December 2012 | Vol. XI - No. 12
Perplexus Twist by PATCH PRODUCTS INC.
The newest Perplexus model requires a player to twist, turn, and realign the tracks within to escape traps, dead ends, and cliffhangers. A captivating new dimension for the Perplexus family of toys. Thirty transition points.
Awards: 2012 ASTRA Best Toys for Kids – Gameplay/Brainteasers 2/12/2012 (MSRP: $29.99; Age: 7 and Up)
Air Swimmers Flying Fish - Shark by WILLIAM MARK CORP
These helium-filled shark 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.
— As of 10/14/2011 this product had 2.8 out of 5 stars from 19 reviews on ToysRUs.com. Pros: Visually striking. Cons: Difficult to assemble; flimsy; does not stay inflated very long.
— Mike McCollum, owner of Learning Express in Hoover, Ala., told TDmonthly in November 2011 that Air Swimmers are becoming one of his best selling flying toys. He said that since September 2011, he has sold 16 of the sharks and 7 of the clown fish. ( Watch Video) 10/14/2011 (MSRP: $41.99)
LEGO DC Universe Super Heroes The Batcave 6860 by LEGO
This set consists of a large model of the Batcave, and is the second set to be based off of this location, the first being 7783 The Batcave: The Penguin and Mr. Freeze's Invasion. The Batcave playset is comprised of three sections, two vehicles - the Batcycle and Bane's drill - , as well as five redesigned minifigures, three of which are exclusive to the set; Batman in his blue Super Heroes suit with a cape, Robin, Bruce Wayne, Bane, and Poison Ivy. Launch date: 2012. ( Watch Video) 2/12/2012 (MSRP: $69.99; Age: 7 to 14)
Mega Bloks Lil' Princess Twinkle Castle Tub by MEGA BRANDS
This is the first line of construction toys designed for preschool girls ages 1 and up. Features sparkly translucent blocks, princesses with sparkling tiaras, ponies, and more. This tub includes sparkly and regular blocks, two princesses, and a little pony. Launch date: Fall 2012. ( Watch Video) 2/15/2012 (MSRP: $44.99; Age: 1 and Up)
LEGO Lord of the Rings Gandalf Arrives by LEGO
Relive the opening scene of "The Fellowship of the Ring" in LEGO form. As Gandalf the Grey makes his way through the Shire on his horse and cart, he meets an excited young hobbit, Frodo Baggins. Includes 2 minifigures: Gandalf the Grey and Frodo Baggins. 83 pieces. Launch date: June 2012. ( Watch Video) 2/12/2012 (MSRP: $12.99)
Tranquil Turtle by CLOUD B
Tranquil Turtle is the first Cloud B product that combines both sight and sound features in one soft, comforting character. Glowing in a relaxing aquamarine or amethyst color, the shell projects a magical underwater light effect with a gentle wave motion and plays soothing sounds to help children sleep. Launch date: February 2012.
Awards: 2012 NAPPA Honors, 2012 The National Parenting Center - Seal of Approval ( Watch Video) 2/1/2012 (MSRP: $47.95; Age: All Ages)
Ice Cream Mugz by GEOSPACE INTERNATIONAL
These miniature ice cream makers take three minutes to turn ingredients (sugar, milk cream, water, and anything else like to add like nuts, raisins, or candy) into an iced confection. There's no motor or batteries...the only energy required is a little vigorous shaking. Simply place ice cubes and salt into the lower part of the cup, and fill the top with sweetened juice, milk or cream. Fasten the lid and shake. The salt quickly melts the ice, which makes the aluminum plate super-cold, turning the liquid into ice cream, ice milk, or sorbet. Available in assorted animal characters (polar bear, cat, seal, dog, penguin) ( Watch Video) 2/22/2011 (Age: 4 and Up)
Silly Slapz! Slap Watch by BCP IMPORTS LLC
Inspired by the popular 90's toy, these silicone watches can be slapped onto wrists. They come in a variety of vibrant colors and in two sizes, small or large. The analog watch face is backed in the same vibrant color as the watch band, and the watch face is framed by a metal in the same shade as well. These watches can be collected, swapped, or worn in multiples to create a bold fashion statement.
