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Toy News

Keep the Bells & Whistles ... but Don't Forget the Fun

NEW YORK --(Business Wire)-- When Toy Wishes, The Ultimate Guide to Family Entertainment, revealed the holiday Hot Dozen at its press conference this morning, the eighth annual list reflected how a shift within the toy industry towards electronics has prompted companies to rethink their product mixes. While this fluctuation may have challenged some classic categories, it has opened up others more broadly. At the same time, the list reflected that some things never change. Whether it's a technological marvel or a box of crayons, the key to what makes a good toy is all about the interaction between the child and the toy.

Illustrating this point are the products featured on the inaugural Fab Five list, also announced today, naming the five innovative products that do not require batteries or feature electronics predicted to be top sellers this holiday season.

"While it's true that today's children are comfortable with technology it's not always necessary to make a toy fun. There are many wonderful playthings - like those featured on our Fab Five list - that can entertain children for hours by just using their imagination," says Jim Silver, editor in chief, Toy Wishes. "It's up to parents to define what they want for their children and in their homes and then purchase toys consistent with those perceptions and values."

"It's always important to stress that the toy industry reflects a specific culture at a specific time, and, for example, because we live in a technological culture, technology is now a given with toys. But what seemed new, innovative and fresh in recent years, doesn't necessarily cut it today," says Christopher Byrne, contributing editor. "What this means is that technology alone - no matter how new or unique its application in the toy industry might be - isn't enough. Kids are looking for what we call 'authentic play experiences.'"

"Reflected in the Hot Dozen and throughout the magazine, are toys that require the active involvement of the child - physically, intellectually, imaginatively or socially," Byrne added. "All of the toys must have a unique relevance to the children who play with them, while allowing them to express themselves in the context of the culture they are experiencing."

"For example, this year's Butterscotch pony from Hasbro is an amazing feat of technology but without the ability for a child to form a relationship with their pony, it's a theme park attraction. It's the child's reality and the way in which they transfer emotions onto the pony that truly brings the toy to life. The fact that it moves, has sensors and seems realistic is an amazing bonus that reflects our time and our facility with tech but it's not the core of the play experience," Byrne continued. "The same holds true for Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses, Bratz Forever Diamondz or even Magtastik--while thousands of kids will want and love those toys, they'll deliver unique experiences for every child."

"As they play, children want a plaything that will engage them as individuals, that reflects their tastes and interests and seems timely to them in the context of their world," continued Silver. "As a result, manufacturers have been challenged to provide play experiences that are engaging, personal and rewarding."

"Ironically and delightfully, though, children always resist easy categorization," Silver added. "And since the role of play is to allow them to experiment, experience, and express, concurrent with the rise in technology, we've seen a tremendous boom in role play and creative play."

Since its inception, Toy Wishes has always maintained that 'a hot toy is only hot if it's hot for your child.' Each holiday season a myriad of hot toys lists are announced and while they are great and fun, they do not reflect the rich diversity of products and experiences available to kids. What's new and innovative this year may not be right for your child.

The best use of any list is to talk about it in the family, to use it in a conversation about toys (something kids are almost always willing to engage in, particularly if they see presents in their future) to foster communication within the family and to share and communicate values.

"Our goal is not to prescribe for everyone but to get people thinking about the role of play in their lives--and how they want to create it," Silver concluded.

So, without further ado, following is the Toy Wishes Holiday 2006 Hot Dozen (listed alphabetically):

    BARBIE AND THE 12 DANCING PRINCESSES
    (Mattel/Ages 3 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: dolls $24.99, horse & carriage $32.99)
    Barbie stars in her most glamorous, dance-filled role to date as Princess Genevieve, the seventh of 12 sisters in a magical world. Kids will love to bring this world to life in a variety of imaginative ways with the full line of dolls, accessories, playsets and even a horse and carriage so the princesses can ride in style. Exceptional crafting and dazzling costumes have just the right amount of fairy-tale magic to engage the imagination and let kids bring this rich, soon-to-be-classic story to life. -
    Available at: Amazon.com, Toys R Us, KB Toys, Walmart.com

    BRATZ FOREVER DIAMONDZ
    (MGA Entertainment/Ages 6 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $29.99)
    Are they fun fashion dolls or precious collectibles? Kids decide because these girls are great to play with, but beautiful enough to display. Jade, Chloe, Sharidan, Yasmin and Sasha are some of the most stunningly designed Bratz dolls yet. The latest fashions come together with just the right amount of spirit to inspire creative play with their message--"Be who you are." Each of the dolls' outfits dazzles with sparkling diamond-like stones, and each doll comes with a real diamond pendant that girls can wear themselves. -
    Available at: Amazon.com, Toys R Us, KB Toys, Walmart.com

