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Fab Gear: Toy Insider Names Best in Play for 2016

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Adventure Publication’s Laurie Schacht and the Toy Insider team gave Holiday of Play attendees the lowdown on the latest & greatest modes of play.

Andy and Pete Say…
Once again it was our pleasure to join The Toy Insider team for the annual reveal of their choices for best toys for the holiday season lists. The HoliDAY of Play event highlights products in three categories, Hot 20 Toys, 12 Best Tech Toys, and 10 Best S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Toys.

You probably know “Toy Insider Mom” Laurie Schacht from her numerous television appearances demonstrating the operation of those products. The Toy Insider 2016 Catalog can be found nested inside the current issue of Family Circle Magazine, and you can get comprehensive details on each item at the Toy Insider Website link above.

Things to Make and Do….
There is probably no greater satisfaction for youngsters, really for anyone, than building something that works. That appeared to be the major theme this year at The HoliDAY of Play event. As we’ve seen in the past, from Lincoln Logs to LEGOS, the honing of dexterity skills, deciphering of instructions, assimilation of concepts, peaking of imagination and recovering from missteps, all make the final product a very personal thrill. The accomplishment makes the object all the more valuable to the builder.
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Fair Play: 2016 TIA “Toy of the Year” Winners

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The Toy Industry Association timeline delineates 100 years of service to the trade.

This week The Toy Industry Association, Inc. (TIA) celebrated it’s 113th annual trade event, once again bringing together creators, vendors, buyers and press outlets to North American International Toy Fair.
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The Joy of Toys: Toy Insider “Holiday of Play” 2015

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Jakks Pacific’s 48 inch Darth Vader loomed large at Toy Insider “Holiday of Play” 2015.


Toy Insider’s Got Game…
Between the recent New York City Comic Convention and Halloween approaching, Andy and I have plenty of information and photographs to share with you, and miles to go before we sleep.
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SuperStegoPterodonusExpyAllosaurus: Hasbro’s Jurassic Mash

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Hasbro’s Indominus Rex is ready for his close-up.

Rex on the Highway…
The Jurassic Park franchise is poised for reintroduction with the release of Amblin Entertainment & Legendary Pictures’ Jurassic World (JW) on June 12. You already know the plot premise of dinosaur DNA dithering posited by the late Michael Crichton in his original novel and assayed in three previous films. This new movie takes us a couple of generations down the timeline when the theme park concept is in full bloom and InGen bio-techs endeavor to combine several carnivores into one heavy hitter of a crowd attraction – Indominus Rex. What could go wrong? Ask Victor Frankenstein. Ask Carl Denham.

As I write this, NBC is spinning up some interest with an airing of the original Jurassic Park including some spiel from director Steven Spielberg and I’m guessing a new or expanded JW trailer package. It seems quite appropriate (and about time) I post some views of the Hasbro Toy Company’s related Jurassic World merchandise.

Hasbro was kind enough to afford us a look at their Jurassic World licensed products way back in February during a special New York International Toy Fair event. Some of what is presented here may have been altered by the time it hit the shelves, particularly the paint schemes.

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Hasbro gives Jurassic World the Hero Masher treatment.

Getting Skooled…
Immediately evident at the JW display was the wide range of age levels the toys are aimed at. I was surprised to find myself drawn to the more idiosyncratic items oriented toward a younger audience. Maybe I’ve seen too many dinosaurs since my first Louis Marx set in the late 1950’s, more likely it was the fun factor that attracted me.

In particular I got a smile thinking about these toys in live play rather than displayed on a shelf. The PlaySkool T-Rex has a goofy “I’m going to eat you” smirk and there’s potentially frenetic hands-on competition with the Wreck ’N Roar Play-Doh Game. I especially love the mix and match nature of the Jurassic World versions of Hasbro’s Hero Mashers, which have a serendipitous connection to the film’s mixed DNA concept, and give kids a creative outlet to make their own dinosaurs.

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Hasbro’s “Stegoceratops”

This is not to say that the choices within the more standard collectors line are not without note. In particular the “Stegoceratops” is a neat recombinant oddity that will make a remark worthy addition to any dinosaur collection, and I found the winged Dimorphodon really excellent in sculpt and paint job. It’s something I’ll want to own.

The “chomper” Indominus Rex is the flagship of the Hasbro JW action figure line. Though it has no other scale analog to pair it with, you could very effectively terrorize your pet cat or shitzu with it – or send it into battle with the 40” Godzilla you got last year.

Based on the JW trailers, one toy package that seems representative of what is unique in the film’s narrative is the Indominus Rex and Gyroscope Craft box set. If I was grabbing only one JW piece this would be it. The sculpt on the iRex is very good. It’s scary mean glower seems to suggest it is thinking about its next maneuver.

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Classic “Dino Damage” and JW tattoo recall the original Kenner toy line.

Damage Control…
Nostalgic dads will be glad to see that Hasbro has honored some design features of the old Kenner Jurassic line. The creatures sport JW “tattoos” and visible internal body parts behind removable or clear patches. It’s what collectors call “dino damage” and part of what made the original toy line unique. Some of it even creeps into the Wreck ’N Roar gameplay.

