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December 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 12




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TDmonthly's Reviews Do the Work for You

Will Our Panel's Best Ratings Equal a Hit in Your Store?


Did you know TDmonthly Magazine offers many more product reviews than you read about in this section each month, and makes it easy for you to check out evaluations on the types of toys your store might be interested in? They're all compiled in our designated REVIEWS section, where you can search products by age, category and price.

You can even post our links to positive reviews of toys, books and games on your website, where your customers can see them, too!

Since it's December and you're pressed for time, we've compiled a list of some of the most recent 4- to 5-star performers (5 out of 5 TD stars is the highest rating a product can earn!) so you can see at a glance which products our kid reviewers and experts liked the most:




MSRP: $29.95
Age Range: 10 and up
SKU or Item #: 234
Launch Date: December 2007
Category: Board Games
Educational
General Games



JUMBULAYA is an award-winning, multi-faceted word strategy game in which players rearrange, add, and trade tiles on the board to build and claim longer and longer words each turn. As players build words horizontally, they also look for a Jumbulaya - a word of seven or more tiles that can be seen vertically on the game board. "Jumbulaya is a word strategy game where players need to THINK ON MULTIPLE LEVELS simultaneously," said Karl Archer, CEO and cofounder of Platypus Games. "It incorporates strategy into the game play, as players are able to add, as well as remove, tiles from the board and think many moves ahead in order to try to win." It has won a 2008 Mensa Select Gold Seal and iParenting Media Award. Launch date: 12/15/2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20204      (added 8/25/2008)
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SKU or Item #: FDB109
Category: General Games



THIS PRODUCT IS NOW DISTRIBUTED BY MELISSA & DOUG
A great family game! Family Dinners are great moments waiting to happen. Dinnertime is a chance to connect over a meal, enjoy laughter and a great story. Pick a card and let the fun begin. The Family Dinner Box of Questions are designed to help families get the most out of this simple but age-old tradition. A portion of the proceeds from sale of this product is donated to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University CASA.

52 round questions cards in an attractive 5" x 3.5" satin ribbon-wrapped container. Some questions include:

What is your favorite time of the day?
What qualities do you look for in a friend?
Which teacher or coach had the most impact on you?
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 19307      (added 6/10/2008)
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MSRP: $8.95
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts
School Supplies
Creative Activities



These non-toxic oil pastels come in ocean-themed packaging decorated with bright fish and other sea creatures.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21160      (added 10/30/2008)
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This energetic album, featuring vocalist and guitarist Matthew Pryor, drummer Bill Belzer, guitarist Dustin Kinsey and bassist Eric McCann, is full of "playground pop" songs that were inspired by Pryor's kids. The family-friendly, 16-track CD includes homegrown themes set to upbeat rhythms and cool melodies.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21002      (added 10/23/2008)
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MSRP: $16.99
Age Range: 6 to 9
Launch Date: August 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books
Educational



Author Jane Yolen uses lyrical prose to not only reprise a well-known legend but also to tell the true story of apple tree-planting Johnny Appleseed, rather known as John Chapman, in this book illustrated by award-winning artist Jim Burke. Launch date: August 26, 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21157      (added 10/29/2008)
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MSRP: $15.95
Age Range: 4 to 8
Launch Date: December 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books
Educational
Preschool



The book teaches children about strangers and how to stay safe. “It presents useful information in a fun and engaging manner, with a character that they can identify with,” Illumination Arts Assistant Editor and Marketing Assistant Kelsey Maloney told TDmonthly. Launch date: December 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18734      (added 5/5/2008)
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MSRP: $6.99
Age Range: 3 to 7
SKU or Item #: 04450
Launch Date: October 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books
CD-ROM
Christmas



With this collection of children’s CDs and read-along stories, kids can join the Little Mermaid, the Three Pigs, the Gingerbread Man and the Three Bears as they ring in the season. Each charming Christmas adventure is told in delightful original verse, telling tales with holiday humor and celebrating the joys of family. Included with every book is a CD with a captivating read-along narration by the legendary Nigel Lambert that is jam-packed with exciting bonus features, including all-new Christmas songs, a bouncy music video and a fully animated mini-movie with highlighted words that let kids follow along and learn to read as the story comes to life before their eyes. The Night Before Christmas series will create merry Christmas memories for years to come. "The included 'Stories Come Alive' CD is full of enormous value that is unrivaled in the children's book marketplace," Brian Austin, president of PC Treasures, Inc., told TDmonthly. Launch date: October 8, 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20898      (added 10/2/2008)
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MSRP: $14.00
Age Range: All Ages
Launch Date: January 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Audio & CD



