China Toy Fair


Toys “R” Us Expands Education Product Selection, Introduces Imaginarium Brand

Toys R Us EducationalToys “R” Us will expand its year-round education product selection in stores nationwide and online at toysrus.com. Filled with a broad collection of items, kids from preschool to fifth grade, parents, and teachers can now find the essentials they need to make learning easy and fun throughout the entire year.

Toys “R” Us is also debuting a new line of exclusive education products under its Imaginarium brand, the company’s largest range of specialty and learning toys. Imaginarium Learning offers shoppers dozens of back-to-basics, as well as inventive products, which promote early learning skills in little ones ages 18 months and up.

Under Imaginarium Learning, kids can discover the universe with the Lift a Flap Solar System and Lift a Flap World Puzzle, or learn their ABCs and 123s with the assistance of Touch & Learn Alphabet Fish and ABC & 123 Monkey. Additionally, magnetic tablets, like Magnetab Numbers and Magnetab ABCs Lower Case, teach small hands to trace and write, while double-sided write and erase cards and take-along boards provide activities that reinforce writing skills. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Billy’s Got the Toddler Beat

As a 24 year-old, one would hope that it would take a fairly fascinating toy to really pique my interest. While it does take probably less than you would imagine (I am admittedly a kid at heart), there is one toddler plaything that I simply can’t get enough of—Billy Beats Dancing Piano. This musical DJ, from Mega Bloks, does it all. Billy is a too-cute-to-handle, dancing piano that is the culmination of all things enjoyed by toddlers. I know that if Billy had been around in my toddler hay-day, his batteries would have needed very frequent changing. My short attention span made it difficult to entertain me, and Billy Beats is four sources of entertainment in one—singing, music playing, dancing, and block building. Win, win, win, and win!

billybeatsHe has eight classic preschool songs in his repertoire, and he knows them all in three styles—with standard piano sounds, barnyard animal sounds, and a funky DJ-style. Kids can mix-and-match the sounds in the “Discover Music” mode. The “Dance Along” option makes Billy dance along as the song plays. The keys light up and Billy shakes his little piano booty. I think my favorite is the “Teach Me” setting. Billy Beats’ keys will light up in the order of the notes in the song. Toddler musicians can follow along, playing the song. If they make a mistake, Billy Beats lets out an adorable little giggle; if they get it right, he plays the song back for them—and of course adds a little jig.

Staying true to the Mega Bloks First Builders brand, Billy Beats is a construction toy that is fully compatible with all Mega Bloks First Builders blocks. They can be stored in the space under his red cap, and built up over his keys and on top of his head. Along with the included blocks, Billy Beats comes with stickers of sheet music that kids can play on his light-up keyboard.

For more commentary from Kara, check back often. 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!

Little Pim Unveils New Discovery Sets

littlepimLittle Pim, the foreign language learning program for kids ages 6 months to 6 years, has introduced a special-edition product line now available exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide. The new Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, and English Discovery Sets each include three DVDs and a Little Pim plush panda toy, which help to make learning a new language fun for kids.

Between birth and the age of 6, the human brain is pre-wired for language learning, and Little Pim helps families take advantage of this brief window by making language learning easy, fun, and effective. Their Entertainment Immersion Method provides total immersion in the language. The method engages a child’s love of play watching real kids and animation. Little Pim’s proven repetition technique helps children retain new vocabulary. The program is designed by Julia Pimsleur Levine, daughter of Dr. Paul Pimsleur, creator of the Pimsleur Method, a language learning program for adults.

Little Pim is available in 11 languages, including Spanish, French, Chinese, and Italian on videos, music, books, flash cards, gift sets, and more.

COMMENTARY: Kids Getting Older Younger—Or Younger Older?

Everyone always talks about how kids are getting older younger. Kids as young as 8 years old are swapping their Barbie dolls and Transformers for iPods and tablets—but this isn’t the case for everyone. There are big kids everywhere, and toys have a funny little habit of bringing an adult’s inner-child giggling wildly to the surface.

