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Toy Fair 2011: The Coolest Toys

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Highlights from Toy Fair 2011

Toy land is a happier place these days. After logging its first sales gains since 2006, the toy industry is heading into 2011 more optimistic about the year ahead. The upbeat tone was felt at the the largest toy trade show in the Western Hemisphere, which took place at the Javitz Center in New York City. Attendance at the show was up quite a bit both in terms of the people walking the booths and those showing their wares. The coming year will bring a number of toy-friendly movies such as “Cars 2
Photo: Stan Honda | AFP | Getty Images

Toy land is a happier place these days. After logging its first sales gains since 2006, the toy industry is heading into 2011 more optimistic about the year ahead.

The upbeat tone was felt at the 108th annual American International Toy Fair,the largest toy trade show in the Western Hemisphere, which took place at the Javitz Center in New York City. Attendance at the show was up quite a bit both in terms of the people walking the booths and those showing their wares.

The coming year will bring a number of toy-friendly movies such as “Cars 2”, the new Smurfs movie, and a number of superhero flicks that will help drive interest in licensed products.

But other toy trends are expected to continue from last year, according to Reyne Rice, a toy trend specialist for the Toy Industry Association. Rice expects to see kids continuing to gravitate to low-priced collectible toys as well as to games that get them up and moving.

Click ahead to see a sample of some of the coolest products from the show.

By Christina Cheddar-Berk
Posted 16 Feb 2011

Paper Jamz Pro Series Microphone

Manufacturer: WowWee Price: $29.99 Available: Fall 2011 Ages: 8 and up Fresh off its success with the introduction of Paper Jamz last year, WoWee is expanding the line for this fall. One piece of it is a Pro Series that will be MP3 compatible. This allows users to upload their own music and play along. The Pro Series guitar also has additional features to improve its performance. There is a built-in accelerometer that will add a pitch shift when the neck of the guitar is shaken. There’s also 14
Photo: WowWee

Manufacturer: WowWee
Price: $29.99
Available: Fall 2011
Ages: 8 and up

Fresh off its success with the introduction of Paper Jamz last year, WowWee is expanding the line for this fall. One piece of it is a Pro Series that will be MP3 compatible. This allows users to upload their own music and play along.

The Pro Series guitar also has additional features to improve its performance. There is a built-in accelerometer that will add a pitch shift when the neck of the guitar is shaken. There’s also 14 fret sensors for playing power chords and a working wammy bar and vibrato effects.

Pictured here is the Pro Series Microphone, which is likely to capture a lot of attention. It helps everyone sound more like a rockstar. The microphone’s perfect pitch technology analyzes and tunes a singer’s pitch in real-time. It also can add effects such as auto-vibrato and chorus mode, which multiplies a singer’s vocals to add depth.

Karaoke will never be the same.

InnoPad

Manufacturer: VTech Price: $79.99 Available: Fall 2011 Ages: 4-9 years old Kids love to play with Mom and Dad’s iPad and other touch-screen devices, but who wants to hand over their high-tech gadgets to their little hands? Vtech has a solution. It has designed the InnoPad, a tablet device with a color touch screen LCD, a tilt-sensor for game play and a collection of applications that incorporate Vtech’s approach to educational and entertaining games. What’s more, the device is able to take a few
Photo: VTech

Manufacturer: VTech
Price: $79.99
Available: Fall 2011
Ages: 4-9 years old

Kids love to play with Mom and Dad’s iPad and other touch-screen devices, but who wants to hand over their high-tech gadgets to their little hands?

Vtech has a solution. It has designed the InnoPad, a tablet device with a color touch screen LCD, a tilt-sensor for game play and a collection of applications that incorporate Vtech’s approach to educational and entertaining games. What’s more, the device is able to take a few drops and some rough play without breaking.

Although there are a number of pre-loaded games, the company also will sell software cartridges--many with licensed characters such as Dora the Explorer and the Penguins of Madagascar--for $24.99 each, to offer new activities and games.

Parents also can upload reports that monitor their child’s performance.

Redakai

Manufacturer: Spin Master Price: $5.99-$29.99 Available: Fall 2011 Ages: 6 and up SpinMaster, the toy company behind the popular Bakugan game, is placing a big bet on Redakai, a collectible 3-D trading card game that it will introduce this fall. Kids will get introduced to the characters of the game during a new television series coming to Cartoon Network this year. The game hopes to be a serious challenger to the Pokemon franchise, and its introduction comes as Pokemon gears up for a big year,
Photo: Spin Master

Manufacturer: Spin Master
Price: $5.99-$29.99
Available: Fall 2011
Ages: 6 and up

SpinMaster, the toy company behind the popular Bakugan game, is placing a big bet on Redakai, a collectible 3-D trading card game that it will introduce this fall.