This album, dubbed a "14-track ode to childhood wonder," blends bluegrass, classical symphonic sounds and Indie charm. In addition to providing the primary vocals, artist Danielle Sansone plays piano and acoustic guitar for this collection of love songs that includes "Bed of Roses," "Whisper" and "There is You." Launch date: 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20747      (added 9/25/2008)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $22.95
Age Range: 10 and up
Launch Date: February 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Board Games
General Games



Tri-Cross™ is a game that requires strategy before the first game piece is even placed. It evolves from poker-like play (reading your opponent) into total strategy (much like chess). Play takes less than 20 minutes, and the more times one plays, the more challenging the game becomes. There are no ties or draws, and beginners should not be totally intimidated, since they still have an outside chance to win against the pros. The game is for two to four players and features five variations of play. “No game starts the same,” Brian Burns of Tri-Cross told TDmonthly. “It really isn't like anything else. It plays fast but challenges you every step of the way.” Launch date: February 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17101      (added 1/17/2008)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $29.99
Age Range: 8 and up
SKU or Item #: 1801
Launch Date: April 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Board Games
Card Games



Ruin is a ruthless race for fortune and glory toward the center of an ancient Mayan ruin. Players move through and around an unpredictable and interchangeable game board. The distinctive 3-D game board allows you to change the path on every turn as game cards actually insert directly into the board. A perfect game for the entire family, this light-strategy game offers elements of skill, chance, luck and imaginative adventure. Launch date: April 1, 2008.
— "I appreciated that this toy was linked to an ancient culture, opening the door for discussion and history exploration," said TDmonthly Roundtable reviewer Teresa Wilson, whose four children, along with other kid-reviewers, enjoyed the strategic options the game affords.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16985      (added 1/8/2008)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $5.00
Age Range: 4 to 11
Launch Date: September 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill
Arts & Crafts



Scribble Puzzles feature 24 big, chunky pieces that kids can put together easily and color with wax-based crayons. The wipe-off surface allows children to decorate again and again. Finished puzzle size is 12-1/2" X 15". Six varieties are available. This product is a 2007 Dr. Toy Best Product Award winner. Launch date: Fall 2007.
— “There doesn't seem to be anything like this on the market. … They are big, chunky pieces that the kids can put together easily, and they can color them. We create products that kids can use over and over again,” Owner Andi Thea of Scribble Mats told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11493      (added 2/19/2007)
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MSRP: $17.95
Age Range: 5 to 9
SKU or Item #: 978-1-55453-202-5
Launch Date: January 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books



This 32-page hardcover book written and illustrated by Matt Hammill mixes fantasy and reality, imaginatively pulling readers into two worlds as they wonder whether that sound, for example, was simply an alarm clock ... or the buzz of a carnivorous beetle. Launch date: 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20743      (added 9/24/2008)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $39.99
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: PC101
Launch Date: November 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Creative Activities
Educational
Hobby Goods



The Playful Chef set includes 10 kid-sized cooking tools, one toolbelt apron and five healthy hands-on recipes, all packed in a backpack for easy storage. The Chef gives children safety tips, color-coded measurements, 10-step instructions and 11 illustrated learning lessons. It also helps them learn how to plan a healthy meal, shop for nourishing ingredients and cook with the right tools. This cooking kit received a 2007 iParenting Media Outstanding Product Award and was selected for Dr. Toy’s Best Products Resource Program Spring 2007. Launch date: November 2006.
— Lots of companies make cooking toys and accessories, but Playful Chef was awarded a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award for giving kids a chance to try to their hand at the real thing. With authentic tools, recipe guides and a sturdy apron, this quality set prepares children for a true chef’s experience in the kitchen, including attention to safety.

