COMMENTARY: Plush Manufacturers Show Off Awesome New Plush at Toy Fair

Toy Fair 14 was a spectacular, four-day event held at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City from February 16 to 19. Manufacturers from across the country gathered to debut new items, display classics, and make connections with retailers, buyers, and the press. We here at The Toy Book took the opportunity to forge new professional relationships, engage companies with whom we have established relationships, and discover new companies. As I walked the floors checking out the plush items, I saw dozens of great designs that I loved. Big, small, fat, tall—you name it, it was at Toy Fair. Some plush is cute, some is realistic, some is abstract, some is sculptural. While I appreciate all plush, there were some pieces in particular that really caught my eye.

toothpickToothpick, from GUND, was my hands-down, No. 1, absolute favorite plush at the show. I was already “aww!”-ing at the other bears on the wall in the GUND booth when my eyes landed on Toothpick’s skinny little body with his big, cute head and brown corduroy nose. His body is surprisingly sturdy, letting him sit up easily, but is still soft and cuddly. The material that GUND used for Toothpick’s fur is also super-soft, and has an almost curly sort of look to it. He is just adorable. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: It’s All About the Robots

Earlier this week, Senior Editor Marissa DiBartolo wrote about how the floor of the American International Toy Fair 2014 was lacking in the realm of appcessories, and that many companies were heading back to the classic play patterns, especially in the activities category. I also noticed an emerging trend that does not heavily rely on app technology, but does not veer from the idea of incorporating tech into playtime: robots.

As I walked the floor, I saw a bunch of different robotic products that really displayed where the category is heading—and a lot of that was not app-reliant. Of course, most of these robots can be controlled with or used with smart devices, but gone are the days where “and it has an app!” was a suitable enough novelty to convince consumers to purchase the toy.

Ali.Feb27First, let me introduce you to MiP. MiP, which is short for Mobile Inverted Pendulum, is WowWee’s latest innovation in association with the University of California at San Diego’s Coordinated Robots Lab. MiP has unique dual wheel balancing (thanks to that inverted pendulum science!) and is a fully interactive robot. MiP is able to navigate his surroundings while being controlled by hand gestures or through a Bluetooth link to a smart device. MiP also has a personality that is communicated through motion, sounds, and his LED eyes. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Makeup Kits for Girls Are Fun and Inexpensive

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 4.13.43 PMLittle girls love to play with makeup. I know I definitely did. Unfortunately for me, my mom mostly stuck to neutrals, earth tones, and pale pinks—”boring” colors, in my young opinion. I wanted to open that makeup bag and see electric blue eye shadow, fire engine red lipstick, bright pink blush, vermillion glitter nail polish—you know, the works. But I made do with what she had, bland though I may have thought it, because it was fun to play with. For years, I’ve said that if I ever have a daughter, I will keep a stash of all the fun stuff (that I would never wear myself—I now, of course, completely understand why my mom kept the palette she did) and let her have at it as a special treat. However, there are lots of great makeup kits for girls available today, which may save me a trip to the cosmetics aisle of my drugstore.

Alex Toys’ Mix & Makeup Nail Sparkle kit lets girls ages 5 and up create their own sparkly nail polish. Kids make the polish themselves by mixing the colors and glitter in the included mixing cup, then pouring their creation into the cute candy-shaped bottles with the funnel. The polish is easy to apply, and easily peels off. [Read more...]

Google’s Zeitgeist Releases Top 10 Trending Toy Searches for 2013

Google has released its annual Zeitgeist—a “spirit of the times”—which gives us a chance to remember the people, places and topics that got us talking, and ultimately searching, before a new year begins. The list of top toy searches features new toys such as Minions and Palace Pets, but also old favorites, such as Play-Doh. Here are the top 10 trending toy searches this year:

  1. Pokémon
  2. Play-Doh
  3. Digimon Fusion
  4. Minecraft Toys
  5. Minions
  6. Palace Pets
  7. Paw Patrol
  8. Pacific Rim Toys
  9. My Little Pony
  10. Disney Planes

The 2013 Zeitgeist site provides more than 1000 top-10 lists of popular and trending searches from 72 countries, making it the most comprehensive and global list to date.

COMMENTARY: Life-Size Plush Seems Like the Real Deal

Everything seems bigger when you’re a kid. Rooms, yards, playground equipment—it all just seemed so much larger back then. Revisiting childhood places and beloved toys of yesteryear can often be as amusing as it is perplexing, when making the comparison between how you perceived the same thing as a child versus now as an adult. I think that’s one of the things that makes childhood so special: It’s a finite amount of time to see the world from below and feel tiny. One of my great desires as a kid was to have a life-sized stuffed animal. Not a life-sized cat, bird, or bunny. I’m talking a life-sized elephant, lion, bear, camel—something enormous. I just wanted to be able to curl up on it and be engulfed. I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid either. Here are some great, life-sized plush products that will not only make kids feel like they’re up close and personal with nature, but will make an awesome Christmas morning scene under the tree.

