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On With The Show

Toy manufacturers take center stage at the 2006 American International Toy Fair

Talk about a casting call.

More than 1,500 toy, game and other children’s entertainment product manufacturers, reps and importers from upwards of 30 countries will put their best foot forward, so to speak, during the 2006 American International Toy Fair. They’ll exhibit in hopes that one of their thousands of new products will become the star of someone’s in-store “show,” be it at Wal-Mart, the corner specialty store, Toys “R” Us, online or elsewhere.

The good news for 2006 is that the chance of success for even the smallest Toy Fair exhibitor continues to grow as retail opportunities expand for manufacturers of all sizes. According to show organizers, there will be more than 9,800 buyers at this year’s event, up 10 percent from 2005. Among those who will walk the aisles of the Jacob K. Javits Center, the International Toy Center and other showroom locations, are buyers from a host of merchants not traditionally known for stocking toys—retailers like Gap, Best Buy and Urban Outfitters.

What they’ll see is a diverse selection of children’s entertainment options, from activity kits to xylophones, action figures to video games, featuring the latest technology, the newest licenses and the freshest ideas the most fertile minds in the toy business could conjure.

The following pages spotlight just a fraction of the products on display at the show. Additional products can be found online at www.playthings.com. We hope you find what you’re looking for.

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Keeping hands busy

Action Products International, Orlando, Fla., features new products from its Jay Jay the Jet Plane, I DIG, Curiosity Kits and I Made That brands. Curiosity Kits is in for a brand re-launch in 2006 and will introduce a variety of new products, including Junior Bureau of Investigation kits and the Easi-Art Maker oven. The kits are designed for ages 6 and up and range in price from $4.99–$9.99. The newly acquired I Made That line features “build-it-yourself” furniture kits. Four new kits will be introduced in 2006, designed for ages 4 and up and ranging in price from $25.99–$49.99. I DIG Excavation Adventures kits feature ancient beasts, prehistoric sharks, King Tut and new dinosaurs. The kits are designed for ages 6 and up, and range in price from $11.99–$24.99. Jay Jay the Jet Plane Tarrytown Bead Coaster, which retails for $39.99, was developed to build hand-eye coordination and color recognition in toddlers ages 18 months and up.

Adora gives life

Adora, Edison, N.J., introduces new designs from both its Name Your Own Baby collection and International Series. The Name Your Own Baby collection offers a wide variety of dolls, with choices of hair color and style, eye color, gender, skin tone and face design. Each doll is 20–22 inches tall and weighs four pounds. Tyee is new from the International Series—a limited edition collection of dolls based on cultures from around the world. Each doll is dressed in a costume representing its homeland and heritage.

All Adora dolls retail between $80–$180 and are designed for ages 3 and up.

Let there be light

Outdoor play no longer ends when the sun goes down. The new Skylighter flying disc, by Aerobie, Palo Alto, Calif., lights up the night sky with high-power LEDs that provide illumination to the disc and its colorful, translucent rim. Skylighter flying disc is designed for ages 10 and up, with a suggested retail price of $14.99.

Jump around!

Jumparoo Anti-Gravity Frog Pogo stick from Air Kicks Inc., Seattle, promotes kids’ fitness and retails for $79.99. The pogo stick features rubber T-springs that allow kids ages 4 and up, between 26–62 pounds, to jump up to 2-feet high. A wide base and high-traction treads increase stability and balance and reduce the risk of falling off. Motion-activated, electronic frog sounds can be switched off, and a non-marring base can be used indoors or out. For older kids, Jumparoo Anti-Gravity Pogo, also $79.99, comes in three sizes suitable for ages 4 and up, from 33–176 pounds, and features an adjustable-height “joystick” for steering.

Art is just the start

Alex, Northvale, N.J., introduces the Little Hands line of art supplies, craft kits, and soft puzzles for preschoolers. New items include chunky and chubby crayons, paints, chalks and markers in addition to I Feel stamps—eight rubber stamps with faces representing different emotions. Funky Artist is a 12-piece, textured brush set with poster paints.

New introductions also include the Super Embroidery Kit, Sew Fun, EZ Fleec-y, Ruggedy Rug Crochet, Knot A Quilt, Home Tweet Home, My Scrapbook Case, Funky Felt Jewelry, Belt Loops, My Ballerina Stool and Butterfly Clip Strip. Suggested retail prices run the gamut from $9.99–$49.99.

LB Kids, New York, is launching an Alex publishing program that includes arts and craft books packaged with Alex’s art supplies, as well as other book projects inspired by Alex’s line. The first five books are set to launch in the fall.

Dainty dolls

Alexander Doll Company, New York, has plenty of new arrivals this year, including the Pampered Baby Huggums Gift Set, Say It with Pink Gift Set and Baby Goes Potty Set, with suggested retail prices ranging between $50–$90. A new partnership with the American Ballet Theatre inspired two 10-inch Cissette dolls—Swan Lake’s Odette and Swan Lake’s Odile—each for $89.95.

The French Kitty play doll line, based on the children’s book collection, expands with Bon Voyage French Kitty, In the Pink French Kitty and Muy Caliente Leticia retailing for $24.95 each.

New plush dolls with movie tie-ins include Wendy Loves Curious George for $84.95, King Kong the 8th Wonder of the World for $149.95, Charlotte’s Web and Wendy Loves Kermit the Frog, both for $79.95. Three new Wizard of Oz licensed dolls include the Wicked Witch of the East, Off to Oz and Wendy’s Wicked Ways, all ranging between $90–$130.

Keep on truckin’

American Dimestore, Castro Valley, Calif., continues to roll out 1:43 scale plastic cars and trucks for collectors and O-gauge railroad hobbyists, each retailing for about $6. New American Dimestore models are designed by owner Bill Hanlon to recall vintage vehicles from the 1940s and '50s with convertibles, sedans and service trucks.

Speed Racer revamped

Art Asylum, New York, has secured a license for the Classic Speed Racer TV series from Speed Racer Enterprises, Santa Monica, Calif., to create an updated version of the racecar franchise for toys, collectibles, animated promos and music. Art Asylum will create all-new, animated, promotional “webisodes” that will be launched this summer on the Web and also come packed with the new toy line hitting retail stores in the fall. The first promotional episode will be screened at Toy Fair, and a soundtrack with all-new music will hit stores in the fourth quarter. Other new licenses for Art Asylum include Madballs from American Greetings, Battlestar Galactica, Clive Barker’s Jump Tribe, and Advanced Play System’s Arc Tiles.

Basketball babies

AthleticBaby, Dallas, introduces its latest DVD title, AthleticBaby Basketball, which features musician Eddie Coker. The basketball-themed fitness workout—designed by NBA coach Don Casey—is aimed at babies and toddlers 3 months and up, and retails for $16.99.

Dog play by Aurora

Based on the success of its toy pet carriers, Aurora, Pico Rivera, Calif., is introducing a line of pet carriers and other products for real animals, retailing for $3.99–$44.99. Pet carriers, for small (8 pounds) and medium (15 pounds) size dogs, feature a zipper closure, dual handles and a see-through mesh water bottle holder. Real pet apparel includes adjustable bowtie collars and dress-up outfits. All are available in leopard, dalmatian and pink heart designs. Plush pet versions are also available with a jungle or sea life theme. Each doll comes with a mini pet carrier.

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Active babies

BabyPro, Elizabethtown, Ky., introduces the latest addition to its video series, developed by Lara Hayes Needham, Ph.D., to combat childhood inactivity and obesity. The sports-themed series features short, 10-minute chapters in a “no repeat” format. The newest title, Let’s Dance & Tumble!, features introductions to cheerleading, dance and gymnastics. BabyPro DVDs retail for $12.98–$14.98.

Timeless Teddy Ruxpin

Back Pack Toys, Milford, N.H., offers a Teddy Ruxpin boxed set that includes a program cartridge, read-along storybook and picture book. Digital technology keeps Teddy Ruxpin’s eyes and mouth in sync as he tells his many adventurous tales. Five stand-alone story/software titles that run 20–30 minutes and include two stories each will be sold separately this year, with more titles to follow in 2007. Teddy Ruxpin retails for $69.99, with additional music and adventure titles available for $19.99.

Bewitching

Bandai Bandai America, Cypress, Calif., is introducing popular Japanese brand Magical DoReMi to the United States market, in a partnership with 4Kids Entertainment. The toy line features a variety of dolls and role-play props debuting in the first quarter, designed for children ages 4 and up. Suggested retail prices range from $5.99–$19.99. Bandai is expanding its Teen Titans brand with miniatures that have a game component and collectible and deluxe figures with accessories, vehicles and role-play items. An LCD game that doubles as the Titans’ battle communicator interacts with specially packed game cards that come with each toy. For preschoolers, Bandai introduces Firehouse Tales vehicles, playsets and bath toys based on the series from the Cartoon Network. In other news, Bandai has increased its Web presence for a number of brands such as the Power Rangers and Tamagotchi. A new line based on the Cartoon Network series, Ben 10, is also in the works.

Basic fun for all

Basic Fun, South Hampton, Pa., is introducing a variety of new categories in addition to its new keychains. Highlights include Atari 2600 games in a keychain plug-and-play, and licensed iPod skins featuring the following licenses: Napoleon Dynamite, Family Guy, It’s Happy Bunny, Pirates of the Caribbean, Tinker Bell, Hello Kitty, the NBA, Andy Warhol and Naruto.

Bathtime fun

Big Boing LLC, Emeryville, Calif., is expanding its Tub Tunes, Super Fort and Get-Up lines.

In 2006, the Tub Tunes line will include a Water Piccolo ($4.99) and a Water Trumpet ($14.99), while new Space and Castle Theme Sets increase the Super Fort line. The new kits stand alone or can be mixed and matched with the original dynamic fort building system.

The Waterslide is the first entry in Big Boing’s newest line of bathtime products. It features interchangeable pieces that allow kids to design their own slides.

Beads for tweens

The Bead Shop, Milwaukee, Wis., debuts Expose the Toes! Barefoot Sandals Kit, which helps tweens design beaded ankle bracelets with toe loop extensions. Each set makes 12 pair of barefoot sandals and 14 matching bracelets.

The Love to Knit! Hug This Shrug Kit helps tweens make a shrug in less than four hours, and comes with a free Shrug Pin Kit with decorative beads. In•dear•rings Interchangeable Magnetic Jewelry lets users make necklaces, bracelets and rings that have interchangeable magnetic inlays, so wearers can swap daisies, hearts, etc. from finger to wrist to throat. The Pom Pom Jewelry Kit Glass comes with enough glass beads and sequins to make five rings, five pairs of earrings, three necklaces and lots of bracelets.

Card games

The year is A.D. 1348, and workers and servants are dropping like flies. Gong Fermer works 16-hour days. His small plot of land is overgrown, and he can’t tend to it. If that isn’t enough, this lowly servant is sick and tired of being ridiculed while he works. All he has is his shovel, bucket and his “pride.” Gong has chariots, horsemen and weapons of destruction to support his kingdom. Is revolt conceivable? Can and will Gong Fermer get revenge, or will the Black Plague do the dirty work for him? Make history by playing this fast-paced strategy card game introduced by Beckin Marketing Concepts, Burnsville, Minn. Designed for ages 8 and up, the game retails for $34.99. Booster packs will also be available.

Pose and re-pose

Wiggle Wonder ($4.99) is a shape-memory interactive toy from Bendable Plastic, West Hills, Calif. Toy figures can be posed in 3-D positions and will hold their shape until exposed to warm water or strong sunlight, both of which will transform the figures back to their original 2-D shape. Wiggle Wonder is available in 20 package styles, each containing six to nine figures such as bees, beetles, butterflies, spiders, flowers or people. The product is recommended for ages 5–15, retailing for $4.99.

Healthy plush

In a twist on the phrase “play with your food,” Biltmore World Trade, Tempe, Ariz., introduces Soy Silk Pals—a line of plush toys with exteriors made of all-natural soy silk fiber derived from tofu. Characters include the 16-inch Tofu Bear, 14-inch SOYnia Bunny and 7-inch Little EDamame Bear, each retailing for $40.

Making tracks

Box Train Express, Scottsdale, Ariz., introduces its “wearable” corrugated box train cars. The trains come in a variety of styles including a steam engine, two different box cars and a caboose. Also available is the Coloring Playset, a black-and-white version that allows children to color, decorate and personalize their own train. Each Creative Playset, for kids 18 months and up, retails for $29.95.

Brainy babies

The Brainy Baby Company, Alpharetta, Ga., targets children ages 2–5 with the 6-disc DVD collection Brainy Baby Preschool Learning Pack for $79.95. The series includes ABCs, 123s, Art, Music, Animals and Shapes & Colors, with each disc designed to heighten the viewer’s knowledge of the topic.

Horsing around

Breyer Animal Creations, Pequannock, N.J., introduces Baby Breyer Plush, a baby-safe line for a new generation of collectors. Nickers is a Lullaby Horse that plays soothing music and features a gentle, rocking motion that will convince even the toughest sleeper to nod off quietly. The Wrist Rattle Horse features a velcro closure to fit even the smallest of baby wrists, and Squishy Horse features jingle bells in its belly to entertain the youngest of horse lovers.

Characters in cards

Briarpatch, Millburn, N.J., introduces preschool card games featuring Spider-Man, Captain America, Hulk and other Marvel characters like Storm, Wolverine and Spider-Girl.

Spider-Man & Friends Gotcha and Spider-Man & Friends Hide & Seek are for ages 3 and up. Gotcha features see-through character cards, so kids can change color backgrounds to create many variations for matching ($5.99). Hide & Seek uses 24 character cards plus 24 clue cards for two ways to play: hide-and-seek or memory. Players take turns flipping over a clue card, then turning over and peeking at a character card while trying to match colors and shapes ($12.99). Also offered are Spider-Man Crime Stopper Card Game for 2–4 players, ages 6 and up; Spider-Man Web Slinger Game, in which players place see-through web cards atop villain cards; and Spider-Man Ultimate Power, where Spidey moves across a game mat to defeat eight villains ($14.99).

Briarpatch also introduces a line of The DaVinci Code-inspired products for ages 8 and up. Offerings include DaVinci’s Challenge Mancala ($17.99), DaVinci’s Challenge Card Game and DaVinci’s Challenge board game ($6.99). Briarpatch will also be marketing seven new games based on Disney licenses, including a Buzz Lightyear Counting Game, The Little Mermaid Happily Ever After Card Game, Princess Wishes Card Game, That’s SO Raven Fortune Telling Card Game, That’s SO Raven Tell It Like It Is Game, Pooh Tales of Adventure Card Game and Pooh’s Scavenger Hunt Game.

Briarpatch adds I Spy Eagle Eye to its I Spy series of games, with a bell that players ages 5 and up race to ring ($17.99). The NerdyWordy game comes with two slotted crossword trays, a lift-up screen to prevent peeking and letter cubes from A–Z, including blanks. Players select letters that both must use to spell out words by dropping them into their crossword trays. Players create as many one-to-five letter words as possible, scoring bonus points by spelling words within words ($14.99). For more math-oriented players , Briarpatch now has a board game version of Sudoku, with 81 double-sided and color-coded number tiles stored inside the board. A booklet of 50 puzzles is included ($19.99).

Education hatches

The R-Com three-egg digital incubator from Brinsea Products, Titusville, Fla., is menu-driven and easy to use. Just choose between one of the five settings (chicken, duck, pheasant, quail or mystery bird), and the micro-controller holds the correct temperature and length of incubation with no further input from the user. The display counts down each day to tell you when eggs are due to hatch. All users need to do is periodically top with water. The product is set to retail for $99.

Bigger is better

Super-sized is the order of the day from Buffalo Games, Buffalo, N.Y., with larger-sized puzzles for little hands. Six designs—Brooklyn Bridge, Old World Map, Neuschwanstein Castle, Birth of Venus, The Last Supper and Washington Crossing the Delaware—comprise the 2,000-piece series. Each $18–$20 puzzle measures 3 feet by 2 feet when completed.

Artwork from Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post and paintings from the Hautman Brothers highlight 300-piece puzzles. Each $8.99 puzzle comes with a foldout poster.

Flying high

Butterwheels, San Mateo, Calif., specializes in heirloom-quality, wooden toys. Adventure Flyer and Air Racer are the latest new products. Adventure Flyer is modeled after a 1930s, single-engine aircraft. Air Racer mimics the classic teardrop shape of a 1930s racing airplane. Each vehicle comes with a collectible card illustrating the story and the simple concepts that go with it. The planes are designed for kids ages 3 and up and retail for $19.95 each.

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Buzztime continues for Cadaco

Cadaco, Chicago, expands on its Buzztime Home Trivia System with Buzztime Head-on Trivia Challenge, a handheld trivia game where players can compete against others by transmitting wireless signals to the other players’ handsets. Players take turns sending questions, and everyone answers simultaneously; up to four can play at once. Each game includes 1,800 questions in three different trivia categories—Everything, Sports and Entertainment—designed for ages 10 and up.

Cadaco is also celebrating the 75th anniversary of Tripoley with a special anniversary edition. The Tripoley 75th Anniversary edition is targeted to ages 10 and up and retails for $24.99.

Asian dolls

Carpatina Dolls, Nashua, N.H., expands its Fantasy Adventures line with the introduction of Ana Ming, an Asian girl. Ana Ming is the fourth doll in the Fantasy Adventures line, joining Emma, Julia and Isabella. Ana Ming, intended for ages 6 and up, will begin shipping in late summer.

All Carpatina dolls retail for $69–$74, with accessories and dresses ranging from $24–$38. Carpatina is also expanding the Girlfriends Collection with more fantasy and historical costumes.

Carrera in Hot Pursuit

Hot Pursuit PRO-X Deluxe digital racetrack system is the latest introduction from Carrera, Cranbury, N.J. The set combines an extra large, 1:24 scale racetrack with 1:32 scale vehicles. The race involves cops and robbers, as a Ford Mustang GT, in Highway Patrol colors with a roof mounted light bar, takes off in hot pursuit of the Chevrolet Corvette C6, both designed in original color schemes. Both of the digital cars come with Xenon front and tail lights with built-in brake light function that goes on when the vehicle slows down or stops. The new digital system lets you run multiple cars on the same track.

Puzzled artists

Ceaco, Watertown, Mass., introduces a variety of new and imaginative puzzles with unique and creative packaging, including tins and baskets. Two new licensed assortments from award-winning artist Mary Engelbreit are also in the lineup, with two new puzzles.