Where to Buy: The Satin Button

ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13956      (added 7/6/2007)
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MSRP: $29.98
Age Range: 4 to 11
SKU or Item #: 1064
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Videos & DVDs
Educational



Based on the No.1 bestseller by William J. Bennett, "Adventures From the Book of Virtues" reaches out to children to teach important life lessons and morals, illustrating a central theme through classic international heroes and stories and illuminating the core virtues of honesty, compassion, responsibility, courage, self-discipline, work, friendship, loyalty, perseverance and faith. Stories are seen through the eyes of young Zach and Annie, who live in Spring Valley and deal with the same pressures and situations faced by kids everywhere.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20022      (added 8/8/2008)
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MSRP: $15.95
Age Range: 5 to 9
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books



When little boy George picks out a lonely dog in the last cage at the pound, it changes his life. Having the dog, Jeremy, teaches both him and his grandmother, whom he lives with, about the quality of love.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20299      (added 8/27/2008)
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MSRP: $34.95
Age Range: 10 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Board Games
General Games



The Farming Game is the "game invented on the seat of a tractor." Players start with a job and a farm. The first player who can quit his job and run the farm full time wins. Along the way, players roll the dice to try to buy equipment while avoiding drought and market fluctuations. Side deals with other players add to the intrigue. The game is educational enough to be used in schools, while fun enough to be played by all members of the family.
— When asked about best-sellers in her store, Shanna Frieling, owner of Giggles Toys & More in Bozeman, Mont., said, "The Farming Game by The Weekend Farmer."
— The game shows "all the risks and benefits of running a small business," said TDmonthly Roundtable Reviewer Kostadinka Lilova, whose daughter Radina (11), was "very enthusiastic about playing."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11458      (added 2/19/2007)
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MSRP: $9.95
Age Range: 8 to 12
SKU or Item #: 978-1-59078-625-3
Launch Date: January 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books



In the Great Global Game under the Magellan Voyage Project, Adam competes against others — trying to make it around the world in 40 days — for a $4 million prize. And given blowguns and a nefarious baron, his task isn’t easy. Launch date: January 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17332      (added 1/30/2008)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $16.95
Age Range: 8 and up
Launch Date: January 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Educational
General Games
Interactive



The fast-paced game introduces players to fascinating and intriguing facts about people, places and things. “It makes learning geography fun. It gets players talking, laughing AND learning simultaneously,” Christy von Kaenel of Word Teasers told TDmonthly. “WorldTeasers piques the interest of all players to want to learn more about the world outside the USA.” Launch date: January 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18983      (added 5/21/2008)
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MSRP: $16.99
Age Range: 6 to 10
SKU or Item #: 978-1-84686-042-3
Launch Date: September 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books



A folktale heard in synagogues, mosques and churches across the Near East and beyond, the story of how the city of Jerusalem came to be has been passed along for hundreds of years. In this gorgeously illustrated book, storyteller Chris Smith shows how two brothers find peace by seeing themselves in each other. Launch date: September 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17005      (added 1/10/2008)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $12.99
Age Range: 6 and up
SKU or Item #: PU01
Launch Date: October 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Creative Activities



This holiday greeting card kit is a fun way for young children to practice their printing skills. Kit includes materials for 12 pop up cards. These cards are uniquely designed as self mailers with trace over greetings on the inside, and manuscript printing guidelines for address information on the outside. Additional guidelines are also provided at the bottom of the card to encourage children to write a short message. Launch date: October 2007
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14010      (added 7/10/2007)
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MSRP: $14.99
Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill



The pieces of this puzzle are shaped like the individual countries of Europe so children learn geography as they put the puzzle together. GeoPuzzles help to build fine motor, cognitive, language, and problem-solving skills and are a great introduction to world geography for children ages four and up. Designed by an art professor, jumbo-sized and brightly colored GeoPuzzles will soon be available for all five major continents. GeoPuzzle Europe has 58 pieces and is 19" by 16". GeoPuzzles have been recognized by Dr. Toy and NAPPA as outstanding educational toys.
— "Joe (8) will remember the shapes of the countries much better now, and also he will be able to relate their physical sizes and location to each other," said Susan Ledford, a mom reviewer in TDmonthly's Homeschool Roundtable.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8599      (added 7/18/2006)
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MSRP: $12.95
Age Range: 3 to 6
Launch Date: March 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books