Nostalgia is a huge trend in toys today—classic properties such as The Smurfs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Pac-Man have resurfaced and are engaging a whole new generation. Traditional toys, such as Hasbro’s Easy Bake Oven, Kahootz’s Spirograph, and POOF-Slinky’s Slinky, all still appeal to young kids the same way they did decades ago. However, adults and older kids will find just as much fun in new products primarily targeted toward youngsters, too.

RainbowLoom.Butterfly Blossom braceletThis weekend, I was loomed. A family friend’s daughter, Karli, had her wrist covered in the colorful rubber bracelets that are a product of Rainbow Loom, from Choon’s Designs. A huge craze among kids, I was enamored by the bracelets and begged her to teach me how to make one. She did, and of course, hers came out better. I’ve been staring at it on my wrist every day since she made it for me, and I was extremely tempted to purchase my own loom when I went into a Michael’s craft store and saw the enormous display (but I thought to myself: “You’re 23 years old, Marissa! Taking home product samples is one thing, but you cannot justify BUYING a toy!”).

[Read more...]

Hexbug Launches #theycanclimb Coloring Contest

theycanclimbHexbug has launched the Hexbug Nano V2 #theycanclimb coloring contest, giving Hexbug fans a chance to flex their creative muscles.

Hexbug hired an eccentric, internationally-renowned artist (and Hexbug enthusiast) to create eight colorful drawings crawling with the gravity-defying Nano V2 bugs. The artist received a last-minute, once in a lifetime opportunity to climb Mount Everest’s Khumbu Icefall that left him unable to color in his original black and white outlines. Now Hexbug is asking for the fans help to color in these drawings.

To enter the contest, fans can choose an outline, color it, and send it in to the Hexbug review team. The contest will run through through 11:59:59 p.m. CST on September 22.

Every entrant will receive a $5 promo code for their next purchase on Hexbug.com, and every week, some of the best submissions will be featured at Nanov2.com. Entrants will be judged in two separate categories: ages 6 and under, and ages 7 to 12. At the end of the contest, first, second, and third place winners in each category will be announced and awarded prizes.

COMMENTARY: Kids Need to Move It, Move It

Today, kids are swarmed with toys that enable them to experience every world of play possible without ever having to move. Play buttons are all that’s required, and while this is incredible for the mind, it leaves the next generation sedentary. Millions of toys are available for molding the brain, but what are kids doing for their bodies? I remember a time that my mom had to beg us to come inside because it was getting dark out, and nothing could keep me still for very long. In a world where touch screens have replaced backyard swings, remote controllers have replaced running, and headphones have replaced jump ropes, it’s so important to get kids up and moving.

YgliderYvolution’s objective phrase is “Life through motion,” and with the Y Fliker and the Y Glider, kids can do just that. These scooters combine an innovative, extremely mobile design to the classic wheeled toy. The Y Fliker is a three-wheeled scooter that will get kids up and active, and there is no kicking the pavement for movement anymore. Riders move their hips from side to side to take off and use their own body movement to keep going. The self-propelled scooter has performance-rated wheels that allow the free-style scooter to perform carving and drifting actions, so that kids will never lose interest. There’s also a hand brake for increased control. The Flikr comes in four styles for different age ranges, so there is three-wheeled mobile fun for everyone. The Y Glider is perfect for first-timers; it’s a kid-powered mini scooter with a “lean to steer” movement method for kids in the developmental stages. The Glider also helps develop balance and coordination skills—something I certainly could of used a lot more of as a kid. The Glider has soft rubber handgrips and features the same three-wheeled design as the Flikr, so youngsters will feel just like the big kids. This Glider does, however, have a wider deck for a more stable ride, PU casted wheels for durability, and an easy-touch, rear safety brake for quick stopping. [Read more...]

Anchor Bay Celebrates New Chuggington DVD and 30th Anniversary of My Gym

CHUGPATROL

To celebrate the August 20 release of Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue, the newest Chuggington DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment, and the 30th Anniversary of My Gym, participating My Gym locations will feature colorful Chuggington window clings displayed in each facility as well as counter cards with coupons for a discount on purchase of Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue or any other Chuggington DVD.

