Gayle Anderson was live in Valencia to take a look at the 2009 HOT HOLIDAY TOYS according to toy expert, "The Toy Guy" Chris Byrne. During the past 25 years, Christopher Byrne has spent some part of every day playing with new toys. His first job in the toy industry was writing assembly instructions for toys. It was during this time that he was working for CBS Toys, (a division of the CBS network), and their five toy brands: Creative Playthings, Gabriel, Wonder, Gym-Dandy and Ideal.
At the time, he didn't know this first job would mark the beginning of a lifetime of toy study and fun. The more he got into playing, the more he became fascinated by the toy industry. Over the next years he would become more captivated by trends and marketing in the toy business. He worked for many companies at this time, writing copy, fulfilling marketing needs, and performing duties in public relations. Still, he had no idea where his career was heading. Then, one day, Chris got his "big break." He got a call from a former boss who was working with a new company that had just founded a new board game, which was becoming all the rage in Seattle. She was putting together a marketing team for the game, and asked Chris if he wanted in on the action. That popular board game ended up being Pictionary. Of course it wasn't all fun and games. He spent a great deal of time traveling with the inventor, Rob Angel, and created promotions for the marketing firm of Pezzano & Company to spread the good word about Pictionary. At the end of this period, Pezzano & Company could say they had definitely helped put the game on the map, selling more than a million Pictionary games, when selling 100,000 games at that time was considered a big hit.
Here's his list of NEW HOLIDAY TOYS for 2009 as reviewed by "The Toy Guy" and
TIME TO PLAY mag.com:
ANIMAGIC HONEY MY BABY PONY:
Vivid Imaginations, $49.99; recommended for boys and girls 3 and up
AniMagic pets are just like real baby animals and respond to their owners just like a puppy, kitten, or pony would. Lap size and super soft, they interact, move, and make real animal sounds. Pet them and they respond with a bark, meow, or whinny, while moving their head, twisting their neck, wiggling their ears, blinking their eyes, and wagging their tails. The more you pet, cuddle, and feed AniMagic pets, the happier and more playful they become and the more sounds and movements they make. Honey loves when you pet and stroke her and loves eating her carrot. Hear her "whinny" when you pet her back or forehead, then feed her the carrot and hear her munch. Peanut and Dotty wag their tails when they're happy and bark for their bones, then bark again when they're full. Sandy and Snowflake meow for a bottle of milk and slurp it when they're fed.
Mega Brands, $14.99; recommended for boys 6 and up
Say goodbye to the strings and ripcords of traditional tops. Here come Battle Strikers, the ultimate kid-controlled spinning top battling system! Battle Strikers tops attach to a handheld unit-aka the Turbo Launcher. With the push of a button they spin and are revved up. Learning just the right amount of power to give them is a key strategy. When the tops are spinning, a quick flick of the wrist drops them-and they're ready to take on all comers. But that's not all. Once the tops are spinning, a magnetic finger cover, featuring MEGA Brands' MagNext technology, lets kids guide their tops into attack mode -or dodge an oncoming opponent. As always, the last top standing is the winner.
Hasbro, $19.99; recommended for boys and girls 8 and up
Connect 4 x 4 is the first-ever four-player edition of the classic four-in-a-row game! A clear double-decker checker grid allows players to win by playing four-in-a-row in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line on either side of the grid or by weaving through one side of the grid to the other. Think strategically to find ways to connect the ringed checkers that may be unseen by your opponents. Or focus on defensive game play-use the new block checker to claim territory and prevent an opponent from scoring!
CRAYOLA CRAYON MAKER:
Crayola, $29.99; recommended for boys and girls 8 and up
Lets kids be the masters of their own personal wax works with unlimited possibilities! The bigger the stockpile of periwinkle pieces and little laser lemon nubs to add to the 8 crayons that come with the plug- in unit, the more colorful combinations of unique, recycled crayons they can crank out. The Crayola Crayon Maker includes: 8 unlabeled crayons (2 ea. red, blue, yellow and green), one mold, and 2 plastic crayon connectors. No batteries are needed; however, a 60-watt candelabra light bulb is required.
