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May 2006 | Vol. V - No. 5




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Electronic Games Rule the Travel Set

Popular Games Get to Go on Vacation


“Plugging your kids into something for hours in the car isn’t the best use of the time.” Brian Beihl, Family on Board
Parents are always looking for something fun, attention grabbing and “not too loud” to entertain kids (and themselves) on long trips. TDmonthly Magazine spoke with manufacturers and retailers to find out which products are moving the fastest. Card and trivia games are faring well, they said, as well as small, colorful electronic handhelds.

Patti Saitow, vice president of Global Marketing Services, which represents Radica, said the company’s electronic question game 20Q still sells well after being on the market for a couple of years. Other top selling games for Radica are Tetris, Solitaire and Poker. “They are all classic game play in a portable format,” Saitow told TDmonthly.

Cyndee Dalton, product manager for games at International Playthings Inc., believes parents want more than just a way to quiet the kids for a while. With so many family vehicles equipped with DVD players and headphones, families want to take a break from that and make some valuable use of the time to connect. “For young children, a common feature is to create travel games that they can share/participate in with parents/siblings, such as trivia games.”

Along those lines, International Playthings’s Tons of Trivia game can be played alone or with others in the car. Dalton said, “It's a fun and educational way to pass time during the trip while bonding as a family.”

Brian Beihl, president of online travel goods retailer Family on Board, agrees that electronic travel games are a trend. But it’s not one of his favorites. “Plugging your kids into something for hours in the car isn’t the best use of the time. They miss out on looking out the window, seeing the landscape and helping with navigating,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for parents to interact with their kids.”

Beihl stocks his store instead with open-ended games that have a longer play value. His best seller is Travel Bingo by Regal Games.

Laura Miller, owner of Imagination Village in Concord, N.H., and Eric Masoncup, owner of Geppettos Toy Box in N.Y.C., both say card games are still their most frequent travel purchase. Masoncup says his best selling card games are Are We There Yet from Family Games and Set from Set Enterprises. Although Miller says cards are still popular, she believes her number one selling travel game is Rush Hour by ThinkFun (ToyShow).

Both Masoncup and Jordan Walden, manager of Finnegans Toys and Gifts in Portland, Ore., say Travel Blokus from Educational Insights (ToyDirectory) is a fast moving travel game. Walden said they are also selling a lot of the new Scrabble Portfolio Edition by Hasbro and anything sudoku-related.

Kidz Delight International president Don Light believes that electronic toys are getting smaller and increasingly featuring color screens. The company’s Mini Max addresses both electronic and family interaction needs by including infrared messaging and allowing for multiple players to compete simultaneously. The Princess Max includes five “girls only” features such as virtual pets, mood sensors and a friend compatibility test, aiming at filling a void in girl-targeted electronic toys.

Light noted that U.S. retailers will have something to look forward to down the road: The Princess Max is still catching on in the United States, but it is on fire elsewhere with 90 percent of the production currently being shipped to the United Kingdom. And, in summer 2006, the Evolution Max will arrive on the retail scene, loaded with 29 features and a color screen.

The following is more information on travel products that move quickly off store shelves.





MSRP: $19.95
Age Range: 8 and up
Category: General Games



This all-knowing handheld features “artificial intelligence” and can read minds. Players simply think of something, and then answer a series of questions. If the machine guesses within 20 questions, it wins. “20Q is an artificial intelligence, an electronic toy, a website and a phenomenon. Teachers everywhere…tell us how much fun it is to use 20Q with early readers in their classrooms, and as a motivator and reward for older kids,” Radica USA told TDmonthly.
— "A travel game we have for older children is 20 Questions. … the whole family can enjoy this one," said Peter, owner of Mr. Toad’s Toy Company in Naples, Fla.
— “The most perfect gift imaginable,” said DeeDee McMillen, co-owner of McMillen’s Magic in Trenton, N.J.
— Retailers have told TDmonthly that 20Q answers this pertinent question: What toy with wide appeal will boost my monthly totals? Since 20Q seems poised to do it again in 4Q, it’s been honored with a TDmonthly Top Seller 2007 award.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3083      (added 3/1/2005)
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MSRP: $4.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



