The Coolest Toys

Judging by the toys featured at the American International Toy Fair, the industry isn’t ready just yet to place huge bets on an economic recovery.

Toymakers are sticking with many of the trends that worked last year and are keeping prices low. One big theme is toys that take advantage of the falling prices of tech components.

Fisher-Price

iXL
Manufacturer: Mattel’s (MAT) Fisher-Price
Price: $79.99
Available: July 2010

The iXL handheld strives to be the iPhone for the pre-school set. The portable device contains six applications, including an interactive story book, a game player, and a photo album. It is PC- and Mac-compatible with an SD card slot for expanded memory. Although additional software isn’t needed for play, there will be other software titles available for $24.99 each. Mattel CEO Robert Eckert said it’s his personal pick as the hottest toy for the 2010 holiday season.

TechnoSource

Rubik Slide
Manufacturer: TechnoSource
Price: $17.99
Available: Fall 2010

One way toy makers are playing it safe is to develop new versions of favorite brands. With the Rubik’s Cube celebrating its 30th anniversary, TechnoSource is coming out with Rubik’s Slide. The product has the tactile experience of the original cube, but offers more than 10,000 puzzles and two types of play.

Hasbro

Weebles
Manufacturer: Hasbro’s (HAS) Playskool
Price: $29.99
Available: Fall 2010

As for the preschool set, sometimes the best way to a parent’s heart is to remind them of the toys they played with as a child. Hasbro’s Playskool is reviving its Weebles brand in their original egg shape. And, yes, that means the Weebles (pictured here) can wobble, but not fall down. Alphie, an educational toy from the ‘80s, also is back. This time around the toy robot is more lifelike, with a LCD screen that is able to depict facial expressions. Alphie will cost $39.99, and like the Weebles, it will be available in the fall.

Fisher-Price

Big Foot The Monster / Stinky the Garbage Truck
Manufacturer: Fisher-Price
Price: Bigfoot – $99.99, Stinky – $59.99
Available: Summer

One clear trend is that toys continue to pack more and more technology into them to provide kids with more interactive play. Bigfoot, which can entertain preschoolers with more than 80 actions and phrases, will be supported with a marketing campaign that includes tracking Big Foot sightings at zoos around the country.

Matchbox’s Stinky the Garbarge Truck is a follow-up to the popular Rocky the Robot Truck from last holiday season. Just like a regular garbage truck, Stinky can drive around, but this guy has a personality. He talks, tells jokes, eats cars, and sings. But don’t worry, he doesn’t actually smell.

Stan Honda, AFP, Getty Images

Hexbug Creatures
Manufacturer: Innovation First
Price: Between $11.99 and $17.99
Available: Now

Hexbug offers several different lines of micro robotic creatures. These critters are not only cute, in a geeky kind of way. They have already built a strong following. Fans sometimes take the original creature and customize them. Part of their appeal is that you can see their inner workings as they behave like the animals and insects they represent.

Lego

Lego board games
Manufacturer: Lego
Price: Ranges $9.99 to $34.99
Available: Fall

In 2009, two of the biggest trends dominating the toy industry were the popularity of construction toys such as classic Lego building blocks, which saw sales rise more than 30 percent in the U.S., and a return to family-friendly board games. Both of these trends offer families cheap entertainment.

This year, Lego brings the trends together with 10 games. For each, players construct the game board before play. While the concept is appealing, Lego will meet strong competition. Both Mega Brands and Hasbro also have brick-based games. Hasbro brings the idea to popular games such as Monopoly. Last year, Hasbro marketed a build-your-own version Candyland.

Bandai

Harumika
Manufacturer: Bandai
Price: $5.99 to $39.99
Available: Fall

Bandai is continuing to develop and extend its Harumika fashion line. New this year are mannequins with arms and legs that allow kids to create pants and other fashions. There also will be accessories such as handbags and even puppies to tote along.

Fisher-Price

Dance Star Mickey
Manufacturer: Fisher-Price
Price: $69.99
Available: October 2010

It’s a moonwalking Mickey that is sure to be popular among his many fans. Dance Star Mickey talks and can groove to five different song styles including soul, disco, techno and a Latin beat.

BossaNova

Prime-8 and Penbo
Manufacturer: BossaNova
Price: Prime-8 – $79.99, Penbo- $59.99
Available: Fall 2010

BossaNova is a spinoff from the Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, so there’s a lot of technology packed into these toys. Prime-8 is a gorilla that responses to loud noises and has several different moods. Penbo, a Penguish-speaking penguin, is more nurturing, as seen by the way she interacts with her baby. She loves to play games including hide-and-seek.

Fisher Price

Sing-A-Ma-Jigs
Manufacturer: Fisher-Price
Price: $12.99
Available: Fall 2010

These plush toys have three modes of play, including one where multiple Sing-a-ma-jigs harmonize with one another. With their low-price, different songs and personalities, these toys could be the next hot collectible.

Posted in Games.

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