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January 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 1




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January Staff Picks

Creative, Eco-Friendly Pieces Enhance Play


Huggable and handmade plush, artistic accents and eco-friendly designs characterize some of the newest items out in the specialty market. See some of our favorites below:

(No manufacturer paid to be included in this article. All products listed were chosen by editorial staff without regard to the company's relationship with ToyDirectory.com/TDmonthly Magazine.)




MSRP: $21.95
Age Range: 4 to 10
Launch Date: October 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Bags & Backpacks
Eco-Friendly
Arts & Crafts



Kidzsack is an eco-friendly, creative backsack for kids. The fabric is 10-oz. canvas, made from 100-percent recycled cotton and soda bottles. The front of the sack is screenprinted and eight washable, non-toxic markers are included. Kids color, parents wash, and kids recolor — a great reusable activity kit. "It isn't a one-time craft that sits on a shelf collecting dust. As a parent of four, I'm very interested in long-lasting crafts that encourage creativity," Owner Tina Hill of Kidzsack told TDmonthly. This product received a 2008 Preferred Choice Award from Creative Child Magazine. Launch date: October 15, 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21612      (added 12/8/2008)
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MSRP: $20
Age Range: 8 and up
SKU or Item #: 1009
Launch Date: September 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games
Travel
Novelties



Filled with tiny pellets that represent an outdoor sports field, this version of Find It contains more than 40 items that cover more than 35 sports. Things to find include a basketball hoop, football, boxing glove and jet ski. Launch date: Fall 2008.
— Mary Porter, owner of The Curiosity Zone in Ashburn, Va., sells “a dozen or so a month” of the Find It games, she told TDmonthly in spring 2009.
— Two of 64 retailers cited Find It Games when asked about best-selling travel toys in March 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21596      (added 12/5/2008)
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This light, fanciful dress can easily be applied with Velcro to any of the 7" Sticky Pixies fairies, which can be used in scrapbooks or on walls for decoration.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21594      (added 12/5/2008)
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MSRP: $55.00
Launch Date: January 2008
Gender: Boys
Category: Gifts
Infant & Toddler
Plush



This fun gift basket for boys includes the following: a velour, reversible dog-and-cat hat, baby keys, a blue picture block, a puppy crinkler and a mother-and-baby-lamb toy that plays "Imagine." This gift basket is only available to consumers via the Rich Frog website; individual items are available at wholesale prices. Launch date: 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21556      (added 12/3/2008)
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MSRP: $89.00
SKU or Item #: FCJJ-26
Launch Date: September 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Educational
Kites
Eco-Friendly



This clean-energy set created for use at home or school uses fuel cells and allows kids to learn about wind energy as well as create hydrogen using wind and water; thus kids make their own scientific demonstrations. The set includes a water/gas storage module, a reversible fuel cell, a miniature wind turbine, an electric motor, a propeller blade and a manual. Launch date: Fall 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21548      (added 12/2/2008)
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Launch Date: April 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books
Infant & Toddler



This book written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Vlasta van Kampen captures the story of a group of hippos at their peak of boredom, and follows them on a journey to happiness, which they find wallowing in the mud. It combines simple text with colorful, expressive artwork. Launch date: April 30, 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21566      (added 12/4/2008)
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LiveCubes are to cube puzzles as genes are to living organisms. . Just as genes are combined to form unique individuals, LiveCube cubes can be used to make all manner of puzzles by simply  snapping the cubes together. The puzzles  come apart after assembly and, thus, are  reusable. A LiveCube package includes play manuals and a total of 120 cubes (1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 cm) comprising 24 white two-stud cubes; and six red, six blue, six green, six yellow and 72 white four-stud cubes.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21522      (added 12/1/2008)
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This hip, 12"-square piece of artwork is one in a series that also includes drums, electric guitar, and microphone versions. The image is available in the following styles: contemporary mount (with beveled edge), creative canvas wrap, framed canvas, gallery framed and artblock framed.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21503      (added 11/26/2008)
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MSRP: $30.00
Age Range: 12 and up
Launch Date: January 2001
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Wooden Toys
Eco-Friendly
Yo-Yos