Kids will get introduced to the characters of the game during a new television series coming to Cartoon Network this year.

The game hopes to be a serious challenger to the Pokemon franchise, and its introduction comes as Pokemon gears up for a big year, driven by the introduction of two new videogames for the Nintendo DS system as well as a new TV animation series, Pokemon: Black & White.

Redakai hopes to attract younger players into its franchise because one style of play is less reliant on reading than Pokemon. However, Redakai also can be played in different ways if the players are older and able to read.

One interesting element is the incorporation of the videogame concept of character damage. Characters can be injured or have their health restored as the game is played.

Air Swimmers

Manufacturer: William Mark Corp. Price: $39.99 Available: Coming Soon This isn't your ordinary helium balloon. These are remote controlled. The concept is simple enough. Take the balloons to your local party store, or anywhere you can get some helium, and fill them up. Then use the radio control to fly the fish around the room. The balloons should stay filled for at least a week, and can be refilled with helium whenever you wish.
Photo: William Mark Corp.

Manufacturer: William Mark Corp.
Price: $39.99
Available: July


This isn't your ordinary helium balloon. These are remote controlled.

The concept is simple enough. Take the balloons to your local party store, or anywhere you can get some helium, and fill them up. Then use the radio control to fly the fish around the room. The balloons should stay filled for at least a week, and can be refilled with helium whenever you wish.

Playskool Heroes

Manufacturer: Hasbro Price: $5.99-$49.99 Available: Fall 2011 Ages: 3 years and up With a number of key movie releases planned for this year, it’s going to be a big year for superheroes such as Captain America and Thor. Hasbro’s Playskool brand has designed a number of action figure products based on the company’s licenses in order to bring age-appropriate storylines to preschool children. Characters from "The Transformers," "Star Wars" and Marvel franchises have been adapted for younger childre
Photo: Hasbro

Manufacturer: Hasbro
Price: $5.99-$49.99
Available: Fall 2011
Ages: 3 years and up

With a number of key movie releases planned for this year, it’s going to be a big year for superheroes such as Captain America and Thor.

Hasbro’s Playskool brand has designed a number of action figure products based on the company’s licenses in order to bring age-appropriate storylines to preschool children.

Characters from "The Transformers," "Star Wars" and Marvel franchises have been adapted for younger children. For example, Transformer characters change easily from their hero form into fire trucks and other vehicles using simple motions that preschoolers can manage on their own.
Pictured here are Star Wars characters. You’ll see their faces have softer expressions so they appear less threatening to younger kids.

DaGeDar

Manufacturer: Cepia Price: $4.99-$19.99 Available: Summer 2011 Age: 5 and up Cepia is continuing to build on its success with Zhu Zhu Pets, but the company also will be introducing an entirely new brand line, DaGeDar. DaGeDar has elements of what has made Zhu Zhu so successful. It is another collectible toy that sports an inexpensive price tag allowing for easy entry into the brand. But that’s pretty much where the similarity ends. Each DaGeDar ball is decorated with comic-book-like graphic desi
Photo: Cepia

Manufacturer: Cepia
Price: $4.99-$19.99
Available: Summer 2011
Age: 5 and up

Cepia is continuing to build on its success with Zhu Zhu Pets, but the company also will be introducing an entirely new brand line, DaGeDar.

DaGeDar has elements of what has made Zhu Zhu so successful. It is another collectible toy that sports an inexpensive price tag allowing for easy entry into the brand. But that’s pretty much where the similarity ends.

Each DaGeDar ball is decorated with comic-book-like graphic designs representing a character that has a distinct bio. Collectors can register the ball’s number online and learn about the details of the character.

Although kids will find some suggestions for how to play with the balls and tracks, the company is expecting kids to make up their own rules about how to interact with the toys.

