TDmonthly Magazine!
December 2006 | Vol. V - No. 12


How Flying Toy Makers Reach for the Sky

Easy and Unbreakable Are High on Their Lists

Icarus. Da Vinci. The Wright Brothers. Man’s dream of flight stretches back to time immemorial. The first successes were nothing more than toys:  kites, fireworks and ornithopters. 

But what makes a good flying toy?  Why would a child pick one over another?  More important, why would a manufacturer make one over another?  TDmonthly Magazine asked them:

Make It Easy

Bob Brill, vice president of marketing at the AeroKite Toy Company, said that determining why one flying toy is more appealing than another is complicated. However, he added that, “Our studies with children under 12 show that they prefer a flying toy that they can use with very little assembly and preparation. … They just want to see it fly.”

Randy Newman, vice president of sales and marketing at Marky Sparky Toys explained that they were coming out with a Junior version of their Blast Pad missiles for the same reason:  “Easier for the smaller kids to use.”

Jasman Toys media relations representative Andrew Sroufe pointed to the Command Force Micro Chopper Patrol’s ability to go from easy to difficult as a selling point.

Make It Tough

Joel Karsten, president of Adventure Products noted that  “Anything that flies is subject to impact, and thus a toy that doesn’t easily break is always great.  This is why we offer a lifetime warranty to anyone who purchases our helicopter kites.”

Make It “Jolly”

Finally, anything pirate seems to sell well these days in flying toys. Brad Gould, national accounts manager for Go Fly a Kite Inc. pointed out:  “The whole pirate phenomenon is selling extremely well.  Anything with a pirate flag, skull and crossbones, you name it.”

Flying high in the sky?  Manufacturers are looking to make it easier, less breakable and definitely cooler looking.  Look for all of these attributes to “soar” in the future. Here are some of the products that might:

MSRP: $12.99
Age Range: 5 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Aircraft

Children of all ages are mesmerized by the aerial acrobatics of planes, helicopters and aerial rescue crews. With the Command Force Micro Chopper Patrol, they can engage in rescue missions of their own. The tethered chopper rests on its helipad along a 12” base. Separate flight control levers for throttle and pitch allow precision flight movements up, down, forward and backward 360°. The Command Force Micro Chopper Patrol comes with two supply crates that a skilled pilot can pick up with the helicopter’s retractable grappling hook and return to the helipad to complete the rescue. “We’ve taken a classic toy concept and updated it with realistic details and features for a new generation of kids,” said Jasman Toys Vice President Brian Bonnett. “Our licensed Chopper Patrols use actual sounds from real helicopters — the Super Cobra makes a thumping rotor sound, and the Apache makes the more whiny engine sound of  the real-life version.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8679      (added 7/24/2006)

MSRP: $19.95
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Outdoor Fun

This totally wind-powered kite that looks and flies like a real helicopter is a mainstay product in the "kite" category and thrills and excites aviation lovers of all ages with its science-oriented, fun-to-fly, simply fascinating flight. Using only the wind as a power source, the rotors create the lift that carries the helicopter into the air.  The copter will hover or do touch-and-go landings, and can perform 360-degree spins and barrel rolls once the pilot has a few hours of practice.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3335      (added 4/4/2005)

MSRP: $49.99
Age Range: 12 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Kites

This giant single-line design is beautifully rendered in durable rip-stop nylon with super-strong, interlocking stitching. The kite includes two 25' rip-stop nylon tails in complementing colors.  With a strong fiberglass frame, it also comes with a plastic flying handle and 80-pound line, the whole thing packaged in a reusable vinyl case.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9573      (added 10/4/2006)

MSRP: $23.95
Gender: Boys
Category: Sporting Goods & Accessories

The Blast Pad Advanced Missile Launch System comes with telescoping technology that expands to almost 3'. The carrying case holds up to six soft-tipped missiles and the Flex Launch tube can’t kink to restrict airflow. Mark Rappaport, founder of Marky Sparky, invented his first toy when he was 9, according to his website. The Blast Pad was the winner of the 2003 Creative Child Magazine Preferred Choice Award.
— “We sold more than 500 during Christmas [2005] alone,” said Lee Ann Stern, general manager for the 11-year-old Village Toy Shop in Easton, Mass. Amanda Toupes, manager of Magic Box in New Orleans, added, “Some of [the missiles] get 200' in the air.”
— This toy is "sans pareil," according to Michael Ziegenhagen, owner of four Playmatters stores in Cleveland. "It has broad appeal as an outdoor boy toy" and has been one of his best sellers for four years.
— “These have sold well for us from day one,” Co-owner Jude Larene of Izilla Toys in Seattle told TDmonthly in mid-2007. “It's a kid magnet at the park.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 404      (added 9/1/2004)

Writer's Bio: Mark Zaslove is an entertainment industry veteran in developing content (writing, directing and producing television and feature films) for the major studios, including Disney, Universal and Warner Bros. A two-time Emmy Award winner for writing and recipient of the Humanitas Prize (for writing uplifting human values in television and movies), Mark is also Head of Content Development for Nice Entertainment. Read more articles by this author


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