COMMENTARY: Back to Basics: Sketch, Doodle, Paint, and Play

TF14Logo-cityDatesAfter 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...]

COMMENTARY: HolograFX Are Making 90s Kids Everywhere Jealous

As a kid growing up in the 1990s, I remember one of the coolest novelty-type items I had was a pair of glasses that reflected rainbow peace sign holograms in the dark black lenses. Today, the fun of holograms is being taken to a whole new level by Goliath Games.

After seeing Goliath’s new product line for this year at American International Toy Fair, I was taken around to the back of the exhibit to see the grand finale: HolograFX. A new augmented reality app accessory, HolograFX turns a smartphone or iPod Touch into a special effects holographic magic show. Each HolograFX box comes with 20 tricks, a free downloadable app, and stage to create a magic show with holograms.

Goliath HolograFXIn the trick that was demoed for me at Toy Fair, kids can place an image of the “corpse” of Siren Electra inside the “reanimation chamber.” Then, after a little bit of magic, a holographic image of Siren-come-back-to-life climbs out of the chamber and moves and speaks on the stage. In addition to the pre-loaded hologram images included in the set, kids ages 7 and up can become a hologram themselves! It was by far the coolest thing at Toy Fair, and I was jealous I grew up with holographic glasses instead of being able to turn myself into a hologram when I was a kid. This toy truly feels like a toy of the future.

HolograFX won’t be in stores until late summer, but the set can be preordered by clicking here.

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!

HIT Entertainment, Discovery Bay Games Announce Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station App, Accessory for iPad

HIT Entertainment and Discovery Bay Games have announced a new game and accessory for iPad: Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station. This Thomas & Friends-branded Duo accessory is compatible with the new Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station Duo App, available now on the App Store.

Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station gets kids jumping, skipping, and racing with all of their engine friends. The app comes with three games: Steam Engine Relay, Sodor Spot-It, and Seek & Find Adventure. Six engine cards, including Thomas, Percy, and James, along with other engine favorites, interact with Steam Team Station.

Designed for children ages 3 and up, the Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station accessory is now available at Apple Stores and Apple.com, Amazon, Target, and Toys”R”Us. The Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station Duo App is available for free from the App Store.