BTW, humans are apparently generic “green guys,” not representative of the film’s cast. It’s not such a big deal as I suspect open ended play will be the order of the day once these items get mixed into your child’s toy box. You can never have too many “red shirts.”

SkeletonPete Says…
It will be very interesting to see how Jurassic World and the Jurassic Park franchise resuscitation is received. What were in 1993 stunning CGI effects of dinosaurs come to life, are now common place on TV commercials. Audience expectations are going to be super high but I hope the filmmakers avoided the temptation to overwhelm with effects. I believe the success of the film will rest mostly on how engaging the characters are, and with Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy’s Starlord) and Vincent D’nofrio (who did a masterful job as KingPin in Netflix’ Daredevil) we should be in good hands.

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Toying with Success: 2015 Toy of the Year Winners

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The Toy Industry Association‘s 112th North American International Toy Fair 2015 (#NYTF15) got it’s official start with a ribbon cutting event at New York City’s Jacob Javits Center on Saturday February 14, but it launched with advance festivities at the Association’s annual Toy of the Year Awards ceremony the evening before. I’m glad to see several that caught our eye this season took top honors.

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Spin Master’s Zoomer Dino wins TOTY Best Boy Toy of 2015.


Spin Master’s Zoomer Dino, the remote controlled “Boomer,” was voted Best Boy Toy. Its sleek design caught my eye when I first encountered it at the Big Toy Book 2014 Holiday of PLAY event.

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Hasbro’s Rebelle Dolphina Bow SuperSoaker


Co-editor Adriana “Andy” Melendez (Sylverwhisper) was particularly fond of Hasbro’s Nerf Rebelle archery sets, allowing young ladies to channel their inner Katniss Everdeen in backyard Hunger Games or rival Marvel Avenger Hawkeye for his accuracy. One of the Rebelle line, the super soaker Dolphina Water Bow, took Best Outdoor Toy honors.
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Crayola Paint Maker Kit takes 2015 Activity Toy of the Year Award.


The Crayola Paint Maker won Activity Toy of the Year division. It’s a toy we gifted to my niece this year. Crayola’s complete line of classic to digital creative sets is impressive. I still covet my childhood box of 64 crayons, replete with sharpener but I’m looking forward to reporting on Crayola’s other products, including their interesting camera obscura style drawing apparatus.
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Elsa is Everywhere…
It would seem that Princess Elsa is celebrating her TOTY award by putting NYC in a deep freeze for the next several days. The ubiquitous franchise Disney’s Frozen deservedly won for Property of the Year.

The Complete List…
The Toy Industry Association’s press release offers the complete rundown of winners with an explanation of their voting process.

“TOTY Award winners were selected with the input of consumers (on ToyAwards.org), retailers (mass and specialty), media and members of the toy industry. The five ballots were weighted and used to determine the category winners, with the exception of the “People’s Choice” award, which was selected exclusively by consumers.”

Recognizing an outstanding toy that inspires creative play through various forms of activity, the Activity Toy of the Year was presented to Crayola Paint Maker (Crayola)

Recognizing an outstanding toy developed for boys of any age, the Boy Toy of the Year was presented to ZOOMER DINO™ (Spin Master)

Recognizing an app-cessory or other physical toy that interacts with a smartphone, tablet or gaming device, the
e-Connected Toy of the Year was presented to LEGO® FUSION (LEGO Systems, Inc.)

Recognizing an outstanding toy that helps children develop special skills and knowledge through play, the
Educational Toy of the Year was presented to LEGO® Technic (LEGO Systems, Inc.)

Recognizing an outstanding children’s board, card, CD-ROM or electronic game, the Game of the Year was presented to Simon Swipe™ (Hasbro, Inc.)

Recognizing an outstanding toy developed for girls of any age, the Girl Toy of the Year was presented to Shopkins™ Small Mart Playset (Moose Toys)

Recognizing an outstanding toy developed for infants and toddlers up to 36 months, the Infant/Toddler Toy of the Year was presented to Go! Go! Smart Animals™ Zoo Explorers Playset™ (VTech®)

Recognizing an outstanding toy that combines innovation and play value, the Innovative Toy of the Year was presented to MiP ™ (WowWee)

Recognizing an outstanding toy that is designed for outdoor play, the Outdoor Toy of the Year was presented to Nerf Rebelle Dolphina Bow (Hasbro, Inc.)

Recognizing an outstanding toy developed for preschool-aged children (ages 3-5), the Preschool Toy of the Year was presented to LEGO® Juniors (LEGO Systems, Inc.)

Recognizing a property that has had the greatest success spreading its brand throughout the industry, the
Property of the Year was presented to Disney’s Frozen (The Walt Disney Company)

Recognizing an outstanding toy that is distributed primarily through specialty toy retailers, the
Specialty Toy of the Year was presented to Gravity Maze™ (ThinkFun, Inc.)

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