COMMENTARY: Musical Toys

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of watching a live jazz band play at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The musicians seemed to thoroughly enjoy the set, and everyone in the audience was having a blast. Remembering my own days in the school band and piano recitals, I thought about how kids can be influenced early on by musical toys and instruments. Here are some of my favorites:

The Recorder

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Stripe Recorder, from Sassafras

A classic. I can almost hear “Hot Cross Buns” just by looking at one. Recorders, while often a symbol of fourth-grade music class, can actually be a gateway into other instruments for kids. While the standard plastic, beige soprano recorder reigns supreme among young players, there are alternatives, such as Melissa and Doug’s Makin’ Music wooden recorder, Sassafras’ Stripe Recorder, or colorful recorders from 1stNote. Alfred Music Publishing offers songbooks featuring tunes from The Wizard of Oz, Looney Tunes, and others.

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30 Key Fancy Baby Grand, from Schoenhut

The Piano

FirstAct offers a Dora the Explorer electronic keyboard for kids to explore music and try out different sound effects. Kids that want a more classical experience can enjoy Schoenhut’s 30 Key Fancy Baby Grand toy piano. For the youngest pianists, Hasbro offers the Sesame Street Let’s Rock Cookie Monster keyboard, featuring one octave of wide, easy-to-press keys.

The Drums

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Learn To Play Electronic Keyboard, from Discovery Kids

Kids that are more rhythmically inclined will enjoy Discovery Kids’ Learn To Play Electronic Drumpad. The battery-operated drumpad features drum sticks and adjustable tempo. Kids can follow the light patterns to play any of eight different rhythms. Union’s Toy Drum set features a bass drum, crash cymbal, and snare drum for little drummers to rock and roll. For a more laid-back beat, Remo’s Kids Bongo lets kids bang it out in colorful style, and are pitched high and low.

What are your kids’ favorite instruments? Let us know in the comment section!

For more commentary from Christine, 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!

Nickelodeon, Fuhu Inc. Sign Multi-Year Deal

NICKELODEON NABI JR. TABLETS

Nickelodeon and Fuhu Inc. have signed a multi-year deal to produce and distribute Nickelodeon-themed tablet accessories and nabi Jr. tablets pre-loaded with the network’s content. The first release of the partnership is the recently launched, touchscreen nabi Jr. tablet, filled with educational apps, games, and videos, from Nickelodeon preschoolseries including, Dora the ExplorerTeam Umizoomi, and Bubble Guppies. This spring, a line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-inspired mobile tablet accessories, such as character bumpers, Kinabis, and stands, will be available nationwide.

Additionally, Fuhu, Inc. is an associate sponsor of Nickelodeon’s 26th Annual Kids’ Choice Awards, airing March 23 from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Sing Along with Dora in Brand-New Primetime Special, Dora Rocks!

Nickelodeon invites preschoolers to jam with Dora in the brand-new Dora the Explorer primetime special, ”Dora Rocks!” premiering  January 14 at 7 p.m. The half-hour adventure gives kids the opportunity to practice their musical skills and play interactive games learning geometry and catchy Spanish words and phrases. Emmy award-winning Dora the Explorer currently reaches more preschoolers than any other show on television and averages 1.5 million total viewers.  [Read more...]

Toy & Game Industry Luminaries Celebrate Inventors at Annual Industry Gala

As part of the Chicago Toy & Game Week, industry leaders from 18 countries gathered at the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History for the 5th Annual Toy and Game Inventors Awards, known as “The TAGIEs,” to honor the creators of some of the world’s best known playthings.

Nearly 400 industry movers-and-shakers gathered for the event, at which famed inventor Bruce Lund gave a keynote address after being introduced by a full-sized marching band. Kevin Harrington, chairman of As Seen On TV, Inc., and “Shark Investor” on the show Shark Tank was also in attendance to present the Young Inventor of the Year Award.  [Read more...]

The Little Gym Partners with Nickelodeon To Host Official Dora the Explorer Birthday Parties

Parents seeking a birthday adventure for their children soon will be able to grab their backpacks and head to The Little Gym. Nickelodeon and The Little Gym International have announced a partnership that will bring Dora the Explorer-themed birthday parties to the more than 210 The Little Gym locations in the United States.

The Little Gym, the leading experiential learning and child physical development center for ages four months through 12 years, will become the exclusive host of Dora the Explorer-themed birthday parties during its 2012-2013 season. The company has worked with Nickelodeon to create a special birthday party curriculum that includes a storyline and music from the Emmy award-winning animated preschool series. The Little Gym’s trained instructors will lead children through a Dora adventure featuring encounters with Backpack, Map, and other characters from Dora’s world.

The Little Gym expects to also add Go, Diego, Go!-themed parties later in the 2012-2013 season.

