Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Toy Fair Revisited

So I was in the area yesterday, and I had some time on my hands, and I realized I may have been a little harsh on my first assessment... so I decided to return to the Toy Fair and give it another go. I think I was a little more patient this time, and without the weight of camera/audio equipment I was feeling unemcumbered and ready to play.

As a fan of bouncy balls, I'm always on the lookout for advancements in the field. There are sooo many "high bounce" balls on the market, but if you give some of these balls a test bounce you'll realize that it's far from the truth. Then I met Santron, who works for Rocket USA, and he introduced me to their Spikee Brand Bouncy Balls.
Not only does the spike texture give it a pleasurable hold, but with a good strong bounce this ball will easily go over six feet. It's not the highest bouncer I've seen, but paired with the additional textured feature and glow in the dark abilities, I'd rank this one pretty high.

I think the coolest collection of products this year was at the Fred & Friends booth. These guys used to be strictly in the toy business, (making some of the best stretchy lizards, snakes, and body parts around), but a few years ago they expanded into the adult market making home products and other fun things. Everything they make is beautifull designed, from their manhole cover mats to the high heel door stop to colorful animal oven mitts, and that's just the beginning. They don't sell to consumer's directly, but you can find most of their stuff at or you can use their store locator to find a location near you.

The most secretive thing I saw at the Toy Fair was probably at the Basic Fun booth. They're coming out with a line of Transformers products to coincide with the premiere of the new movie this summer. They keep all the prototypes for the Transformers toys in a back room because the movie people don't want pictures of the characters to get out. I got a special tour though, and now I know what they look like. So what do they look like? Transformery, I guess... Basic Fun also makes Pontiki, these cool little geometric pieces that you can put together to make all sorts of creatures. It's sort of like Mr. Potato Head for older people, (nothing against the potato). I've always sort of wanted to get one, but they're pretty expensive. The woman I spoke to at Basic Fun said they sell them to retailers for $3.00, so it must be the retailers marking the price up.

There are always a lot of people with board games at the Toy Fair, but most of them usually seem pretty lame. But one board game stands out like a beacon in a sea of lameness. That game is Controversy, developed by the nice guys at NY Game Factory. It's an action-packed game full of discussion, persuasion, and fun. So maybe I'm a little biased since I participated in an early test trial of the game, but it's awesome- trust me.

And I'll end with the most impressive product of the day. This truly blew my mind, and still impresses me everytime I see it in action. They're called ZeeBeez:
It looks sort of like those little rubber half spheres that you flip inside-out and set on the counter until they pop up when you least expect them- but it's sooo much more. Zeebeez start the same way, you flip it inside out, but then you hold onto this little yellow peg and give it a slight spin as you drop it. It hits the floor with a loud pop, and then shoots up astonishingly quickly to a height of at least six feet. I can't even explain it, but it's amazing. I'm not sure where they're available yet, but if you're in the NY area you should stop by my apartment so you can try it for yourself. If that wasn't cool enough, it was invented by Oregonian Steve Walterscheid, who after licensing his ideas to other companies for years is starting off on his own with Zing Toys.

So there you go, a slightly less jaded report from the Toy Fair. Questions? Comments? Want to schedule as appointment to test Zeebeez?

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