COMMENTARY: Fun in a Flash: Quick Games for Families

Flash_Pack_3DOn rainy days, classic favorites such as Scrabble and Monopoly are perfect to entertain kids. But some busy families might not have hours to devote to board games. There are great new games on the market that take only a few minutes to play, but will keep kids entertained when they are in the mood for a game or two.

In Flash!, from Blue Orange Games, players race to complete eight challenges of dice combinations as they try to rack up the most points. Combinations include six of a kind, a straight, all odd numbers, all even numbers, and two sets of three. The first player to complete the challenge picks up the chip worth the most points. Players continue rolling until all players earn a chip. Straight-forward and easy to learn, game play only takes about 10 minutes. There are enough sets of brightly-colored dice for up to six players ages 7 and up. [Read more...]

Sega, Nintendo Partner for New Sonic Installment

SonicLostWorldLogoSonic Lost World is the next Sonic the Hedgehog franchise title to be published on Nintendo platforms as part of an exclusive partnership between Sega of America Inc. and Nintendo. In the new game, Sonic must conquer six of the most powerful enemies to date. Sonic Lost World will be available exclusively for Wii U andNintendo 3DS platforms later this year.

Dr. Eggman has harnessed the power of six menacing creatures collectively known as the Deadly Six, but when the Deadly Six rise up against their master, Sonic has to unite with his arch nemesis in order to take on the new enemies. Using his dynamic new Parkour moves and improved Color Powers, Sonic must run, jump, and race through a variety of ever-changing terrains in order to defeat the Deadly Six.

SonicLostWorldSSAlongside a single player adventure, the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS versions of Sonic Lost World will feature a range of competitive multiplayer modes. In addition, each platform will also contain distinctive features that take advantage of the consoles’ unique capabilities. Exclusive Wii U Color Powers can be controlled with the Wii U GamePad by tilting, touching, and aiming. The full game can also be played using only the GamePad screen and will feature a two-player support mode.

Sonic Lost World for Nintendo 3DS is the first handheld Sonic game ever to feature fully realized 3-D levels, which include exclusive Special Stages and Color Powers unique to Nintendo 3DS.

The game will be distributed by Sega of America Inc. throughout the U.S., Canada and South America, with Nintendo of Europe GmbH handling distribution throughout Europe and Australia.

COMMENTARY: Moby Dick, or, The Card Game Brings an American Classic to Life

MobyDickBox

Moby Dick is considered one of the greatest American novels ever written. But more than just a classic tale, Herman Melville’s masterpiece leaves quite an impression on its readers, examining existentialism and obsession in a truly captivating way. Literary lovers of the classic tale can venture on the high seas in search of the White Whale in a new way.

King Post has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Moby Dick, or, The Card Game, a dynamic, action-packed adventure for two to four players ages 12 and up. The game is adapted from Melville’s classic novel, and is brought to life with three decks of unique cards featuring original compositions, period portraits, and classic illustrations.

The strategy-based game lets players live out the voyage of the Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. The Sea Deck contains adventures, creatures, and chapters adapted directly from the novel, including whales, giant squid, foreign ports-of-call, and pirate attacks. The Sailor Deck features characters including Ishmael, Starbuck, Queequeg, and Captain Ahab. The Whale Deck contains actions, defenses, and attacks of the hunted whales. In addition to the iconic imagery featured on each card, a quote from the novel ties the action of the game directly to the classic tale. The game also includes two dice and 40 oil markers. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Make ‘n Break Party Induces Fits of Laughter

A simple concept: Use 10 blocks to assemble a structure depicted on a card. Sounds simple enough, right? There’s one small catch: you can’t see the card. Instead, your partner must describe the structure to you as you attempt to build it. OK, still not so hard. Now, here’s a blindfold. Oh, and by the way, sometimes your partner can’t say specific key words, and other times you’ll have to build a structure with no description at all.

Make ’n Break Party, from Ravensburger, is an ice-breaking, laugh-inducing, 60-minutes of team-play fun. I’ve never valued words including, “thingy,” “belly-up,” and “NO- THE OTHER ONE,” so much in my life. The game is designed for three to nine players ages 10 and up, and will be sure to pull your guests away from the chips and dip and get them bonding after the first few turns.

MakenBreakPartyHilarity ensues as a player works to assemble a structure depicted on a card in one of four game variations: building according to team members’ descriptions, building while avoiding “taboo” words, building blindly, and creating objects such as truck, elephant, clock, and middle finger. Teams work together and race against the timer, and the more structures you build in one round, the farther along the game board you move and the closer you come to victory.

[Read more...]