— Kay Emigh of Growing Tree Toys in State College, Pa., told TDmonthly in late Summer 2011 that small Silly Slapz! Slap Watches were a top-three best-selling item in the store.
— John Taylor, owner of O.P. Taylor's in Brevard, N.C., told TDmonthly in an October 2011 survey that he sells 250 slap watches a month between his three stores. ( Watch Video) 2/22/2011 (MSRP: $17.95)
LEGO Monster Fighters Ghost Train 9467 by LEGO
The set contains a ghost train with three ghosts, and a red plane with four flick-fire missiles for the two Monster Fighters. When the train moves, the ghost train wings move too. All the ghosts glow in the dark. 422 Pieces. Launch date: 2012. ( Watch Video) 2/12/2012 (Age: 7 to 14)
Les Cheries Cecile by COROLLE DOLLS
Chloe, Camille, Clare, Cecile and Cathy are a multicultural collection of 13" dolls and are marketed as "best friend" dolls and are purposefully not fashion dolls. Cecile, an African American girl, comes with with jeans, a knit shrug and glorious hair.
Awards: Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Blue Chip Classic Award Winner, 2009. ( Watch Video) 10/14/2010 (MSRP: $45.00; Age: 4 to 10)
HEXBUG Micro Robotic Creature by INNOVATION FIRST LABS, INC.
The micro-robotic HEXBUG is a tiny, obedient insect that features bump-sensor feelers that help it avoid objects in its path. It responds to clapping or other loud noise by backing up or changing direction. The HEXBUG is small enough to fit in the hand and comes in five different body types and colors including pink, blue, green, yellow and orange. Awards: TDmonthly Innovations 2008.
— According to more than 60 reviews on Amazon.com and Radioshack.com, this fun, durable toy has been rated 4 out of 5 stars due to its entertaining and educational features. It is portable for any occasion and appropriate for any age. Consumers should be careful though, as they have been known to be flimsy and easily breakable, like real bugs! (09.12.08)
— "Everyone wants one, from adults to kids," Charles Bonner, owner of Heights Toy Center in Little Rock, Ark., told TDmonthly of this best seller in April 2009. "I sell 200 to 250 a month." Three of 44 retailers tagged Hexbugs as an overall best seller in late fall 2009.
— During a September 2010 survey, two of 44 retailers listed Hexbugs as their top-seller for tweens.
( Watch Video) 2/12/2008 (MSRP: $9.99; Age: 8 and Up)
Pumponator Balloon Pumping Station by PUMPONATOR INC.
The Pumponator Balloon Pumping Station is designed to make filling balloons with water or air easily. The Pumponator Balloon Pumping Station is filled with 500 balloons and strings for tying. Just fill the container with water, pump, press and fill the balloon. Leave out the water for indoor balloon fun.
— Two of 43 specialty retailers named Pumponator as a top seller in late spring 2010. Four of 40 surveyed retailers claimed Pumponator as an overall top seller in June 2010.
— “I order 144 at a time (and am on my) fourth order since May,” Barbara Fineblum, owner of Barston’s Child’s Play in Baltimore, Md., told TDmonthly in early summer 2010.
— In a summer 2010 survey, seven of 38 toy and gift retailers named Pumponator an overall top seller. Terri Bracken, owner of Earth Explorer Toys in Zionsville, Ind., told TDmonthly in July 2010 that her store sold 120 Pumponator stations in less than two months. The same month, Kathy Burns, manager of My Favorite Toy Store in Downers Grove, Ill., called Pumponator "a neat, neat item, and very price-appropriate.”
— ''We sell about 500 per year at all 3 stores,'' Marc Holcomb, owner of owner of Toys & Co. in Greensboro, S.C., told TDmonthly in autumn 2010.