Also new on the list are oversized puzzles, glow-in-the-dark puzzles and corkboard puzzles. All puzzles are designed for ages 12 and up and range in price from $5.99–$10.99.

Learn to drive

Chicco, Lancaster, Pa., debuts the 4-in-1 Ride-On Car, featuring four different levels of play possibilities for children 9 months–3 years old. The product includes an electronic activity panel, a rocker, a push-and-walk and a sit 'n’ ride. Also look for the Playgym Deluxe, featuring an electronic playgym and activity table. Both products are set to retail for $59.99.

Very needy

Needies, from Codependent Designs, New York, are interactive plush dolls inspired by codependent, high-maintenance relationships. The attention-starved dolls compete with each other for human affection, or “getting touch,” as they like to say. When you give Needies “touch” by hugging and squeezing them, they’ll return your kindness with songs and flattery. Each Needie has a custom-developed, wireless electronic nervous system that it uses to talk, sing and feel hugs. Targeted to ages 14–24, Needies have a retail price of $59.99.

Crack the code

Keep ’em guessing is the idea behind Codebreaker, a board game by Cogno, St. Louis, Mo., where players are stumped and stump others.

Trying to match tile pairs, players write or draw their own codes on the back of cards to help them remember a match. The game is easy until players are forced to reveal their codes, and maybe even turn over a coveted pair. Codebreaker is suitable for all ages.

Cranium covers all

Cranium, Seattle, is launching a whole new line of products this year, ranging from games to activity products and books. In the game arena, they have something for everyone. Cranium Sounds of the Seashore ($16.95) for ages 3 and up, is a matching and memory game that incorporates the sights and sounds of a day by the sea. As for family games, Cranium introduces Cranium Zooreka, Cranium Tune Twister and Cranium Doodle Tales, all for players ages 8 and up ($16.95 each). For adults, the company offers its pop culture party game Cranium Pop 5 ($34.95).

Cranium is taking fun on the go with its Grab & Go Games line, which includes Grab & Go Jacks and Grab & Go Hoppity Winks, each for 4–6 players ages 6 and up ($9.95 each). Cranium attempts to encourage creativity and imagination with the launch of its new WonderWorks line of activity toys this fall. The line includes the Super Story Recorder, Talking Picture Book ($19.99 each) and Picture Studio ($9.99). Cranium also presents its new Giggle Gear line of quickly customizable, wearable creations such as Mega Mask ($19.99), Crazy Cap ($14.99), and Giggle Goggles ($9.99). In partnership with Little Brown publishers, four new Cranium Books of Outrageous Fun ($14.99 each) and the FunFolio activity book ($12.99) are set to hit store shelves this fall.

Corgi turns 50

Corgi USA, Fort Lee, N.J., celebrates its 50th birthday in style with new lines, extensions and twists on old favorites. Twisterz is a new line of vehicles with interchangeable parts for kids ages 3–7, powered by pulling them apart and twisting the front and backs together. Twisterz Twist N’ Launch Transporter is also new.

Corgi’s Comic Favorites category includes the Batman Bronze Age Collection Set: 1970s Batmobile and 1980s Batmobile with Batman and Robin metal figures. Marvel characters are also available in detailed spin-cast figures, including Spider-Man and The Thing.

In creating Baby’s First Wheels, Corgi has encapsulated vehicles in clear balls, so kids of all ages can play safely with toy cars. Go Go Rollers come in clear, three-ball tubes with a suggested price of $4.99; designed for ages 6 months–3 years.

Corgi Wheelz is an all-new line of multi-scaled vehicles and play sets that feature an assortment of licensed, small-scale versions of vehicles kids see in their own neighborhoods, including sedans, wagons, police cars, emergency vehicles, SUVs and mini-vans. Also included are a Car Wash, Service Station and a Police and Fire Station. Corgi Wheelz are for ages 3 and up.

Also available are Streakerz, die-cast vehicles that can perform stunts and tricks like racing upside down.

Corgi is adding six tools to its Heroes Under Fire line of limited edition collectibles; the WWII Collection features highly detailed dioramas, and the Vintage Bus Lines assortment’s 2006 replicas are highlighted by The Flexible Clipper Greyhound Bus Lines—Destination Cleveland.

Corolle revisits classic

Corolle, Grantsville, Md., is introducing its classic Bébé Do doll in a whole new way. Retailing for $75, the soft-bodied, 14-inch doll is dressed in white velour pajamas, and comes in a rattan Moses basket complete with a pink-and-white, ruffled liner. Featuring a sculpted face and eyes that open and close, the doll—for ages 3 and up—comes with a bunny, baby bottle and a small picture book with ideas to help care for the doll.

A crafty dab

Clarence J. Venne, Levittown, Pa., adds to its Crafty Dab line of school and craft products with Crafty Dab Kids Paint, Crafty Dab Kids Shimmer Paint, Crafty Dab Tub Art Paint, Crafty Dab PushUp Face Paint Crayons and Crafty Dab Stackable Face Paint Crayons. The products are designed for ages 3 and up, and retail from $1.99–$14.

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From puzzles to plush

Danawares, Montreal, will offer a Dora the Explorer Exploration Kit, Kaleidoscope Family Guy Adult Puzzle and Kaleidoscope Simpson’s Adult Puzzle, I’m Learning ABC with Max and Ruby, I’m Learning Numbers, and Counting with Max and Ruby, as well as Learning Max and Ruby Opposites puzzle. Max Practice Makes Perfect plush and Ruby Practice Makes Perfect plush dolls that teach dressing skills will also be available.

Dark Horse adds Snowtroopers

Dark Horse, Milwaukie, Ore., continues its import program of Kotobukiya large vinyl Star Wars figures. Look for figures based on The Empire Strikes Back and the Snowtroopers. The 11-inch vinyl model kits are targeted for ages 8 and up, with a retail price of $99.99. An 8-inch Conan The Avenger bust will be available in a limited edition of only 2,500 hand-numbered pieces.

Travel-friendly games

Daron Worldwide Trading, Fairfield, N.J., introduces Back Pack Games—games that are packaged in clear vinyl back packs, and designed for kids to use while traveling. With six different games to choose from, the Daron Mini Back Pack Games are targeted to kids 5 and up, at a price of $2.99 each.

Comic heroes

In anticipation of the Superman Returns movie, DC Direct, New York, offers a number of Superman statues, ranging from $50–$225, for fans and collectors. In the Gallery line, look for the Shazam! Deluxe Statue ($295), and The Return of Supergirl and The New Frontier action figures. The 13-inch Green Lantern and Hal Jordan with light-up battery join Lex Luther and Two Face figures in the collectors’ category. A new Who’s Who Mystery Box series, inspired by classic DC Comics characters, offers collectible mini-scenes in a “blind” mystery box with snap-together scenes and a piece of the Batmobile in each box. Looney Tunes Golden Collection offers a classic character figure such as Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck from memorable episodes from the animated series.

Fun with furniture

The Dora the Explorer Restickable Table and Chair from Delta Enterprise, New York, lets toddlers decorate the furniture with three pages of punch-out decals that can be used over and over to tell ever-changing stories. A hidden compartment in the tabletop lets children keep Restickables and supplies handy.

Figure this

Diamond Select Toys, Timonium, Md., introduces the Marvel Select: Days of Future Past Wolverine action figure. Diamond also adds to its Star Trek collection with The Next Generation season seven Riker and Worf Action Figures and Star Trek: U.S.S. Enterprise-E starship replica.

Also look for the Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Buffy and Dawn action figures, Street Fighter Minimates Series 1 and Stargate SG-1 Series 1 action figures. All products range from $8.99–$35.

Hello dolly!

The Dolly Adventures, Remsenburg, N.Y., offers a series of illustrated, hardcover books that promote interaction and teach life lessons. New titles are Dolly Goes to the Beach and Dolly Goes on Vacation, and each includes themed clothing that fits most dolls.

Sassy sacks

Douglas Company, Keene, N.H., is extending its Lil’ Nugget Sassy Saks line with six new products, including the Lil’ Nugget Sea Shell Saks for ages 2–6, which retail for $10. New to the Sassy Pet Saks line are the Monkey Sassy Pet Sak and Western Sassy Pet Sak. Each holds its own plush pet and is targeted to children ages 3–9, retailing for $22. Also new are Adventure Saks for ages 2–6, priced at $20, and themed knapsacks for ages 3–9 for $28.

DuneCraft gets back to nature DuneCraft, Chagrin Hills, Ohio, debuts its Mini Windowsill Greenhouse line, which includes the Banana Farm, the Princess Garden, Dragon’s Lair, Dinosaur Park, the Desert Hothouse and the Tropical Palm Oasis. DuneCraft’s second line is an array of Smart Tubes, including products called GobbledyGoop, Jelly Stones, Solar Beads, Space Sand, Super Snow, Vice Versa Balls and the Touch-N-Glow Ball. All products come with educational information and project and experiment ideas for home or the classroom.

Dynatech in the candy aisle

Taking a step into a new dimension, Dynatech Action, Toronto, has found a crossover toy for the candy aisle. Dynatech’s new Edibles are candy action figures with movable parts. Edibles have five articulating joints that let kids pose their characters, and there are a number of licensed characters to collect and eat. Staying in the candy aisle, Dynatech is also introducing a licensed candy product called FizzHeads. These flavored fizz tablets transform an ordinary glass of water into a soft drink.

Dynatech is also expanding its Atomic Blox line with its new Infinibuild system which adds movement to the light-up blocks so kids can build working creations.

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Easytoys goes 3-D

Easytoys, Baldwin Park, Calif., is launching 3-D Story Puzzle Painting Kits, 3-D Robot Puzzles, Cast It and Paint It Kits in 2006. The Story Puzzle Painting Kit includes puzzles, plaster figurines such as Snow White, Little Mermaid, Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and more for kids to paint and play. The Robodog and other robot puzzles come with plastic connectors to connect the puzzle pieces and enable the puzzle robot to strike multiple poses.

Additionally, the company jumps on the Sudoku craze with an electronic handheld game featuring one million number puzzles.

Clean clay for play

PlayFoam sculpting material ($9.99) from Educational Insights, Columbia, Tenn., lets users make shapes and figures over and over, as the material doesn’t dry out, won’t stick to skin or surfaces and requires no cleanup. There are six colors available in the PlayFoam Remoldable Sculpting Beads line, targeted to kids ages 5 and up. The PlayFoam Super-Duper Fun Factory ($49.99) includes six re-sealable bags of product—six pounds in all—in six colors. Educational Insights is targeting players ages 5 and up with a variety of games. New this year are Tetra Trax ($24.99), a puzzle game; Panda-Go-Round ($19.99), a memory and matching game; and Blokus Trigon ($29.99), a variation of the original Blokus. Let’s Pretend Grill 'n’ Go Camp Stove, for ages 3 and up, lets kids pretend to cook on a red light.

Off to see the wizard

The Wizard of Oz characters are recreated by Effanbee Doll Company, Hurley, N.Y., in a collection of vinyl dolls with detailed costumes and hand-painted faces. Effanbee’s Patsyette doll—dressed as Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion or the Scarecrow—comes with a display stand, and retails for approximately $79.99.

Turn on the learning

Elenco, Wheeling, Ill., now distributes the Tree of Knowledge ($6–$17.50) and Logiblocs ($5–$20) product lines.

The Tree of Knowledge line includes science, electronic, robot kits and more. Logiblocs is a system of switch-on electronic building blocks that plug together to make things happen.

Elenco also introduces its RC Snap Rover to the Snap Circuit product line.

More Potter

Elope, Colorado Springs, Colo., is moving to outfit Harry Potter-philes with a new line of ties and scarves featuring the colors and logos of each of the Hogwart’s houses ($19.99 each). Fans of the newest professor at Hogwart’s, Mad Eye Moody, will also have a chance to don a replica of his swiveling eye patch.

Elope is expanding its headwear offerings with a new Ocean Creature line designed to hook young marine lovers with designs based on a puffer fish, starfish, crab, lobster and octopus, each with a secret pocket containing a printed fortune ($19.99–$24.99).

Elope also introduces the Rainbow Birthday Princess Cone ($8.99), a special party hat in rainbow colors with a sheer veil and marabou lining along the edge. Large letters spell out “Birthday Princess” on the front.

Updating TV classics

Endless Games, Jersey City, N.J., debuts new DVD-centered games, including The Match Game DVD Edition ($24.99), Password DVD Edition ($24.99) and the Open Season board game ($19.99), based on Sony Pictures’ 2006 animated feature of the same name.

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Art of creation

Creative Hands gets busy in 2006, as the brand by Fibre-Craft, Niles, Ill., offers six themed Wood Paints Kits, including kits featuring Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants, along with new Cool Foam Art designs and Mini Nickelodeon kits. No glue is required with Cool Wax Art twistable wax sticks that adorn the figures included in both 25- and 50-piece sets. Reusable wax sticks come in both neon and primary colors, with eyes and mouths for creating faces.

Makeover My Space Funky 4-Room Loft comes with a fold-and-go dollhouse, posable foam doll and stickers to decorate the foam furniture. Retail price is $14.99 for the dollhouse with accessory packs ranging from $6.99–$7.99. Scrapbook beginners can learn the basics with the Memory Keeper butterfly, hearts and flowers kits. Everything needed to create a scrapbook—glue sticks, stickers and stamps—come in the starter set.

Fibre-Craft celebrates the 30th anniversary of its Creativity for Kids brand by introducing six new mini Creativity Kits ($5.99 each), including Race Car Night Light, Wood Flower Hanger, Flip Flop Frame, Bitty Bobble Duo kit, Petite Totes, Princess Crowns. The launch also includes Bobble Dino’s ($14.99, ages 6 and up), with a large dinosaur and baby dinosaur in an egg to decorate with markers and glitter, as well as 3-D diorama shapes; Cooking Up Fun ($17.99, ages 5 and up), with a chef’s hat, apron, cookbook, menus and more; Monster Trucks Custom Shop ($24.99, ages 5 and up), offering an opportunity to customize four monster trucks with stickers and paint; Ancient Egypt Discovery Crafts ($17.99, ages 8 and up), which allows crafters to wrap a mummy, paint a sarcophagus and construct a pyramid-shaped bank. Awesome Origami ($14.99, ages 8 and up) lets users transform traditional origami designs into works of art, and make designs following step-by-step instructions; then add jewels, feathers, wiggly eyes and other fun embellishments.

Jungle fun

Going wild with animal print plush this year is Fiesta Toy, Vernon, Calif., with Jungle Fun Purse and Hats from $7.99–$9.99. Jungle Fun Purses come in four animal print styles that coordinate with Fiesta’s Animal Trolley Backpacks. The backpack unsnaps from its trolley frame, and straps pull out for different over-the-shoulder looks.

The jungle theme continues with Bendimals posable collection of cats, dogs, and jungle and farm animals in 10- and 15-inch sizes, retailing from $5.99–$9.99.

Ruxpin revival

Hard to believe it’s been 20 years since that talking teddy, Teddy Ruxpin and his pals took kids on various TV adventures. To celebrate the animated TV series, The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin, is available in DVD format from First National Pictures, Burbank, Calif.

The series debuts with The Journey Begins: Volume 1 and The Journey Continues: Volume 2, each featuring the first 10 episodes of the program. The two-hour DVDs include exclusive Baby Felix music videos, trailers and a cartoon for $14.98.

First National Pictures plans to release the entire The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin series over the next several years.

Flick it fun

A lunchroom game favorite, flick football, went to the next level a few years back with FIKI Sports’ leather triangle FIKI Football. The Torrance, Calif.-based toy maker now offers FIKI Baseball, with leather game ball and a replica outfield fence. Players slide the baseball along a tabletop to get it to hang off the edge without falling off for a grand slam. If the “baseball” goes off the table, the opponent tries to flick the ball over the fence for a solo home run. FIKI Sports is working with Major League Baseball to license the game. Plans also include the release of FIKI Soccer this year.

Making magic

A little light is all it takes to make some illusions with Glow in the Dark Magic by First For Magic, Grantsville, Md. Magicians can perform any of 18 tricks from an instructional DVD, or 40 tricks outlined in a booklet. The $19.95 set, for children ages 5 and up, includes a black light and performance table.

Water illusions are made simple for young magicians with the Magic Water Hat. Using the secret compartment and frog assistant, more than 100 tricks can be performed. Retail price is $29.99.

Growing up with toys

Fisher-Price Inc., East Aurora, N.Y., teams up with ESPN to offer outdoor sports equipment for preschoolers ages 2 and up. ESPN Grow To Pro Basketball matures with the child, as its backboard adjusts from 3 to 6 feet. It comes with a child-sized basketball and return chute ($39.99). ESPN Grow To Pro Baseball can be used three ways: Beginners can hit the ball from the tee; pop-up pitch play has balls that automatically pop up from the base; and the trainer mode auto-pitches three balls from up to 10 feet away. Sets include battery-powered trainer, bat and three balls ($24.99).

ESPN Grow To Pro Soccer has two levels of play. At the beginner level, sounds are triggered whenever the ball is kicked into the net, while “pros” have to hit an adjustable target to hear score sounds and the announcers shout “Goal!” The soccer set includes goal, net, adjustable target, two-player scorekeeper and ball ($19.99). For ages 5 and up, ESPN Grow To Pro Skates are inline skates with removable training wheels that help kids learn to balance. The skates include rear brakes and adjust to fit child’s sizes 9 through 13½, and adult size 1 ($19.99). ESPN Grow to Pro Switchboard has nothing to do with phones. Instead, it switches from scooter to skateboard ($19.99). To start the active lifestyle early, Baby Gymtastics Play System includes Play Wall, Activity Tunnel, Ball Toss, and Monkey Chase for kids from birth–36 months.

The 3-in-1 Rockin’ Gym converts to a rocking ride-on and travel toy ($44.99). For children 12 months and up, Peek-A-Blocks Bucket O’ Builders includes a set of 15 Peek-A-Blocks builder blocks. Bumpy building surfaces on tops and bottoms allow them to “stick and stack” together ($19.99). The Peek-A-Blocks Stack & Smile Crocodile Play Center plays music when blocks are stacked on its folded tail. Unfolded, there’s another stacking and storage surface where babies can “feed” the blocks into his storage tummy ($14.99). Laugh & Learn Learning Piggy Bank, for kids 6 months and older, teaches baby to drop coins in the slot to hear musical rewards as the bank counts, or press the “nose” for sounds and songs about counting, colors, and more ($14.99).