Each yoyo from One-of-a-Kind Yo-Yo has its own character. The yoyos are made with various sustainably harvested woods from Wisconsin. The wood is carefully selected, hand cut, meticulously sanded, and dipped in a clear lacquer, then assembled with the utmost care. The professional yoyo strings are 100-percent cotton. Each yoyo measures approximately 2" across. Before leaving the shop for the toy store, each yo-yo must pass rigorous testing by the maker to insure that the consumer receives a quality product that works like a charm. Launch date: 2000.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21493      (added 11/25/2008)
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Are you ready to really have some fun? Then step up a notch and see if you can master the next level of InfiniTrax™ racing fun. The 540 Shred gives you some serious building power to see what your racer can do with an unlimited world of race track building and play. Your racing champ can build track in multiple configurations from a simple oval to hairpin turns and twists!
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21475      (added 11/25/2008)
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MSRP: $89
Age Range: 0 and up
SKU or Item #: 001-05-024
Launch Date: September 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Developmental Toys
Furniture & Decor
Eco-Friendly



The Tumbling Fish are available in two stackable sizes. The low one is for children who have just learned to sit; the big  one is for older children; stack the two and they fit teenagers and adults. The Fish grows along with children, allowing them to use the Fish over a long period of time. Kids can roll the animals to one another, or roll and chase them. The size of the six-layer Fish allows a child to sit on it even while it is moving , which enhances the child’s balancing skills. Children can lie across these Fish and have the backside of their bodies strengthened, and children can exercise their arms through the pressure from their own body weight. Launch date: September 2008.
— "The tumbling animals can be used as furniture, but [are] meant for play. The whole idea is to enhance children's motor skills while playing!" Director Mette Dyhrberg of bObles told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21488      (added 11/25/2008)
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MSRP: $68
Age Range: All Ages
Launch Date: November 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush
American-Made
Designer Toys



Handmade Zooguu animals provide endless hours of imaginative play for children of all ages. Zooguu love to go on adventures, and they make the most trustworthy of friends. "Every Zooguu is designed and handmade with love in Brooklyn, New York, by Jen and Brian Gubicza. Zooguu comes in a variety of designs, sizes and colors; with plastic features for ages 3+, or with embroidered features for kids of all ages," Owner Jen Gubicza of Zooguu LLC told TDmonthly. Launch date: November 18, 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21462      (added 11/24/2008)
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MSRP: $25.00
Age Range: 4 and up
Launch Date: August 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Designer Toys
Educational
General Toys



Kimochis are small pillows with a feeling (happy, sad, silly, brave) printed on one side and a corresponding facial expression on the other. Each Kimochis plush character comes with a set of three feelings and a How-To Kimochis Feel Guide. The characters have a special pocket where kids can store their "Kimochis" — of feelings. Using the characters and their Kimochis, kids can get in touch with their emotions through puppetry and play. "Getting back to the basics by playing and communicating with Kimochis is a simple, yet powerful way to teach children how to: be aware of feelings, choose how to communicate in emotional moments, and redo mistakes. Children will be drawn to the fun, adorable, accessible characters. Parents will be drawn to the high-quality craftsmanship and the valuable educational content," Associate Susan Schroeder of Plushy Feely Corp. told TDmonthly. Launch date: August 2008.
— Amy of Coffee with the Mrs. reported that her son “loves his Kimochi Cloud doll and is already starting to use more words about feelings since he got the doll.” He has even improved his reading by identifying the words printed on the emotions.
—    Take It From Me’s Kristin used the emotions of her daughter’s Kimochi to help her deal with the complex emotions she was feeling about a recent move. The Kimochis were so successful, Kristin said, that: “Now every time my daughter starts to get upset, I refer to the Kimochis and looking for what she feels helps her to calm down and relax.”
Awards:   Dr. Toy 100 Best Children's Products - 2010
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21463      (added 11/24/2008)
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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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