    BUTTERSCOTCH MY FURREAL FRIENDS PONY
    (Hasbro/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $299.99)
    Now parents can answer yes to that age-old question: "Can I have a pony?" Butterscotch is a completely realistic, interactive friend that is the next best thing to a live pony--and even better to most parents. Advanced animatronic technology allows Butterscotch to come to life with realistic movements and sounds while inspiring creative play and a charming relationship between horse and owner. And when a child climbs on, Butterscotch responds with clip-clop and walking sounds. Butterscotch has a thick plush coat and stands more than three feet tall. -
    Available at: Toys R Us, KB Toys, Walmart.com

    DIGI MAKEOVER
    (Radica/Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $59.99)
    Want to see what you'd look like as a blonde--or brunette--but a L'Oreal disaster might not be worth it? Well, check this out and give yourself a no-risk, high-fun makeover right on your TV. The ergonomically designed unit includes a built-in camera and a touchpad. Just plug it in, snap a picture and you're ready to experiment with all kinds of new looks from the seriously stylin' to the downright silly. Digi Makeover comes packed with more than 50 hairstyles, all kinds of accessories and everything needed for great tech-supported play. -
    Available at: Amazon.com, Toys R Us, Walmart.com

    FLY WHEELS XPV
    (JAKKS Pacific/Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $59.99)
    We promise you have never seen a radio-control vehicle like this before, and no magazine can do it justice! This is truly a breakthrough innovation in this category. Astonishing engineering has resulted in a lightweight vehicle that actually flies with ease and fluid control. Take off and land from any hard surface and then soar more than 20 stories into the air. Glide, bank and be blown away by the precision of this elegant mechanism that brings hobby quality flight to a value-priced toy. It's durable, natural to learn and very easy for even younger kids to operate--if they can get the grown-ups to share the control, that is. -
    Available at: Amazon.com, Toys R Us, Walmart.com, KB Toys

    KID TOUGH DIGITAL CAMERA
    (Fisher-Price/Ages 3 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $69.99)
    Every kid loves to take pictures, and now there's an exceptional digital camera designed just for little kids that delivers great features and exceptional value. Dual handgrips, binocular view finder and sturdy "Kid Tough" construction means that even tiny shutterbugs can be trusted to get great shots with virtually no risk--even if they drop it. The built-in 1.3-inch LCD screen holds up to 60 pictures (expandable with separate memory card), includes big buttons and easy controls, and is easily connected by USB to the computer for downloading photos to PC or Mac. Save the costs of film and development, and let kids snap away and have a blast. -
    Available at: Amazon.com, Toys R Us, Walmart.com, KB Toys

    LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT
    (LEGO/Ages 10 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $249.99)
    This "robotics toolset" goes way beyond traditional toys and firmly positions LEGO as a leader in high-tech building. The centerpiece of this amazing set is the NXT brick--a "brain" that is the tech center of every creation. Employing motors, ports and technologies like Bluetooth, this set uses light, sound and touch sensors to make the most advanced robots you can imagine. Dynamic building, easily mastered software and your imagination come together in an awe-inspiring system that will revolutionize construction play for kids and anyone intrigued by bringing creativity to life. -
    Available at: LEGO Store, Amazon.com, Toys R Us, Walmart.com, KB Toys

    MAGTASTIK
    (Mega Brands/Ages 3 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: starter set $29.99, individual sets $5.99 and up)
    Even the youngest kids love the magic of playing with magnets. Magtastik is perfectly designed for even small hands to inspire all kinds of creative building and open-ended play. Big, plastic, brightly colored pieces are super-sturdy and satisfying to build with. The starter set can be complemented with all kinds of special sets, and preschoolers will love expressing their inherent creativity while they develop the skills that are the basic building blocks of math, science and problem solving. -
    Available at: Toys R Us, KB Toys

    MONOPOLY HERE & NOW
    (Hasbro/Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $29.99)
    This limited edition of one of the all-time classic games re-imagines Monopoly as if it were invented today. Buy and sell at today's prices and move playing pieces that are iconic structures. Properties include Times Square, Rodeo Drive and other landmarks, while the railroads become airports. But it's still the same exciting game that has entertained more than 750 million people in its 71-year history, and this updated version proves that the more things change, the more the desire to be a filthy rich tycoon stays the same. -
    Available at: Amazon.com, Toys R Us, Walmart.com, KB Toys, USAOPOLY