New to Fisher-Price’s Little People line are several products, led by the Little People Pirate Ship, for ages 2–5, which features a “talking” parrot, sleeping and eating quarters, hammock, “shooting” cannon, crows nest, and walking plank as well as a captain’s chair, table and two pirate figures ($20.99). Little People Lil’ Kingdom Palace includes a kitchen with removable table and chairs, a bedroom and a stairway that leads to the second floor “sitting” room with a drawbridge that lowers. Sets include King and Queen figures, horse, table, two chairs, bed and two fence pieces ($20.99). Little People Lil’ Movers School Bus and Airplane feature sounds, lights and music ($14.99). Little People Dinosaurs includes a Brontosaurus, T-Rex and Triceratops, mommy, baby dinosaur, egg with a hatching feature, figure, and play food ($9.99).

Star Station On-the-Go Player ($19.99) and Microphone ($14.99) lets kids ages 3 and up take their Kidz Bop music with them. One ROM cartridge featuring three songs is included. Music Library includes nine ROM packs.

GeoTrax All About Trains Motorized Starter Set with DVD includes 20 pieces for ages 2½ and older ($24.99). For girls 2 and up, My First Dollhouse ($32.99) contains five rooms, plus sound effects, figures, and removable accessories. Snap ’N Style Dolls let preschoolers dress up their dolls ($9.99). For boys ages 4 and older, Imaginext Dinosaurs add Spinosaurus and the Mammoth ($14.99) to the collection. Fisher Price celebrates 10 years of Tickle Me Elmo with T.M.X. ($34.99), debuting in September '06. Other Sesame Street launches include Sing 'n’ Giggle Tool Bench ($49.99) with 40 sound effects and an assortment of play tools and Bird’s the Word Elmo ($19.99) has the character singing, dancing and telling bird jokes.

The Winnie the Pooh line welcomes Turbo Tail Tigger ($24.99), an animated plush toy; infant toy Magic Rattle 'n’ Ride Pooh ($29.99); a 4-in-1 Friendship Flip Phone ($9.99) and the singing Friendship Radio ($12.99). The I Can Play Piano ($79.99) system hooks up to a TV to teach music skills; eight optional game cartridges ($14.99) are based on popular cartoon characters.

The Nickelodeon line expands to include: Sing & Spin Pablo ($29.99); Diego’s Talking Animal Center ($39.99); the Bad Breath Blaster SpongeBob ($19.99); the radio-controlled RC Boating School ($34.99); Dora’s Talking Cash Register ($39.99); Fairy Wishes Dora ($39.99); the multi-lingual Sing Around the World Dora ($19.99); and Air Launch Aang with Appa ($29.99), based on the show Avatar.

Wild about the puppets

Sierra Club licensee Folkmanis, Emeryville, Calif., adds elephant, swan and flamingo puppets to its wildlife collection, all with pull-ring animators for little fingers. The pull-ring device allows children ages 3 and up to maneuver the puppet with simple finger movements for a realistic appearance. The Elephant moves his trunk up and down, and retails for $44, while the 14-inch long plush Swan can flap its wings freely or be brought together with mini magnets at the tips for $33. A 22-inch plush Flamingo has a moveable neck and retails for $30.

Front Porch got games

Front Porch Classics, Seattle, unveils six new games. Planned for release in 2006 are: Liars Dice, a game of bluffing and chance said to have been created by the ancient Incas; Bookshelf Edition Raceway ’57, featuring all the elements of the original game; Surakarta, an ancient game of strategy direct from the Indonesian archipelago; League of Pirates, a fast-pace game of cut throat action from the world of Dread Pirate; Bookshelf Edition WordSpot; and Boneyard Dominoes.

Of magic and monsters

Las Vegas magician Mac King shares some industry secrets with Magic in a Minute, a line of 11 magic tricks by Fundex Games, Indianapolis. Make a finger come to life with the Mummified Monkey Finger, or get into the mind of Mac with Mental Floss.

Monsters Under My Bed makes gross things fun, as kids reach under the “bed” in this 3-D action game where players match disgusting objects to their game card.

Fundex celebrates the 25th anniversary of its Phase 10 card game with a brushed-aluminum tin and specially designed cards. Also for 2006, the company brings European card games, Halli Galli Kidz and 8½ to the American market.

Non-stop bubble fun

Imagine no end to the bubble making power kids can have with The One and Only Gazillion Bubbles toys by Funrise Toys, Woodland Hills, Calif.

The Gazillion Typhoon and The Gazillion X-Stream Linkz are two new bubble-making machines available this spring. Colorful bubbles come from The Gazillion Micro Linkz, while two rotating wands control The Gazillion Gazapper.

Fans of Fan Yang, the Guinness World Record holder for bubble making, can now make their own “world’s greatest” bubbles with the Gazillion Fan Yang Bubbles blowers and solution. Kids ages 3 and up can create bubble magic with toys like the IncrediBubble Wand, Micro Bubble Blaster and Unbubblelievable Bubble Maker. Fan Yang toys retail for $3.99–$12.99.

Gazillion brings the fun to bath time with the Nemo Bath Tubbler in its Disney Bubble Blower collection, along with the Tigger Bubble Blower.

Funrise is also partnering with Schylling, Rowley, Mass.s, to re-introduce the ’90s collectible POG with a new twist. POG will be available in foil packs, containing five POG discs, and a Slammer (a heavier game piece, used to flip the POG). Funrise is also offering POGs in Baseball, Hockey, Basketball, POG Football, Soccer, Casino Night, and Word Builder themes ($3.99–$14.99).

G

Who’s game?

Something for everyone—from the preschooler with Feed the Kitty, a cat and mouse dice game, to Luck of the Draw—is available from Gamewright, Watertown, Mass.

Card games for the elementary school-age demographic include a Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition of Rat-a-Tat Cat for $11.99; UglyDoll Card Game with OX and Wedgehead and the gang and Match of the Penguins, all for $9.99; and Thing-a-ma-Bot, a fast-paced memory card game for $5.99. Kids can feel like race car drivers playing Top Speed, a card game that has players racing through high-scoring car lanes. Zeus on the Loose, for two to five players, uses math and strategy to get the Greek god back to Mt. Olympus while encountering other mythic giants retails for $9.99.

For the older crowd, Combo King is a challenging dice game based on 60 combinations. For two to four players, the family game is $14.99. Luck of the Draw requires little skill but a lot of drawing, as players draw the same subject and vote on the best depiction in a category. The $19.99 family party game comes with subject and category cards, timer, paper and pencils, voting wheel and colored chips.

Getting dicey

It’s all about the number eight when playing ¡Ocho!, a dice and card game by Gameware Publishers, Lubbock, Texas. Players ages 8 (naturally) and up alternate rolling dice and dealing cards to get 88 game-winning points. ¡Ocho! comes in two versions—Casino and Party—each with a deck of cards with three colored suits, three dice and rules. Unsurprisingly, the suggested retail price is $8.

Brad Pitt and who?

Knowing who’s who in pop culture will put players in good stead during Fame & Fortune by Games For All Reasons, Arlington, Mass. Players act out clues for their partners to guess a famous Hollywood or elite couple, or musical duo from nearly 500 cards before time runs out. Switch partners throughout the party game to even out the score. Additional points can be made by correctly guessing highlighted celebrity pairs. Fame & Fortune is available as an expansion set for $9.99 or as a set with Paired Up party game for $24.95 at specialty retailers.

Puzzles with personality

Geomag, Rancate, Switzerland, introduces Dekopanels ($25–$249), transparent, personalizable panels that add either a structural or aesthetic element—or both—to the company’s magnetic rod construction toy system. Kids insert a photo or drawing into the differently shaped panels, and add them to a structure built of Geomag pieces for a 3-D puzzle. Dekopanels come with a CD-ROM of DekoImage software, to open, rotate, resize, and copy images of any kind into the shape of the chosen panel.

Never forget a face?

'Bouta Face, from Grape Games, N.Y., is a new double-sided, matching game for two to four players ages 8 to adult ($7.99). Cards in the deck have no fronts, backs, numbers, or suits—just 11 faces. Players win cards by matching a face showing in a special row of cards in front of each opponent called the “match row.” The matcher can use only the face-down images on cards in their own match row to make a successful match with face up cards in an opponent’s match row.

GreenLight builds muscle

GreenLight Collectibles, Indianapolis, introduces its Muscle Car Garage Series 1, which includes six 1:64 scale model classic cars from the late '60s and early '70s. The collection includes a 1967 Pontiac GTO Convertible, 1968 Chevy Impala SS, 1969 Mustang Boss 302, 1969 Mustang Boss 429, 1970 Mustang Convertible and a 1971 Chevy Camaro Z28. Each limited-edition car—officially licensed by General Motors or Ford—is available in two colors.

Magnetic attraction

Magneatos is a jumbo magnetic construction toy from Guidecraft USA, Englewood, N.J. Similar to sets made for older children, the large pieces and bright colors of the magnetic balls and rods are designed for younger builders ages 3 and up. Magneatos are available in 36-, 72-, and 144-piece sets and retail between $30 and $100.

Two by two

Gund, Edison, N.J., debuts Puppet Island finger puppets. Some 12 different 5-inch puppets come in six boy-girl couples ($6 a pair). These include turtles, piglets, lions, teddy bears, cows, and frogs. Girl puppets have fluffy hula skirts with small, sparkly flowers attached to the right sides and matching flowers on their heads. Boy puppets wear plaid shirts with embroidered palm trees and coordinating Bermuda shorts.

H

A real action hero

Moms get their own action figure in WorkingMom ($15) from Happy Worker, Toronto. The latest in the line of 6-inch, posable “everyday superheroes” joins characters GeekMan, BossMan, BossWoman and MoneyMan. WorkingMom comes with 10 accessories, including happy and frazzled mom heads, baby with changeable moods, purse, cell phone, to-do list, groceries, work heels and casual shoes.

Hasbro’s latest mission

For 2006, Pawtucket, R.I.-based Hasbro’s G.I. Joe Sigma 6 line is all about the missions. This latest G.I. Joe product line lets kids relive the action of 4Kids Entertainment’s Sigma 6 animated series with versions of G.I. Joe Sigma 6 Ninja Showdown and G.I. Joe Sigma 6 Dragonhawk.

Hasbro highlights Star Wars in 2006 with a series of Star Wars-themed Transformers, new Star Wars Basic Figures, Star Wars Unleashed Battle Packs and Star Wars Electronic Lightsabers.

Speaking of Transformers, for 2006 Hasbro brings the property to the forefront. The company plans to introduce Transformers Cybertron Primus and six new figures from the Transformers Cybertron Deluxe Assortment: Cybertron Defense, Hot Shot, Downshift, Excellion Override GTS, Skywarp and Cannonball. Transformers Alternators will add Jeep Wrangler/Rollbar, Subaru Impreza and Dodge Ram SRT-10/Optimus Prime.

The Attacktix Battle Figure line expands in 2006 with new figures based on the Star Wars saga and the addition of the Transformers property in the fall.

Hasbro’s Battle B-Daman is a marble-shooting toy that combines the strategy of trading card games, the skill and competition of sports and the play pattern of traditional action figures into one. The product line, launched in 2005, expands in 2006 with new figures, marble shooters and games, including the B-Daman Target Challenge.

Prompted by the original I-Dog Interactive Music Companion, Hasbro’s Tiger Electronics division expands the product line with the introduction of a new black I-Dog and fashionable I-Dog accessories, including colorful clothing and stylish bags to take I-Dog on the go. As I-Dog hears music, its face will light up or its ears and head will wiggle and sway in sync with the tune; ages 8 and up; $29.99.

Don’t miss Hasbro’s new Titanium Series collectible die-cast 3-inch Star Wars vehicles, each featuring micro-detailing and action features, each with its own display stand. The first of several waves of 3-inch vehicles released throughout 2006 will be available in January. Included in Wave 1 are: Speeder Bike, Republic Attack Cruiser, Clone Turbo Tank and Titanium Limited White TIE Fighter.

There’s nothing worse than running out of ammo in the middle of a water fight. Now, with the introduction of the Super Soaker Max Infusion System from Hasbro, you’ll still be drenching your opponents while they’re stuck at the hose refilling their blasters. The new system adds an interchangeable, on-the-go water capacity system for non-stop action. There are five super blasters to choose from: Max Infusion Overload, Max Infusion Flash Flood, Max Infusion Arctic Shock, Max Infusion Helix and Max Infusion Defender. Super Soaker Mt. Tiki-Soki water volcano combines all the wild and wet action of Super Soaker with the fun of a sprinkler. Super Soaker also introduces the Oozinator blaster in spring 2006.

Hasbro’s Playskool brand introduces the following for 2006: Busy Ball Popper, Weebles Goldilocks’ Adventure Cottage, Wheel Pals Triple Track Tower, Mr. Potato Head Parts & Pieces Assortment, Cool Crew Charlie Coal The Grill and Electronic Shoot 'N Score Basketball.

In 2006, the My Little Pony brand introduces the Crystal Princess theme, with new ponies and pony playsets. The Twist & Style Petal Parlor playset gives girls’ favorite ponies a beautiful, stylish “pony-do,” and the Balloon Flying assortment takes My Little Pony on a high-flying adventure.

Dog charm

High IntenCity!, Fair Lawn, N.J., introduces Charm It Dog Tagz. The pendants ($7) feature colorful enamel, Swarovski crystal and dimensional dog icons designed to appeal to tween girls with themes such as friends, fashion, rainbows, dance, crowns, Hello Kitty, Disney and more. Charm It Dog Tagz are paired with silver or anodized pink, purple and blue ball-chain necklaces ($2) for mixing and matching.

Attention: young musicians

Hohner, Glen Allen, Va., is offering several new toy musical instruments for toddlers and preschoolers. For children 12 months and up, the company offers the Toddler Music Band ($29.99), the Toddler Glockenspiel ($19.99) and Musical Shapes ($3). Targeting children ages 3 and up, Hohner also offers another Glockenspiel ($29.99), Hand Drum ($8.99) and Bandy Bells ($3.99).

Healthy plush

From Hosung NY, Brooklyn, N.Y., comes the Blowin’ Wishes Magic Lantern, a plush bear with a lantern that really lights up and extinguishes ($14.99). Suitable for ages 3 and up, the lantern activates with a “magic wand,” and flickers realistically while the toy plays a lullaby.

Also for ages 3 and up, Hosung introduces Curious Puppy Lost ($19.99), a plush dog that sits up and lies down, barks, whimpers, sniffs, and gives his right paw when asked. The toy comes alive when given a pat on the head or scratch under the chin.

Hosung’s miYim organic toys are made and stuffed with certified organic cotton, grown without pesticides or herbicides, and dyed with natural plants and minerals to reduce toxicity and allergy levels. The bright-colored, European-style collection includes Storybook, Puppet Theater, Sleepy Time and Peaceful Dreams themes.

I

First steps online

Imaginative Minds, Toronto, is introducing four software titles ($19.99 each) for use with the Comfy EasyPC, a computer keyboard designed for toddlers and preschoolers, ages 3–5. In Comfy On-line, children surf through the Internet, accompanied by their friends from Comfyland. Animal World teaches about animals in earth, forest, water and snow environments through stories, games, creative arts and musical activities.

I Live Here explores Comfyland, a familiar neighborhood environment with the main character Comfy and his friends. Children will visit his home, neighbors, playground and park, and learn to drive various vehicles. Time Travel visits different cultures of the past. Children learn about dinosaurs and prehistoric man, visit Native Americans in their village and enjoy an alien’s visit from space with main character Comfy. World of Colors teaches children to name colors, compare objects, and match colors to specific objects, while enhancing observations and visual perception skills through the quest for Jumpy’s lost bone.

Back to the garden

Insect Lore, Shafter, Calif., capitalizes on the hot trend of youth gardening by rolling out The Backyard Bunch, Tools for Budding Gardeners. The new line of tools ($4.99–$7.99) and tool kits ($19.99) includes five characters—Manny the Mantis, Webster the Spider, Flutter the Butterfly, Buzzby the Bee and Dot the Ladybug—with child-sized gardening equipment for each. Aprons, hoes, hand shovels, gloves, kneeling pads and watering cans are made of durable materials and come in green, yellow, dark brown and red themes.

Choppers, hot rods race into play

Radio-controlled, foam-body indoor helicopter BladeRunner II ($99.99) by Interactive Toy Concepts, Toronto, zooms into the marketplace, followed by another sequel, Boydster II ($129.99), an R/C hot rod designed by Discovery Channel’s American Hot Rod show host Boyd Coddington.

Interactive also brings out the Super B-2 Spirit ($99.99), a foam-body R/C plane with a 40-inch wingspan based on a design licensed from Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. The catapult-launched Jack Knife Jets ($14.99) are gliders that once airborne allow the pilot on the ground to remotely adjust wing configurations to change flight patterns.

Dolls, dance and dinos

In the Earlyears line of developmental infant toys, Parsippany, N.J.-based International Playthings Inc., a subsidiary of Grand Toys Intl. Inc., debuts the Baby Dino Rocker ($99.99) and Lacing Beads. The rocker features a padded, plush dinosaur body with several textures to explore and a bell in its tail. Anti-tip, hardwood construction comes complete with safety handles and foot rests, for children 12 months and up. Lacing Beads ($19.99) develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination for children 18 months and up.

Also, iPlay Outdoor sand and water table ($69.99) breaks down into small stacking pieces for storage. It includes a snap-tight cover with recessed roadway for vehicle play, and comes with 10 accessories, including scoop, rake, shovel and spinning mills; for children 18 months and up. iPlay Games introductions include Bob the Builder in an action game called Tumbling Bob ($19.99). The player that can get all her paint cans to the top without knocking Bob over wins; for two to four players, ages 4 and up. In another new game, Jewel of Truth ($24.99), the “magical” crystal points to a player’s colored jewel. This player reveals a secret like or dislike, while others guess what they will say. If the answers match, players earn fortune cards. The first to collect five different cards wins; for two to four players, ages 8 and up.

Calico Critters of Cloverleaf Corners introduces a Baby Play House ($59.99). The bedroom and kitchen come with more than 20 furniture pieces and accessories. A hot air balloon goes up and down and a windmill rotates, turning the ceiling mobile inside as well. Other rooms can be added, such as the Baby Bathroom ($14.99); for ages 3 and up.

Star Party by Smoby lighted dance mat, Dancer Duo Lights ($54.99.), separates into two parts so a friend can play along. With four built-in melodies and 11 sounds, girls can either dance to a melody and add different lights and sound effects, or play a follow the lights game. The mat can be connected to a stereo or microphone for children 5 and up.