AWARDS: 2010 TDmonthly Top Seller ( Watch Video) 10/16/2009 (MSRP: $19.95)
Twilight Ladybug - Relaunched by CLOUD B
The redesigned Twilight Ladybug features a vibrantly colored shell and soft, matching fur on its body. The constellations are on a 45 minute timer. Each Twilight Turtle and Friends character from the collection projects constellation nightlights that create a magical sleep-time environment. Each “shell” illuminates the night with three soothing color options to help ease fear of the dark. The Twilight Collection includes Twilight Turtle and Twilight Ladybug, each available in three colors and a Twilight Sea Turtle that also has five illuminated windows projecting images of sea life.
―As of 1.06.2011 this product had 4 out of 5 stars from 833 reviews on Amazon.com and was No. 25 on the top 100 bestselling toys and games. Pros: Soft plush; shuts of automatically to reserve battery power. Cons: Light burnt out and was not replaceable.
― In a June 2010 survey, nine of 40 retailers told TDmonthly that Cloud B Twilight critters are top-selling baby toys, with five citing Twilight Ladybug and six citing Twilight Turtle. Twilight Ladybug is the “go-to (product) for infant gifts” at School Crossing Inc. in Williamsburg, Va., according to Owner Sherry Phipps. ( Watch Video) 11/5/2009 (MSRP: $29.95)
Snap Caps® Rock Star by m3 girl designs LLC
Snap Caps® are the original, interchangeable, magnetic bottle cap necklace. This collection of Snap Caps offer designs for the girl rock star, from images of zebra stripes to hot pink iPods. ( Watch Video) 3/4/2009
Classic Water Garden Starter Kit Eco-Aquarium by WILD CREATIONS
This balanced ecosystem offers a low-maintenance way for children or adults to enjoy an aquarium environment. It comes complete with water, a snail, two little frogs, food and care pack. The water in the aquarium only has to be changed every five or six months.
— ''We sold about 660 during the year,” Marc Holcomb, owner of Toys & Co. in Greensboro, S.C., said in autumn 2010. Dave Campbell of Amazing Toys in Great Falls, Mont., sells approximately 12 per month.
— "I brought in 20, and in two weeks it sold out. I brought in 20 more and it sold out," Gage Brownell, manager of Belmont Toys in Belmont, Mass., told TDmonthly in March 2009 about the EcoAquariums he discovered at Toy Fair the month before. Molly McMullin of Twirl in Taos, N.M., reported sales of about 70 a month in March 2009.
— "Everyone was excited about them," Jeanne McCullough, owner of Children's Store Inc., said following ASTRA Marketplace in June 2009.
— In late summer/early fall 2009, three of 38 retailers named EcoAquariums as a best-selling science and nature product, noting sales of 18 to 60 a month. “We were hesitant to bring them in. We didn’t want to be a pet store. But it’s a neat idea. It’s low maintenance. It’s something the parents and kids can agree on,” Gary Green of Toy Box of Asheville in Asheville, N.C., told TDmonthly.
Awards: 2010 Tillywig Top Fun; Parent's Choice Award 2010
Past Videos: Toy Fair 2009 ( Watch Video) 2/16/2009 (MSRP: $30.00)
Rue, The Monster of Insecurity by THE MONSTERS IN MY HEAD LLC
Rue, the irresistible Monster of Insecurity hides behind flowers because he thinks he's different. He doesn’t realize that his unusual features make him interesting. He thinks that his nose just doesn't "fit" with his shaggy hair, cheese curl ears and fluffy wings. How silly! What he needs is a little encouragement. Won't you tell him he is perfect just the way he is? Rue is a part of the The WorryWoo Monsters series that tackles complicated feelings and transforms them into quirky, loveable characters. Rue and "The Nose That Didn't Fit" won a 2009 Excellent Product Award from iParenting Media and the 2009 Toy of the Year Award (category: storybook and plush) from Creative Child Magazine, as well as a TDmonthly Top Toy Award 2009.
