports Stickers by MRS GROSSMANS PAPER CO
These sports-themed stickers on 4" x 6.5" sheets are available in several varieties, including soccer, basketball, football and gymnastics. ( Watch Video) 6/9/2009 (MSRP: $1.30)
Flying Squirrel by FOLKMANIS INC.
This nocturnal wide-eyed Flying-squirrel puppet is designed in ultra-soft plush in his flying position, allowing the puppeteer's hand to glide this adorable creature along. This puppet has movable front paws and tail. It won a 2007 IParenting Media Greatest Product Award. ( Watch Video) 1/2/2009 (MSRP: $17.99; Age: 3 and Up)