Finally, Götz dolls is introducing a 13-inch, ethnic, soft-bodied Muffin doll ($29.99), and a new outfit on the 18-inch Precious Day Girl Elisabeth ($59.99). Both are machine washable, and for children 3 and up.

J

Classic cars updated

Jada Toys, City of Industry, Calif., offers the “D-Rod” line of classic Ford cars, with custom interiors, engines, flames and graphic paint jobs to contemporary taste. D-Rods include ’31, ’34, and ’47 Fords in 1:24 scale ($11.99); and ’31, ’32, ’34, ’40, and ’47 Fords, as well as a ’37 Ford Pickup in 1:64 scale ($2.99). Jada is also promoting its new 1:18 scale 2006 Dodge Magnum die-cast and 1:6 scale RC, plus a new character and vehicle line, Chub City.

Beyond the mat

Jakks Pacific, Malibu, Calif., offers a variety of new TV Games for ages 5 and up ($19.99 each).

SpongeBob SquarePants 2: The Fry Cook games features nine games from Dessert Highboard diving to Grill Skating, a beat-catching game. In Power Rangers TV Games, five episodic games are tied together by an original storyline in which the Power Rangers must stop the Evil Ruler, General Grumm, and his Krybots. Each one includes a fighting, driving, and side-scrolling giant robot battle. Scooby-Doo TV Games offers new mystery games from driving to side-scrolling platform challenges featuring Shaggy, Fred and Daphne.

In Disney 2 TV Games, Donald Duck, Goofy and Minnie Mouse are featured in side-scrolling action, top down driving, puzzle-based games and more.

Jakks also introduces new WWE action figures ($9.99). Kids ages 8 and up can play out finishing moves in Deluxe Aggression, and each comes with a feature accessory item, such as a chair that shows a facial expression when “blasted” over another figure’s head. The Classic Superstars assortment shows famous wrestlers of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s as they looked in their heyday. Each Classic Superstar figure will contain one WrestleMania ticket from the past 22 WrestleMania events. Once fans collect all 22 tickets, they can turn them in for an exclusive Classic Superstar action figure.

Jakks’ American Kennel Club pet line features plush, treats and apparel for dogs. The Cat Fanciers’ Association pet line features toys, collars, harnesses, leashes, beds, carriers, apparel, food and treats for cats. Jakks’ Preschool Puppies focuses on puppy’s developmental needs. The dog toy assortment includes Wobble Ball, Plush Newspaper, Rubber Hydrant, Teether Pacifier, Plush Bone Rattle and Teething Ring. Deluxe assortment includes Buck-wheat Soother, Toothbrush Shaped Chew Toy, Ticking Pillow, Hide-A-Treat, and Chilly Bone. Preschool Puppies also features activity blankets, apparel, critter plush, and beds. Finally, Hamster World introduces licensed hamster living environments, including include Marvel and DC Comics-themed spaces.

Potty training fun

Toilet Buddies, from Jeckida, Staten Island, N.Y., are designed to help create an early awareness of the toilet bowl, reduce fear and anxiety and make toilet training a fun and positive experience. Gatago Giraffe, Poo P. Bunny, Puddles Puppy and Ca Ca Cow all easily adhere with Velcro-style fasteners onto a standard toilet bowl and are safe, non-toxic and simple to clean. Each character’s friendly head is displayed on the toilet’s tank, and when the toilet lid is lifted, the animal’s face appears with its eyes closed—for privacy, of course. In addition, the animal’s feet and other features adorn the rest of the toilet; retail price, $19.99.

What a joy!

U.K.-based Joy Toys is joining forces with American-based Top Shelf Holdings for a product re-launch under the brand name “Heritage Playsets.” New products from the Yorkshire, England-based company will include a deluxe castle with underground dungeon and a wildlife park complete with realistic animals.

K

Elf help

Käthe Kruse Puppen GmbH/Europlay Corp., Troy, N.Y., offers several new friends for children.

Strawberry Elf wears a red felt top and cotton skirt in a strawberry print. On her arm, she carries a magic strawberry. Her hair is made of natural fur. Elf Boy is dressed in a green felt vest, green cotton shirt and trousers, and a green striped cap with a wishing star. He also has white wings, and his red hair is made of mohair. The elves’ 7-inch bodies are stuffed with 100 percent sheep’s wool, and covered with cotton stockinet. Both are for children 3 years and up and retail for $33.80.

Also from Käthe Kruse is a Beanbag Unicorn ($24.90) for children 3 years and up. A vinyl doll, Nicky ($98) is dressed in a romper suit with a bear head print, a cap and a white shirt trimmed with pink-checkered fabric. With a movable head and hand-painted face, Nicky stands 13-inches tall and is hand-washable.

Kid’s galaxy

Morphibian Cobra ($25) rears its fang-bearing head from Kid Galaxy, Manchester, N.H. The radio-controlled, snake-themed vehicle rolls in mud and sand and floats in water.

Also from Kid Galaxy, the Pixelator Strategy Game ($30) is a board game that works via an electronic eye that responds to game cards, and lets children ages 6 and up design strategies and defenses.

The radio-controlled DRV (Detachable Recreational Vehicle) Truck and Snowmobile ($40) easily maneuver through the snowiest conditions.

Klutz

Klutz, Palo Alto, Calif., adds six titles to it’s Chicken Socks line for 4- to 6-year-olds. “Clothespin Cuties” ($9.95), “Crayon Rubbings” ($9.95), “Magic Painting” ($12.95), “Penny Games” ($19.95), “Pop Bead People” ($12.95) and “Super Scissors Book” ($12.95) continue the Klutz tradition of books that develop curiosity and creativity among young readers. Klutz is also adding titles to its 100% Klutz Certified line of books for ages 7 to 14: “It’s All About Me” ($14.95), a collection of personality quizzes; “Paper Fashions” ($19.95), do-it-yourself stationery outfits; and “Ribbon Purses” ($14.95), which let girls 9 and up create tiny purses from ribbon and beads.

Chop chop!

K’nex Industries, Hatfield, Pa., teams up with custom motorcycle maker Orange County Choppers of American Choppers to offer a line of officially licensed building sets for ages 8 and up. Paul Sr.’s After-Burner Bike represents classic design from the 1970s. The bright red set comes with stretch handlebars, chrome accents, a personalized paint job and a working headlight. Paulie’s All-Star Bike has a red, white and blue star motif and comes with custom rims, tire fenders, tank and a working headlight ($19.99). K’nex also introduces smaller versions of OCC’s choppers, this time in the form of 1:10 scale collectible, custom, multi-color bikes. New models include the blue Raptor Bike, the red T-Rex Bike, the green Serpent Bike and the purple Dragon Bike ($9.99 each).

For those who prefer freewheeling fun, K’nex also adds magnetic pieces to their 14- and 20-inch model-building sets to help kids create a wide variety of vehicles, including cars, airplanes with spinning propellers, and cranes with magnetized pick-up action, or to make their own designs. Both come with four magnets and three metal balls. The sets are for ages 6 to 12 and retail for $12.99–$19.99.

The power of knowledge

Kidz Delight, Westchester, Ill., introduces The Learning Library ($129.99), an electronic encyclopedia for kids ages 5 to 10. The Learning Library includes five CDs with hours of audio and 40 plastic cards on topics including the human body, nature and animals, the modern world, Earth, the universe and history. Children can test their knowledge with more than 40 games.

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Learn a language

Language Littles, New York, previously launched a series of cloth dolls introducing foreign language to kids ages 3 and up using interactive voices. Now, Teach-A-Tot cloth dolls, a brand extension of Language Littles, encourages kids to tie their shoes, comb their hair, blow their nose, go potty, etc. Each doll speaks the phrase, “I can do it myself,” to engage their owner to try it. The Teach-A-Tot brand is expanding into other toys and games for toddlers, including a book, building blocks, a car and puzzle.

Lauri builds up

Lauri Toys, Smethport, Pa., introduces the Tall Stacker Peg Building Set for children ages 3 and up. The set retails for $39.95 and is designed to expand the learning experience obtained from its Tall Stacker Pegs & Pegboard, and take it to the next level. The 3-D stacking set teaches children to think ahead as they plan where they will set the Tall Stacker Pegs to build the next platform, as well as teaching shapes, sizes and colors.

Remember memory

Learning Resources, Vernon Hills, Ill., features in its Safari Smart line the Alphabet Fun Frog, Count-n-Stack Giraffe and Shape Sorter Gator for ages 3 and up.

New to the company’s Smart Splash line are Memory Match Clams, Match & Hook Fish, and Letter Link Crabs for ages 2 and up.

Additions to Learning Resources’ Pretend & Play line include Pretend & Play Office, Pretend & Play Snack Shop and Pretend & Play Healthy Snacks Foods Set for ages 3 and up.

The ABC Chalk Talk Electronic Learning Chalkboard is an interactive mat that features more than 30 touch sensors to teach the alphabet, phonics, numbers, colors and more for ages 3 and up.

Finally, the Flower Foam Floor Puzzle, designed for ages 5 and up, teaches kids the parts of a plant.

Building up preschool

Lego, Enfield, Conn., expands its Lego Quatro line with My First Quatro Set and My First Quatro figure sets for 2006.

Specially designed for a preschooler’s small hands are Duplo Strata and Build Your Own Lego Duplo Zoo. Lego Duplo Legoville includes 13 new entries. Lego Duplo wades deeper into licensed characters with two new Lego Duplo Bob the Builder sets and two new Lego Duplo Thomas & Friends sets.

For older kids, Lego Creator Classics gets a new twist in 2006 with sets designed to create cars, homes, buildings and more.

New storylines drive this year’s collection of constructible action figures and environments in the Bionicle series.

Lego’s Batman products feature constructible playsets with a strong vehicle focus, cool functionality, gadgets and a library of collectible mini-figures.

Levels of discovery

Levels of Discovery, Deerfield, Ill., is introducing five items in 2006. These introductions include: A Star Is Born vanity table and chair set, A Star Is Born fainting couch/toy box, Artist’s Rocker, Artist’s Easel and Walk a Buddies princess coach. Retail prices range from $135–$250.

On track with Lionel

At Toy Fair 2006, Lionel, Chesterfield, Mich., will unveil a collection of ready-to-run train sets designed for the mass market, including the following highlights: Lionel Express G-Gauge Christmas Train, a Polar Express Train Set, a Toy Lionel Express Run-In-Place Train Display and a NASCAR Train Set, based on the racing league.

There’s a puppet in my book!

Lisa LeLeu, Doylestown, Pa., has a puppet-in-a-book series designed to teach and inspire children to write, illustrate and act out their own stories. New to the series are Diggity the Dog Gift Set and Percilla the Gorilla Gift Set. Both sets include a puppet show book with a removable hand puppet, a storybook and a story starter book. Both books are recommend for ages 3 and up and retail for $16.99 each.

Bubbles and bubbles and…

Mouths will open wide when kids see bubbles streaming from the new Bubble Blowin’ Beasts, kid-powered mechanical bubble toys that require no batteries to make mouthfuls of bubbles. Simply squeeze the bottle of bubbles to fill up the mouth of the dinosaur or gorilla, and flip open the beasts’ mouth to send bubbles soaring.

Also new is the Super Scoop Bubble Wand which uses gravity to transport bubble liquid to the bubble wand, so you can blow lots of bubbles without re-dipping. The new U.F.O. Bubble Launcher features four wands that lift off to send hundreds of bubbles into the atmosphere.

Little Kids, Providence, R.I., also enters the science toy category in 2006 with Big Bad Boomin’ Bugs Big Bad Boomin’ Bugs Electronic Observation Station, which allows kids to watch and listen to different sounds bugs make.

Classical music for baby

Lovely Baby, Bellmore, N.Y., brings the music of Dutch composer Raimond Lap to the U.S. market with an original music series suitable for prenatal infants as well as children up to 3 years old.

With the exception of Lovely Baby & Daddy, this all-instrumental CD music collection contains only baby, toy and nature sounds.

Titles in the series include Lovely Baby Mozart, Lovely Baby Beethoven and Lovely Baby Bach.

Slumber time

Lucon Kids, Brentwood, Calif., focuses on today’s on-the-go family with products that can go whenever and wherever. New products for 2006 include: 42-inch Giant Turtle Beanbag Chair ($240) and 36-inch Giant Duck Beanbag Chair ($199). Both oversized characters are made of plush and stuffed with a child-safe beanbag filling. Bags are kid-sized and durable enough for sitting, lounging, playing or simply hugging. Also new are two Jammy Pillows: 18-inch Turtle Pajama Pillow and 15-inch Duck Pajama Pillow. Jammy Pillows ($24.95) have hidden zipper compartments for packing pajamas, toothbrushes and other overnight essentials.

Follow in their footsteps

From Lyons Tales, Chicago, Flip ’n Flop Adventures ($22.99) are wearable flip-flops with secret compartments that include a storybook. Each book is printed on durable, water-resistant paper and slides into a plastic sleeve slipped into the sole of one of the flip-flops. Each tale reveals two characters or events, with two points of view; each flip-flop represents one character. For ages 4–8, Flip ’n Flop Adventures are available in three sizes: 9/10, 11/12 and 13/1.

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Pop art

Made By Hands, Chicago, introduces five new art activity kits, Pop-Outs, so kids can create easily and independently without an adult’s help. The kits’ cardboard cases come complete with a handle, making the kits portable for traveling or just moving from room to room. New kits include Make-Your-Own Masterpieces, Make It—Trade It, Sports Cards, Go Figure Crazzzzy Critters, Go Figure Silly Bodies and Go Figure Way to Go.

Making music

Two CD gift sets look to expose young listeners to a classic book and a beloved poem, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Casey at the Bat.

The Mike Mulligan gift set by Magic Maestro Music, Washington, features a Stories in Music CD with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the original Virginia Lee Burton book. The Stories in Music version of Casey at the Bat includes a full-color poster. Both sets have a full-color program book with information and activities.

Play on words

Magnetic Poetry, Minneapolis, introduces the Kids Word Stamp Kit containing 85 magnetized rubber stamps with kid-friendly words to make customized birthday invitations, thank-you cards, gift tags and other stationery items. GO Games is designed to go where you go; magnetized game pieces and game boards make sure all of the pieces stay put. Word Play Board allows kids of all ages to create phrases, poetry and messages on a colorful round metal play board and stand.

Pixie perfect

Minneapolis-based Manhattan Toy introduces its Trixieville line of posable fashion dolls. Zayla, Elonia and Avena are the best of Pixie friends. These fantasy-based dolls give girls ages 6–to 12 lots of opportunities to discover spirited adventures in-person and online. The dolls have brushable, rooted hair, removable magnetic wings, detailed clothes and accessories, plus posable arms and legs. Each has her own personality, interests and talents ($19.99). Coordinated outfits, accessories and furnishings are also available.

Spell it out

Trying to spell a word when you don’t have the right letters can be frustrating for a little tyke, but Chatterblocks, Maple Landmark, Middlebury, Vt., makes sure that doesn’t happen with multiples of popular letters. The 16-piece antique-style pine block set has a distressed white finish with letters printed in brown for a nostalgic look. Playroom cubes are made of maple with a clear finish and letters printed in red, blue and green. The large, vintage blocks retail for $64; smaller room decor blocks are $29.80.

Creative kids can make a train, tugboat or truck with Made by Me kits. The pine vehicles are 4 inches long, and can be decorated after the hammering and gluing is complete. Made by Me kits also come as party packs for the specialty toy market.

Structured play

InStructures is a new family/party game from Santa Monica, Calif.-based MarBan Industries. Two teams race to build a structure with building blocks, but only their “foremen” get to see the blueprint. Good verbal communication is the key to winning. It’s designed for ages 10 to adult ($29.95).

Also new for 2006, Sentence Says Dice Edition ($14.95) is designed for play at home or on the road. Competitors take turns racing against a timer to create a sentence from the letters shown on the dice.

Osmond family grows

Marie Osmond Dolls, Lake Forest, Calif., introduces its new Katie Sue doll by designer Lisa Hatch. The 13-inch porcelain doll retails for $149.95. Katie Sue is a hand-numbered, collectible doll, hallmarked on the back of her neck with Marie’s signature.

Shower songs

Sing in the soapsuds with the American Idol Shower Radio by Mark Feldstein & Associates Inc., Maumee, Ohio. Pretend you’re the next sensation while singing along with the AM/FM, water-resistant radio that has realistic microphone styling. The American Idol Shower Radio is $9.95 and targeted to all wannabe singing stars ages 8 and up.

Edible entertainment

If you thought marshmallows were just for hot cocoa, campfire roasting and making smores, think again. The latest line of edible entertainment from the Marshmallow Fun Company, Tallahassee, Fla., includes the Marshmallow Shooter, intended for children ages 8 and older. It is uniquely engineered to propel 25 mini marshmallows or special soft-foam pellets more than 30 feet. For added safety, the Marshmallow Shooter will not shoot hard objects like sticks or rocks ($24.95).

In touch with baby

Mary Meyer, Townshend, Vt., presents licensed Taggies rattles, teethers, wigglers, activity toys, soft toys, a wind-up musical toy, sleepy fleeces and soft toys with blankets. Based on the idea that kids and babies love to rub satin edges, clothing labels and tags, every looped ribbon tag looks or feels different and is both tactile and visually stimulating. There are 17 new Taggies toys presented by Mary Meyer Baby. Each piece in the collection is infant safe and can be cleaned in the washing machine. The Soft Lion and Soft Giraffe retail for $20.

Mattel mania

Mattel, El Segundo, Calif., debuts toys, games and electronics that tie in with movie premieres and highlight classic cartoon characters and brands under its many banners.

Traditional games get a boost with the Kryptonite Crisis 3-D board game, based on the upcoming Superman Returns. It depicts the film’s climatic scenes in the battle against Lex Luther. The $19.99 game is available in May, joining Mater’s Rollin’ Bowlin’ Game, Later Mater Game and Tractor Tipping board games, based on the CARS animated Disney/Pixar movie opening in June.

CARS character cars, track sets and playsets feature Mater the Tow Truck and pals Lightning McQueen, Sally and Doc Hudson. A CARS Dirt Track Racing Track Set is modeled after a scene in the movie. A flip of a switch is all that’s needed to make the CARS Make Me Laugh Mater large-scale plush toy chuckle ($24.99); Toss and Talk plush also make a spring debut.

When Ice Age 2—The Meltdown hits theaters in March, Mattel will warm up plush and figure assortments for preschoolers and The Meltdown Playset ($19.99) with spring-loaded, pull-back motor and Ice Slider Vehicle. The Ice Age 2 Mammal Crossing board game will also be available for $14.99.