Secret Agent Headquarters with Alarm System

Manufacturer: Playmobil Price: $89.99 Available: August 2011 Age: 7-12 Playmobil heads in some new directions with its 2011 product line-up. The company will introduce a Styrofoam plane as well as toys that incorporate remote control. Another noteworthy addition is the Top Agents line, which taps into the recent popularity of spy-related toys. While all of the Top Agents playsets assimilate elements of traditional Playmobil toys, they also have some neat spy gear embedded in the pieces. For exam
Photo: Playmobil

Manufacturer: Playmobil
Price: $89.99
Available: August 2011
Age: 7-12

Playmobil heads in some new directions with its 2011 product line-up. The company will introduce a Styrofoam plane as well as toys that incorporate remote control.

Another noteworthy addition is the Top Agents line, which taps into the recent popularity of spy-related toys.

While all of the Top Agents playsets assimilate elements of traditional Playmobil toys, they also have some neat spy gear embedded in the pieces. For example, there is a video surveillance camera and an alarm system, which kids can use as part of the set, or even on their own to monitor what’s going on in their room. Another playset includes a hand-powered UV LED flashlight that can be used to reveal secret messages and symbols.

Bizu

Manufacturer: Spin MasterPrice: $3.99-$19.99 Available: Fall 2011 Ages: 6 and up SpinMaster continues to work on broadening its offerings for girls. Just in time for back-to-school season, the company will be introducing Bizu, a new twist on beaded jewelry that should help it make further strides in this effort. Kids can pick the beads and bangles they want and to build a bracelet or necklace, but the accessories are fashioned in such a way that they can also be twisted to create characters that
Photo: Spin Master

Manufacturer: Spin Master
Price: $3.99-$19.99
Available: Fall 2011
Ages: 6 and up

SpinMaster continues to work on broadening its offerings for girls. Just in time for back-to-school season, the company will be introducing Bizu, a new twist on beaded jewelry that should help it make further strides in this effort.

Kids can pick the beads and bangles they want and to build a bracelet or necklace, but the accessories are fashioned in such a way that they can also be twisted to create characters that can be posed.

Barbie Hairtastic Printables

Manufacturer: Mattel Price $29.99Available: Fall 2011Age: 6 and up The ability to play with and style Barbie’s hair has always been part of why girls have long loved to play with Barbie dolls. This year, Mattel is introducing a new take on hair play with Barbie Hairtastic Printables, which allow children to customize and print designs on hair extensions they can wear, using any inkjet printer.
Photo: Mattel

Manufacturer: Mattel
Price $29.99
Available: Fall 2011
Age: 6 and up

The ability to play with and style Barbie’s hair has always been part of why girls have long loved to play with Barbie dolls.

This year, Mattel is introducing a new take on hair play with Barbie Hairtastic Printables, which allow children to customize and print designs on hair extensions they can wear, using any inkjet printer.

Air Hogs Hyperactive!

Manufacturer: Spin Master Price: $49.99 Available: Fall 2011 Ages: 12 and up SpinMaster’s Air Hogs line is known for bringing the type of technology sometimes only found in hobby-grade radio-controlled products to the mass market. This year’s new addition, Air Hogs Hyperactive, is noteworthy for two reasons. First, the car can reach rapid speeds approaching 20 miles an hour. Also, it operates using a controller on a 2.4 gigahertz frequency. This allows children to control the vehicle at a long r
Photo: Spin Master

Manufacturer: Spin Master
Price: $49.99
Available: Fall 2011
Ages: 12 and up

SpinMaster’s Air Hogs line is known for bringing the type of technology sometimes only found in hobby-grade radio-controlled products to the mass market.

This year’s new addition, Air Hogs Hyperactive, is noteworthy for two reasons. First, the car can reach rapid speeds approaching 20 miles an hour. Also, it operates using a controller on a 2.4 gigahertz frequency. This allows children to control the vehicle at a long range and also to operate a number of cars at the same time without worrying about interference.

Radica Fijit Friends Interactive Toy

Manufacturer: Mattel Price $49.99 Available: Fall 2011 Age: 6 and up Fijit is an adorable interactive robotic toy that comes in four different styles. Although the price tag is on the higher side, Mattel is hoping that his personality will win people over. Fijit can understand and respond to more than 30 verbal commands with more than 150 built-in phrases and jokes. But it may be his squishy soft skin that makes the toy very squeezable. Fijit also loves to bop along to different types of music a
Photo: Stan Honda | AFP | Getty Images

Manufacturer: Mattel
Price $49.99
Available: Fall 2011
Age: 6 and up

Fijit is an adorable interactive robotic toy that comes in four different styles. Although the price tag is on the higher side, Mattel is hoping that his personality will win people over.

