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November 2006 | Vol. V - No. 11




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Top-10 Hot New Holiday Toys in Specialty Stores

These Toys'll Blow XBox Away (But in a Good Way!)


After kids tire of tickling Elmo, they’ll need some real toys for real fun.  These new toys either got retailers hot at Toy Fair — dreaming of a super 4th quarter ― or have been selling like mad in 2006. Brainpower and aesthetics both score high; even the plush requires kids to answer trivia questions for maximum play.

(And to see the top-10 sizzlers from 2005 — which are expected to still be hot this year — please CLICK HERE.)




MSRP: $29.95
Age Range: 8 and up
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



In this exciting strategy game, players use colorful rings to challenge each other to win the most territories. It takes finding the right balance between gaining majorities and controlling the opponents to capture victory. Fast-paced and addictive, this beautifully crafted all-wooden game will please the whole family. For two to four players, playtime is approximately 20 minutes. The game includes a wooden playing board with 25 territories, 1 starting base, 48 wooden rings and instructions. Launch date: 2006.
— “Blue Orange Ringgz is great. It has a beautiful wooden board,” said Cathy Albrow, owner of Creative Learning Toys in Grand Rapids, Mich.
— "The best-selling toys are hands down those from Blue Orange. All-wooden games is what they do. Their games are original designs and ideas," said David Correa, buyer at Mrs. Tiggy Winkles in Tucson, Ariz.
— Adeline Bertrix, from sales and marketing at Blue Orange, told TDmonthly, “It’s a completely new concept. There is no strategy game out there like it. It can be played by two, three or four players. The colors are very lively. The design is very simple. It’s a beautiful game. It’s very addictive. Both adults and children can play it, and I think that’s very important.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7326      (added 3/27/2006)
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Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush



Kids use this toy's hangtag to retrieve a secret code that brings a digitized version of the character to life on the Web. In cyberspace, kids can officially adopt their pet and create a virtual world for him, too. A total of five out of the 24 retailers surveyed said this product line was a top seller.
— “Girls like anything pink and poodle,” explained Jan Grimsley, owner of Trademarks in Little Rock, Ark.
— Rick Derr, owner of two Learning Express stores in Illinois, sells 20 to 30 Webkinz a day and expects the toy to sizzle at Christmas.
— "They're huge — not Beanie Baby huge, but it's really big," summed up Peter Scott, owner of Perfect Toy in Avon, Conn.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8575      (added 7/18/2006)
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MSRP: $9.99
Age Range: 5 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts



PlayFoam provides hours of creative fun with its lightweight, colorful foam-sculpting material that won't crumble, stick to skin or surfaces or dry out. According to an Educational Insights press release, PlayFoam was being “pre-ordered by the hundreds” at Toy Fair 2006.
— Sally Lesser, owner of Henry Bear’s Park in Massachusetts, told TDmonthly in spring 2007 that PlayFoam is a product her stores try to keep “in stock all the time, as I’m sure anyone would.” In fall 2007, Owner Idanna Smith of Juggles in Wakefield, R.I., named it as a best seller.
— Jim Whitney, president of Educational Insights, shared this insight with TDmonthly: "From the moment you touch PlayFoam it intrigues and fascinates ... It combines all the fun of sculpting with the soft, dry, squishy tactile feeling of a stress ball. It ... will last for years and is addictively fun."
— PlayFoam, a winner of a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award, is one of those creative alternatives to clay that many specialty retailers have made a staple in their stores. The reusable product comprises tiny foam balls that draw textural interest for the sculptor and offer visual appeal in a finished creation. Playfoam easily encourages open-ended play.

Where to Buy: Berkira; EQuick Xpress

ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5962      (added 12/14/2005)
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Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



OgoSport is the invention of Pratt Institute of Design professor Rick Goodwin. It is an inflatable disc that can be used to play catch with a ball (it gives like a trampoline and can catapult balls up to 150' in the air) and can also be used at the beach like a frisbee (as a bonus, it floats!). Batteries are not required. Available are OgoSport Mini ($7.50), Single Pack OgoSport Large ($10.00) and Double Pack OgoSport Large ($19.00).
— After the 2006 Toy Fair and Pomona shows, where the toy debuted, OgoSport was shipped to 300 stores within a couple of weeks. Shortly after, Kevin Williams of OgoSport told TDmonthly, "We’re getting great response and reorders already."
— Kate Tanner, owner of Kidstop Toys & Books in Scottsdale, Ariz., spotted OgoSport at the American International Toy Fair 2006 and knew she’d found a winner. “When we played it, we had adults waiting in line to play it,” she told TDmonthly. “When we have fun with it, you know the kids are going to have fun with it.”
TDmonthly's homeschoolers also loved OgoSport (view article).
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7040      (added 3/1/2006)
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MSRP: $44.95
Age Range: 9 and up
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