Batman gets his due with a basic line of 35 figures, including Riddler, Catwoman and Mr. Freeze, along with a host of Batman-inspired vehicles. New DC Heroes figures feature Supergirl, The Flash and Wonder Woman. Yu-Gi-Oh! GX monsters get their day in a Zip Attack assortment that moves them into battle. Figures ($9.99) include E-Hero Wildman, Terror King Archfield and Swordman of Death Lithmus.

Princesses from classic Disney films will be offered as dolls adorned with the glitter and pageantry of their cinematic counterparts, right down to Mary Poppins’ white dress and Belle’s signature gown from Beauty and the Beast.

Disney Glitter Precious Princess dolls shimmer and shine in their finery, and with the Disney Glitter Precious Princess Sparkle Bags, kids can be Cinderella, Belle or Ariel, with outfits and accessories stored in a clear plastic tote bag ($9.99). Mattel Entertainment brings a direct-to-video animated movie, Barbie Fairytopia Mermaidia, to stores next month. The DVD and VHS versions are $19.99. Elina, Merfairies and Seabutterfly dolls swim into retail as well.

Barbie & Me, a 15-inch soft Barbie, is easy for little fingers to dress and accessorize ($19.99). A Barbie & Me Ballet Slipper Take-along Bag is shaped like a ballet slipper with room to store clothes inside. Barbie’s Fashion Fever is growing with numerous dolls and accessories, including a room accents assortment.

This spring Barbie grows up and appears as a high school sophomore in the Barbie Diaries DVD ($19.99), a CGI-animated movie that is the first Barbie Entertainment title to launch on Universal Media Disc, compatible with Portable Sony PlayStation.

Mattel Brands has created the Furryville Town Collection for its posable plush animals, with buildings like the Beauty Paw-Lour and Hoggin the Aisles supermarket ($14.99). The stars of Cartoon Network’s Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi animated series hit the big time with Rock Out and Little Rockers dolls and cats, along with Tekirai and Jang Keng mini plush for elementary school-age fans.

Techies have their day with Pixel Chix virtual homes that can be connected for 3-D play. The more activity within the loft, cottage or mansion, the wider the virtual world expands and, conversely, if a Pixel Chix is neglected, her possessions diminish, cobwebs form and the 2-D “girl” leaves the residence. A Pixel Chix mini car also debuts this spring ($16.99).

Polly Pocket gets a spring pick-me-up with new dolls, playsets and vehicles, along with the Stickin’ 2 Style Magnetic Polly for the wall and the Polly Pocket Bubble-Tastic Lamp.

Put the pedal to the metal with Hot Wheels R/C sports cars and 6V trucks for young racers. The Ford SVT Lightning, Chevy Colorado, Jeep Gladiator and Chevy Avalanche require six AA batteries ($24.99), plus two more for the transmitter. Hot Wheels R/C Dropstars are 1:16 scale models of their real-life counterparts, including the Saleen S7 and Mercedes-Benz SLR, and feature full-function driving, 6-volt power and light-up interiors and rim lights ($29.99). The Hot Wheels R/C Honda Mini Cycle and Monster Jam assortments will round out the line.

Learning tools

Memo-Lingo Activity Kits ($26.99) are games created by teacher Bob McDuff. From McWiz, Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, The Little Apprentice teaches kids ages 3 to 7 to recognize animals and their young, food and its origins, and opposites through memory and association games. The game includes modeling dough and teaches basic vocabulary in English, French and Spanish. The Early Scholar, for ages 4 to 8, helps kids learn the alphabet, math, shapes and colors. This game includes a blackboard, chalk and an eraser. Both games include activity book and audio CD.

Bloks keep building

Montreal-based Mega Bloks has a new lineup of products for 2006 featuring low-tech building platforms for preschoolers and epic fantasy worlds for children ages 5 and up. They’ll launch the Magnetix Jr. brand for preschoolers and the licensed Caterpillar line for creating life-like trucks. Rescue Tech offers a buildable action figure system, with each assortment packaged with an animated disc in which Rescue Tech action figures save lives and complete rescue missions.

The new Mega Bloks wood line combines the classic appeal of natural wooden blocks with the proven versatility of a plastic block system.

Dragons, Mega Bloks’ largest theme brand, celebrates its 5th anniversary with a new storyline, new play features such as Dragons DNA and a new construction system, Modu-Lock.

Mega Bloks’ popular Pyrates line offers the Privateers versus the Sea Marauders in an 18th century ocean adventure. Pirate fans also will be able to play out scenes from the film Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

Mega Bloks also offers a Marvel line for all ages. New introductions include the collectible Marvel Comic Book Play Sets that interconnect to complete a comic book adventure.

Take flight

FanTail Flyer 2-Channel Radio Control Airplane ($127), Megatech International, North Bergen, N.J., features a 27½-inch wingspan and a folding propeller for extended flight duration. Its tail rotor system ensures left and right turns and requires eight AA batteries. The design is suitable for first-time flyers ages 10 to adult.

Also for ages 10 and up, Megatech adds the 15-inch Hopper-Fly Radio Control Helicopter with lights ($127). The fully assembled indoor/outdoor copter is ready to fly right out of the box and features a self-stabilizing, weighted fly-bar and navigational lights and is available on two frequencies for flying together. The copter requires eight C batteries and one 9V battery.

For ages 8 and up, the 3-foot Radio Control Party Blimp ($150) carries a personalized message in light and sound, with eight light and music combinations. A transmitter with 300-foot range propels the triple-fan gondola forward, backward, up, down, right, and left. Helium is required.

In your face tricks

New 13- by 18-inch Halloween VividVision posters ($4.99) will debut from Mello Smello, Minneapolis. In the Ghost image, 3-D lenticular technology makes candy appear to float in the air, and bats fly in the background. In the Graveyard poster, headstones seem to have layers of depth, and bats come flying toward viewers.

Old stories, new format

My Turn Your Turn Storybooks ($3.99) offer a new format for pre-readers ages 4 to 7 and parents to read together. Each spread contains a parent page followed by a child page. Kid’s pages are designed to build basic literary skills through memory, rhyme, and repetition. Parent pages contain the bulk of the storyline, with longer, more challenging sentences. Titles include Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Three Little Pigs, with The Little Red Hen and Gingerbread Man coming in fall from Meredith Books, Des Moines, Iowa.

Bratz embrace the sporting life

MGA Entertainment, Van Nuys, Calif., will introduce new choices in the game and doll category.

Big Fish Lil’ Fish is a fast-paced card game in which kids and adults take turns using their big fish to eat little fish. The first person to lose all their cards wins.

Insane Darts puts a new twist on the classic dart game by adding a moving target board and interchangeable scorecards, giving more than 12 dart games in one.

The Bratz dolls’ popular little sisters and brothers, the Bratz Babyz, expand with three new dolls, now with “real” hair to style. The Bratz themselves get sporty in '06 with the Bratz Play Sportz Teamz, featuring two Bratz per package, each playing for a different team. Also included is a sports-appropriate accessory, such as a net for the tennis players and a hoop for the basketballerz.

Let’s Pretend

Pretendables, by M.O.G. Kids, New York, is an educational product that uses books, CD-ROMs, costumes and toys to introduce children to a wide variety of jobs and careers in six diverse categories. In 2006, they’ll add the Make Believe series to their line. Little girls now have the chance to enjoy creative role-play with noble characters and get a real feel for the royal lifestyle with the Pretendables book playset for Pattie & Paula Princess. Available at boutiques nationwide, online and at national book and toy retail stores, the Pretendables Princess playset retails for $29.25.

Slap it down

Morning Star Games, Santa Monica, Calif., the creator of Truth or Fib, aka You’re Pulling My Leg, introduces Slap Happy!

Slap Happy! is a fast-paced card game where players race to be the first to complete colorful shapes. When players finish shapes with their cards, they grab them off the table to win the points. You must be quick or another player can stop you from completing a shape with a block card. The player who gets the biggest score at the end of the game wins. Slap Happy!, for two to six players ages 7–adult, retails for $12.99 in a lunch box tin or $9.99 in a box.

Mudpuppy’s puzzled

Mudpuppy, New York, teaches children basic learning skills with its new, two-piece puzzles. Nature’s Alphabet, Counting Nature, Animal Opposites and Color Kingdom introduce how two things go together in a simple format.

For twice as much fun, there are also simple four-piece puzzles. Product choices include Dinosaurs, Bugs, Construction and Zoo Babies.

The Fairy Tale Theatre has everything needed to put on a show: sets, costumes, props and actors. Produce your own version of The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast, travel back in time to Ancient Egypt, wrangle a dinosaur or travel the globe.

My Travel Journal is packed with colorful illustrations and dozens of activities for kids to do before, during and after a trip.

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Simply 'sensation’-al

Soothing sounds of nature take center stage with The Nature Sensations line of infant toys by RC2 Corporation, Stoughton, Mass. The First Years brand introduces Nature Sensations Whirly Twirly Rattle, Stacking Turtle Shell Surprise, Taggity Snail Rattle, Push Along Turtle, Bumble Bee Wiggles and Baby Bumble Bee Musical Rattle. Nature Sensations toys retail from $3.99–$6.99.

Real softies

The Very Hungry Caterpillar storybook gets an interactive plush toy that features 10 secret toy food objects for babies to find, from Neurosmith, Long Beach, Calif. Newborns can also check out the plush Side Twinkle Time Melody Play Mat with removable plush figures that hang on an arch. The $75 mat has a number of activities and flashing lights.

Preschoolers can buzz along with the Busy Bee Storyteller. It has three hats—cowboy, fireman and clown—that tell a different story in character voice when the hat is placed on the storytelling bee’s head ($24.99). Together Tunes Sing-Along Book has padded pages with the following favorites: “Five Little Monkeys,” “The Wheels on the Bus,” “Old MacDonald,” “The Eensy Weensy Spider” and “The ABC Song.”

Ryan’s Room Dollhouse gets a welcome addition, the Splashing Good Time Spa, with realistic Jacuzzi interior look ($19.99).

Robots lead Erector back to market

Radio-controlled vehicle manufacturer Nikko, Plano, Texas, will be distributing Erector in 2006. The new Interactive Robot from the Erector Speedplay series is not only compatible with classic Erector, but also is computer-interactive, with an electronic module and USB cable.

Nikko also adds an ATV to its Build and Play series, and bulks up its core R/C lines with a new Kawasaki Motorcycle and a series of the latest muscle cars with chrome backlit engines shining through clear, glass-like hoods.

Knit and sew

NKOK, City of Industry, Calif., introduces the Singer Knitting Machine, the round knitting machine with hand crank and the Singer Lockstitch Sewing Machine with Activity Set.

The Lockstitch Sewing Machine comes with pre-cut fabrics, storage case, power adaptor and activity book.

In the remote control car division, introductions include the My First Dodge Magnum RT, a 1:10-scale replica with cartooned styling and chrome spinner wheels. The car’s controller features sound effects, voice samples and music.

High Rollerz Rockin School Bus is also new. It is battery-operated and 14 inches long with cartooned styling and counter-spinning spinner wheels. Push the icon function buttons on top for sound, music, voice, lights, forward and reverse features.

Summertime fun

Nomaco, Zebulon, N.C., is known for its foam toys and flotation foam for kids and adults. New for 2006, Nomaco’s Flip Flop Float and Boodle Hammock add fun to pool activities.

Measuring 32½ inches by 14½ inches wide, the Flip Flop Float is for children ages 5–11 and is available in three color combinations.

Nomaco’s Boodle Hammock offers a “tote-able” pool hammock that needs no inflation. Held afloat by a comfortable foam head rest and leg support, the durable mesh hammock rolls up for easy transport and storage.

Bear in mind

North American Bear, Chicago, is introducing a number of fashion-focused pieces this spring.

Look for plush tote bags and backpacks featuring butterflies, ladybugs and frogs; $25 each. For tweens, the company offers cell phone bags ($7.50) and coin purses ($6).

The company is offering a new line for Easter, including Little Spring Things—plush animals like chicks, ducks and bunnies that are available in two sizes, ranging from $6–$10. Also look for Hopwood Bunnies in three sizes, ranging from $10–$45; and Baby Bunny Cozies for $7 each.

Targeting tiny dancers, the company introduces a ballerina doll ($25) that comes complete with outfits to take her from practice in the studio through to the big recital. Also added this year is the Fancy Prancy Dancer Ballerina Backpack ($25) for girls age 3 and up to carry all their dance class gear.

It’s a horse race

Northern Game Co., Alberta, Canada, introduces four new games for 2006.

The Deluxe Wooden Horse Races lets you have a fun day at the track without leaving home. It features a wooden game board and horses.

Moonshot Euchre is “the ultimate” version of the game of Euchre, the company claims.

Raising Cattle is a family game that highlights the obstacles ranchers and farm families deal with on a daily basis. Roll the dice and move your way around the board, but be sure to watch out for cow pies.

Syncrohearts is an adult-audience game about love for just you and your partner. Each time you play you’ll learn something new about each other.

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Action! Curious George

Omnicor Inc., Phoenix, Ariz., introduces three Curious George activity books for preschoolers. The first features Curious George at school; the second book takes him to the circus; and the third to a party. Books are packaged with Wikki Stix, wax and yarn toys that stick to each other and almost any smooth surface just by pressing with a finger.

Laptop learning

Faster than a speeding bullet is the time it takes to open the Superman Super Laptop by Oregon Scientific Youth, Tualatin, Ore. The motion-activated lid requires just a pass of the hand to open 60 math, memory, logic and spelling activities in this bilingual electronic toy. Superman Super Laptop is for ages 5 and up, and retails for $59.99. A more fashionable laptop can be found with the Barbie B-Book, with the same program features as its Superman counterpart, but more pizzazz thanks to a fabric exterior.

Sports enthusiasts can record their most amazing feats with the ATC 1000 and even edit out those less impressive moves or put multiple action segments together. Home videos can be e-mailed as still shots or streamlined video ($119.99).

Web of intrigue

Don’t get caught in The Spider’s Web, a board game by Otero Games, San Diego. A single player (the spider) works to get other players (fireflies) back to the center of the board—the web—as they try to land on twigs that serve as safe havens. It just takes one firefly escapee to have them all win the game. But the spider has some tricks up his web. The Spider’s Web retails for $14.95.

Picture this

Kids can now get in on the action by playing Squint Junior, based on the adult-level game by Out of the Box, Madison, Wis. By using transparent cards with shapes imprinted, players 8 years and up can build pictures and have other players guess what the picture is before time runs out. Squint Junior is available at specialty toy and gift retailers for $16.99.

Game time

A bounty of gems is at stake, and with just a smidgeon of the treasure map at their fingertips, young marooned buccaneers must use strategy to play Skullduggery: A Swashbuckling Pirate Adventure! by Outset Media, Victoria, Canada.

More challenges abound with The All American Trivia Board Game with 2,000 questions in geography, history, arts and general knowledge. For teens and older players, it retails for $29.99, as does a junior edition with more than 1,000 questions. Three new versions of Professor Noggin’s card games, History of the United States, Geography of the United States and Explorers, provide factual information gleaned through short-answer, true/false and multiple choice questions. Two levels of difficulty are available each game ($9.99).

Some crafty combos

By putting together two favorite pastimes—construction and crafts—Overbreak LLC, Sun Valley, Calif., offers ChalkTracker chalk and monster trucks for kids to draw on outside surfaces while the truck follows the chalk line using optical sensors.

In another combo, Foamstruction kits have more than 500 reusable foam pieces in flat sheets, as well as confetti and molded shapes that can be moistened and stuck together to construct myriad craft toys. The 3-D Digi-Draw uses a “dimensional lite” like its Digi-Draw counterpart to cast shadows and surface details that kids can trace as three-dimensional objects. The set comes with an adjustable platform and three colored pencils.

The HoverRocket contains two soft, 30-inch rockets and four colorful targets with varying point values that can be launched indoors or outdoors. The HoverMissile is also soft and flexible and can fly more than 50 feet. Two missiles are included in each package.

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Puzzling monkeys

Monkey Magnet Puzzle Box ($10) from Pamela Drake Inc., Berkeley, Calif., includes up to 127 magnetic foam pieces, templates, picture guides and a carrying case, so kids ages 4 and up can create six puzzles depicting dinosaurs, vehicles, farm shapes, ocean friends, the jungle and robots.

Caption crazy

Patch Products, Beloit, Wis., introduces BubbleBrain, It’s the Thought That Counts, which lets players add original captions to their own pictures or the silly photos provided, and opponents have to guess which player wrote which caption. For ages 10 and up.

In the verbal board game Blibber Blabber, players try to guess what other players are saying as they recite clues—but they must change the first letter of each word. The tween-targeted DareDevil, the Devilishly Daring Party Game, lets players retrieve game chips from a plush toy and perform the stunts written on the chips.

Patch Products was also recently granted rights to produce “The You Might be a Redneck If… Game” for up to four players ages 16 and up.

Fun for a song

New Chantilly Lane musical plush toys ($24.95) from PBC International Inc., Oxnard, Calif., are offered in eight new designs. Al Fredo and Auntie Pasta are Italian chefs that sing Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore,” Chloe sings Bobby Vinton’s “Roses are Red,” Bobbie performs Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting,” animated Olivia croons “You’re the One That I Want” from the movie Grease, Pajama Party Bears sing Roy Orbison’s “Sweet Dreams, Baby,” and the Love Bug Bears perform George Strait’s “The Love Bug.”

Products for posterity

The population of Peaceable Kingdom, Berkeley, Calif., grows this year with new products in the gift line.

Lock & Key Diaries ($9.95) let young girls lock up their writings, Photo Memory Books ($9.95) provide space for handwritten messages, and Gift Bags ($3.95) combine gift cards with laminated gift bags. Sticker Birthday Cards ($3.95) provide a dozen stickers and an envelope that the young recipient can use to create different themed scenes. The line of Sock Monkey stationery products based on the photographs of artist Dee Linder include cards ($2.25–$2.50), gift enclosures (75¢), mini journals ($5.95), journals ($7.95) and portfolio of notes ($7.95).

House for dolls

Plan Creations Co. Ltd., Bangkok, Thailand, introduces two dollhouses in the Chalet Dollhouse line that are designed to be accessible from each side for children ages 3 and up; without furniture, $85; with custom furniture, $110.

A wooden Bulldozer ($35) lets kids pretend to be a construction worker, controlling the vehicle with handle controls that make the bulldozer maneuver, haul, lift and pull.

