China Toy Fair


COMMENTARY: World Maker Faire Is Where D-I-Y Meets T-O-Y-S!

MakerFaire,crowdshot,littleBitsThis past weekend, under terrific late-summer weather, the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., was the site of this year’s World Maker Faire. The massive, two-day-long science fair/state fair drew large crowds of hobbyists, educators, tech enthusiasts, and more. The exhibitors consisted of a wide range of crafty and tech-savvy folks working in a variety of medium—and they included quite a few toy companies.

Given that innovation and education are among the underlying principles of World Maker Faire—not to mention the larger “maker movement” as a whole—it wasn’t surprising to find many toys aimed at fostering intellectual curiosity in kids. It would take too much space to list them all, but here are three that struck my fancy. Each encourages learning in ways that are hands-on and inventive.

SparkleLabsSparkle Labs: The New York City-based company’s mission is to make science and engineering as approachable as possible. To that end, its Papertronics – Lunar Modules is an origami kit with cute designs on paper, to go with simple electronics that teach the basics of LED circuitry. Suitable for kids ages 8 and up, each kit includes all the materials necessary for three working lanterns: Spaceboy, Alien Girl, and Tabula Rasa. [Read more...]

Looski Pups Launches Kickstarter Campaign for Digital Puppies

looksipupsLooksi Pups, from Looksi, are described as a cross between Nintendogs and Tamagotchi. Looksi Pups transform a digital puppy into a physical puppy with the revolutionary 3-D Looksi Kennel. Download the free iPhone app, pop your iPhone into the Looksi Kennel, and the Looksi Pups comes to life in 3-D, tail wagging and ready to play.

The many features of Looksi Pups include seven different breeds of pups; 15 voice commands including fetch, boogie, and chase tail; voice recognition which responds only to the owner’s voice; a host of extra accessories, games, and tricks to be unlocked; interaction capabilities with other Looksi Pups, who can play in each others’ kennels; an alarm clock and “guard dog” function; games which use voice commands and the phone’s tilt sensors; and a protective tray to keep the phone safe and secure.

There is a campaign on Kickstarter to bring Looksi Pups to retail shelves that will run for 28 days. Would-be customers can pledge money towards the project in return for a variety of rewards.

Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band Releases Second Album

HeidiSwedbergHeidi Swedberg, best-known from her role of Susan on Seinfeld, has built a national reputation for her ukulele-inflected, interactive approach to family music-making. Swedberg produced her second album, My Cup of Tea, for national retail release on September 10. To produce the album of 13 songs, Swedberg raised more than $5,000 through crowd-funding site Kickstarter and involved many of her musician friends to create a diverse album.

Amidst frequent national touring with Heidi and the Sukey Jump Band, Heidi holds ongoing weekly music classes at McCabe’s and Los Angeles schools, plus elementary schools and other venues. Her lessons and chord charts are available via the Sukey Jump channel on GoChords. Heidi and the Sukey Jump Band plan concerts in Southern California this fall. Visit the Sukey Jump calendar page for scheduling details.

Get in the Game with Landing Mr. Right

mrrightLanding Mr. Right, from Alys & Victoria, is a grown-up version of Mystery Date, all about girlfriends sharing stories and inspiring each other to get in the game to land their Mr. Right.

Landing Mr. Right is a journey of self discovery. You have the opportunity to date outside your comfort zone and explore relationships with different types of men. You can take chances in the board game you might not in life.  And, when you share your dating stories with your girlfriends, a journey of new possibilities begins. While technically the first player to land on Mr. Right (a space on the board) is the winner, all girlfriends who play the game win as they learn more about the guys they could be dating as well as themselves.

You roll the die, pick your guy, and share your story. The game revolves around dating six types of men: Blue Blood, CEO, Regular Guy, Rock Star, Triathlete, and Techno-Geek. When you choose a Date card, you are free to select whomever you’d like to date—just like in life. The guys take you on exciting dates to ten destinations around the board. But, whether your date gets you closer to or further away from Landing Mr. Right is all in the cards. After your date, you pick a Your Story card with a question that prompts you to share dating experiences with your girlfriends. From, “who was the first boy you kissed and is he now a friend on Facebook?” to whether your last relationship was sealed with a kiss or the great kiss-off– your answers get you thinking, laughing, and discovering new things about yourself, your dating choices, and the best kept secrets of your closest girlfriends.

Launching now on Kickstarter, Landing Mr. Right will be available in time for the holidays.  The creators, Alys Daly & Victoria Brewer are seasoned marketing professionals and dating experts who seek to inspire confidence in women through their humor and experience in everything from dating to personal styling.

COMMENTARY: It’s Not Easy Being Pink

Recently, we wrote about a petition from mom Melissa Wardy for Lego to release a set of female scientist figures. After seeing that only 16 percent (11 percent if you don’t count the Lego Friends line) of Lego minifigures are females, Wardy knew something had to be done. She learned that one of the entries in one of Lego’s public contests to design new building sets featured a female minifigure series that included a paleontologist, a robotics engineer, a geologist, an astronomer, a chemist, a judge, and a fire fighter. This entry raised the amount of votes necessary to be considered for production, so Wardy started a petition to have these females in the STEM fields available on shelves, available for all kids to play with.

