• ASTRA Marketplace & Academy will take place 6/10-6/13 in Baltimore, MD.
• Preview 28 products that will be shown at ASTRA, below
• Manufacturers are showcasing products they think will do best specifically in the specialty market
• The absence of mass-market retailers means indie toy stores take the spotlight at ASTRA.
Manufacturers exhibiting at the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy specifically showcase the products that they feel will do best in the specialty market. With that in mind, TDmonthly Magazine asked ASTRA exhibitors to share with us the products they are most excited to present to specialty retailers at this year's show. You can see these products, from 28 manufacturers, below.
Specialty retailers have told TDmonthly for years that they love the ASTRA show. Smaller in size than Toy Fair in New York, ASTRA is a great networking event for specialty store owners. Even better, with the absence of mass-market retailers, manufacturers' booths and ASTRA's educational seminars are geared toward the specialty toy market.
Spotlight on Specialty Gwen Ottenberg, owner of Imagine That Toys in Wichita, Kans., told TDmonthly that, "ASTRA is one of the few places where you actually get to talk with the people who make decisions- whether that's owners of other toy stores you can look to advice, or manufacturers and sales managers. You're not competing with the big guys like at Toy Fair- you get to know people on a more personal level than you ever do at the other trade shows."
Stay tuned for our coverage of the 2012 ASTRA Marketplace & Academy in June, and in the meantime, get a preview of the products that manufacturers will be showing, below. The 2012 ASTRA Marketplace & Academy will take place from June 10-13 in Baltimore, MD.
Made of safe, uniquely shaped, brightly colored and highly textured dense foam, this toy is designed for purposes beyond fun. Made for one or more players, it teaches agility and consequence while developing Fine/Gross Motor Skills, Reasoning, Logic, Hand-Eye Coordination, Socialization, Tactile Sensory Development, Color Matching and is an easy to grasp toy. Highly textured pieces make it easy for small hands, as well as Special Needs hands, to grip. As opposed to toys that ask players to retain balance while removing pieces, this is a stack and balance toy. Launch date: June 2012.
The first collection of 6 dolls is an edu-fun tool for parents to teach and bond with their child. Each doll has a unique virtue for the child to adopt. The interactive website compliments the doll, encourages learning and presents the child with challenges. "There is no other product on the market that has coupled play with character building in a life size doll," Brenda Katz, President of Great Divide Corp., told TDmonthly. Launch date: February 2012.
Bring the playground to the back yard with the Kiddi-o® Parallel See Saw. For added safety this See Saw keeps children parallel to the ground at all times. High back seats provide extra support and spring loaded stoppers underneath allow an easy landing. Launch date: May 2012.
Build some sweet structures. Stretches creativity, problem solving and fine motor skills. Includes chunky, durable candy pieces in a variety of fun, familiar designs plus Activity Guide with illustrated, step-by-step building directions. Largest piece measures 7"L x 1⁄2“ in diameter. Launch date: January 2012.
Telepathy Jr is the younger version of the Telepathy board game. Telepathy Jr teaches kids how to use logic and deduction at an early age and is important in the area of critical thinking. Game plays in around 10 - 15 minutes. "There are not a lot of logic/deduction games for youngsters out there and Telepathy Jr will help kids practice their deductive skills," Derek Chinn, owner of LMD Games, told TDmonthly. Launch date: June 2012.
Marble Copter is a brand new outdoor light up helicopter toy. Fling the Marble Copter up to 50 feet in the air using the launching wand, and watch as the copter lights up, glows in the dark, the light reflects off the hologram wings, and helicopters to the ground. Great nighttime fun for kids 8 and up. Launch date: May 2012.
Create a stuffy plushy pillow. Use the stylus to punch pretty fabric and make this fun and easy fabric-by-number craft. Add funky foam pieces and sparking jewels to complete the fluttering friend. This no mess craft teaches number and pattern recognition and creates a finished product that is sure to brighten up any little girls’ room. Launch date: March 2012.
