But healthy play takes space. For retailers without parking lots, “in front of the store” was a popular spot for showcasing.
“We have a kite window as well, which takes some doing — to assemble them, get books out on them,” shared Sallie Scott, owner of The Learning Tree in Missoula, Mont.
Aisle end caps and video demos are another solution: “We have DVDs on a TV going all the time,” offered Givens.
Use Others’ Space
Even the smallest store can find a place to let the kids play, said Tremba, who also uses newsletters to promote her toys. “When our town has its summer street party we have an outdoor play area where kids and parents can play or ride some of our toys,” she said.
As for the next big hit, Jeanne McCullough, owner of Children's Store Inc. in Boise, Idaho, is keeping her eye on International Playthings'Wham-O Mini Frisbee Golf, she toldTDmonthly. “It looks very cool. The chain stops the [mini flying disc] and it goes into a basket.”
What to Make of It
Playing outside begins in the toy store. Following are some toys to get kids moving.
Buckets, beanbags and water all come together in 15 different party games for indoor and outdoor fun. Kids and adults toss, run, balance, chase, strategize, and team up for points and laughs. One outdoor game entails tossing a beanbag into a bucket of water… that’s attached to the back of an opponent. Bucket Blast includes six buckets, six belts, 24 beanbags, six blindfolds, four cones and one tote bag. "Bean Bag Basketball is the game that sells this product," Charlie Paul, president and CEO of LOLO, explained to TDmonthly. "Kids strap buckets to their behinds and try to get bean bags into each others' buckets while not getting any in their own. It is simple, pure fun. This product gets kids working together while competing against each other." — Jude Larene, owner of Izilla Toys in Seattle, called Bucket Blast “a great thing. … I’m sold out of it!”
The sleek silver and green, dual-winged Hyper Flyer is a radio-controlled stunt plane that can perform amazing aerial stunts including loops and barrel rolls. The plane can dive, roll and spin, and take off from the ground. It can perform touch-and-go stunts for fast land-to-air take off. With its state-of-the-art charger, the Hyper Flyer is ready for aerial action in just five minutes. It is constructed from virtually indestructible EPP foam. This product is a 2007 Creative Child Toy of the Year Award winner. — “All of the new items from Kid Galaxy were great,” Idanna Smith, owner of Juggles in Wakefield, R.I., told TDmonthlyabout Toy Fair 2007.
This electronic basketball game is portable, so kids can take it to any court to play games individually or with friends. The unit speaker calls out numbers that players set up around the court, determining where they shoot from. Children can play a variety of games and may use their own creativity to develop new games. Launch date: February 11, 2007. — “This is the first electronic basketball game where kids can get active on any real court,” Jenny Stern of Diggin told TDmonthly.
Touted as “the fastest ball on the planet,” this ball with a flat-edge surface design is known for its incredible speed, amazing ability to curve and tremendous control. Maximum air deflection leads to 50 percent less drag for more speed and more curve.
This backyard favorite measures 32” in diameter and is suitable for both kids and adults. It is made of durable, heavy-gauge vinyl, includes a separate foot pump, and can provide a great workout. Launch date: February 11, 2007.
Stilts have been enjoyed by children and adults for centuries. Perhaps it’s the instant boost in height. Or the physical challenge of balancing and walking. Or the outrageous fun. Whatever the reason, stilts are a perennial favorite around the world. Now, Geospace has taken the basic stilt design and made it a whole lot better — easier to learn, easier to use, more ergonomically correct and more fun. Launch date: May 15, 2007.
This X-shaped ball flies farther than a football but it’s soft so it won't hurt the kid catching it. The Yackle Ball comes with many fun and stimulating games to encourage outdoor play. It is available in 10 colors. CEO Patricia Littwin of Ttalf Corporation chose to manufacturer the original Yackle in the United States, and automation within a 10,000 sq. ft. North Carolinian facility allows production at only 10 cents more per ball than was quoted in China, she said. “We like the Yackle Balls by Ttalf,” Owner Linda Angel of Kidoodles Toys in Norman, Okla., told TDmonthly upon her return from Toy Fair 2007. Awards: TDmonthly Innovations 2007. Launch date: June 1, 2006.
This action toy helps keep kids fit as they simulate and learn how to skate, surf and snowboard without getting wet, cold or sore. Children can twist it, kick it, flip it or pop it as they play. The board measures 21” by 5.25” and comes in red, yellow, green and blue. “This product is the first of its kind. The boarding industry never had a plastic, functional, inexpensive toy — a 21st century toy,” CEO Bob Ellis of GarageCo Toys told TDmonthly. Launch date: June 2006. — It’s very simple, yes, but the Yo Baby Practice Board received a TDmonthly Innovations 2007 award due to its usefulness as a training tool for very young children, propelling them to develop board-sport skills they can use later in life. It’s perfect for use on carpet in the home, and can easily travel anywhere. — “We're doing well with Yo Babys, [and] ordering a case a month,” said Connie Hoeft, owner of C R Toys in Kearney, N.E., when asked about her best-selling sports toys in spring 2009. — “We do really well with the Yo Baby practice boards. Last year, we went through a lot of those,” Lauren Obenour, manager of Green Frog Toys in Portland, Ore., told TDmonthly in March 2009.