    SPEED STACKS STACKPACK
    (Play Along/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $39.99)
    Does your home resound with the rhythmic clatter of stacking cups? Not yet? Well get ready for one of the hottest sports toys in ages. Speed stacking is the sport that challenges kids to stack and restack specially designed cups in precise formations. Already in use at more than 10,000 schools, the excitement makes its way home with the complete set. It comes with the specially designed, competition-ready cups, an official StackMat, timer and instructional DVD. This has been demonstrated to enhance hand-eye coordination, concentration and self-esteem. And it stacks up to incredible, non-stop fun. -
    Available at: Amazon.com, Toys R Us, Walmart.com, KB Toys

    T.M.X. ELMO
    (Fisher-Price/Ages 18 months & up/Approx. Retail Price: $39.99)
    A decade ago, a little red guy laughed his way into the hearts and minds of the world, creating an unprecedented cultural phenomenon. We need a good laugh again today, and the 10th Anniversary Tickle Me Elmo, a.k.a. T.M.X. Elmo, takes laughter to the extreme. You won't believe what this furry guy does, and if you don't laugh till you cry, you must be lacking your funny bone. A remarkable feat of technology and precision engineering, T.M.X. Elmo will engage anyone who sees it and engulf them in gales of laughter as he goes through his three levels of hilarity. Get ready for another phenomenon! -
    Available at: Amazon.com, Toys R Us, Walmart.com, KB Toys, eBay! - Note: Many locations are out of stock. Check back as they restock.

    WII
    (Nintendo/Ages 6 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $250.00)
    Nintendo once again revolutionizes the video-gaming experience with a dynamic platform that makes players feel more than ever before like they're really in the game. The magic is in the breakthrough two-handed controller that gives more physical, intuitive, wireless control than ever before. Motion activation puts you in the center of the experience and breaks down the wall that separates serious gamers from everyone else. Now everyone can get into the action and love it. Plus, there are games for every age and every interest with much more innovation to come. It's a game platform that's well worth the investment. -
    Coming soon at: Amazon.com, Toys R Us, Walmart.com, KB Toys

Following is the Toy Wishes Holiday 2006 Fab Five (listed alphabetically):

    CRAYOLA TWISTABLES
    (Crayola/Ages 6 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $3.99)
    They're moms' favorite markers for their intense colors, great feel and long-lasting ink supply. Now Crayola Markers get even better with new twistables. There's no cap. Just a twist puts the felt tip right where it should be, and a special "garage door" seals up the marker when it's twisted back in. Twistables come in crayons, colored pencils and Mini Twistable crayons. -
    Available at: CrayolaStore.com , Amazon.com, Toys R Us, Walmart.com, KB Toys

    DRAGONOLOGY: THE GAME
    (Sababa/Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $34.95)
    Now the incredible book Dragonology takes on new life as a beautiful board game. Based on the New York Times best-selling title, players gather knowledge of nine different species of dragons, using ancient spells and dragon charms in their pursuit. The game includes a map game board, exquisitely detailed, 3-D sculpted dragon and dragonologist pieces, and much more. -
    Available at: Amazon.com, Toys R Us, Walmart.com

    FITDECK JR.
    (FitDeck/Ages 5-16 years/Approx. Retail Price: $14.95)
    Want to do something serious about helping your kids get in shape--and enjoy physical fitness? Then look no more. FitDeck Jr. is an ever-changing 50-card exercise regimen for kids. Each card contains illustration and instructions describing 50 different upper, middle, lower and full-body exercises. Colorful cards and fun exercises let kids create diverse training programs. -
    Available at: Amazon.com

    GEL COLONY ANT FARM
    (Uncle Milton/Ages 6 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $24.99)
    The original Ant Farm turns 50 this year, and it's still going strong! But for the 21st century, there's a whole new design that uses a tinted agar gel for the ants to colonize. It looks super-cool, and it's a great way for kids to understand the world of ants as they watch them create amazing 3-D tunnels. All the food and moisture is self-contained, and the farm comes with a mail-in certificate for live harvester ants. -
    Available at: Amazon.com

    PLAY-DOH CREATIVITY CENTER
    (Hasbro/Ages 3 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $29.99)
    What's 50 years old and new every year? Why, Play-Doh, of course. This year's new Play-Doh Creativity Center will delight and inspire the young artists--with markers, crayons, fuzzy pumper, Fun Factory extruder and lots of Play-Doh. Use it on the table or floor! -
    Available at: Amazon.com, Toys R Us, Walmart.com, KB Toys

While we make every effort to provide links to retailers selling the toys listed, some retailers may be out of stock, or no longer carry a particular product. When using the links, use the search feature on the linked site to find the item you are looking for. Links are provided as a resource only. You may also find these items at other major retailers. You may also try our listing of Toy Stores online.


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