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...]

The Year’s Most Outstanding Toys and Games Honored at TOTY Awards

Rainbow LoomOn February 15, the eve of American International Toy Fair, hundreds of toy executives and industry guests gathered at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City for the 14th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards and Toy Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Rainbow Loom, from Choon’s Design LLC, won Toy of the Year as well as prizes in three additional categories, while GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine, from GoldieBlox Inc., took home the People’s Choice award by pulling in the most online votes from consumers.

The event also featured five inductions into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame: Jill Barad, former chairman and CEO, Mattel; Horst Brandstätter, president and owner, Playmobil/geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. KG; Jack Friedman, former chairman, CEO, and co-founder, Jakks Pacific; and Arthur “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr, co-founders of Wham-O Toy. [Read more...]

Loomey Time LLC Provides Watch Accessories to Rainbow Loom

loomeytimeLoomey Time LLC, a new startup company, has introduced a line of watch accessories designed specifically to attach to Rainbow Loom bracelets. The watch is designed with analog movement, has faces with all 12 numbers around the dial, and has an outer cover made of soft, latex-free silicone surrounding the waterproof stainless watch.

The watch accessories attach to many of the popular Rainbow Loom weaves, which offers children the opportunity to learn to tell time while making their jewelry. The accessories are available at shop.loomeytime.com and at many Rainbow Loom retailers. 

COMMENTARY: #SantaCame!

Early Wednesday morning, the posts started. My Facebook and Instagram feeds were filled with images of friends and family’s kids tearing into presents, digging through stockings, and excitedly displaying their treasures for the camera. As I scrolled through the photos, I noticed several items that showed up over and over again. Having dedicated the last few months to the hottest toys on the market, it was neat to see them finally end up under Christmas trees around the country.

leappadI’d say the most common recurring toy in my feed was the LeapPad Ultra. Each time it showed up, the caption described how the kid who received it loved it and wouldn’t put it down. The LeapPad Ultra is a great introduction to tablets for kids, and lets them fully utilize its contents safely. [Read more...]

Toys “R” Us Signs On as U.S. Retailer of The Original Loom Boom

LoomBoomThis past week saw the launch of Jake and Crew LLC’s The Original Loom Boom, which is designed to display, organize, and share loom bracelet creations. Invented by a five-year-old who wanted to show off his loom bracelet collection in a neat, portable way, the product is being retailed exclusively by Toys “R” Us through the end of this year.

Available in five color combinations at Toys “R” Us stores across the U.S. and at toysrus.com, the Original Loom Boom features a brightly-colored tube that can hold up to 40 rubber band loom bracelets. Once detached from the base, loomers have easy access to bracelets at the bottom, so they can show off their handiwork as well as trade and share bracelets. The base also contains ample storage for extra loom bands.

Currently, loom band bracelets are enjoying a high level of popularity in the U.S.

COMMENTARY: Big Rewards for a Little Bit of Cash

Sometimes kids deserve a special little treat—whether they refrain from crying at the dentist, got an extra star on their homework assignment, or behaved well on a long shopping trip, it’s nice to reward them for good behavior. Candy is a cheap, instant, and enjoyable treat, but we all know kids can do with a little less sugar (and, in turn, fewer painful dentist visits!).  There are some great inexpensive toys with lots of play value that will help reward kids for good behavior without breaking the bank or causing cavities.

ABSW Telepods Jedi vs Sith Multi-PacksAngry Birds Star Wars Telepods, from Hasbro, are sold in two-figure packs for less than $10. Kids can teleport the collectible figures right into the Angry Birds Star Wars II app, from Rovio Entertainment, on iOS and Android devices. Each figure has a unique QR code on the bottom, so kids can distinguish their characters from their friends’, even if they have the same ones. With more than 30 figures to collect, Hasbro also has compatible play sets at higher price points. With both virtual and physical play, Telepods is a great choice for a quick treat that will keep kids engaged for a long time. [Read more...]

Design Originals Publishes Rubber Band Jewelry How-To Guide

Oct10.RainbowLoom

Children and parents are using Rainbow Loom to turn brightly colored rubber bands into bracelets and other jewelry. A new book, Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry, offers a how-to guide for using new looms. Available in time for the holidays, the book features designs and instructions for making the accessories with products such as Rainbow Loom.

Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry shows kids exactly how to use the new looms, with more than 200 full color photos, step-by-step instructions, and dozens of diagrams. It offers 12 original projects for all the accessories including bracelets, necklaces, body jewelry, hair accessories, and more. Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry is published by Design Originals, an imprint of Fox Chapel Publishing.

Voting Opens for 2013 Toy & Game Inventor of the Year Awards

TAGIE.AwardsThese nominees for the annual Toy & Game Inventor of the Year (TAGIE) Awards in the categories of toy design, game design, young inventor, and rising star were selected by industry colleagues. Now the public is invited to place their votes before the annual award show taking place in November as part of the 11th Annual Chicago Toy & Game Fair.

The 2013 TAGIE Award nominees are as follows:

Excellence in Toy Design

  • Bruce Lund, inventor of the Dino Construction Company Line
  • Cheong Choon Ng, inventor of Rainbow Loom
  • Jon Paul Capriola, inventor of ZippyDo
  • Sean Frawley, inventor of Aero Force Flight Designs: “Ultra-Light/Extended Flight” Gliders/ Wind Ups/ Power Gliders
  • Wim Ouboter, inventor of Microlino Airseat Hybrid

[Read 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...]

COMMENTARY: DYO Arts and Crafts Kits Remain on Top

As the design-your-own (DYO) trend continues this year, more and more companies are jumping onboard and attempting to woo the world’s crafty tweens. A lap around the arts and crafts section at this year’s American International Toy Fair revealed no shortage of bands, bracelets, or buttons just waiting to be adorned.

These are a few of my favorites:

Crafty Bands

Crafty Bands

  • Crafty Bands (Epiphany Crafts): Designed for kids ages 8 and up, Crafty Bands allow kids to create their own charms using the included Shape Studio Tool. Unlike some other paper punches, this one is super easy on the hands and has a cap to ensure that the newly made charms don’t fly away. The Crafty Bands Starter Kit includes the Shape Studio Tool, four Crafty Bands (pink, purple, blue, and lime green), 20 Crafty Snaps, 20 Bubble Caps, and adhesive. beware though, you’ll need your own adhesive to adhere the paper to the snaps. I tried a glue stick, but that wasn’t quite strong enough. Some quick-dry liquid glue should do the trick. For more information on Crafty Bands, visit www.craftybands.com.
  • My Image Button Maker (Choose Friendship): This kit allows kids to turn their favorite photos and graphics into buttons. They can choose from one of 36 preprinted images or upload and use their own on myphotosizer.com or the My Photosizer iPhone and iPod touch app. My Image Button Maker comes with 12 pins, 12 magnets, 12 button fronts, 12 button pages, and six pre-printed image cards. For more information, visit www.choosefriendship.co/.
  • Rainbow Loom (Choon’s Design): Designed for kids ages 8 and up, the Rainbow Loom allows you to create a “woven” bracelet using rainbow rubber bands. The loom and bands can look a bit intimidating, but the whole endeavor only takes about 10 minutes. It was definitely worthy my time! The kit includes all the supplies necessary to make up to 24 bracelets and more than 600 rubber bands. For more information, visit www.rainbowloom.com. (Check out the cool instructional video below!)

For more commentary from Sierra, check back each Friday 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!