Cow goes on her second adventure in this book—this time it’s the grocery store. There are just a few items on the list, but Cow encounters simple vocabulary mix-ups that may prevent her from getting home on time. Accompanied by silly on-location photographs, this book transforms a lovable squish toy into a heroine. Launch date: March 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16153      (added 11/15/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $89.99
Age Range: 8 and up
SKU or Item #: 07326PNR4M
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games
Eco-Friendly
Family Games



Available in wood only, Rapid 4 More® adds more excitement and strategy to the fast-paced game of Rapid 4, with the addition of an entirely new, large playing surface. Play both sides of the board in your pursuit to grasp victory while foiling your friends along the way. Rapid 4 More also allows up to 4 players, extending the level of zany enjoyment to all involved.
— "This is a perfect game!" raved 7-year-old Ben Christensen, a reviewer in TDmonthly's Grade-School Roundtable, which collectively awarded Rapid 4 More four out of five TD stars.
— "For about age 8 and up Rapid 4 More is a fast fun interactive game for 2 to 4 players.  Get 4 balls in a row in any direction, but be careful because you have to drop your balls from a maze to do it.  A fun strategy game.  Recommended!" Jennifer Shuman, of 1SmartNoodle, told TDmonthly at Toy Fair 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17438      (added 2/7/2008)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: A1210XX
Launch Date: January 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Play Sets
Gifts
Travel



ZipBin Softie Wheelie looks like and is shaped like a mag wheel and opens to reveal a side-by-side race track. The set’s play surface includes a garage area, a winner’s circle and a 12-car built-in parking garage. The set also features two, sturdy die-cast sports cars and a wipe-clean surface. Launch date: January 2008. This product was previously catalogued under the name ZipBin® Softie™ Wheelie™ (changed January 2009).
— This is “from Neat-Oh! International LLC, whose innovative line of ZipBin products has won 11 awards for product excellence,” Neat-Oh! International LLC Director of Marketing Gerry Linda told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16803      (added 12/28/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $79.99
Age Range: 8 and up
SKU or Item #: 62068
Launch Date: April 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Licensed Products
Play Sets
Remote Controlled



The supercharged Mach 5 goes head-to-head with Racer X’s infamous #9 – Shooting Star – on a 1:43 scale. Fly down the track, careen around, over and through the competition, in this high-octane race set that includes almost 21 feet of track, a double loop, junction, flyover, lap counter, two turbo-speed controllers and the Mach 5 and Shooting Star cars. “Multi-generational fun,” Keith L. Strickland, a representative for Carrera Toys, emphasized to TDmonthly. “No matter whether you're a beginner, young racer, or young at heart, Carrera Toys' entertainment-licensed 1:43 scale GO!!! MarioKart and Speed Racer slot-car race sets have mass appeal.” This product won a Dr. Toy Award for Best Products for Summer 2008. Launch date: April 2008.
— "This toy was a huge hit in our household," said Sue Christensen, mother of four boys ages 6 to 14, all of whom participated in TDmonthly's Roundtable review of this product. "The kids were thrilled with Speed Racer from the moment they saw it in the box, through assembly and racing."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 19019      (added 5/22/2008)
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Age Range: 8 and up
Launch Date: April 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Board Games
General Games



This "curious game of clever connections" challenges two to four players to compare and identify SETs on the dice with those on the board, scoring as many points as possible by making SETs up, down and across the game board. Playing time is 30 to 45 minutes. Launch date: April 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17655      (added 2/21/2008)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $35.99
Age Range: 2 and up
Launch Date: January 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler
Educational



The Potty Monkey is designed to make potty training fun for ages 18 months to 7. It comes complete with a plush monkey, a toilet that makes real flushing sounds, a timer that can be set to 30 or 90 minutes, a diaper, underwear, a certificate of completion, a book for children by Dana C. Smith and Denise McClure titled “Monkey Learns to Potty,” and a guidebook for parents called “The Potty Trainer” by D. Preston Smith. Potty Monkey asks to use the toilet, based on the timer setting, helping kids develop a healthy routine. “What sets us apart is the fact that this is a potty-training system focusing on education,” Jennifer E. Marma, director of PottyMD, told TDmonthly. Launch date: January 29, 2007. Read Review
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11546      (added 2/21/2007)
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Julie L. JonesWriter's Bio: Julie L. Jones has written articles for both newspapers and magazines. Before joining the staff of TDmonthly Magazine, she worked as a communications writer and provided editorial support for a market research company. Read more articles by this author

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