Where to Buy: My Toy Smart ( Watch Video) 8/1/2008 (MSRP: $21.50; Age: 3 and Up)
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 Video) 1/17/2008
Cheche the Cheetah by ZOOBIES
Part of the Safari Pack, this super-soft plush is also a pillow and a blanket. It is three products in one. Zoobie Pets received a 2007 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award and a 2007 Top Toy of the Year Award from Creative Child Magazine.
― Debbie Scholl, owner of Fundamentally Toys in Houston, favored these transformable pets/pillows/blankies at Toy Fair 2007. ( Watch Video) 2/9/2007
The Original Fortamajig™ by THE HAPPY KID COMPANY
The Fortamjig provides a fun, easy way to build cool play spaces anywhere. The Fortamajig measures an open 8' square and is created out of durable nylon ripstop with no hard pieces to break or lose. It has open-able, stretchy loops around the interior and exterior edges for attachment to chair backs, tree branches, doorknobs and more, and features a closable mesh window, a flap door and four corner pockets. A reversible double-layer design is available for $89.95. This product is a Fall 2007 Parent's Choice Gold Award and Summer 2007 Dr. Toy Best Product Award winner. Launch date: February 2007.
— “The Fortamajig's open-ended design allows kids to create any play structure they can imagine, both indoors and out. Parents will appreciate the versatility the Fortamajig offers in one lightweight, portable and washable unit,” founders Katherine Huck and Kristen Stocking of The Happy Kid Company told TDmonthly. ( Watch Video) 1/8/2007 (MSRP: $49.95; Age: 3 to 12)
Dado Cubes by FAT BRAIN TOY CO.
Dado will engage your imagination and help develop a keen eye for design, color, shape, size, space, balance, proportion and composition. Constructed horizontally, vertically or nested together, Dado invites unlimited visual spatial development and problem solving through design-centered play. Dado features ten cubes, scaled from 1” to 5”. This game is "self-expression revealed through a contemporary palette of play, " Kathy Lorkovic, at Fat Brain Toys, told TDmonthly. This product has won numerous awards, including a 2007 National Parenting Center Seal of Approval Award, a Spring 2007 Dr. Toy Best Product Award, a 2007 iParenting Media Excellent Products Award and a Creative Child Preferred Choice Award. Launch date: September 1, 2006.
— “Dado Cubes forms the foundation of a series of design-centered educational toys,” offered Mark Carson, developer and president of Fat Brain Toys. Dado is “that rare toy that combines intuitive fun with fine design. Equally rare is its ability to entertain young and old alike,” he added. “Beyond Dado, we have a number of products in development that have been inspired by true educational research.”
Past Videos: Toy Fair 2007 ( Watch Video) 10/6/2006 (MSRP: $27.50; Age: 3 and Up)
ZipBin™ by NEAT-OH! INTERNATIONAL LLC
The ZipBin™ line consists of attractively designed, transportable and collapsible, interactive storage products that unzip to become activity/play surfaces, and then zip back up to storage-bin form, capturing toys. Each is stackable with a durable, wipe-clean surface. The five ZipBin products for toys include: ZipBin Mansion, ZipBin Road & Rail, ZipBin Dinosaur, ZipBin Builder’s Bin for Plastic Blocks and ZipBin Medieval Castle. “We sometimes describe the ZipBin as a gift that parents give to ... themselves,” Katherine and John Hodges told TDmonthly about the ZipBin. “The unique functionality [of the bin] ... simplifies clean-up.” ( Watch Video) 12/9/2005
M9 Sports Van by AUTOMOBLOX
The Automoblox M9 comfortably seats eight of our cool, blue people. The extra-long main passenger compartment and additional seating for four in the rear block give this vehicle the longest wheelbase in the line-up. Now your child can build a minivan like mom’s that even dad will want to drive. ( Watch Video) 3/31/2006 (MSRP: $37.99; Age: 3 to 9)