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, My Gym hosted a nationwide contest in search of America’s “fittest family,” with Chuggington DVDs included among the prizes. In addition, My Gym prominently features the partnership with Chuggington on all social media websites and promotional items. Anchor Bay will highlight My Gym with full-panel inserts in the packaging of all Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue DVDs.  The company also will provide exposure for My Gym on the Chuggington social media pages.my gym logo

LeapFrog Introduces Read With Me Scout and Violet

LEAPFROG ENTERPRISES LOGO
LeapFrog Enterprises has introduced Read With Me Scout and Read With Me Violet, two new interactive plush puppies designed to build early reading skills. Developed by LeapFrog’s team of learning experts, the products build off My Pal Scout and My Pal Violet, and offer an interactive story time experience with learning activities that build early reading comprehension, listening, and vocabulary skills.

Children can choose one of five books and as the pals read the story aloud, children build comprehension skills and early vocabulary. They also learn about the relationship between print on a page and the story as they turn the pages and listen to more than 70 spoken questions and audio responses. Parents can switch Scout and Violet into Sleepy Time mode to select a read-aloud story or eight minutes of lullabies.

Read With Me Scout and Read With Me Violet are the latest additions to LeapFrog’s line of Scout learning products that includes interactive plush friends such as My Pal Scout and My Pal Violet, My Own Leaptop, Chat & Count Smart Phone toys, and DVDs. The new plush puppies are available online and at major retailer locations in the U.S, Canada, the UK, and France, and will be available in Spain and Mexico later this year.

VTech Unveils Go! Go! Smart Wheels

Smart Wheels Train-StationVTech has launched Go! Go! Smart Wheels, a new line of vehicles and play sets. Go! Go! Smart Wheels enhances a popular play pattern, vehicle play, while teaching important learning skills, encouraging interactivity, and providing an outlet for kids.

Each play set features SmartPoint locations recognized by Go! Go! Smart Wheels vehicles. As a vehicle rolls over a play set’s various SmartPoints, the car flashes and plays greetings, fun sounds, short tunes, and sing-along songs. The line features more than 20 different play sets, vehicles, and accessories, including a train station, a construction site, and an airport that can connect into an expansive toy world.

Go! Go! Smart Wheels is available at www.vtechkids.com, Amazon.com, Target.com, Toysrus.com, and Walmart.com.

Creative Baby Inc. Introduces the iMat and Voice Pen Set

iMatCreative Baby Inc. has introduced the iMat: My Animal World on its website. The  product is the first in a series of themed interactive foam mats. The colorful play land is made of four interlocking soft sections that are activated when used with its Voice Pen. Babies and older siblings learn while exploring the illustrated mat with a simple point on the “word bubble.” They’re instantly rewarded with an animal sound, a word, music, or a foreign language translation. Newborn babies can enjoy the mat without the pen—the mat is phthalate-, lead-, and heavy metal-free, and no electronics means the mat can be wiped clean.

The i-Mat’s secret is the 2 GB memory of the Voice Pen. Sold as a set, the foamy pad and pen are available for pre-order with a limited time free shipping offer. Two more themed adventures, i-Mat My Alphabet and i-Mat Under The Sea, are planned for this fall. As new pads are introduced, parents can connect the Voice Pen to any computer with internet access (with the included USB cable), download the new sound file from Creative Baby’s website to the i-Mat Voice Pen, and explore new i-Mat adventures.

Mom and Dad can begin teaching their child English, Spanish, and Chinese by simply touching the pen to the image. Beyond learning a new language, the i-Mat grows intellectually with babies. When the child is old enough to hold the pen without help, the brain cells get a workout as learning games on the mat become more and more challenging. For tots ages 3 to 6, there’s advanced programs for the Voice Pen, such as interactive talking flash cards, posters, wall decals, stickers, books, and more. [Read more...]