Khet combines lasers with cstrategy in an award-winning game that takes minutes to learn but yields infinite possibilities. Players move Egyptian-themed, mirrored pieces around the playing field, ending each turn by firing a laser that bounces around with the goal of knocking out an opponent’s pharaoh. The silver player wins the game by deflecting his laser around the field and hitting the red player’s pharaoh. With the addition of fog or smoke, the laser beam becomes visible for more high-tech excitement. Khet (formerly known as Deflexion) caused a stir in 2006 at Toy Fair and Pomona. “The game truly spans the generation gap, with enough technology to interest the 'video-gamers' of the younger crowd while maintaining enough classic strategy ... to interest their grandparents and everyone in between,” Luke Hooper of Innovention Toys told TDmonthly.   It received a 2006 MENSA Select Award and was a 2007 T.O.T.Y. Game-of-the-Year Nominee. Launch date: 2006. Read Review
— "Khet ... is great seller for us. It's new and did well — even at $50," summed up Danny Givens, owner of Little Dickens in Lynchburg, Va.
— "I put my money on Khet," Co-owner Michele Gietz of Where'd You Get That? in Williamstown, Mass., said in October 2008 about anticipated holiday best sellers. "We only bring in 15 at a time, but the price doesn't scare anybody off — just have to hit the right people."
― Taka Andrews, owner of Miller's Toy Store in Mamaroneck, N.Y., said Khet is a top seller for tween boys, despite the allure of video games. Seven of 39 retailers told TDmonthly in October 2009 that board games are their go-to items for tween-aged boys.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3719      (added 5/27/2005)
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MSRP: $29.95
Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



This is a perfect game for kids who like to be grossed out. Kids are afraid of the monsters under their beds, but they should also be afraid of other gross and gooey things that sometimes get stashed there … such as dirty diapers. In this yucky-fun game, kids have to pick nasty things out from under the bed without disturbing the monster, or else they lose! "I think the kids will absolutely love it!" Ricki Block, owner of Ariel’s Child in New Windsor, N.Y., enthused to TDmonthly Magazine. Right after Toy Fair, buyers from Tree Top Kids in Washington, D.C., were also eagerly anticipating this new game's release. The game won a Toy of the Year Award from Family Fun Magazine in 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7013      (added 2/24/2006)
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MSRP: $24.00
Age Range: 8 and up
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts
Fashion & Accessories
Tween



This brand new, expanded kit includes a style guide to inspire and educate tween girls about variations in skirt, shirt and trouser shapes. It also includes a wide array of colorful pencils and crayons, croque sheets with the outlines of their “models,” newsprint paper, tracing paper, spec sheets and fabric samples. The whole kit folds into a portable 11” by 15” portfolio, for designing on the go. This product received a 2007 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award. Launch date for the Deluxe kit: 2006.
— Right after Toy Fair, Debbie Scholl, owner of Fundamentally Toys in Houston, was seriously considering this item. “With this whole ‘Project Runway’ getting more popular, girls are looking more into design and creation,” she explained to TDmonthly.
— “The design-your-own-wardrobe [kit] is a very good one,” agreed Barbara Vininsky, owner of Jack & Jill in Montreal, Quebec. She expects it to be a big 2006 hit in her store, which sells trendy toy and clothing items.
TDmonthly's homeschoolers and their moms also raved about the kit, and were ready to order refills to "keep styling."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7310      (added 3/27/2006)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $50.00
Age Range: 4 and up
SKU or Item #: 81
Launch Date: October 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction



Children can easily snap together 100 rugged plastic pieces to form these poseable creatures: Blue Crab, Dimorphodon, Horse, Sea Lion, Conure Parrot, Hadrosaur, African Elephant, Swallowtail Butterfly, Bull Trout, and Platypus. Or, they can morph and interchange pieces to make various fantasy creatures. Extra pieces and an educational booklet are included with the reusable tub. “Zoomorphs has used PVC in almost every piece. It has a much softer and warmer (emotionally) feel than typical hard plastic. We are also the only animal-only building toy ever created,” president Mark McFarland of River Dolphin Toys told TDmonthly. Zoomorphs has spread through the specialty toy market based almost solely on word of mouth. From around 50 stores back in 2005, Zoomorphs can now be found in almost 1,100 gift and toy stores. The Deluxe tub sets "are opening up a whole new market for us — the educational market," said McFarland. Retailers are again expecting the new Zoomorph set to be as successful as the smaller sets were last Christmas. Launch date: October 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9854      (added 10/30/2006)
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MSRP: $24.95
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games
Board Games



Pentago Classic is a game that comes from Sweden, the country that brought the world the Vikings and the Nobel Prize. Swedes are known for their clever and simple styles, and this game is simple and stylistic but utilizes deep strategy and logic. Introduced in Sweden in 2004, it won the prestigious “Game of the Year” award in that country in 2005. Each game is handcrafted of wood and aluminum in a choice of three colors and includes glass marbles. "I'd buy one for myself, actually," said Debbie Scholl, owner of Fundamentally Toys in Houston, who called the game "cool." Her first shipment had just arrived at the end of October. A fifth of retailers interviewed by TDmonthly after Toy Fair had already ordered the game.
— Pentago was a top seller at The Toy Shop of Concord in Concord, Mass., in December 2009, according to Owner David Hesel. “They have a working display, and we’ve sold 300 to 400 this year because they understand how to reach the customer,” Hesel said.

Watch Games Expo Video
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8123      (added 6/2/2006)
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Alison MarekWriter's Bio: ALISON MAREK is an award-winning writer, director and cartoonist whose work has been published by Fairchild Publications and DC Comics (Piranha Press), broadcast on Showtime and other cable networks, and viewed worldwide in film festivals. See her short films and print work on www.alisonmarek.com. Watch her nefarious villains in the web series www.MuggsMovers.com. Get inspired by her cartoons "Daily ARFFirmations to Unleash Your Inner Fido" at www.ARFFirmations.com. Phew! And then ...  Read more articles by this author

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