Alexander Doll Co. Celebrates 90 Years with New Offices, a Limited Edition Anniversary Collection, New Licensed Products, and a New Product Category

The Alexander Doll Co. unveiled its new mid-town location, new doll lines, and new licensed products yesterday in celebration of the company’s 90th anniversary. Since 1923, the company has grown to include collectibles, play dolls, and baby dolls for girls of all ages. For this 90th anniversary, the company has developed an assortment of six dolls to commemorate the company’s history. Re-introductions of classic sculpts and characters included in this collection are a 21-inch Cissy in a beaded dress, inspired by a photograph of Madame Alexander from 1923; an 8-inch Wendy with a Tony Sarg inspired marionette theater; a classic McGuffey Ana; and an 8-inch Wendy and a 10-inch Cissy both dressed to commemorate the anniversary. Each doll comes with a commemorative hang tag and Certificate of Authenticity.

DorothyInThePoppyField

Also on the anniversary front, Madame Alexander has marked the 75th anniversary of two iconic movies, The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind, which were among the company’s first and longest continuous licenses. Each and every year since 1938, new designs have been added to these special collections, and this year is no exception. The three doll sets for Wizard of Oz collectors include a 10-inch Wicked Witch of the West with three 5-inch Winged Monkeys, a 10-inch Glinda the Good Witch withthree 5-inch girls of the Lullaby League, and a 10-inch Dorothy with three 5-inch Poppy dolls. For Gone With the Wind anniversary, the company has created a 21-inch Scarlett O’Hara resplendent in her white ruffled Prayer Dress.

SwanLakeOn the plush side, Alexander Doll Co. has responded to the concerns of modern parents relating to toy hygiene by developing a new washable dolls category. Machine washable and dryable, this collection includes the Wizard of Oz gang, Fancy Nancy, Pinkalicious, and Angelina Ballerina. Alexander Doll’s 18-inch soft cloth play dolls include several new additions, such as Bedtime Angelina, Fancy Nancy, Marabelle, and Swan Lake Angelina.

Alexander Doll will introduce a new facial sculpt on their Favorite Friends line of 18-inch vinyl play dolls this year. Favorite Friends feature rooted hair, sleep eyes, a soft cloth body, five-way jointing, and stylish outfits. Separate outfits are sold and fit most 18-inch play dolls in the market. In addition, the Dollie & Me brand of 18-inch dolls complements an apparel collection of little girl dresses sold with matching doll dresses.

Hearts&RosesBaby dolls have been an integral part of the Alexander Doll Company since the 1930s. Doll ranges include My First Baby with painted eyes and hair, and Newborn Nursery, which are lifelike baby dolls with rooted hair, sleep eyes, and a selection of accessories and outfits.

The history of the Alexander Doll Co. is a tale of growth from a small doll company to one of today’s exclusive brands in the girls’ sector. Kahn Lucas Lancaster Inc., a global designer and wholesaler of branded girls’ dresses and fashion collections, now owns the company.

COMMENTARY: Storytime and Playtime Collide

Storytime Toys Fuses Play Houses with Classic Fairy Tales

It can be really difficult to get kids enthusiastic about reading at a young age. When I was young, my mom gave me an enormous, leather-bound book full of fairy tales. Each page was laden with beautiful graphics and trimmed with gold. After having the stories read to me over and over again, I would use the tales and characters as inspiration for playtime, making my Barbie dolls act as Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel.

New specialty toy company Storytime Toys, is making it even easier for kids to incorporate reading into playtime. Kara Dyer and Sara Argue have created a line of toy houses and storybooks based on classic fairy tales. Now, kids can read along to fairy tales including Goldilocks & the Three Bears, Hansel & Gretel, and The Three Little Pigs, while they build a house (or three, in the pigs’ case) that corresponds to each story.

Storytime.H&G

Each house features stunning, hand-painted imagery and comes with furniture and dolls for extended creative play. The pieces of the house can be assembled easily by kids ages 3 to 6. The stories are age-appropriate and will allow kids to associate playtime fun with the concept of reading. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Box Play for Kids Gives Imaginations a Boost

Little ones have the power to turn the most basic objects into adventure props with their own minds. Sometimes, large and high-tech toys are cast aside for the box they came in. I remember making guitars to play with out of old tissue boxes and toilet paper rolls when I was young. Now, Box Play for Kids is bringing colorful fun to recyclable, around-the-house objects, including milk cartoons, egg crates, and mac-and-cheese boxes.

Box PLay Mac n CheeseBox Play for Kids makes eco-friendly stickers that can be applied to cardboard items that would otherwise be thrown away. The stickers are printed on 100 percent recycled paper and are made in the U.S. Helping to inspire creativity and imagination, Box Play for Kids has more than 35 different designs available. Kids can make anything from a barn to a pair of binoculars to a school bus with these adorable stickers.