Natural beauty

Puzzle maker Planet Zoo, Eugene, Ore., presents a line of 15 designs featuring wildlife in natural habitats along with scenic nature photography in 500- ($12.95) and 1,000-piece ($14.95) designs. All are printed with soy-based ink on recycled paper stock; designed for ages 7 and up.

Playing along

Play Along, Deerfield Beach, Fla., brings a new look and feel to the Care Bears line with Scented Floppy Care Bears ($19.99) in vanilla, mango or strawberry. Each comes with a DVD featuring two episodes of the 1980s cartoon. Also new in the Care Bears den is Care Bears Bilingual Amigo Bear ($19.99), which teaches English or Spanish using an electronic telephone. Hide 'N Seek Care Bear ($34.99) comes in two characters—Secret Bear and Play-a-Lot Bear—that when hidden emit verbal clues so children 3 and up can find them.

Cabbage Patch Kids Newborns ($19.99) are the smallest dolls in the history of the line; they come with accessories so children can feed and change them.

Also from Play Along: Sky Dancers Dream Dancers ($7.99), Dazzlin’ Make-over Doodle Bear ($14.99), Fantasy 'N Fun Doodle Girls ($14.99), Gross-Out Doodle Monster ($24.99), Dragon Flyz ($9.99-$17.99), Trolls ($1.99-$9.99) with Biker, Nurse and Golfer characters, plush Snugglers ($19.99) and Speed Stacks StackPack ($39.99), which comes with 12 cups, mat, timer and carrying bag.

Scraps of fun

Akron, Ohio-based Playhouse Publishing is expanding its Picture Me Scrapbooking Collection.

The new kits include papers, stickers, lettering and cards. Album covers can be personalized using alphabet stickers and a favorite photo. All items are perforated and the post-bound album expands easily. In 2006, they’ll introduce four new kits: Picture Me Baby Costume Scrapbook Kit, Family Ties Scrapbook Kit, My Travels Scrapbook Kit and School Days Scrapbook Kit.

Monsters, heroes and fairies

Playmates Toys, Costa Mesa, Calif., the master toy licensee for Universal Pictures’ King Kong, offers action figures and accessories, role-play accessories including electronic King Kong arms ($19.99), a figural battle game ($14.99), an environmental playset of Skull Island ($29.99) and 8- and 11-inch plush figures ($5.99–$9.99). A basic assortment of 6-inch scale action figures ($9.99) features eight SKUs, and is packaged to recreate some of Kong’s battles from the film. A deluxe assortment of 11-inch scale figures with 14 points of articulation includes the Deluxe Roaring Kong with chest-pounding feature and the Deluxe Bull T-Rex, which includes roaring sound effects ($17.99). A 14-inch scale figure with 22 points of articulation features sounds of a roaring, stomping Kong. Pressing the “try me” feature on the shelf activates shelf-pounding action in which Kong tries to bust out of the window box. Once freed, Kong can walk on his front knuckles or shake his arms when standing ($24.99).

Playmates will also introduce the Marvel Hero’s Battle Dice game, featuring more than 65 heroes and villains such as Spider-Man, the X-Men, Daredevil, the Fantastic Four and more. “Pop dice” open to reveal action figures making up six different armies. Each figure has six attributes including speed, strength, durability, intelligence, energy projection and fighting skills, plus symbols and numbers signifying strength. Players battle by loading their dice with action figures, then rolling simultaneously with their opponents. The player with the lowest number selects the attribute to be used. Defeat means surrendering your figure to the opponent’s army, and the first player to collect all of the opponents’ figures wins. Starter packs come with six dice and six action figures: Captain America, Spider-Man, Doc Ock, Wolverine and two mystery figures, plus two arena cards to show where to place the figures and dice during a battle, carrying case and instruction booklet, plus a miniature comic book. Four series of booster packs will be launched throughout the year. Dice Launchers in the form of 5-inch Hulk and The Thing dioramas will be introduced in spring.

For girls, Playmates debuts a line of dolls, playsets and accessories based on Disney Fairies. In September, Disney Publishing released the illustrated children’s novel by Gail Carson Levine, Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg, featuring Tinker Bell and introducing her fairy friends Prilla, Beck, Rani and Vidia. An entire collection of chapter books from Disney Publishing Worldwide will launch in 2007. The Disney Fairies brand will also offer a collection of films and multiple product categories, similar to the Disney Princess line. Playmates’ new product line includes in-pack DVDs and collectible story cards for ages 6–9.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles take on New York City 100 years from now in the new television series, Fast Forward, debuting this fall from 4Kids Entertainment. Playmates will introduce a toy line featuring the heroes and foes of the property’s characters. An online and on-air promotion beginning in the first quarter 2006 will culminate with the 100th episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in March. A TMNT movie is in the works for a 2007 release.

Play getaways

Dayton, N.J.- based Playmobil’s Family Vacation theme features The Beach, Family Yacht, Family Camper, Paddle Boat and Beach Chair.

The Beach includes realistic jet skis that float on water and move when fitted with the Underwater Motor accessory, plus animal figurines from pelicans to dolphins ($24.99).

The Family Yacht also floats on water and moves using the Underwater Motor accessory. It comes with a removable sundeck and captain’s helm, rubber dinghy, boombox, and movable anchor ($34.99).

The Family Camper includes a rooftop baggage compartment, awning, and folding table ($34.99).

As for boats that work on the water, the Harbor theme features a Harbor Crane ($44.99) and Cargo Ship ($59.99). The motorizable ship has a detachable roof, storage compartment and secret hatch. Kid commodores can accessorize the scene with Harbor Police, Dock Worker with Hand Cart, and Forklift.

For a more escapist vacation, the Magic Castle features pink towers, gold balustrades, sweeping stairways and many rooms to decorate. The Magic Castle comes with Princess Crown, Royal Kitchen, Royal Treasure Room, Royal Children and Royal Carriage—plus a secret hideaway in the roof ($129.99).

Also new from Playmobil, the Barbarians include the Barbarian Ruin, Barbarian Assault Tower, Barbarian Attack Troop, Barbarian Knight and Barbarian Catapult ($24.99 to $34.99).

The Garden Center is a variation of the classic “shop” pretend game and includes the Garden Center, Green House, Plant Beds with Shed, Flower Shop and Gardener with Hedge Trimmer ($34.99). And getting back to nature, the Farm line features a farm, harvest tractor, cow pasture, rabbit hutch and chicken coop, as well as a working pulley ($69.99).

The Soccer line appeals to both boys and girls with a Soccer Set, Soccer Shooting, USA Team, Girls Team, and Goalkeeper ($39.99)—just in time for the 2006 World Cup soccer tournament.

Wind up and fly

The Loop N’ Zoom Line ($6.99–9.99) from Play Visions, Woodinville, Wash., features a football, tennis ball or rocket that has a wheel mechanism inside the body which connects to a retractable cord. Kids press the button to extend the cord up to 24 inches, then spin the item in a circle to gather momentum. When released toward the recipient the cord will automatically retract, and the Loop N’ Zoom will travel up to 240 feet.

Also new from Play Visions, the Sounds X-Treme line ($1.99-5.99) produces warbling, haunting, and rhythmic noise, including horns, percussion, and melody. Both are for ages 5 and up.

As Slinky as ever

This year, the venerable Slinky, from Poof-Slinky, Plymouth, Mich., morphs into the Barking Slinky Dog ($9.99). The battery-operated pooch comes with a dog house. Other Poof-Slinky offerings include the Mini Micro Blaster 2 Pack ($3.99); the musical Jingle Jump Rope ($5.99); foam Spider Balls ($4.99) in standard and mini sizes; foam dart launcher Scorpion Bow ($3.99); and turbo air-launched dart shooter, New Light-Up Ram Rocket ($5.99).

Posable Evel Knievel returns with a 40-piece Dare Devil Stunt Set ($39.99) made from original Ideal molds, Mentor, Ohio. Also recast from Ideal molds is Gaylord Pup ($24.99) with plastic food bowl, box of doggie treats and a magnetic bone Gaylord can pick up.

In the construction line, the hardwood Heavy Hauler Dump Truck ($99.99) includes working dump bed and swing gate. The Frontier Building Set ($14.99) includes 75 wood pieces. The Amaze N Marbles set ($26.99) includes wood pieces and marbles, and the Fabulous Fiddlestic ($27.99) has 144 rod-and-connector pieces.

Sticky situation

Powerful Greetings, Troy, Mich., offers a line of self-adhesive, battery-operated gift tags ($3.49) in a number of designs licensed from Disney, including Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Cinderella and Ariel.

Reading-palooza

Publications International, Chicago, is introducing a variety of products inspired by its original Story Reader product.

This fall, the Story Reader Video Plus offers kids ages 3–8 all the features of the original Story Reader content combined with new video features. The product can narrate a story alone or add illustrations on a TV screen—it can even test a child’s knowledge with educational gaming activities. The unit is $34.99, and refill titles will be available for around $12.99.

In the first quarter, the company will also target kids ages 6 months to 3-years-old with its My First Story Reader. A narrator reads aloud as each page is turned, while the unit adds sound effects and music. The base unit comes packaged with three interchangeable Baby Einstein rhyming story and songbooks for $19.99.

The company’s Look and Find brand goes electronic and bi-lingual this fall with the new ActiveMinds Electronic Look and Find Books, featuring a stylus-based format and English/Spanish options. Kids use the cordless stylus to identify the targets, guided by sensory technology that gives players audio feedback as they move about the scene to help users find more than 100 objects in each book. A bi-lingual button teaches object recognition, language skills and vocabulary in both English and Spanish. A variety of skill-building levels are also provided to reinforce basics like counting, color recognition, the alphabet and more. Each book will retail for $16.99.

New offerings from the ActiveMinds line include DVD books ($16.99) that include licensed characters from Sesame Street, Disney, Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob Squarepants, Scooby-Doo and Winnie the Pooh. The package includes an 18-page printed book, an interactive DVD and a 10-button, color-coded remote control designed for children 18 months and up. ActiveMinds Interactive DVD Books are designed for kids ages 3–8 and feature an 18-page printed book with interactive DVD and remote control. Each of the spreads in the book corresponds to the DVD and operates in five different modes: Q&A, a default mode that reads the story aloud on screen, activity mode with questions related to pictures in the book, a movie mode with clips relating to the subjects in the book, and a karaoke-style music feature, with song lyrics and animation.

The ActiveMinds Interactive DVD Books are available as of the first quarter and will retail for $16.99.

A world above our own

Koochaloos make their debut this year from Puddin’ Planet Inc., Harrison, N.Y. The line of collectible miniatures targeted to children ages 3–7 come with collector cards with character information and that form a map of the Koochaloos’ tree-top village. Each limited-edition set includes eight cards ($4.25).

Music unites

World music label Putumayo, New York, releases One World, One Kid, a collection of hosted by the 6-year-old who selected the tracks to comfort a sick friend. The disc is released as a benefit CD ($5.98), with proceeds going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The release is part of a four-CD series, another of which, Reggae Playground, debuted late last month.

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More ways to play classic games

RADGames, Peterborough, N.H., introduces its “Super Add-Ons” line, a series of extension pieces for use with other manufacturers’ classic board games. The first product of the series is an extra section of board game designed for use with the Monopoly game from Hasbro. The product is designed to offer a whole new level of play, featuring additional properties, utilities and action cards designed to modify the original game. The product retails for $24.95.

Even makeovers are going digital

Dallas-based Radica USA’s Girl Tech line grows with the addition of the Digi Makeover ($59.99). The makeup case with camera connects to the TV, so girls ages 8 and up can take their picture and give themselves a digital makeover, with special effects to change hairstyles, makeup, clothes and accessories, plus fashion games and a runway mode. The B-Bop compact music player ($19.99) records up to 30 minutes of music from any headphone jack. The unit can record from a CD player, computer or TV.

Jibbi TV ($29.99) uses voice recognition, so girls ages 6 and up can interact with animated on-screen characters that can recognize more than 100 words, have conversations, dance, play dress-up and ask girls about their day. Girls also take care of Jibbi, making sure she exercises, eats right and gets sleep, so she doesn’t get sick.

For ages 8 and up, 20Q ($19.99) now comes in sports enthusiast, music lover, and movie-goer themes, featuring new questions and answers, a built-in light, trans-reflective screen and emoticons. The Golden Tee Golf ($39.99) arcade game now comes in a home version that plugs into a TV.

For other active indoor play options, Play TV Skateboarding ($39.99) has kids do moves on a skateboard in Tag or Skate Race mode. Also from Play TV, Play TV Basketball ($39.99) plugs into the TV to offer interactive one-on-one street ball, including slow-motion slam dunking. Players can choose from multiple characters or practice for the Slam Dunk Competition or play a round of H.O.R.S.E.

Play TV Super Sonic Gold ($24.99) offers Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog II, Sonic Spinball, and Dr. Robotniks Mean Bean Machine. The games come with an authentic Sega Genesis controller.

Cube World ($29.99) interactive games have four stick people, each living in their own square block. They can be connected to form block parties, stacked or side-by-side. Once connected, the stick figures begin interacting with each other.

Thumb Warriors ($14.99) features six “warriors” each in armor. Kids lock them on and then try to knock away their opponent’s armor to reveal his “Button of Doom” and pin it for three seconds.

The Sudoku handheld electronic version ($19.99) includes a choice of 6- or 9-box playing boards. Thousands of puzzles come in three levels of difficulty.

Guess and win

From R&R Games, Tampa, Fla., comes Sketchword ($19.95). Players ages 10 and older create a word using letters from their hand and the game board, then sketch it. Two or more additional players can try to guess the word before time runs out. Points are granted to the artist and the correct guesser of the word. Shorter words earn fewer points. In You Must Be An Idiot ($19.95), cards determine whether each of three to six players ages 12 and up is an “idiot” or not. The game’s “genius” asks a trivia question of his choice from a card he selected. All other players write down the answer. However, if you have the idiot card, you must answer incorrectly. Once all the answers are revealed, everyone votes on who is and isn’t an idiot. Call somebody an idiot who is not, and they steal your points. Idiots who do not get caught receive bonus points.

Picture perfect

The Mandala Designer ($34.99) from Ravensburger-F.X. Schmid USA, Newton, N.H., is a drawing machine that moves a stencil forwards or backwards at the touch of a button, so kids ages 6 and older can create designs without the paper slipping. The machine set also includes two stencils, stamp holder, four stamps, ink pad, felt-tip pen, six colored pencils and 10 sheets of paper, all packed into a case for easy carrying.

From toddlers to twenties

Oak Brook, Ill.-based RC2/Learning Curve’s Lamaze infant development line launches Two Can Play products which help parent/caregiver and interact with baby. New releases are also planned for the Lamaze Play and Grow and Infant Development System lines.

In the Bob the Builder preschool product line, RC2 is introducing Take Along Bob and Project Build It Click Brick vehicles and playsets, role play, plush and ride-on vehicles.

In Thomas & Friends, introductions include new engines, rolling stock, destinations and sets in both the Thomas Wooden Railway and Take Along Thomas play systems.

From The First Years by Learning Curve, new products include a Take & Toss Toddler Feeding System and Soothie Bottle and Pacifier System.

RC2 introduces Meteor the Monster Truck, designed for children ages 2–6. Kids will explore the missions and dreams of a group of young trucks, including Meteor, Jose, Junkboy and Ponytail.

The John Deere preschool line debuts free-wheeling, die-cast construction vehicles, electronic role-play and Push 'n’ Pop items as well as a vehicle expansion for the John Deere Big Red Barn System.

For girls ages 4–9, RC2 plans a product line based on Totally Spies, the animated Cartoon Network series. Dolls of characters Alex, Clover, and Sam feature clothes and spy gadgets.

Among RC2’s core die-cast vehicle lines, the Johnny Lightning collectible vehicle brand introduces new 1:18 scale Muscle Cars, plus new licenses for the 1:64 Pop Culture line, new 1:24 scale Street Freaks vehicles, and an all-new mix of 1:64 scale Street Freaks themes. The JL Full Throttle brand is targeted to teens and young adults, producing custom looks from auto designer and fabricator Chip Foose, including vehicles from the The Learning Channel show Overhaulin’. Also new are Johnny Lightning Split Second toy vehicles and playsets, for boys ages 5–9, and Monsters of Destruction monster trucks that compete in the Monsters Destruction live events and Outdoor Channel TV show, including Big Foot, Spider-Man, and The Amazing Hulk.

Ertl American Muscle debuts 1:12 scale vehicles, plus 1:18 scale Glory Days hobby/specialty exclusive cars that bring die-cast and diorama together to evoke Boomer nostalgia. Ertl also expands its sports die-cast offerings with new casts ranging from 1:10 to 1:64 scales in National Football League, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League lines.

JoyRide Studios will release Series 6, 7 and 8 of action figures from the Halo 2 video game. JoyRide Entertainment offers die-cast and plastic model kits and playsets based on the movie The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, which hits theaters summer 2006.

A sure bet

Parlay ($14), Real Deal Games, Lenoir City, Tenn., is for two to six players ages 9 and older. Players make the best word and the best poker hand they can from their cards then choose to stay and risk points for a shot at bonuses or play it safe and fold for guaranteed points. Kids can play Texas Hold ’em, Five Card Draw and more. The game contains 55 playing cards, six stay/fold chips, score pad and instructions.

Drift with the trends

Drifting racing was born in Japan and is just becoming popular in the U.S. Revell, Northbrook, Ill., has teamed with drifting pioneer RJ DeVera to create the Drift Masters line of die-cast models, R/C and a slot car ($14.99–$99.99). The Revel Drift Masters R/C and slot car line features vehicle models where the rear tires lack traction, enabling the “drifting” action. Additional features include smoking tires and licenses. The die-cast line ($14.99) is designed by graffiti artist Swank One and bears his signature on each box. All 1:24 scale die-cast models come with scissor doors.

The Lowrider Club line ($14.99) features 1:24 scale replicas of the Lowrider vehicles built by Roberto Espinoza of the Imperials Car Club.

For tween girls ages 8–14, the Style Studio collection features six style categories: Sugar & Spice, Glam & Glitz, Rock & Roll, Sporty, Urban Chic, and Wild Side. Each features five fashion accessories: StyleSashes, StyleCaps, StylePurses, StyleFlips and StyleGems ($7.99–$12.99).

It takes one to Tangoes

Rex Games, San Francisco, premiers Tangoes Jr. ($24.99).

Tangoes is a modern version of the 4,000-year-old Chinese tangram puzzle, the seven pieces of which form a large number of animals, human figures, everyday objects and abstract designs.