The fun of matching and the challenge of puzzles. There are puzzles and there are memory games...but only Puzzle Match™ combines these two timeless play patterns in one unique, patent-pending game designed for kids ages 3 to 6. Puzzle Match offers a unique challenge unlike any traditional memory game: Rather than searching for two identical images, kids have to find two halves of a whole image, such as the bottom and top of a seahorse. Once the interlocking pieces are found, they can be assembled into a giant, beautifully illustrated scene. Launch date: May 2012.
The new Mark-My-Time Digital eReader Light combines the unique features of a back-lit LCD screen, time of day clock, cumulative timer to 100 hours, adjustable LED light, countdown timer with alarm and auto light shut off. This tool makes it simple to monitor daily reading minutes on eReader displays. Easy to use with any hardback or paperback book. Launch date: June 15, 2012.
The HABA doll family keeps growing and growing. We now have 15 dolls in our family in all sizes for all ages. Uncomparable to anything else on the market these dolls are value priced. Washable dolls with Chenille hair, soft bodies and beautiful fashion accessories. Yui is one of new dolls that is wearing a Japanese Kimono and carrying a fan. Launch date: February 2012.
Bag-O-Loot Junior is designed for 2-6 players ages 6 and up. Players compete to make as many Bags-O-Loot (five matching cards) as they can. The problem is, other players keep stealing your cards. Of course you are doing the same thing to them so the groans and laughter never stop as sets of cards are constantly shifting from one player to another. Very easy to learn. "Bag-O-Loot Junior is the only game on the market where players take turns making and stealing sets of matching cards from each other," John Shelley, president of Bag-O-Loot, LLC, told TDmonthly. Launch date: June 2012. Awards: 2012 Dr.Toy Best 20 for $20
Fishing Camp is a game where both children & adults can play & learn fun facts about Fishing. The game is designed to grow with the player, starting at level one questions, which are primarily identification of fish and fishing tackle. As the players increase in their knowledge about Fishing, they grow into the higher level questions. A fun & educational game where parents & children can play to see who catches the first fish and gets back to the docks. Game includes: 1 game board, 200 game cards(400 questions, and 100 fun facts), 1 decoder, 8 game characters, 1 die, 16 level cards, and 1 GPS card. Launch date: 2012.
Wits & Wagers Party is the latest version of the award-winning party game. It mixes the fun of Vegas-style betting with hilarious new trivia. Do you know what percent of bank robberies are committed by women? Of course not, and you don't need to! That's the fun. No one knows the answer, but everyone can take a guess. Wits & Wagers Party will instantly get large groups of people playing and laughing together. "Wits & Wagers Party is the simplest and most accessible version of the Wits & Wagers brand, the original trivia game where you do not need to know trivia to win," Luke Warren, PR Director for North Star Games, told TDmonthly. Launch date: July 2012.
Tranquil Turtle is the first Cloud B product that combines both sight and sound features in one soft, comforting character. Glowing in a relaxing aquamarine or amethyst color, the shell projects a magical underwater light effect with a gentle wave motion and plays soothing sounds to help children sleep. Launch date: February 2012. Awards: 2012 NAPPA Honors, 2012 The National Parenting Center - Seal of Approval
Children can direct their own stories from one of four magnetic story backgrounds: Fairytales, Robot's Landing, Animal Cottage, and Forest Adventure. Theater directors-in-training can move their magnetic figures around the scene to help tell their own original story. Launch date: January 2012.
Each blankZ toy is a plush animal that acts like a canvas for any child's imagination. Each set includes 1 blankZ toy, 5 blankZ markers, and 1 blankZdrop Card to be decorated and placed behind the finished creation. The blankZ can be colored, washed, then colored again, allowing for hours of fun. Series one features 7 animals including a pig, elephant, bear, rabbit, and seal. Launch date: February 2012.
A classic tale revisited to amaze, captivate and amuse. All 3 heroes can be found in just 1 creation. In a flash, Little Red Riding Hood transforms into Granny or the Big Bad Wolf. The path through the woods taken by our adventurous heroine is shown on her dress. Launch date: June 2011. Awards: 2011 Seal of Excellence Award Creative Child Magazine; Tillywig Toy award - Best family fun 2011.