Now in its second year of business, Box Play for Kids is in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign. With a goal to raise $12,000 by May 8, Box Play is hoping to increase their inventory, hire additional staff members, and attend trade shows. To back Box Play for Kids on Kickstarter, click here: http://kck.st/10R4gz6.

COMMENTARY: Taking the Stress out of Travel

Seemingly endless construction and bumper-to-bumper traffic. Dead batteries in the PS Vita or Nintendo 3DS. No wi-fi connection and nothing good on the radio. Uncomfortable seatbelts and restless little bodies. Though road tripping is a great option for a large family looking for an affordable summer getaway, sometimes a long journey in a crowded car can make a vacation more stressful than it’s worth. Portable gaming systems can be great (especially when coupled with headphones), but sometimes battery-free options are a safer bet for long journeys. For parents just looking to relax, there are a few great products on the market sure to keep little ones occupied in the car for extended time periods.

Brain Box Animals, from University Games, is great for on-the-go fun. Players ages 8 and up choose a card from the box and study the picture on one side until the timer runs out. Then the players flip the card over to the question side and try to answer as many questions about the picture side as they can. The player who can answer the most questions correctly wins. Brain Box Animals helps kids stay entertained while practicing memorization and recognition and learning new information.

SeatPetsUncomfortable seatbelts are always a complaint with younger kids, but with SeatPets, from Jay at Play International, kids’ seatbelts stay in place. SeatPets are soft, cuddly animals that attach to the shoulder restraint portion of a seatbelt. Perfect for long carrides, SeatPets provide a soft cushion between the neck and the belt and a cozy pillow for naps. Each colorful, furry SeatPet has three pockets and two zippered compartments designed to store all of the things that kids want and need when they’re in the car including, MP3 players, hand-held games, toys, snacks, and an eight-ounce water bottle.

Stuffies.PrancineStuffies, from martFive LLC, are super-sized plush animals with seven top-secret pockets that are fun to discover and store all kinds of keepsakes. For parents who don’t want their car to turn into a second toy box during travel, Stuffies allows kids to bring a few of their favorites and keep them all safe in one place. In addition, every Stuffies toy comes with a surprise roll of collectible stickers and a free storybook from the Stuffies Adventures collection. Each book shares important lessons in fully illustrated, rhyming stories on topics including controlling tempers, using imaginations, volunteering, teamwork, and embracing chores.

TraykitTrayKit, from Kids Preferred, is a carry-on backpack that kids can pack themselves and carry on a trip using the handle or shoulder straps. TrayKit can be hung from the back of a seat or strapped to a tray table. When the kit is opened, kids have a play surface with raised sides so nothing falls to the floor. There are colors and patterns for boys and girls ages 3 and up, and the play surface can be cleaned easily. TrayKit accessories include passport holders, luggage tags, travel journal kits complete with pencils and erasers, and TravelBugs, which are small clip-on plush bugs in four styles.

Each of these products are noise-free, don’t require any batteries, and will provide easy entertainment for kids during long trips. There’s enough play value in these items to keep kids happy, while mom and dad stay stress-free (as long as the GPS doesn’t malfunction).

For more commentary from Marissa, check back each Monday afternoon. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!

COMMENTARY: Turning a Complaining Kid into a Knitting-Whiz

This winter has been a brutal one for New Yorkers (and I’m not even sure it’s over yet). I for one was more than willing to load up on the cold weather gear, donning a new bubble coat, an oversized infinity scarf, and fingerless gloves with mitten covers in a concerned effort to keep out the cold and stave off the flu. Long johns were even necessary on a few of the more brutal days this year. Though most adults are eager to be as warm as possible during the winter months, it can be difficult to get kids to bundle up willingly. My niece and nephew whine and whine about putting on their winter’s finest: “The zipper pinches my chin!,” “I can’t breathe!,” “I can’t see with this hat on,” etc., etc. A good way to combat the incessant complaining and layering reluctance is to let kids make their own cold weather accessories. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Breaking the Ice: Adult-Appropriate Party Games

It’s Saturday night (undoubtedly after a long work week). A friend is throwing a huge party for the big game, or a birthday, or just because, you know, it’s Saturday. So you set off on an adventurous evening, teeming with excitement, even braving the seasonal elements if necessary. Your friend welcomes you with a cheery embrace, but as you look around the room, you come to the realization that you don’t know a single soul.

You know the moment. How do you make your way into a conversation without coming across as anything but your cool, confident self? Luckily, there’s a saving grace for these types of scenarios: party games. [Read more...]