DR. SEUSS SUPER STRETCHY ABCs GAME:
I Can Do That! Games, $16.99; recommended for boys and girls 3 and up
Get ready to twist, turn and s-t-r-e-t-c-h! Can you put your hand on the letter E-while placing your foot on the letter K-AND still put your ear on the letter Q? You've got to be super-stretchy to meet the challenge! In this silly game of physical challenges and alphabet fun, kids spin the Thing 1 and Thing 2 "toy-nado" to deal out letter-to-body-part challenges. Then it's time to get down on the colorful, oversized Dr. Seuss alphabet mat and stretch and turn and twist to put your body and brain to the test. Each letter tile represents a household plaything. When you successfully complete a challenge, you get to keep the tiles and put them in your toy chest. The player with the most tiles wins!
ELMO TICKLE HANDS:
Fisher-Price, $29.99; recommended for boys and girls 2 and up
These big, furry, red Elmo hands (featuring Elmo's friendly face on one side) allow your kids to tickle and dance just like Elmo does! The Tickle Hand gloves easily slide on to little hands and when Elmo's nose is pressed, the fun begins! When your child touches a surface to tickle, the Tickle Hands start to vibrate and move allowing your child to feel like he can tickle just like Elmo! But thats not all! Touch Elmo's nose again and its time to dance! Elmo will give instructions on how to do his brand new dance called, "The Tickle Hand Groove!" This new dance encourages kids to get moving and grooving! The hands also come with an instructional DVD that teaches kids how to do the new dance step by step! The DVD features Elmo and his mystery friend! Your child will be tickling, wiggling and giggling in no time at all!
EYECLOPS NIGHT VISION GOGGLES:
Jakks Pacific, $59.99; recommended for boys and girls 8 and up
For fans of the original EyeClops Night Vision Goggles, get ready for an improved, action-styled handheld design and the power to see with both eyes! Go into stealth mode as you sneak around in the dark, but still have the ability to see where you're going! The new handheld Night Vision Goggles allows visibility up to 50 feet in completely dark environments. Covert operations, nocturnal maneuvers-with EyeClops Night Vision Goggles, kids rule the night! Thanks to advances in technology, Jakks has been able to redesign one of the coolest toys of 2008 into this new format that delivers all the play value, but costs $20 less. If you waited to buy this product last year, you're in luck. This is still one of the most fun items we've found for after-dark play. Naturally, you'll want to set ground rules with your kids for how they use these and when and where they play.
Spin Master, $19.99; recommended for girls 5 and up
The new Liv line is a collection of four dolls, each with a unique personality. The dolls have been designed to represent "real" girls, or at least idealized versions of attainable goals that pre-teens can relate to, rather than a total fantasy world. (After all for a pre-teen, that magical day when they become teenagers is a very real fantasy!)
Sophie, Katie, Alexis, and Daniela are fun, bold, funny, and have their own personalities. Sophie loves trying out new hairstyles on her friends because she wants to be a celeb stylist one day. Daniela loves to sing and randomly breaks into song wherever she gets the urge. Alexis hopes to launch her very own fashion line someday. Katie can totally grind on her skateboard, but trips just crossing the street. The beauty of Liv girls is that they embody real girls through their hobbies and fashion.
And just like real girls, the Liv girls love playing online. Their owners can join in the online fun at livworld.com. When you purchase a doll, you will also receive a secret access code that unlocks the Liv world. In this safe online play area, you can read Liv girls' super secret diaries, watch videos, play games, try on virtual outfits, and take photos of Liv girls having fun!
Smith & Tinker, $; recommended for boys 7 and up
The first overall toy line that successfully blends a variety of play patterns under one umbrella concept and uses a variety of different forms to build and enhance the overall play. The play combines collectible trading cards, virtual pets, handhelds and online battling all in one seamless package. From the sophisticated and engaging online game and self-contained ecommerce site, data can be transferred to the handheld Nanoscope for smaller games and person-to-person battling. After play-and building up your Nanovor in solo play, data is uploaded to play online again. It's also possible to interact with other players and to trade Nanovor and build an entire collection. What we found so engaging is how well thought through the play is, how well designed are the collectible figures and how sophisticated the handheld electronics are. On the Nanoscope, in particular, we were blown away by the high-resolution color screen. The story and the online animated webisodes are edgy without being obnoxious, and the play is wonderfully competitive. It also includes the collecting, categorizing and strategizing that have been the underlying themes of such hits as Pokémon and Bakugan.