Once played by pirates, this game has been reinvented and redesigned for all to play. Made of cast aluminum, Sling a Ring™ has a patented ring release, comes in many color combinations, and provides hours of fun for today’s “pirates.” It develops hand-eye coordination, needs no batteries, and becomes a permanent installation indoors or out. “We consider [Sling a Ring] to be the toy/game with the most mass sales possibilities presented at Toy Fair this year. It can be used in educational and therapeutic applications, as well as a means to pass the time and socialize,” Norman Smith of Sling a Ring told TDmonthly. "We're very much in favor of getting kids away from their electronic items ... back to basics." Launch date: Summer 2007.
This unique skipping toy is swung around the ankle and hopped over by the opposite foot, creating an ongoing motion. It provides active play, improves agility and coordination, features colorful balls that jingle and is heavy enough to give a good spin. It comes in red, green, raspberry, purple, yellow and blue. “Our skipper is found to be the most durable of all similar products at its very competitive price,” CFO Michelle Kalberer of Just Jump It told TDmonthly.
Pony Hops are great inflatable child toys for several children to enjoy at once. Pony Hops are great for church groups, family and special events, park recreation, kids activity centers, clubs, schools, fundraising/racing, party rentals, team competition, derby days, fairs, sports promotion and more. There are three sizes to choose from, and an optional air pump inflator/deflator is also available.
Kids can sail the skies with these beautifully detailed 3-D ship kites. They are easy to fly and have long nylon streamer tails that provide a visual wake. The kites are available in three styles: Viking Ship, Colorful Ship and Pirate Ship.
The Air-YO is a unique tethered flying object. Flyers can direct every glide, hover and orbit of the Air-YO using the Control Rod, and can play alone, or, with extra Control Rods, connect as many as three people to one Air-YO at the same time for a game of "Anti-catch." Endless action, tricks and multi-player games make the Air-YO highly addictive fun both indoors and out. The product is made with durable ripstop nylon and has a graphite frame. It is available in three sail patterns: Birdy, Iris and Twisty.
Pump it up, press the button and watch it go! Foam rockets can soar over 100', while the trick foam glider performs loops in the air. The set includes a 14" pump, a launcher, two 9" foam rockets and one 10 1/2" foam glider. The launcher features a "safety launch" so rockets and gliders cannot be released if the launcher has flipped over. What makes Blast-Off so special? “Excellent performance, durability [and an] attractive package for gift-giving,” Debra Ashley of Toysmith told TDmonthly. Launch date: Summer 2006
This golf game can be played with family and friends in a backyard, at a park or on the beach. Players design their own 9-hole course and play with their own clubs. Each set includes 18 tee markers, nine cup rings, nine pin flags, 12 specially designed neighborhood-friendly golf balls, 25 score cards, four tees, a pencil and a rules sheet. A 3-hole version is available for $39.95. “The Designer Golf ball's weight and hole pattern was designed to simulate true golf ball flight but only travel 130' maximum. It is also extremely durable,” Andy Golden of Designer Golf told TDmonthly. Launch date: June 2006. — Designer Golf “doesn’t limit anyone,” added VP of Sales & Marketing Don Colber, who said the game has been used in a Who's Your Caddy? campaign for handicapped kids who can't go out and play on traditional golf courses.
This huge inflatable water slide and play area measures over 16’ x 16’ x 12’. The play set includes water cannons that can shoot water up to 20 feet in the air, a bouncy obstacle course, a turtle trampoline, a play tunnel and more. The tall, strong and inflatable walls preserve the yard by keeping the water inside the pool, while the heavy-duty blower maintains continuous airflow. "This is a mountain of fun for kids of all ages. It is durable and provides hours of entertainment," Reagan Holmes, Public Relations Coordinator at Little Tikes Inc., told TDmonthly. This product is a Spring 2007 Dr. Toy Best Product Award winner. Launch date: March 2007.
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).
There is nothing to compare to this bubble mix: It’s in the Guinness Book of World Records (world’s largest bubble). The beeboo Big Bubble Mix makes blowing big bubbles easy and fun, and is as simple as mixing one gallon of water with one bottle (17fl. oz.) of concentrate. Coupled with the beeboo Big Bubble Wand (each wand is constructed using two 30" wooden handles and a section of super-absorbent cotton cloth), the whole kit creates huge, colorful, long-lasting bubbles. This product received a 2007 Oppenheim Gold Award.
This blazing-fast, four-wheel drive marine car runs on the ground and on grass, sand, ice and even water. It’s a remote-controlled all-terrain 4x4 and a speedboat in one. The waterproof wireless radio handset can be used up to 70' from the vehicle, which can do 360-degree spins. The product features twin turbo props and precision grip wheels, and comes with a 9V battery and pack. Launch date: October 1, 2006. — “Our neat stuff is geared to the younger crowd — 15 and under — but I’ve got to tell you, in a lot of cases, dad and son wind up fighting about who's going to use that particular stunt car. There's a child in all of us,” President Sal Irigoyen of Odyssey Marketing told TDmonthly.
Families can have fun together with this new item by Wham-O. The stand features metal chains that are designed to catch Mini Frisbee discs. The play set comes with five discs. Launch date: February 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11948 (added 3/15/2007)
Writer'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