To locate the nearest The Little Gym location, please visit www.thelittlegym.com.

VTech to Offer Downloadable Nickelodeon Episodes on InnoTab 2

VTech Electronics North America, LLC, is partnering with Nickelodeon to bring a number of animated series to the InnoTab 2. Beginning late August, episodes of Nickelodeon’s hit animated series including Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Bubble Guppies, will be available for download from VTech’s Learning Lodge Navigator.

The InnoTab 2 learning tablet gives kids ages 3 to 9 their own 5-inch touch-screen tablet with free onboard activities to get them started, and a new rotatable digital camera and video recorder. This sleek and durable toy also comes equipped with a tilt sensor, photo viewer, video player, MP3 music player, e-reader, art studio, microphone and more. The InnoTab 2 also features 2GB of onboard memory and an expandable SD card slot for up to 32GB more storage capacity.

Nickelodeon videos will be sold in bundles of three episodes and individually. Starting in October, the videos will also be available for download on VTech’s original InnoTab. The InnoTab 2 hits store shelves in mid-August.

This post was originally written by Sierra McCleary-Harris and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

Nick Toy Machines Featured in 100 Simon Malls

Nickelodeon debuted its first virtual Nick Toy Machines last weekend at 100 Simon malls across the country. Inspired by the classic vending machine, each virtual Nick Toy Machine is a colorful, double-sided standee (seven-foot tall and 3.5-feet wide) that shoppers can walk up to, scan, and buy Nickelodeon toys from via smartphones.

The Nick Toy Machine features images of Dora the Explorer and Victorious toys, along with a corresponding QR code that allows shoppers to quickly “scan and buy” gifts using their smartphones. The Nick Toy Machines are placed in high-traffic areas.

[Read more...]

The Results Are In For What’s Hot With Kids Today

Justin Bieber topped the list when The NPD Group, as part of its Kids Industry Data Service (KIDS), asked “what would the kids you know say is the hottest new thing these days?” in May. Mentions included celebrities, movies, television shows, toys, games, hobby, sports, web sites, brands, and retail stores. NPD compiled 2,095 mentions for kids ages 0-14. The results were:

  1. Justin Bieber (10 percent)
  2. Nintendo Wii (2 percent)
  3. Dora The Explorer (2 percent)
  4. Xbox 360 (2 percent)
  5. Cars: The Movie/ Cars 2 (2 percent)
  6. iPad (2 percent)
  7. SpongeBob SquarePants (2 percent)
  8. Disney (2 percent)
  9. Video games (2 percent)
  10. Thor (1 percent)

Bieber also topped the list in the same survey conducted in February, with 14 percent. The NPD Group’s Kids Industry Data Service (KIDS) provides monthly insight into purchases made on behalf of kids ages 0-14, across product categories, with an emphasis on licenses and brands. Each month, the service asks an open-ended, unaided question designed to provide insight into what is hot with kids today.

Record A Story Donates Books to Military Program

Beginning this Veterans Day (November 11), military parents separated from their children can record a story for their child and ship it to him or her in time for the holidays. As a part of the initiative, Publications International, Ltd. (PIL) will donate its new Record a Story books to the non-profit United Through Reading Military Program for deployed service members to record for their children.

The United Through Reading Military Program has been sending kids videotapes of their military parents reading books aloud since 1990. Operation Record a Story will take the program to the next level by donating the recordable storybooks. As children turn the pages, the story is read aloud to them. Titles include ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, Sesame Street: Together at Heart, Dora the Explorer, and Guess How Much I Miss You. Both the book and a video of the parent recording the story will be shipped to kids.

Recordings will take place at the following United Through Reading locations: USO DFW – Dallas/Fort Worth, Tex.; USO – Fort Hood, Tex.; USO – BWI Airport; USO Camp Beuhring – Kuwait; USO Balad – Iraq; USO Kandahar – Afghanistan; USO Bagram – Afghanistan (Pat Tillman Memorial USO); USO of Georgia – Jean R. Amos USO Center; USS George H. W. Bush in Naval Station Norfolk, Va.; and USS Abraham Lincoln in Everett, Wash.

For information on the United Through Reading Military Program, visit www.unitedthroughreading.org.

Dora’s Big Birthday Adventure Video Game by 2K Play

In celebration of Dora the Explorer’s 10th anniversary, 2K Play is releasing Dora’s Big Birthday Adventure. The Nintendo DS video game will be timed with the Nick Jr. prime time television event airing this August.

The game will feature Dora and Boots as they adventure through Wizzle World to get to Dora’s birthday celebration.

Players can participate in adventures such as floating in a giant bubble across Sea Snake Lake, riding a magical unicorn over the rainbow, and playing the drums in the enchanted Dancing Forest.