Shred Sled, $119.99; recommended for boys or girls 8 and up
Are you ready to SHRED!? Start shredding in no time with the Shred Sled, the next generation caster board. The first 4-wheel, dual-deck inline caster board, the Shred Sled makes it smoother and easier to start carving up the streets. How it works: Shred Sled's two boards and flexible connector allow both boards to rotate around the vertical and horizontal axes so it's easy to maneuver the board. The best part is you don't even have to push off! For better control and traction, each deck has a grip surface to maximize traction and stability while the concave decks make for better foot control. The 4 x 80mm polyurethane wheels and ABEC-5 bearings are smoother and stronger than standard hardware and unlike other boards, rarely need to be replaced. Riding the Shred Sled feels like a combination of snowboarding, skateboarding and surfing and it's much easier to control than older 2-wheel generation boards. Great for strengthening the legs and waist muscles, Shred Sled encourages kids to get off the couch and get active outdoors.
SUPER WHY SUPER DUPER COMPUTER:
Learning Curve, $39.99; recommended for boys and girls 3 and up
Parents are always looking for toys that balance fun with education
and what better way to do it than with the brand new fully interactive electronic learning aid, the Super WHY! Touch & Learn Super Duper Computer from Learning Curve based on the adventures of reading-ready superhero characters from the popular PBS Series Super WHY! This hands-on laptop is loaded with more than 35 fun and exciting literacy activities that help teach important early literacy skills like spelling, reading and problem solving in a really fun hands-on way. One of the unique features on the Super WHY! Touch & Learn Super Duper Computer is its fully interactive touchscreen. Children can either use the "Why Writer Stylus" or their finger to make selections on the screen, making play and learning super easy. The best part about the Super WHY! Touch & Learn Super Duper Computer is its "grow with me" curriculum that offers multiple levels of play. So as your child's literacy skills grow and develop, the learning becomes more challenging and offers extended play value along with the educational value.
10 Vox Entertainment, $14.99 cars; $3.99 card packs
Tracksters is an innovative racing game that combines classic vehicle play with online customization and racing excitement. The action starts with the high quality, collectible die-cast cars. Enter the enclosed code at Tracksters.com and let the action begin. You can customize your car, race on a variety of tracks, and earn points to make your car more powerful. Plus, you can purchase Track Packs--trading cards that let you add more to your world and your cars. High quality graphics make this a console-quality gaming experience.
TRIO BUILDING SET/BASIC TUB SET:
Fisher-Price, $29.99; recommended for boys and girls 3-6 years
The Trio Basic Tub Set with bricks, sticks and panels provides more easy ways for kids to build their creativity. The set features easy to attach parts that click and hold together for big building play and provides multiple ways to build. Set comes in bright colors and includes custom parts such as figures, wheels and chassis and durable tub for convenient storage.
VTECH RIDE & LEARN GIRAFFE BIKE:
VTech, $49.99; recommended for boys and girls 1½ and up
Young learners can pedal their way to smart play with the Ride & Learn Giraffe Bike. Kids can ride the stationary bike through a safari of letters, objects, numbers, animals, and melodies. The more kids pedal and bounce, the more they learn! The bike features five rewarding modes of active play including racing, ABCs, numbers, music, and animals. Children can learn letters and word association by cycling on the giraffe's pedals and watching the built-in LCD screen as they chase their favorite animal friends. The adjustable grow-with-me bouncy seat adapts to three different positions with a wide, stable base for lots of riding fun. This is a great way for kids to learn, have fun, and get active!
For more information about "The Toy Guy", Chris Byrne of TIME TO PLAY and the toys on his list, visit: www.timetoplaymag.com
"The Toy Guy" Chris Byrne
Time to Play Magazine
229 West 28th Street, Suite 401
New York, New York 10001
E-mail The Toy Guy at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2009 HOT TOYS were donated to the SIX FLAGS MAGIC MOUNTAIN 9TH ANNUAL "TOYS FOR THE HOLIDAYS" TOY DRIVE. The Boys & Girls Club of Southern California will be the beneficiary of all toys donated to the toy drive. The public is encouraged to bring a new unwrapped toy valued at $15 or more, to the donation booth at Six Flags Magic Mountain, to receive a FREE general admission ticket for the day!
Come meet your favorite KTLA personalities at Six Flag Magic Mountain, donate a toy, AND get your FREE general admission ticket on the following toy drive dates are:
Saturday, December 5th, 10am
Sunday, December 6th, 10am
Saturday, December 12th, 10am
Sunday, December 13th, 10am
Six Flags Magic Mountain
26101 Magic Mountain Parkway
Valencia, CA 91355