The toy industry held its 105th annual Toy Fair this week in New York City. At the opening ceremonies, The Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced the winners of 2008's, T.O.T.Y's, Toy Of The Year awards. Like the Oscars, the T.O.T.Y's are awarded to toys debuting in the prior year. Twelve T.O.T.Y.'s were awarded in eleven categories, like Best Outdoor Toy, Best Educational Toy, Game of the Year, Most Innovative Toy, Best Boy Toy, and of course, THE Toy Of The YearI
I won't keep you in suspense, I'll share THE Toy of the Year with you first!
1. Toy of the Year: Air Hogs Havoc Heli Laser Battle (Spin Master, Ltd.)
Not just for kids, the Air Hogs Havoc Heli Lasers ($130) packs twin drive props, dual top rotors, and six way directional control into the smallest radio-controlled helicopters in the world. These helis even make the sounds of battling helicopters. Made for two players, each gets a dual-toggle, single throttle wireless control for his heli. Battles made to be fought indoors; just perfect for heli couch potatoes!
The Havoc Helis are rated "easy to fly;" at least one user has reported his two-year old can fly it. This video from AirHogsGirl shows the Havoc Helis in action:
2. Most Innovative Toy Of The Year: Smart Cycle™ Physical Learning Arcade (Fisher-Price)
3. Educational Toy of the Year: Smart Cycle™ Physical Learning Arcade (Fisher-Price)
Yes, you read it right: the Smart Cycle won both Educational Toy of the Year and Most Innovative Toy of the Year!
Why not? Kids love to be active and love to watch videos and play arcade games. So Fisher Price combined all three in this stationary bike that hooks up to your TV. For 3 to 6 year-olds, this Smart Cycle also sneaks in a bit of schooling, teaching abc's, numbers, spelling, problem solving, and other pre-school skills. Motor coordination is supported through the use of directional movement of the bike handles and the joy stick; and the bike's speed controls how fast the lessons are played. Smart Cycle is available for about $100. Also, you can now buy many of your child's favorite toy and story characters in Smart Cycle software format, such as Dora , Sponge Bob , Dino , Elmo , HotWheels, and even Barbie !
4. Electronic Entertainment Toy of the Year: Power Tour Electric Guitar (Tiger Electronics)
This Gibson-branded "toy" guitar is more than a mime-along, although that's fun for all of us rockers. The Power Tour Electric Guitar offers a really fun learning strategy for the young rocker who, by following the lights on the frets can learn the basic chords of 12 pre-loaded songs while they are playing. The accompanying DVD teaches strumming, fingering, chording, and other tricks of the trade. An MP3 player can be hooked up to the guitar so you can play along with the music of your choice. This toy has a very high customer rating as a learning device for young people and their parents! Available in black , white , and yes... pink from $30 - $60 at Amazon.com. The Power Tour Amp is sold separately for $44.99.
5. Infant/Preschool Toy of the Year: Moon Sand Adventure Island (SpinMaster Ltd.)
Sand and plastic molds in bright colors makes building sand characters just too much fun, and you don't even have to bring your kiddies to the beach! The sand and molds can be all wrapped up in the toy's case for transport and clean-up, so that makes Moon Sand Adventure Island even neater than it may seem. For ages 3 - 8, priced at 14.69.
6. Activity Toy of the Year: Lego City (LEGO Systems, Inc.) Lego Systems just keeps advancing what it does best, helping to stimulate creativity in kids (and their parents) through building activities. Lego city has an array of emergency and industrial vehicles available now: cargo ships, emergency vehicles, construction trucks, and so many others. Within each grouping there are four or five different Lego models. Customers provide ratings for Lego toys, so you can get feedback on them before you purchase. Lego will shop the cheapest prices for you! Play video games utilizing these vehicles on-line at the Lego City website.
7. Game of the Year: Rubik's Revolution (Techno Source)
If you're not busy or dizzy enough, you can try the challenge of this super Rubik's Cube. Rubik's Revolution is on speed, electronically speaking, with flashing lights going off like crazy that you either stamp out, light up, memorize, or beat up your friends with... I'm exhausted even writing about it. Six programmed games are more than enough to keep you busy until the next generation of Rubik comes along. Rubik Revolution sells for 18.92 at Amazon.com .
8. Specialty Toy of the Year: Snap Circuits (Elenco)
The specialty award goes to the best product distributed primarily to a specialty market, but with the emphasis in learning toys, and in learning while doing, model shops may become a thing of the past, as mass markets increase their share. Snap Circuits 300, so named because the 60 parts contained can make up to 300 different electronic parts including an AM radio, burglar alarm, radio announcer and so many more. Requires 4 "AA" batteries, not included. The heck with the recommended age level (8 - 15 years), I'm buying one for myself. At Amazon.com.
9. Outdoor Toy of the Year: Ripstik Caster Board (Ripstik USA)Whew! If I was young again and a bit more certain of my balancing ability, I would LOVE to Ripstik! The company says Ripstik is made for ages 7 to 83.25 years; I guess it found a very daring 83-year old!
This two-wheeled, foot-gripping board looks like its cousin, the skateboard, but has the action, according to users, of a snowboard, with a similar ability to "carve." The Ripstik makes the skateboard sooo 20th Century! Ripstik is available in several models starting at about $80; instructional videos are included. Make sure you purchase a helmet to go with the Ripstick; you don't want to be without one.
Want to see someone (nbscooters) make Ripstiking look easy?
10a. Girl Toy of the Year: Littlest Pet Shop: Display & Play Round & Round Pet Town Playset (Hasbro, Inc.)
For ages 4 and up, the Littlest Pet Shop has some unique activities for its toy pets, including riding an elevator, sliding down a board, swinging in a hammock and just hanging out together. This Pet Shop has a total of nine toy pets (some only have two pets) for a cost of $40.
10b. Girl Toy of the Year: Troop Groovy Girls (Manhattan Toy)
Binni-Ballerina Groovy GirlNo, you're not seeing double. The T.O.T.Y. was awarded to two toys in the Girl Toy category. The Troop Groovy Girls were introduced in late 2006, inspired by the Girl Scouts, and are now quite a hot number in collectibles. They definitely show that all kinds of cool girls are Brownies and Girl Scouts! Starting at about $15 , better get them while you can! (at Amazon )
11. Boy Toy of the Year: Transformers Movie Deluxe Figures (Hasbro, Inc.) Transformers was a tremendous box office success, and its toy character "figures come cars" are carrying on the family name. The newest one, Transformers Movie Deluxe Figures Wave 10 Revision 1, pictured above, isn't even out yet! There are similar packaged figures available for around $99, and that seems the best buy; however individual personalities like the 2008 Camaro that turns into a Bumblebee can be purchased separately. The Transformers are also collectibles.
Now, let's get our toys and play!