With positive role models—for girls and boys—being incredibly important, especially in a time where bullying is a very present topic in the media, I think that the toy industry is beginning to shape a new generation of women by not overlooking the importance of construction sets for girls that inspire them to be more than just “pink.” Here are a few examples (including Lego Friends) of construction sets that present introduce girls to bigger opportunities.

One of the main issues many folks have with girls’ construction sets, such as the Lego Friends line, is that they are very “pink-washed.” Just because the set is designed for girls, does everything have to have a splash of pink across it? The Lego Friends line’s newest product breaks down those gender barriers and creates a play set in its girls’ line that isn’t so pink—and even includes a boy minifigure.

heartlakehighStephanie and Matthew attend Heartlake High, where they study plants under microscopes, experiment with chemical reactions, and look through an astronomy telescope in science and biology classes. Heartlake High provides a well-rounded cirriculum, with an art class and a music class as well. After school Stephanie and Matthew can play basketball with the hoop outside or go for a bike ride. The Heartlake High set includes Stephanie, Matthew, and Ms. Stevens mini-doll figures. [Read more...]

YBike Evolve Launches Kickstarter Campaign

YBIKE EvolveThe YBike Evolve, the world’s first 3-in-1 smart bike for kids, launched on crowd-funding site Kickstarter. Starting at $50 for early backers, the new Evolve trike-bike “evolves” as your child’s riding ability progresses.

The Evolve begins as a trike to develop peddling skills, before transforming into a balance trike, and then finally into an advanced balance bike—all with a simple and easy mechanism. The Evolve’s 3-in-1 function is based on a design that helps develop balance and coordination in children, while also saving money and space.

The YBike Evolve is recommended for kids ages 2 to 5 depending on size of your child; features silent rubber wheels that are perfect for indoors, but durable for outdoor activities; and has passed all the relevant child safety regulations for Europe and the U.S.

Pueri Elemental Launches Kickstarter Campaign for New Eco-Bonk Real Hero Series

PUERI ELEMENTAL KICKSTARTERPueri Elemental launched a Kickstarter campaign this week to fund its newest Eco-Bonk Real Hero Series (RHS). This series consists of domestically-produced bops with characters printed on the inside of the toy, eliminating direct exposure to ink. The earth-conscious bop toys are manufactured with additive technology that converts vinyl material into food for microbes naturally present in soil, accelerating biodegradation.

Eco-Bonk RHS is an interactive play pal, giving children ages 2 and up important role models to tumble around with, embrace, and enjoy. Fireman Mason, Doctor Sophia, and Soldier Ethan are ready for production. One percent of proceeds will be donated to charity.

Pueri Elemental became a hit with its award-winning Eco-Bonk Wildlife Series; the first domestically produced inflatable bop toy with custom-fitted organic cotton animal covers. One percent of proceeds from this line are donated to Wildlife Alliance.

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...]

Tek Recon: E3 Bound to Bring Live Action Online Gaming to Life

Havok_OSTek Recon will be available for demonstration and sampling by fans and consumers for the first time at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles from June 11-13.

E3 will immediately follow a crowd-funding campaign hosted on Kickstarter that began May 9. The response to Tek Recon from gamers, tech enthusiasts, and blaster fans has been exceptional as backers and players worldwide have reached out to provide feedback, insight, and support. The campaign is currently more than 51-percent funded and tracking to exceed the Kickstarter goal of $50,000.

Gamers, adventure-seekers, and fans of technology are being called upon to help create this revolutionary new way to connect and play. Tek Recon Blasters feature a first-of-its-kind design with real trigger action, authentic recoil, and specially-designed reusable NRG Rounds.

Tek Recon developed a free Live Action Online Gaming app to enhance blaster battles. Players can connect their mobile devices to the blaster to bring video game-styled play to life through mobile and GPS technology. The free Tek Recon app will be available for iOS and Android devices, enhancing real battle experience through an interactive heads up display, live chat, vision modes, and more.

You can also check out the Kickstarter video here.

Tek Recon Launches Kickstarter Campaign

tekreconTek Recon, from Tech 4 Kids, will be available for the first time through Kickstarter.com on May 9, beginning at 8 a.m. EST. The goal of the Kickstarter campaign is to enhance the development of the Tek Recon blaster and the free app, and to get the product into the hands of early adopters and key influencers helping to create the first real-life, online video game.

Through the course of 31 days, fans will be able to fund the project by purchasing product, exclusive rewards, and by bidding on prizes that include appearances in the TV commercial and an all-expenses-paid trip to present at E3. The Kickstarter funding goal is $50,000.

Tek Recon Blasters feature a first-of-its-kind design with real trigger action and specially designed, reusable NRG Rounds that blast up to 75 feet. To optimize the battle and team experience, Tek Recon developed a free “Real-Life Online Gaming” app. Kids can simply connect their mobile device to the blaster to experience video game-styled play through mobile and GPS technology. The free Tek Recon app will be available for iOS and Android devices, enhancing real battle experience through an interactive heads up display, live chat, vision modes, and more.

For more information on this product and the Kickstarter campaign, visit TekRecon.com.