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Melissa and Doug actually has a “giant stuffed animals” section online, featuring animals including a cheetah, a lion, an elephant, dogs, a penguin, and my favorite: the giraffe. The giraffe stands more than 4 feet tall, towering over kids with realistic markings and authentic facial features. Even as kids get older, this giraffe can transition into a decorative element of a bedroom without taking up much space. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: So Long Spice Girls–Introducing The Beatrix Girls

There were the Dixie Chicks, the Spice Girls, and even The Pussy Cat Dolls. But now, there’s an all-new girls’ band with its sight set on taking over the world—The Beatrix Girls. If you haven’t heard of this 12-inch fashion doll phenomenon (similar to the likes of Monster High dolls and Barbie), it’s a line of collectable pop star dolls that create, sing, and play their own original music.

The Beatrix Girls BandLark, the fiery redhead and bassist of the band, loves extreme sports like surfing and snowboarding, but most of all she loves making music with her best friends, The Beatrix Girls. As all of the girls flaunt their own style, Lark loves to be dressed up in ripped jeans, combat boots, and pretty much anything that’s not pink. She is, for many reasons, my favorite, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that she was my inspiration in dying my hair red—or would I? [Read more...]

The Toy Book’s NY Toy Fair Editorial Coverage – Request for Submissions!

It’s that time of year again! We are now collecting editorial submissions for The Toy Book‘s February New York Toy Fair issue! The deadline is December 20.

The Toy Book‘s February Toy Fair issue will feature coverage of what retail buyers should check out at the show. Please submit product info and high-res 300 dpi images for products that are NEW FOR 2014 ONLY. Due to the large number of submissions we receive, our requirements have changed. Please click “Read more…” to carefully review all of our submission rules and find out where to submit. Thanks! [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Making a List and Checking It Twice

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s that time of year again. Time to deck the halls, brave the malls, trim the tree, visit family—and if you’re a kid, it’s time to get serious about that Christmas list.

As we get older, our wish lists shift to more practical items, or fewer (and often more expensive) indulgences. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday that my list included such fantasies as a horse like the one from the Billy and Blaze book series, an RV (a real one), a ride-on car, and other obnoxious requests.

Not everything was ridiculous or out of my parents’ price range, however. One Christmas I was delighted when Santa brought me a coveted doll that I’d had my eye on for months. Another year, Barbie’s shoe store made it down the chimney, to much jumping around and “YESSSS!!!”-ing. And the year that presents filled a shiny new Radio Flyer red wagon and overflowed all over the floor goes down as one of the most memorable of all.

Times have changed, and so have the requests of kids as they add, edit, erase, and perfect what may be the most important document of the year before carefully addressing it to the North Pole and sending it off to the big man himself. Here are a few gifts, old and new, that are sure to excite and delight the kids of today as they did us kids of yesteryear.

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The red wagon from my Christmas past was a simple, classic steel wagon that I thought was just the best ever. Now, Radio Flyer’s Build-a-Wagon offers customers the chance to design their wagon to their own unique specifications. Through the website, users can choose from the classic steel-and-wood design or modern plastic, quiet-ride or rugged rubber tires, and accessories including canopies, umbrellas, seat pads, and an MP3 player. [Read more...]

Super Duper Publications Begins Selling Through Two New Accounts

Super Duper PublicationsSuper Duper Publications offers a variety of unique educational materials that benefit teachers, therapy professionals, and parents for use with children. Super Duper’s products are also available at superduperinc.com; however, through two new partnerships with Quill and Staples, products can now also be purchased at Quill.com and Staples.com.

Super Duper gears its products to kids ages 3 to 12, with an emphasis on children with special needs and communication or language delays. The products can be used with children at home, in the classroom, or in a therapy setting.

COMMENTARY: It’s Alive! Cool Tech Brings Animal Toys to Life

Kids are always begging for pets, especially around the holidays. “Can I have a puppy?” “I want a pony!” I’m sure you’re hearing it all. But if you’re not ready to make that huge commitment to a pet and a messy house (and perhaps all of the dog-walking responsibilities), new technology that’s available is truly bringing animal toys to life.

Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole

Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole

The Hexbug line, from Innovation First, has used new tech to make robotic Hexbug critters that crawl on battery power. Two of the company’s newest lines expand upon this technology to make it even better. The Hexbug Nano V2 critters are gravity-defying bugs that can climb vertically through tubes. The Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole play set, the Nano V2 bugs can climb vertically, horizontally, and around corners. Kids can unleash their creativity by customizing the design and layout of the three-story set. The play set also comes with special accessories including a spiral tube and a black funnel.

The Hexbugs Aquabot line features robotic fish that really swim in water. The micro-robotic creatures have Smart Fish technology that allows it to swim, dive, and change directions. You don’t have to worry about feeding it or cleaning its tank. Aqua bots are available in five translucent colors and designed for kids ages 3 and up. [Read more...]