Last week at Toy Fair, I was incredibly moved and encouraged to see so many toy companies giving from their compassionate hearts. When I was younger, I wanted to write about cancer research or world hunger. This week, Toy Fair reminded me that the toy business is an incredible outlet to make a huge difference, and these toy makers are using the toy industry to teach kids the importance of giving, love, and compassion. I’ve fallen in love with a handful of toy makers who are using their platform to make a real difference. Toys may seem trivial, but aren’t kids the ones in whom we delegate our future? [Read more...]
Super Duper Publications is partnering with U.S. retail and online resellers to sell its children’s educational products. The company has more than 750 common core and state standards-aligned card decks, games, workbooks, software programs, mobile apps, and more for children ages 3 to 12.
Previously, the company mostly sold directly to consumers and educators, and only offered certain items to retailers. “We are very excited about working with retailers to bring our unique products to parents and educators throughout the country,” said Super Duper president Sharon Webber.
Super Duper also has over 40 international resellers that distribute its products worldwide. To date, the most popular Super Duper creations include the HearBuilder programs, which have helped students dramatically improve their early learning and pre-reading skills, such as basic concepts, following directions, phonological/sound awareness, auditory/listening memory, and sequencing.
After Toy Fair 2013, the words “and there’s an app!” were ringing in my ears for weeks. This year, however, appcessories seemed more like a taboo than anything else, with most companies shying away from toys with app-enhanced features or reliability. Honestly, it was less than disappointing. I think keeping screen time and toy time separate is perfectly acceptable, and apparently, what kids and toy buyers prefer.
This year will truly mark a return to traditional play patterns. Rainbow Loom, a simple bracelet-making kit for kids, was huge in 2013, eventually snagging four Toy of the Year (TOTY) awards, including the overall Toy of the Year. That said, Toy Fair 2014 brought tons of cool innovations in the activities category, with companies fighting to be the next big thing once the Rainbow Loom craze comes to an end. [Read more...]
At this year’s American International Toy Fair, Yvolution is launching its new EXY Extreme Yvolution series. Offering kids a more extreme ride, the first two products in the line include the EXY Trickstartr, an entry-level stunt scooter with an innovative wheelie system, and the EXY Sharker, a three-wheeled skateboard made for urban street surfing.
The EXY Trickstartr is a stunt scooter for beginner riders who want to learn how to master basic tricks. It features a slick matte black/vibrant color design and comes with a special patent-pending device that allows riders to do a wheelie. Trickstartr also offers kids four ways to ride: 1) The Easy Way, 2) The Hard Way, 3) The Expert Way, and 4) The Pro Way. Once the stunt is mastered, the detachable device can be removed to improve speed and agility.
The EXY Sharker is a three-wheeled skateboard with a modern surfboard design. It is half-caster board and half-skateboard, with a front 360-degree caster wheel and traditional skateboard trucks in the back. Riders twist back and forth to get started, self-propel, carve, and pump. The quicker they pump the nose, the faster they’ll go. The Sharker also features a patented super strong ABS Tri-core grip deck and PU wheels with durable ABEC 7 bearings.
Blue Orange Games has added eight new games to its collection of more than40 products that will premiere at the American International Toy Fair from February 16 to 19. The new games will be available for purchase online and in specialty stores across the U.S. and Canada in late spring.
Doodle Quest is a drawing game where kids must avoid obstacles using their memory and the power of a pen. Wuzzits is a matching game in which cards combine and morph into different monsters. Aztack allows players to build a temple using unique rules. Players can make rival herds of livestock go head-to-head in Battle Sheep. Spot it! Freeze pits players against an electric timer, while Spot it! Splash is a waterproof version of the family favorite. Set in Imperial Japan, Niya makes its players use strategy skills to control the important clan garden. BraveRats is a strategy game for two players that is filled with plenty of suspense.
When I attended Fall Toy Preview in October, I had a conversation with a few industry executives about how when companies expand their line to include glow-in-the-dark or light-up SKUs, it often signals the end of the brand. They referred to glow-in-the-dark and light-up products as a “last resort,” and said it typically means that there are no other possible innovations for the product line.
However, I know a certain 4-year-old boy who would absolutely disagree with this idea, along with his 8-year-old sister (aka my niece and nephew!). LED lights have a strange magic to them—especially for kids. The bright colors they provide, just like glow-in-the-dark effects, seem like something out of a fantasy story that kids go crazy over—no matter how simple the technology actually is. There are some great new products hitting the market that reflect how great glow can be, here are some of my favorites:
Tracer Racers, from Skullduggery, utilize Light Trail Technology as they blaze streaks of light on the glow-in-the-dark track. That’s right—LEDs AND glow play patterns. Lights galore! Magic frenzy!—and there’s more! Each Tracer Racer beams down purple light rays from its undercarriage onto the track, which is specially engineered to emit glow remnants only after the racer has passed. The new Tracer Racer drag racing sets include a 10-foot single lane set including one racer, an 8-foot double lane set with two racers, and a 12-foot double lane loop set with a light-up finish gate and two racers. The company will also introduce trucks to the line this year. Kids ages 6 and up are sure to enjoy all of the amazing light-up elements in this toy. [Read more...]
After struggling with self-image for many, many years, I feel that relaying the importance of confidence to a younger generation of girls is of the utmost importance. Young girls see and hear older women discussing hatred toward their bodies and the latest on fad diets; it’s such an unhealthy message to send. In a world where most “girl” action figures and dolls are stick-thin, and every famous tween girl looks ill-fed, a break in this trend is always quite refreshing. Go! Go! Sports Girl products offer girls products with a positive image to encourage healthy minds and bodies. The line was created after Jodi Norgaard had a disappointing shopping experience with her 9-year-old daughter, unable to find anything “stylish” that didn’t bare a stomach or involve high heels. Norgaard’s company, Dream Big Toy Co., aims to empower young girls with its motto “Dream Big and Go for It.” It seems that similar specialty toy companies have started to take notice, creating lines with a related approach.
Dream Big Toy Co. created Go! Go! Sports Girls as a fun and educational way to promote self-appreciation and the benefits of daily exercise, healthy eating and sleeping habits, self-esteem, and overall healthy life skills among girls ages 3 to 12, regardless of race and socioeconomic class. The Sports Girls are age and size appropriate, and most importantly, they do not encourage an older or overly mature image. The image is innocent with a strong message to girls about appreciating and being true to yourself. [Read more...]
Kids Preferred, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of plush toys and gifts, will showcase the expansion of its Buildex wooden construction toy offerings. The new emergency rescue vehicles, in particular, each offer to build vehicles in two different ways from the same high-quality parts. Each vehicle in the set has two different options for building, creating, and playing.
This new generation of toys was designed to encourage children to develop 3-D thinking and an appreciation for construction, movement, and design. The collection utilizes Grid-Lock, a unique construction system which allows strong and safe assembly without the need for glue and tools. [Read more...]