Fijit can understand and respond to more than 30 verbal commands with more than 150 built-in phrases and jokes. But it may be his squishy soft skin that makes the toy very squeezable. Fijit also loves to bop along to different types of music and has a Sonic Chirp technology that can recognize different types of media—mobile applications, webisodes, and television commercials--and respond with various programmed reactions.

JiGaZo

Manufacturer: Hasbro Price: $24.99 Available: On Shelves Ages: 8 and up JiGaZo is a 300-piece puzzle that can be rearranged to create millions of face combinations including images of yourself, your friends, your family, or even your pet. The pieces all have varying levels of sepia-colored gradations along with a symbol and color coding. When the pieces are locked together any face can be created. Special software generates a symbol map. Kids can use the map to arrange the pieces to create the d
Photo: Hasbro

Manufacturer: Hasbro
Price: $24.99
Available: On Shelves
Ages: 8 and up

JiGaZo is a 300-piece puzzle that can be rearranged to create millions of face combinations including images of yourself, your friends, your family, or even your pet.

The pieces all have varying levels of sepia-colored gradations along with a symbol and color coding. When the pieces are locked together any face can be created.

Special software generates a symbol map. Kids can use the map to arrange the pieces to create the desired image.

Razor BoGo Pogo Stick

Manufacturer: Razor Price: $89.99 Available: Spring 2011 Ages: 6 and up Razor is looking to reinvent the pogo stick with new technology and a sleek design. Bow-spring technology, licensed from Carnegie Mellon University, adds a power boost to the bounce.
Photo: Razor

Manufacturer: Razor
Price: $89.99
Available: Spring 2011
Ages: 6 and up

Razor is looking to reinvent the pogo stick with new technology and a sleek design. Bow-spring technology, licensed from Carnegie Mellon University, adds a power boost to the bounce.

Elmo Let’s Rock

Manufacturer: Hasbro Price: $69.99 Available: Fall 2011 Ages: 18 months and up Hasbro has just taken on the “Sesame Street” license and it will be bringing a number of new products to market. One of them is Let’s Rock Elmo, which comes with its very own microphone, tambourine and drum set. Kids will love that Elmo can recognize which instrument he has in his hands and interact with it. A keyboard and guitar are also available separately.
Photo: Hasbro

Manufacturer: Hasbro
Price: $69.99
Available: Fall 2011
Ages: 18 months and up

Hasbro has just taken on the “Sesame Street” license and it will be bringing a number of new products to market.

One of them is Let’s Rock Elmo, which comes with its very own microphone, tambourine and drum set. Kids will love that Elmo can recognize which instrument he has in his hands and interact with it. A keyboard and guitar are also available separately.

Lite Sprites

Manufacturer: WowWee Price: $19.99-$39.99 Available: Fall 2011 Ages: 4 and up Girls love magic wands and fairies, and Lite Sprites plays off of both of these concepts. The toy features a color wand that uses a patented technology to collect color from any object. Once captured, the color can be shared with other toys in the product line. The magic wand also can play three interactive games. One fun element is that one Sprite, who is named Bleak, is naughty and can use her power to eliminate and
Photo: WowWee

Manufacturer: WowWee
Price: $19.99-$39.99
Available: Fall 2011
Ages: 4 and up

Girls love magic wands and fairies, and Lite Sprites plays off of both of these concepts.

The toy features a color wand that uses a patented technology to collect color from any object. Once captured, the color can be shared with other toys in the product line. The magic wand also can play three interactive games.

One fun element is that one Sprite, who is named Bleak, is naughty and can use her power to eliminate and disrupt the color of the Lite-Topia fairyland.

RC Fast Wheels

Manufacturer: Jakks Pacific Price: $19.99Available: Fall 2011Ages: 5 and up Boys tend to have buckets full of die-cast cars. This toy can turn any of those into a remote-controlled vehicle. Just click on RC Fast Wheels, and away it goes. Fast Wheels can even perform stunts like wheelies and 360’s.
Photo: Jakks Pacific

Manufacturer: Jakks Pacific
Price: $19.99
Available: Fall 2011
Ages: 5 and up

Boys tend to have buckets full of die-cast cars. This toy can turn any of those into a remote-controlled vehicle. Just click on RC Fast Wheels, and away it goes. Fast Wheels can even perform stunts like wheelies and 360’s.