These magnetic travel playsets offer a variety of popular themes to appeal to children of all ages. Imaginative children will enjoy getting lost in a magnetic world of their choice. The flat packaging and product are easy to store in a backpack or can be left in the back seat of the car.
— “They have wonderful themes — pirate, princess, fairy, Mr. Potato Head,” said Diane Robinson, president and owner of Silly Goose Inc. in Essex, Mass.
— Mary Kiely, manager of Stellabella Toys in Cambridge, Mass., said, “Bob the Builder’s one of our favorites. We’ve had a lot of comments from customers — great for ages 3 and 4 and up. The USA map version is great for the older kids.”
— Five of 36 retailers agreed in spring 2007 that Imaginetics are best sellers in their stores. Retailers reported selling anywhere from 10 to 30 units each month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7485      (added 4/5/2006)
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MSRP: $15.99
Age Range: 7 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Electronic Games



In the 2006 line of Tiger Games is the return of virtual pets. Kids adopt a Giga Pet and might even get attached to it as they train it, feed it, play with it and watch it grow. If you were studying, it would be a constant interruption, but if you are traveling and your pet needs to “go outside” or be “played with,” it is a welcome interruption.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7486      (added 4/5/2006)
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Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



These unique travel bingo cards need no markers or pencils to play. Everyone in the car can participate in trying to spot the items on the card as the hours fly by and the destination becomes nearer.
— In March 2008, four of 40 manufacturers named bingo as the best-selling travel game in their stores.
— “Travel Bingo from Regal Games always sells,” Patricia Masing, co-owner of Tree Town Toys in Ann Arbor, Mich., told TDmonthly in March 2008.
— Travel bingo is very popular at Larson’s Toys and Games in Columbus, Ohio, Owner Gary Larson told TDmonthly in March 2008. “We sold over 500 last year,” he said.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7487      (added 4/5/2006)
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MSRP: $11.99
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Audio & CD



National Parks Trivia is a game for your car stereo or portable CD player that tests you on your knowledge about America's national parks. Three choices are given for each answer, but players get extra points for answering before hearing all of the choices. All the trivia questions have a music background for a pleasant listening experience. Kids can play it by themselves, at a party or on the next long family outing. The manufacturer said that this product fits well into the specialty market because the CDs can be modified to reflect region. They can add feature sections to our trivia games with an additional trivia track of 8 to 10 questions that are specific to the location of the retailer. For example, feature sections can be added to the existing National Parks CD to help market some of the smaller national parks. The cover of the jewel case would highlight the feature section in that game. Also available are College Football Hall of Fame, Civil War, Travel the USA, US History and educational versions K-5.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6012      (added 12/15/2005)
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MSRP: $16.95
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



The Etch A Sketch manual, of course, comes with an Etch A Sketch, but also with a book of ideas, tips and tricks for making things come alive on the board. The screen also comes with 12 overlays to turn it into a golf course, pinball game, maze and other challenging courses to extend the play life of this traditional toy.
— "Klutz — all those little pocket games that are fun in the car," was the comment on travel toy best sellers given by Alison Cox, owner of Animal Quackers in Raleigh, N.C.
— Six of 37 retailers named Klutz as one of their best-selling travel lines.
— Specialty toy retailers consistently name Klutz a great seller.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7488      (added 4/5/2006)
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MSRP: $8.95
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill



Olympic backstroke champion John Naber, one of the four Olympic swimming champions featured on the new "Swimming Champions" Scramble Squares® puzzle from b. dazzle, inc., says, “These Scramble Squares are so challenging, they provide hours of challenge. It’s a gold medal puzzle!” This puzzle received Dr. Toy's 10 Best Socially Responsible Products Award for 2006 and was a Best Product Award Winner for Dr. Toy's Summer 2007 Resource Program.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7701      (added 4/25/2006)
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Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Card Games



This unique card game pack contains 110 cards that can be played in three fun-filled ways. Detailed instructions are included in the pack. The cards have unique designs on the back, as the company, based in Mumbai, India, is a division of a very old and reputed textiles company.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6835      (added 2/6/2006)
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Pennie HooverWriter's Bio: Pennie, a graduate of Indiana University School of Journalism, is a freelance writer and lives with her husband and three children in Visalia, Calif. Read more articles by this author

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