The junior version is a tangram toy for preschoolers ages 4 and up, with a playing case and large puzzle cards with tear-resistant, wipe-able coating, plus thicker, larger magnetized pieces with an easy-grip lip. Double-sided cards offer two levels of play.

Three additional puzzle card packs ($6.99) are scheduled to be sold separately.

Rhythm is gonna get you

Rhythm Band Instruments, Fort Worth, Texas, introduces the First Birthday Rhythm Set ($29.95), for children ages 1 year and older. Made of impact-resistant plastic, this set includes Wave Drum, Rattle Roller, Clip-Clap, Handy Bell, Baby Maraca and Animal Castanet, which comes in a case for ease of storage. Also debuting is the Rio Rhythms Set ($29.95). Kids ages 3 and up can play along with the included audio CD or create their own Caribbean sounds with a Guiro, Samble Whistle, Cabasa, Jingle Bells and Maracas.

Brand new classic

Beethoven’s Wig Read Along Symphonies book/CD ($18.95) from Rounder Books, Cambridge, Mass., is based on the Beethoven’s Wig music CDs from Rounder Records. Written by Richard Perlmutter, with full-color illustrations by Maria Rosetti, the 32-page, 9- by 12-inch book features the lyrics from the song, “Beethoven’s Wig,” plus a bonus audio CD with two new songs. The song is set to the composer’s Fifth Symphony, while Minuet in G becomes the “Minuet for My Pet” and “Moonlight Sonata” becomes “Beep Beep Beep.”

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Trade on Saizon

Canada’s Saizon will unveil the new Kootikooti Wrestling Stik collectibles game from Stikfas. Kootikooti is a strategic interactive game played with 2.5-inch, flexible rubber game pieces. Using a single finger to nudge or flip their Kootikooti, two or more players take turns, using their skill and judgment to try and “pin down” their opponent’s piece to win the round. Series 1 comprises 50 uniquely designed, colorful game pieces for kids to collect and trade. With four series planned each year, Kootikooti will offer collectors and players different designs to collect and trade. Target ages are 6 and up. Individual game pieces retail for $3.45.

Schleich smorgasbord

Schleich North America, Toronto, brings a potpourri of animal figures, Indian and knight replicas and the good old Smurfs to retail shelves.

Among the 2006 offerings are Sioux Chief and Archer on Horse, Sioux Medicine Man and Sioux Scout, along with tournament Knights and Queen and King on Horseback.

Animal lovers will enjoy the many shark, puppy, rabbit and pig collectibles, while kids will love the little blue people, the Smurfs, featuring Dracula, Ghost, Mummy, Werewolf and Frankenstein Smurfs. Retail prices range from $1.99–$13.50.

Digital science

Digital Camera Lab is new from Hong Kong-based Science Tech. The educational science toy manufacturer introduces this kid-friendly digital camera that does more than just photograph images. It is also a periscope, underwater viewer and microscope. The Digital Camera Lab comes with a USB port to transfer image files to a PC. It is packaged with a tripod, telephoto lens, periscope, microscope, “fun image” lens and a water proof camera case. It includes a USB cable and image software. Designed for ages 6 and up, the Camera Lab retails for $39.99

Drawing from Scratch

Scratch-Art Co., Avon, Mass., is introducing four Scratch Magic Draw & Learn activity kits: Safari Animals, Sea Life, Outer Space and Dinosaurs. Each kit features four Scratch Magic drawing boards, two Rainbow Black and two sparkling Scratch & Sparkle sheets, a stencil, wood-drawing stylus and Fun Fact Guide for $4.99. A deluxe kit is $14.99.

Kids can create their own multicolored “stained glass” window art with Scratch Magic Light Catcher Kits. Choose from four designs: Butterfly, Hummingbird, Sail Boat and Flower, each for $2.99.

Senario and Scoozie

Scoozie, by Senario, Chicago, is an interactive plush animal that combines artificial intelligence, a full range of body motion and the “cuddle factor.” Four styles of Scoozies will be launched initially from a Web site, www.findscoozie.com, in May. The Scoozies will be found at mass market and department stores nationwide beginning in June. Recommended for ages are 4 and up, they retail for $34.99.

Dexterous games

Selecta Spielzeug, Edling, Germany, is introducing several new toys and games this year. Agricolino is a model farm designed with 3-year-olds in mind. Play with them as a set, or thread them together. Bellapista is a new ball track where two colorful discs roll zig-zag down the track, moving everything in their path.

The 16-piece Combinello is a colorful new building block set. Constructino is a new tool vehicle for little craftsmen.

Match picture to picture with Fantastico, a classic domino game. The caterpillar Formina puzzle teaches children to recognize colors and shapes. Giro Galoppo is a new horseracing card game with game board for the entire family.

Picco Popolino is an animal guessing game. One player describes or imitates while the others guess. Piratissimo is a family game involving pirates who roam the seven seas. The job of the players is to load the treasure on board their ships and bring it safely to harbor.

Quite puzzling

The Sudoku craze continues with a handheld device that offers thousands of puzzles by Shenzhen, Shanghai, China. The included Sudoku puzzles are playable at three difficulty levels. The numbers appear on an LCD display; batteries are required. Units are available in four colors.

How shocking!

There’s big news for Shockini mini action figures this year with Toxic Crusader, Bucky O’Hare, AC Comics and Judge Dredd just some of the new characters by Shocker Toys, Buffalo, N.Y.

With 18–24 pop-and-lock plastic ball joints, these 3-inch action figures and vehicles are interchangeable. A customized version comes with a blank figure and five accessories, standing base and stickers to create a Barbarian or Knight, among other characters. New building systems to create bigger Shockini projects and interchangeable vehicle designs are also hitting retail shelves this year.

Explosive fun

Crafting is fun with Chicago-based Shure Products’ Volcano miniature model with “lava” ($15) that can teach older children about the natural world while making their own plaster version.

Shure also offers a wood-burning kit complete with stylus and everything needed to make a hinged, wooden storage box, CD case or picture frame ($25).

Make a scarf with the Learn to Weave Book & Set that has a wood weaving loom, 1,500 feet of yarn and a 34-page instruction book.

Shure helps mold budding artists with The Most Incredible Clay Sculpture and Sketchbook.

For little hands there’s the Chunky World Alphabet Puzzle and Daisy Girls dolls and magnetic wooden clothing.

All booked up

There’s something for everyone with Silver Dolphin Books, San Diego, starting with Explore It Ancient Egypt, with 3-D pullouts and pop-ups and text geared toward tweens ($14.95). The Secret World of Mermaids has four collectible Mermaid figurines accompanying the 40-page illustrated book.

Build-A-Bear Workshop moves into the home with a Let’s Make Jewelry Kit that has all the “bear essentials” to make colorful jewelry and hair ornaments using basic sewing and beading skills learned with the 32-page illustrated book ($14.95).

Pink power

FunSlides Carpet Skates, from Simtec, Irwin, Pa., add hot pink to their color palette. Just strap the skates on, and kids ages 6 and older can glide on home carpets. The skates retail for $19.99 a pair.

Party hardy

Japanese anime and fairy fantasy are behind the Rock Hard and Scary Fairies line for tween and teen girls. Costumes and accessories, along with disposable party ware depict the Rock Hard Fairies and their nemeses, the Scary Fairies by Smiffy’s, New York. The fashion conscious brand will include wigs, boots and wings in the costume line and noisemakers and tiaras with party plates, cups and napkins in the party goods assortment.

Reel fun

Casting for the big one has never been as easy as with the JetCast 3.0 fishing system by Spin Master, Toronto. Kids will be hooked with the simple pump-and-launch, hook-hiding bobber that can cast up to 30 feet at the push of a button. The hook is concealed until the bobber hits the water, making the cast safer for young children.

Also from Spin Master comes Sandsations dough, which has the feel of sand but can be molded into umpteen creations, baked, and then crumbled to make the next sculpture. Many colors are available, retailing from $4.99–$19.99.

Pawphans are orphan plush puppies available for adoption with a portion of the proceeds supporting the Humane Society. Each Pawphan comes with a breed profile and adoption certificate ($14.99).

Komikai is a series of micro-sized comic books. The Series 1 starter pack comes with seven Komikai, four display cases and a magnifying glass ($5.99).

Girls will cheer for Bella Dancerella Cheerleading, a DVD/VHS release ($34.99) that teaches kids to rah-rah with pom poms and baton. A Bella Dancerella cheerleading outfit is available ($14.99).

Spin Master adds to its Aquadoodle line with Aquadoodle Sing N Doodle ($34.99). Preschoolers can sing along to “Old MacDonald” or some silly songs while drawing on the mat with a water pen and stampers. When the area dries, the color disappears so the doodling can begin again.

It’s a splash

Move over rubber ducky, here come Tile Tales bath books with stickers that tell a story from The Straight Edge, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider has four puffy waterproof stickers that adhere to a tub wall. When it’s time to wash the spider out, kids can just splash a little bath water on the sticker to make it disappear.

For budding baseball fans, Take Me Out to the Ball Game musical Rub A Dub bath book plays the song heard most often during baseball’s seventh inning stretch. The waterproof book has colorful baseball illustrations.

Both of the books ($6.99) and their corresponding stickers float.

T

Pray and Play

TadPals, Glendale, Calif., offers Holy Folks, 16-inch plush character dolls inspired by scripture.

Four new designs for 2006 all come with magnetic hands to hold a character-appropriate accessory. The lineup includes Jesus with shepherd’s crook; Mary with baby Jesus; Moses with Ten Commandment tablets; and Noah with a pair of elephants. TadPals donates a portion of profits to various local and national charities annually. Each doll is for ages 3 and up.

Twist on the toss

A new take on the classic infant ball, Toss the Taggie has loads of color and textured tags for babies and toddlers to pull and rub.

From Taggies, Spencer, Mass., Toss the Taggie ($19.99) is 8 inches in diameter and joins a full infant product line and two soft-cover Scholastic books, My First Taggies Book: Sweet Dreams and My First Taggies Book: I Love You.

Ant brigade

The busy bee who serves as the national ant mascot for child abuse prevention, Angie the Ant, stars in a children’s book, Angie the Ant and The Bumblebee Tree by Team Angie Productions, Charleston, S.C.

The first book in a planned series features Annie, an ant who is always helping others on her quest to find Antamar, the land of freedom. She teams up with Team Angie members, including Frankie the Blue Heron and Prince Bartlebee. The Team Angie crew will be part of a toy, book and game merchandising program, along with an interactive Web site and curriculum. Fifty percent of all profits go to child abuse prevention programs.

Hand-held fun

Two well-known names—Sesame Street and Sudoku—go electronic with handheld games this fall from Techno Source, N.Y.

The Sesame Street game stars Elmo, Big Bird, Ernie and Bert, Oscar, Grover and the other famous faces from Sesame Workshop’s children’s TV series.

A touch-screen version of the puzzle craze Sudoku has a training mode and four levels of difficulty with more than 10,000 puzzles. The pocket-sized game unit will be in the mass market in October.

Getting Tek Nek-al

CoolP3 uses text-to-speech technology for playing and storing up to eight hours of music and has the accessories needed—USB cable, CD for installing PC software, ear bud, strap—for young kids to record and carry around their tunes. Made by Tek Nek Toys International, Grapevine, Texas, the second generation CoolP3 is compatible with the CoolP3 docking station and has a customized DJ greeting.

Learn, little one

Babies get their brains and bodies moving with the help of developmental toys from Thinkativity, Englewood, N.J. To stimulate all the senses, Thinkativity’s new infant products are highlighted by Paw’s Learning and Play Doghouse, Burtle the Singing Turtle, ABC Fluffy Fish and Mookie the Storytelling Monkey. Sights, sounds, music and language skills are enforced with the Little Composer’s First Piano, Little Explorer’s First Globe and Dial H for Hippo Phone. The Thinkativity infant line retails from $12.99 to $24.99.

Thinking fun

ThinkFun, Alexandria, Va., unspools Gordian’s Knot ($9.99), “The World’s Most Difficult Take-Apart Puzzle,” as well as Flip-Side ($9.99), a single-player brain teaser, and Spin-Out ($9.99), a new version of the best-selling game.

The company’s Marvel Heroes line includes the sliding tiles game Hero Slider ($4.99), the card-and-tiles matching game Zingo Hero ($16.99), the Spider-Man themed Hero Tipping Tower and City Crossing ($16.99 each), Hulk Hopper, which features the Incredible Hulk in a variation of “peg solitaire,” and Rush to the Rescue ($16.99), featuring multiple Marvel heroes and villains.

Tiny Love

Symphony Light & Motion Mobile ($49.95) is one of several new products coming to market from Tiny Love, Garden Grove, Calif. The colorful mobile induces calm and contentment while stimulating baby’s development. The ActiviTot 360 Play-a-Round ($77.50) contains an interactive environment for baby in a padded play mat.

DVD MagIQ ($49.95) encourages young viewers to respond to scenes on the screen—versions are also available for 3–12 months and 1–3 years.

Tiny Love also debuts Gymini Duet ($65.95), a two-sided activity play mat with pull toys, lights and music and Gymini Melody Maker ($49.95), a play mat that includes, among other features, a baby-activated musical triangle play toy.

Turbo-maxed

Forget putting baseball cards in bicycle wheels to make flapping noise. Turbospoke ($24.99) by Tomax Ltd., Waterford, Ireland, delivers realistic, variable engine sounds in a unit that looks like a chrome exhaust pipe for bicycles. Consumers can customize their bikes and Turbospokes with a choice—American Chopper Pack or Sports Pack—of “motocards” and stickers.

Tonkin replicas

A new Aviation Series model takes flight from Tonkin Replicas, Seattle, with the new Boeing 747-400 Cargo Liner ($49.95), a 1:200 scale model licensed from the Boeing Aircraft Co. Also new this year in the 1:53rd scale line is the Remtec 57,000L Petroleum Tank Trailer ($49.95); and in the 1:87 line is the new Ton (“tone”) Series of die-cast metal and plastic tractor trailer models ($11.95), including the Freightliner Columbia, Western Star 4900EX, Volvo VNL 780 and Volvo VT 880. 

Hogwarts dolls up

Hermione Granger at Hogwarts ($124.99) joins Tonner Doll’s, Hurley, N.Y., licensed Harry Potter doll collection. Harry’s friend Ron Weasley will also join the line this year.

Tonner’s product catalog expands to include new arrival Tyler Wentworth ($59.99), a 16-inch doll depicting “New York’s hottest fashion designer” and her kid sister Marley Wentworth ($39.99). Fashion ensembles start at $29.99. The Chase Modeling Agency Collection dolls ($59.99) include Sydney Chase and her multi-ethnic friends in fashion ensembles ($49.99) and separates ($11.99).

UK interactive

i-Palz ($39) from TopBox UK, Cambridge, England, is an animated eyeball with character that sits atop a computer monitor; its eyes follow the cursor around the screen, and they blink with every mouse click. Aimed at computer users ages 10 and up, i-Palz can wiggle their ears, drum their fingers, stick out their tongues and belch or verbally react when email arrives. The unit includes software CD.

Tornasis does battle

The new collectible game Battle Shields, Champions of the Su Bat Shi ($24.99) from Tornasis Entertainment Inc., British Columbia, Canada, has players scoring points for their Champions—Mercron of the Humetaloidz and Surfer of Molten—by tossing hook-and-loop pieces called Xtreme Metal Game Shields as they combat alien athletes. The folding board has a display area for collectible shields ($5.99).

Toy Biz-ness

The 2006 Universal Pictures theatrical release Curious George and the upcoming PBS-TV animated adventures based on the character has inspired a line of toys from Marvel Toys and Toy Biz, New York, including Tickle 'N Giggle Curious George ($24.99), action figures and four adventure sets ($9.99), motorized Bump N Go vehicles ($9.99), and two themed book and plush sets ($14.99).

Toy Biz Worldwide spins out an expanding Spider-Man & Friends Super Heroes line, including the singing Itsy Bitsy Spider-Man ($24.99), oversized action figures ($6.99), an Electronic Light 'N Sound Role Play set ($14.99), the Super Hero Motorized Train set ($24.99), the Motorized Light 'N Sound Bump N Go rescue vehicles ($9.99) and Motorized Tub Pals ($9.99).

The 2-D/3-D Cartoon Network show Code Lyoko will be supported by action figures ($7.99) and role-play sets ($14.99).

Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling is represented by action figures ($6.99) and the TNA Championship Belt playset ($17.99).

The Marvel Legends family now includes new action figures ($7.99), multi-figure starter sets ($14.99) and Battle Booster sets ($7.99). The Marvel Mega Morphs ($14.99) transform into attack vehicles while the Spider-Man Classic action figures line gets updated ($7.99). New vehicles include Spider-Man Rip 'N Rev Racer ($19.99) and Cycles & Riders ($19.99). Role- play sets include Mega Blast Web Shooter ($17.99), Spider-Man Web Shooter Dress Up sets ($14.99) and Spider-Man Electronic Web Power Gloves and Mask set ($14.99).

The third X-Men feature, due in 2006, inspires action figures ($7.99), the Wolverine Mutant Racer ($19.99) and Wolverine Role-Play Sets ($14.99). An Apocalypse 6-inch figures offer a “Build-a-figure” bonus that gives collectors a deluxe figure when they buy the entire assortment. Marvel Legends action figures have more than 40 points of articulation and include a full-page comic or poster book for $7.99.

Catalog of toys

The Toy Collection Catalog, Santa Barbara, Calif., introduces a service to customize catalogs for retailers that are not part of the regular Toy Collection marketing and merchandising program. The firm offers design and copywriting, preparation of files for reproduction and printing of catalogs for individual retailers. Mailing list rental and mail-house services are also available.

Playing with wood

Toy Concepts/Kingsky Technology, Freehold, N.J., features new introductions in wooden furniture, music, doll houses and stables, plush, electronics and flocked animals. Licenses include Little Golden Books, Twisted Whiskers and Coca-Cola.

Make your own fun

Toy Play, New York, introduces toys inspired by Warner Bros. Animation’s television series Xiaolin Showdown. The Xiaolin Showdown 5½-inch articulated action figure assortment Series 2 includes four heroes and one villain, Chase Young ($6.99). Each figure comes with several Shen Gong Wu accessories and is recommended for ages 4 and up. Xiaolin Showdown Monkey Staff ($14.99) is child-sized and features lights and sounds—monkey ears and tail are included. The Xiaolin Showdown Deluxe Silver Manta Ray Vehicle seats two action figures and features lights and sounds ($24.99). The PVC collectible figures are 2 inches tall and stackable ($5.99). Flexible 20-inch Dojo the Dragon can be ridden by various action figures ($9.99). The child-sized Sword of the Storm plays sounds and lights ($14.99), as does the Golden Tiger Claw ($14.99).

