TDmonthly Magazine!
March 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 3


TOY FRENZY! Update: Flu Storms the Fair

Bugs Won’t Slow Momentum, Say Toymakers

“The chances to sell in [a specialty] store are much better because that’s the store that will drive my kind of product.” Fabio Elias, Voxal
Kleenex packs, not galoshes, were the accessories of choice at Toy Fair 2008. Though most of TDmonthly Magazine’s Toy Frenzy!” documentary subjects missed the blizzard that knocked out New York two days after the show closed, getting loopy on antihistamines hampered their post-fair activity.

“The flu hit just as I wrapped up the show,” reported Fabio Elias of Voxal. He and Brett Diffley of Frolicking Floaters were still coughing more than a week later.


Despite contagious viruses, our “Toy Frenzy!” subjects built on the momentum of the fair, following up on “hot leads” as soon as they returned, Elias said. TDmonthly called Dave Crockett from Beyond Chess as he was on his way out the door for a “big business meeting” about his movable chess-board game.

Diffley had to quickly get a Frolicking Floaters bank account together so he could start taking credit cards. Though he’d sent out a few on-credit orders to “ma-and-pa” type stores, he’s still waiting to see a cash return on his investment — as is everyone else.


Toymakers said they’d had interest from toy stores, big chains and prestigious retailers such as FAO Schwarz. They were grateful for the exposure the fair gave them, and for tips offered by Charles W. Allen, who was hired by the Toy Industry Association to teach newcomers how to present their products.

Michael Maddi, inventor of Puppetoys, was even chosen for a toy demo by a Late Show with David Letterman camera crew. Though Maddi was disappointed his toy didn’t make the cut, the sting was alleviated when the episode focused on comedian Andy Kindler trying out a Fly Bar pogo stick by SBI Enterprises, landing flat on his back and getting wheeled through the Javits Center to an off-site doctor who diagnosed soft-tissue damage.

“Any publicity is good publicity,” commented Maddi, but most toymakers were probably glad not to be in SBI’s shoes that night.

“We don't usually allow people to demo at Toy Fair because of the slippery carpeting,” Dave Jargowsky, principal with SBI Enterprises, told TDmonthly. “As with any active exercise, there's the chance for injury. Stay within your limit and use proper safety precautions, as we suggest on our packaging and marketing."


At this point, the documentary toymakers are hoping the contacts they met at the fair turn into real sales. Tails of Abbygail’s Terri Link met with an agent the last night of the show, and other toymakers reported being approached by people who claimed to have worldwide distribution networks that could set up licensing and product-placement deals. Successful Kids’ Aimee Symington and her husband were suspicious of one such rep, who wanted to meet them at night at what appeared to be his private residence.


EthiKids’ Susan Adams said Toy Fair taught her who her target audience is: specialty retailers — a term she wasn’t familiar with before the show.

In fact, most of the manufacturers hadn’t considered mom-and-pops for their bread and butter. Though still hoping for those big wins to wipe out their investment debt, the fair taught them all about niches.

“The chances to sell in [a specialty] store are much better because that’s the store that will drive my kind of product,” summed up Elias.

Here are the toys of the “Toy Frenzy!” subjects. Check back throughout the year as we begin uploading videos of their Toy Fair experiences:

MSRP: $25.95
Age Range: 10 and up
SKU or Item #: 0 94922 77797 3
Launch Date: January 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Water Activities

The inflatable toy floats on water, with an open head cavity for swimmers to place their head. There are two handles under the toy for gripping the two squirt guns. Other available varieties include turtle, killer whale, helmet and more. Launch date: January 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16036      (added 11/7/2007)

MSRP: $34.99
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Board Games
General Games

Beyond Chess comes with everything you need to play. The board is made of 64 high-quality, solid, plastic squares that measure 1.5"x1.5"x.25" and accommodate most chess pieces, plus two extra squares. This set includes standard Staunton-design chess pieces, a 12-page instruction booklet and a sturdy nylon backpack-style carrying bag.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16215      (added 11/21/2007)

Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $24.95
Age Range: 5 to 10
SKU or Item #: 85115
Launch Date: February 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Educational
Board Games

The adorable characters of Becky, Bobby, Brenda and Billy Blunder revolutionize the way manners are taught. The game includes a game board, a story book and 300 fun and interactive charade, multiple-choice, scenario and true/false questions covering social and dining etiquette. “Blunders™ is the only board game on the market today that makes learning manners interactive and fun!” Successful Kids Inc. President Aimee Symington told TDmonthly. This game has received the following awards: Dr. Toy, National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, iParenting Media, Creative Child Preferred Choice, Mr. Dad Seal of Approval, eChoice, and The Toy Man Award of Excellence and Seal of Approval. Launch date: February 17, 2008.
— "I've loved the Blunders Game from the moment I was introduced to it.  Now you can reinforce manners at one of the places where manners are key.  Manner Mats takes the blunders concept and turns it into a set of 38  table mats. The mats include tones of games including word searches, challenges, multiple choice, what is wrong with the picture, complete the sentence and many more. Another innovative way to teach manners without having to point your finger," Jennifer Shuman, owner of 1SmartNoodle, told TDmonthly at Toy Fair 2010.

Past videos: Toy Fair 2009
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16257      (added 11/27/2007)

MSRP: $15.95
Age Range: 8 to 11
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Educational
General Games

In "what's the deal?" – a tween and teen prep kit - Fiona and Luke find themselves in lots of sticky situations. Follow these exploits with children and watch Fiona and Luke grow as they think through the best solutions, and begin to apply them in their own lives.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16929      (added 1/4/2008)

Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puppets

This dinosaur is a 32”-long, full-body glove puppet. Ceratasaur is a stealth, forest-dwelling meat eater with three boney horns and razor-like soft foam teeth. As with all Prehistoric Puppets, he is fully flexible down to his swishing tail! He comes with his own stand for play or display and is a great learning and role-playing puppet for ages 4 to extinct. The product is made of a super-soft, molded polyurethane foam, and is realistically painted.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16731      (added 12/21/2007)

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 Watch her nefarious villains in the web series Get inspired by her cartoons "Daily ARFFirmations to Unleash Your Inner Fido" at Phew! And then ...  Read more articles by this author


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