Courtesy of Sprig
From pouches made from Barbie clothing scraps to battery-free flashlights and bamboo cars, this year, "green" toys were everywhere. We saw some really cool kid-powered toys, like a penguin flashlight from Russimco that you pump to power, and this car made from reclaimed plastics by Sprig Toys that tells a story when you push it. Packaging is going green too as companies like Plan Toys and Russimco use more earth-friendly inks and biodegradable boxes.
Courtesy of intellitoys
#2: Online Extras
Hitching their wagon to the uber-success of Webkinz, a number of toy companies are coming out with toys that can be registered online to unlock a whole virtual aspect of play. New Webkinz, Bella Sara trading cards, and Gigapals all grant kids access to exclusive online games and activities. Other companies like Intellitoys bring the Internet directly to the toy when you plug it in and download new songs, games, and interactive stories on to it.
Courtesy of Ty, Inc.
#3: Safe Social Networking
The Internet + kids = worry for parents. Toy manufacturers are listening and have come out with products with online components that safeguards kids' safety on the Web. Ty's Beanie Babies site includes chat rooms where only "Ty vocabulary" can be used (this way, no personal or sensitive info your child types in will show up). VTech and other companies have areas of their sites where kids can select from a pre-set list of responses, helping them to understand what's safe (and not safe) to post online.
Courtesy of Hasbro
#4: Is It Real?
Incredibly lifelike toys blew us away this year -- and may just buy you a few more years of dodging the whole "Can I get a dog?" question. Hasbro has an actual-size dog called Biscuit who pants and responds to obedience commands. Playskool's Kota the Triceratops responds to sound and touch and -- cool! -- kids can ride her too. Mattel's Little Mommy Real Loving Baby Gotta Go Doll teaches kids about potty training by going #1 and #2 (don't worry, you just get the sound effects).
Courtesy of Sababa Toys
#5: Back to Basics
With so many worries over toy safety, parents are turning to old-school toys, especially those made from wood. From straight-from-the-woodshop block sets by Tree Blocks (so natural, some still have bark), to Front Porch Classic's wooden Classic Magic 8 Ball, wooden toys have simple, sturdy, just-like-I-used-to-have appeal. Get even more nostalgic with the re-issue of Fisher-Price Classics (remember the Chatter Telephone?) from Sababa Toys and retro versions of Tiddly Winks and the Beetle Game by Russimco.
Courtesy of Hasbro
#6: Glide Bike
Changing the way kids will learn to ride bikes, we saw glide bikes go mass market this year with bikes from Melissa & Doug and Playskool that will make training wheels a thing of the past. This learn-to-ride bike is supposed to help kids learn to balance better than training wheels, so kids move right to a pedal bike when they're ready.
Courtesy of Hasbro
#7: Toys That Get Kids Moving
A continuation of last year's big trend, we saw lots of toys aiming to sneak exercise into indoor play (so no more couch potato kids). Kids can watch themselves with Playskool's Dance Cam, which hooks up to your TV, or shake it with Tiger Electronic's U-DANCE game, an updated Dance Dance Revolution-style game without the mat.
Courtesy of Mattel
#8 Bilingual Toys
Moving way beyond Dora, bilingual toys were huge this year. Mattel's Manny Talkin' Tool Box talks to kids in both Spanish and English, while Chicco's Bilingual Sing 'N Learn Kangaroo and LeapFrog's Learn & Groove line changes languages with the push of a button. LeapFrog also has an "electronic flashcards" hand-held for teens that not only helps them with translations, but pronunciation, too.
Courtesy of LEGO
#9: Dinos Rule
Dinosaurs once again ruled the earth -- at least at Toy Fair. Almost all of the major toy companies had new dino-themed products: LEGO DUPLO has a series of dinosaur toys kids can build on and Mattel's Hot Wheels has a new T-Wrecks set that's actually meant to be set up and destroyed over and over. Kids will love the lifelike D-Rex Dinosaur from Mattel as well as Fisher-Price's Spike the Ultra Dinosaur, which can walk, roar, and stand up with the press of a button.
Courtesy of Corolle
Toys are starting to resemble the growing diversity of consumers. Melissa & Doug will have Asian and African-American families to go along with their dollhouses, while Corolle is adding a new African baby to their line called Calin Naima. Also, Learning Curve's new dollhouse sells family members individually so you can mix and match.
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