Also from Toy Play are new additions to the Maya & Miguel playset line, Las Tres Amigas. The Winter Fun set shows Maya, Chrissy and Maggie in winter outfits and accessories, including sled, hats, scarves, mittens, candy canes, hot beverages, and snowman ($19.99). Maya’s Pet Shop plays animal sounds and includes a color-change sponge brush, cash register and counter, grooming table, pet food, water dishes, dog bones, carrots, brush and comb ($24.99).

For the adventurous crafter, the Dora the Explorer Made by Me Memory Keeper is an 8-inch by 10-inch book ready for photos, stickers, and more and is also available in a SpongeBob SquarePants version ($9.99). The SpongeBob SquarePants Scrapbucket Kit includes a 4- by 6-inch mini scrapbook album with ribbon closure, journal tags, printed photo corners, die-cut bamboo frames, printed, colored paper, stickers, glue, pens, and is also available for Dora the Explorer ($12.99). The SpongeBob Holiday Scrapbook Kit includes scrapbook, printed pages, photo frames, colored pens, glue and more. Other themes include All About Me and My Friends. All three themes also available for Dora the Explorer ($19.99).

The Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Make Your Own Dog Tags can be decorated with decals, colorful gems or photos. The kit includes two dog tags, one necklace bead chain, one key chain bead chain and decorative embellishments ($5.99). Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Pop Up Velvet Art includes six markers and pops up to be 3-D ($ 7.99). Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Rockin’ Art Desk comes in a guitar case with adjustable strap. Accessories include stickers, record-shaped paper pad, markers, glitter, glue, Ami and Yumi stampers and more ($12.99). So Girly! Decorate Your Own Wristlet includes puffy paint, large jewels, small jewels, three types of ribbon, sequin string and flower dangler. ($7.99). The So Girly! Bead Jewelry set features a daisy shaped bead case with seven compartments containing colored beads, stickers, rings, elastic string and more ($9.99). The So Girly! decorative backpack is purple cotton and comes with fabric markers, stencils, puffy paint, cut-out letters, gems and more ($9.99).

Sound and smarts

Toy Quest, Los Angeles, launches products from personal robots to character flashlights.

I-Que ($99.99), for ages 6 and up, is an interactive robot that uses text-to-speech technology to spell, pronounce and define any word in Merriam-Webster’s English Dictionary. It recognizes its owner’s voice, follows them around, and remembers their birthday and other personal information as well as tells the date and time, makes jokes, plays trivia games and offers new words to learn. He finds his docking station and recharges his batteries when they begin to run low.

Tekno, the robotic dog ($59.99), returns in 2006 with more emotions, touch, sight, and sound sensors, color choices, and accessories. A wireless transmitter allows kids ages 5 and up to command him to do a variety of tricks.

Licensed flashlights ($14.99) are shaped like characters from Nickelodeon, LucasFilm, and Warner Brothers properties, and sound like them too, for ages 3 and up. Musical instruments licensed by Blue Man Group include keyboard ($79.99), percussion tubes ($59.99), drum suit ($39.99) and air pole ($19.99).

Spin Sponges rotate and bear a Disney character design ($7.99). Rip Roar’s youth electronics line provides free movies, music and phone service. Video Free ($199.99), Phone Free ($99.99-$129.99) and MP3 Free ($99.99) are targeted to ages 8 and up. Ariel Reflections Musical Instruments are ornamented with characters from The Little Mermaid. The line includes keyboard ($29.99), xylophone ($17.99), conch shell flute ($9.99) and musical seashells ($7.99).

Bringing Cabbage Patch inside

Toy Vault Inc., Corbin, Ky., adds new designs to its Cabbage Patch Wooden Juvenile Furniture line. They include a decorated wooden three-piece table and chair set, toy chest ($29.99) and book shelf, featuring metal-to-metal assembly.

History is (re)written

TriKing Games, Alpharetta, Ga., offers the Anachronism collectible card game. Launched in cooperation with the History Channel, Anachronism cards feature champions, defenders, heroes, conquerors, gladiators, and other warriors from history who battle each other (Starter game, $12.99; individual Warrior Packs, $6.99.)

Dora explores format

Ty Inc., Westmont, Ill., has teamed up with Nickelodeon to add Dora the Explorer characters to the Beanie Babies lineup at this year’s Toy Fair. The plush toys will retail for $6 each.

U

50 Years of ants

Uncle Milton, Westlake Village, Calif., expands its Ant Farm line with an all-new Collector’s Edition Ant Farm in honor of the toy’s 50th anniversary, with retro packaging resembling the original and gold-plated Ant Farm, plus an Ant Farm Gel Colony habitat—both are for ages 6 and up.

Moon in My Room attaches to any wall and lights up internally. Remote control allows the user to display 12 different realistic moon phases. Also included is a 15-minute CD Audio Tour for ages 6 and up.

Shark Reef lets kids watch their pet goldfish swim in shark-infested waters above lost sunken treasure. The 3-D models include Great White, Hammerhead, Tiger and Mako sharks.

The remote control Tarantula is furry and realistic.

Games for everyone

From University Games, San Francisco, Bugs! The Card Game ($9.99) lets kids ages 4 and up pair up matching bugs. Each card features hand-painted artwork by students from The San Francisco School as well as facts about each bug. Now kids ages 6 and up can get in on the Sudoku craze with Do You Sudoku? ($5.99). Players use deductive knowledge to place animals in every square. No animal can appear twice in the same six-square box or in a line up, down or across. Look for a variety of Lego products, resulting from a brand new licensing deal. Chicks Battle the Dudes ($24.99) is for players ages 12 and older. Women are asked questions that most men can answer, and the men are asked questions that most women can answer. They pull the rope with each right answer, and the first team to pull its opponents into the center of the board wins the game.

Pessimism can be fun with Worst-Case Scenario: Game of Surviving Life ($29.99). Players ages 8 and up answer questions based on the Worst Case Scenario books. Right answers move you forward and win you gold. Wrong answers result in the loss of your game piece’s body parts.

For grown-ups, the Grateful Dead Trivia Game ($29.99) poses trivia questions about the band and the decades they span. Winners gain the coveted all-access, VIP, backstage pass.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Game ($14.99), for ages 3 and up, centers around Eric Carle’s illustrations. Children snack their way through the day, practicing fine motor skills, counting, color and item recognition. Another snack and learn combo, Munch Math, is for kids ages 7 and up. Players solve math equations to fill up a food-shaped card that has nine numbers on the front. Kids roll and then either add, subtract, multiply or divide the two numbers on the dice.

And in the ultimate customization experience, Toy Creator Real Toy Maker ($12.99) helps kids 6 and up invent new toys or modify their existing ones, using FlipFaze technology that allows materials to repeatedly change shape and color using warm tap water.

New licensing deals for the Colorforms brand include properties like The Backyardigans, Go Diego Go!, Lego, Dora the Explorer, Blue’s Clues, and Strawberry Shortcake.

Trading up

From Upper Deck Entertainment, Carlsbad, Calif., comes the Spellcaster’s Judgment Structured Deck for the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game. For ages 8 and up, the competitive themed deck is the sixth to be modeled after popular decks in Japan with 40 cards per deck. Set contains hard-to-get cards that are standard in most tournament decks, plus six monsters never released outside of Asia. Duelist packs Jaden Yuki and Chazz Princeton add the signature moves of the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX animated series characters and include 30 cards per Duelist. Shadow of Infinity cards come nine per pack for 60 total, including 14 rare cards, seven super rare, and four ultra rare cards.

Upper Deck also teams with Nickelodeon to release the new Avatar Trading Card Game, based on the Avatar show, which centers on the adventures of Aang, a 12-year-old who must conquer the Firebenders, evil magi who threaten the world. The regular set consists of 165 standard cards and 70 special insert cards. Chamber Card technology allows players to decide when to slide open a card and reveal hidden moves.

The Pirates of the Caribbean Trading Card Game, for ages 10 and up, follows the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and Elizabeth Swann, as Jack attempts to find a way out of his blood debt to Davey Jones, Captain of the Flying Dutchman. Also aimed at kids 10 and older, the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game is based on the multiplayer online game from Blizzard Entertainment, Irvine, Calif.

The Marvel Trading Card Game, for kids 9 and up, adds an X-Men expansion set with 165 cards, so players can create their ultimate superhero team from the Marvel universe with characters such as Wolverine, Magneto, Rogue, Storm and Professor X. Meanwhile, Superman Starter and Booster sets will join the DC Trading Card Game, to coincide with the release of the new Superman movie.

For up to six girls ages 10 and older, Upper Deck offers the AstroStyle board game, teaming up with AstroTwins Tali and Ophira Edut, who give astrological advice in Teen People, TeenRed, HelloKitty.com and the Oxygen Network.

Upper Deck also offers collectible stickers and albums in Batman, Yu-GI-Oh!, Superman Classic and Superman Movie variations, plus NBA-licensed die-cast vehicles decorated with team logos and colors.

Rudolph and more

USAopoly, Carlsbad, Calif., brings to market the new Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Checkers & Tic Tac Toe Collector Game Set. The set is packaged in a collectible tin with customized pieces, plus snow globes for “kinging,” for ages 6 and up. Also new is the Monopoly: Pirates of the Caribbean Collector’s Edition ($35.95), featuring locations such as Isla Cruces Beach, Port Royal Harbor and Tortuga Docks. Pewter tokens and dice are also pirate-themed for ages 8 and up. NFL Gridiron Trivia Challenge board game ($29.95) has 1,500 questions in five categories of football trivia, for those ages 13 and up. Continuing the sports theme, Red Sox Jenga Collector’s Edition ($19.95) has custom Red Sox baseball rules, for kids 6 and older.

V

Plug and play

Vtech Electronics, Arlington Heights, Ill., debuts the V.Smile Art Studio, for ages 5 to 7 ($29.99). It plugs into the V.Smile TV Learning System to let kids create their own works of art on TV. The system offers 12 activities including art lessons, creative play, practice time and free draw, with step-by-step instructions on how to color, draw lines and shapes, and mix colors. By using the drawing pad, stylus and Art Studio Smartridge, kids can create their own drawings or animated slide shows directly on the TV and save their work to show friends or parents later.

The V.Smile Jammin’ Gym Class ($29.99), for ages 4 to 7, plugs into the V.Smile TV Learning System and comes with V.Smile Jammin’ Gym Class Smartridge plus soft dance mat. It teaches about good food and junk food, includes active play with dance music and exercise activities, and teaches directions and spelling, numbers, letters, colors, and shapes.

Write & Learn Spellboard Advanced ($39.99), for ages 6 and up, recognizes correctly spelled words. Equipped with six letter spaces for writing and an LCD screen, the Spellboard introduces cursive writing in upper and lower letter case and includes practice lessons for printing.

SmartVille playsets designed for toddlers use interactive technology sensors to talk and teach. The expandable line contains two deluxe playsets and four junior sets: Alphabet Train Station ($49.99); 1-2-3 Treehouse ($39.99), Ice Cream Color Shop ($14.99); Safe and Sound Fire Station ($14.99), Musical Band Stand ($14.99); and ABC Post Office ($14.99). Creativision TV, for kids ages 3 to 9, includes the Creativision TV Learning Phone ($34.99) and Creativision TV Learning Station ($59.99).

W

A round of art

Esphera360º 3-D Plastic Puzzles from Warren Industries, Lafayette, Ind., a division of Mega Bloks, adds new 9-inch diameter sphere puzzles for adults featuring Thomas Kinkade art, Anne Geddes photography and a jewel-colored globe. Warren also partnered with artist Josephine Wall to add Jo Wall Moon Glow, a 700-piece glow-in-the-dark puzzle and Jo Wall Jewel Scapes, a 500-piece puzzle, to the line. Each puzzle includes a display stand or can be hung using magnetic suspenders and hangers, sold separately.

Sports balls in 3-inch diameter are for kids ages 12 and up. For younger kids, ages 4 and up, Warren offers the Curious George A B See game. Players turn over color and letter cards, then race to find an object that begins with the letter and matches the color.

In black and white

Wee Gallery, St. Petersburg, Fla. debuts the What Should We Call the Twins? board book, featuring new designs from company-owner and artist Surya Sajnani and an introduction of color to their classic black and white lines.

Wee Gallery Flash Cards, Wee Gallery Giraffe or Elephant Wall Graphics and Wee Gallery Greeting Cards with envelopes also are being introduced. Baby’s First Year Calendar and new wall stickers are expected to launch mid-2006.

Toys to keep and share

Wibbles, clip-on, micro-sized plush animals aim to teach values, kindness, and social interaction to tweens. From Wibbles, Sebastopol, Calif., the plush come packaged in identical pairs—one to keep and one to trade. Each box contains two identical Wibbles characters, plastic collector cards and accessory clips. Twenty-four original Wibbles characters, designed by former Hannah-Barbara cartoonist Al Tollefson, are currently on the market.

Sporty 3-D

Don’t Quote Me teams with Sports Illustrated to debut a new sports trivia game from Wiggles 3D, Toronto. The game is filled with quotes and questions covering more than 50 different sports topics complete with up-to-date stats and facts from baseball, soccer, golf, auto racing, poker, sports movies and other interests. Players re-live event highlights, tell tales of today’s stars and reminisce about yesterday’s heroes as they race around an innovative puzzle game board answering different question types in five categories: team, individual, vintage, names and numbers and sidelines (SRP is $24.99).

George’s books

That mischievous monkey, Curious George, stars in three preschool activity books by Wikki Stix Co., Phoenix, Ark. Each book has a theme: Curious George at school; Curious George at the circus and at a party.

Going wild

When Over the Hedge hits movie theatres this May, Wild Planet, San Francisco, will offer figures of the leading characters—R.J., Verne, Hammy and Stella—and talking plush that repeats lines from the computer-animated comedy. The Verminator Van comes with miniature figures with rev-and-release rolling feature. The Over the Hedge Aquapets need tending to and have sounds and songs ($7.99-$12.99). A plush assortment will also be out this spring ($4.99).

Dino-Mites, pocket-sized prehistoric creatures that live inside a 3-inch aqua chamber atop a volcanic base, are new collectibles. The four species are programmed to sing and dance and can express their moods through movement, light and sound ($9.99-$14.99). Verticon is an aerial battle system with domes, arenas and warrior packs for 3-D combat in a palm-sized battling sphere. Prices range from $4.99 to $29.99 and will be in stores this fall.

Covert adventures go high-tech with Micro Ear Gear Kit for the Spy Gear line. The hands-free investigation set for ages 6 and up has a Micro Ear Light and Micro Agent Listener. A detachable microphone makes it easier for long distance spying. The gadgets will be sold separately this spring for $5.99 to $7.99; the kit will retail from $9.99 to $14.99. For top secret correspondence, there’s the Secret Agent Pen with invisible ink and blacklight LED revealer and secret compartment ($5.99) and Spy Gear Walkie Talkies for remote communication ($9.99-$14.99).

Wild Planet also introduces SugarSnaps—doll with snap-on clothes and accessories. An intro pack features one doll, four outfits and a pet, and a Fun Pack of one doll, 12 outfits and a pet.

It’s your move

Winning Moves Games, Danvers, Mass., gets technical this year with Across Words electronic game ($29.95) that combines the elements of Scrabble with crossword clues. A talking host moves the game along as players figure out the clues before their opponents do. With only a minute to spare, teams have to say five designated words playing 25 Words or Less: People, Places and Things Edition. The timed, teen game retails for $19.95.

Also from Winning Moves, are mind challengers Rubik’s Jr., Rubik’s Sudoku, Rubik’s World, Easy Money and Beat the Count. A travel-size version of Stay Alive, the 1970s skill and action game where kids try to keep four colored marbles in play ($13.95), is also available.

Combat for Wizards

Axis & Allies Miniatures game from Wizards of the Coast’s Avalon Hill brand, Renton, Wash., challenges players to fast, head-to-head combat. This game is playable right out of the box. With reproductions of real WWII combat vehicles and fighting units, you can recreate historical battles from that conflict with authentic Sherman and Panzers tanks, and infantry or create your own battles. New nations and troop types join the battle in this new release. Each new booster pack contains nine randomized, pre-painted, durable plastic miniatures, full-color game stat cards and a set checklist. For ages 12 and up, the game’s SRP is $14.99.

Music to the ears

There’s always music in the air when Woodstock Percussion instruments are around and this year the Shokan, N.Y.-based melody maker introduces 12 additions to the Woodstock Music Collection. From a steel-stringed electric guitar and five-note xylophone to a pan flute and jingle bells, the wood and plastic instruments are geared for young musicians. Other music makers in the collection include a triangle, harmonica and tom-tom drum with natural skin top and purple wooden mallets. The Woodstock Music Collection ranges in price from $3.99 to $19.99.

X, Y, Z

Power of yo

Novice yo-yo players can get the hang of it, literally, with the Power Brain XP by Yomega Corp., Fall River, Mass., which allows for manual and auto return. As skills are learned, the Smart Switch auto return can be turned off to develop longer spin times and more challenging tricks manually. Power Brain XP is designed for kids ages 8 through 15 and retails for $12.95.

Bilingual baby

Although German-made, Talking Chou Chou, from Zapf Creations, Orlando, Fla., speaks English and Spanish and is set for a fall debut. The 19-inch doll ($34) speaks phrases in both languages with the flip of a switch and interacts with her changing bag and carrying sling by speaking special phrases. Talking Chou Chou requires batteries and is recommended for girls 3 years and up.

Fizzle with Zizzle

Zizzlingers transform into Disney and Marvel Heroes characters when dropped into water and that’s just the beginning for Zizzle, Bannockburn, Ill.

Asphalt Audio combines new and classic die-cast cars with the music of their times—pickup trucks cruise to country music while newer car models play contemporary tunes. For more mental endeavors, Prove-It trivia game covers sports, TV, movies, cars, cartoons and more with hundreds of questions that test knowledge and speed.

Handheld gaming gets a boost with card games based on licensed characters, along with the Z5 Game System and casino games that feature real speech and sound effects.

Zizzle Arcade Pinball also focuses on licensed characters but emphasizes a wood cabinet casing, licensed sound effects and all pinball features.

Finally, there’s Super Cycling Sarah and Sam R/C toys with forward, backward and stop capabilities and Rock 'n Strike Bowling with light up Ten Pin Alley and music to rock to while racking up the strikes.

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