The Wall Coaster is NOT an ordinary marble run. Kids can just stick it to the wall and let their imaginations soar. The Wall Coaster uses the basic laws of physics and gravity to enable hours of fun and imaginative play. Plus, it is super easy to use. What makes the Wall Coaster different? The Wall Coaster can be applied to almost any vertical or horizontal surface. The new add on parts allow the user to build all kinds of crazy contraptions. — Dean Smith, owner of JaZams in Princeton, N.J. told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that he sells between eight and 10 Wall Coasters each month. — Want this? As of 05/10/2011, this product was available for purchase at JaZams
Ms. Frizzle and her students take Young Scientists on a wild ride while becoming attracted to magnificent magnets. Young Scientists go on a magnetic scavenger hunt, build a compass, make magnetic slime, design magnetic faces, experiment with lodestone, play magnetic games, hold magnetic car races, and much, much more. This magnified kit includes a colorful poster with a racing track, game board, and experiment diagrams. Seatbelts everyone! Get ready and become Attracted to Magnificent Magnets. Launch date: January 2012. Awards: 2012 PALS award
216 new categories and an extra timer to add to kids' Word on the Street fun. "Word on the Street is great for spelling practice, but is also a party game," Leah Sugar, VP of marketing at Out of the Box Publishing, told TDmonthly. Launch date: February 2012.
Kids need to try to stack this pair of sailors without tipping the boat. The life ring spins from one side to the other when the weight is off center. All posts are elasticized for added safety. Launch date: January 2012.
Toobalink is the only construction toy that uses paper towel tubes and toilet tissue tubes as a main building element. A Toobalink set comes with all the pieces necessary to build a wide variety of connectors, which are then used to hold the tubes together to build large scale structures. Each Toobalink kit comes with 39 pieces, including brand new tubes so that kids can get building right away. Kids love it because they can collect more tubes to build bigger, better structures and parents love it because the extra building material is FREE. Made in the USA. Launch date: June 2012.
8 cups, plenty of Hiccups. This hand-held puzzler has straightforward direction but challenging play. Pass the ball sequentially from cup to cup without a hiccup. Drop the ball and start back at cup #1. Frustratingly fun. Awards: 2012 Creative Child Awards – Seal of Excellence
These large plush Uglydolls have a mini Uglydoll in their pouch. Launch date: May 2012. — Shana Hack, owner of Moon Rabbit Toys in Santa Fe, N.M., told TDmonthly in a Summer 2012 survey that they sell a couple dozen Ugly Dolls each month, though sales have slowed slightly. — Bill Sartain, owner of Tutoring Toy in Salt Lake City, Utah, told TDmonthly in a Fall 2012 survey that Ugly Dolls are one of their best selling tween products.
Old-school and new-school technology collide in this plug n' play portable speaker dock kids build themselves. Rock the house or take the show on the road. Kids learn basic electronics by investigating how speakers and amplification work. Docking station works with iPod, iTouch, and other audio devices. Launch date: September 2012.
Made in Italy, the Gymnic Line’s NEW Raffy the Rabbit helps children to learn balancing and coordination while hopping on their Raffy. The same as our popular Rody Horse, but it is a Rabbit. Inflates according to size and weight of child (inflation by adult). Is surface washable with soap and water. Base is available for transforming to a Rocking Raffy the Rabbit. Raffy is available in 2 colors. Launch date: November 2012.
This game was designed as a way to help kids discover the etiquette that will help them be successful in life. In it, the Blunder family members are known for their rude behavior, but Billy, Brenda, Bobby and Becky Blunder want to learn manners so they will be invited to the Mannerlys’ Annual Pool Party Extravaganza. Kids can follow them on their manners adventure, reading fun scenarios and answering important manner questions to be the first one invited to the pool party. "The inventor, Aimee Symington, is a well-respected authority on manners, and she created Blunders as a fun way to teach children good behaviors in various social situations," Mary Dolan, public relations coordinator at Patch Products, told TDmonthly. Launch date: June 2012.
Writer's Bio: Justina Huddleston graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emerson College with a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing in 2009. After graduating she was the on-site director of the Boston Children's Museum gift store for a year, selling educational, developmental, and creative activity toys that tied in with the museum's exhibits. Justina also interned at children's book publisher Candlewick Press before moving from Boston to Los Angeles, where she is now Editorial Director of TDmonthly Magazine. Read more articles by this author