Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tour the World via "Toy Planes": NYIGF Winter 2013

Kids no longer need to make toys that look like cars.  Now they can just make it and go for a drive in their own unique creation.

DOES: Go for a ride with me.  Check out what's new in the world of toys.... it is literally an around-the-globe adventure.
NOTE: These are not reviews.  Just my invitation to you to gawk along with me!  These products look totally awesome.

I love walking up and down the aisles of the New York International Gift Fair.   I can see works of aesthetically-pleasing play-based learning everywhere I go.  And aesthetically pleasing it really is because this is a fair that celebrates good design and toys from ALL OVER THE WORLD.  So fasten your seat belt because you just must embark on this trip on my International Toy Airlines! No passport necessary.

Domestic Tour Package Details coming soon in part 2 (I promise to show you awesome U.S.-based products too!)

(You last saw this country represented here by Coerceo and the Ultimaker)

OOTS! designed for your life

How can you not love a name like "OOTS!"  I have no idea what it means but all I know is that I had to see this model toy making kit for myself.  I have dreamed that there could be a toy that a kid could use to make something truly functional and life-sized.  OOTS! definitely fills this role, does it not?  But, I must be truthful, I didn't sit on it. Gosh, they are so cool looking that it honestly didn't even occur to me to ask if I could try it out. I only felt it and boy, did it feel awesome!!!  I saw their directions too.  No words, just photos and the directions at first glance, did not look too complicated.  Maybe around the holidays, this could be something that a family might want to do instead of getting lots of smaller gifts.  Maker moms and dads will have to hold themselves back from pushing that ADD-to-CART button.  If my husband could disable the ADD-to-CART function in my browser for Amazon, he would!

(maybe the first Australian product featured here?)

Initial thoughts: Seriously, my iPad needs a pillow too?  Hasn't it taken up enough of my life?  But the thing is... I love the iPads of our home and I find that I am using the iPad mini more because of the weight difference.  I also find out that I am bunching up my blankets to support my iPad anyway and I CAN NEVER GET THE BLANKETS TO SIT "JUST RIGHT."  Does this happen to you? Most stands including my beloved Otterbox are more suited for hard surfaces but I bought an iPad so that I can sit on softer surfaces, didn't I?  I spoke to the inventor, Stuart Turvey on the floor.  (this is a huge plus when going to NYIGF- you are always talking to THE inventor).  He told me, "Anyone that has got an iPad is going to understand it."  My dear Mr. Turvey, you are soooooo sooooo right.  In the summer, I think a tabCoosh will be way more comfortable (and cooler) than bunched up blankets.

It's really lightweight.  See I'm picking it up with just one hand!

My favorite is the chartreuse one in the middle.

Thailand - U.S.A.

Monkey Pod Games

This company uses monkeypod wood (this is a real thing) and rubberwood to make beautiful toys.  I have even seen their beautiful four-in-a-row game sold at Toys R Us under the FAO Schwarz label.  Why do they use Monkeypod wood?  Apparently, it is quite sustainable and a company spokesperson told me that they have a very good relationship with the Thai government so that their forests can keep its natural wealth.

This wood is just gorgeous and it's my belief that you are going to get more inspiration and adoration from a great tactile experience which would be very hard to find in imitations.  That inspiration and adoration can go a long way when a child needs some extra mojo to finish a tough puzzle! Design does motivate!

Work to get it back into a cube shape. A Patience-Exercise Machine.  LOVE it!!!
A Win-Win Box?  Win for parents as child tries to solve puzzles.  Win for kid- CASH!!! or candy...
3D Tic Tac Toe
Awesome gift idea!

Honduras - U.S.A.


Everyone knows that Toys are Tools are huge fans of Tegu but have you seen these wonderful packages of four cubes.  What an awesome way to supplement an Endeavor or Explorer Sets which do not contain the cubes.  Those sets are great because they have tall and thick bars which can achieve more height and width than the Original and the Discovery Sets with the same amount of pieces.  It's an inexpensive way to add different colors to your sets too. Honestly, they are just adorable.  It makes a great boss gift but you can also give it to kids in a restaurant for fiddling around until their chicken nuggets arrive.

Oh, so beautiful!!!  These magnet packs were sticking together so well that I thought the packages were glued to each other but they were not!


Scholas Global

I love how paper toys are making a come back.  I really think they are.  Not only it is environmentally more sound but also, they cost less.  (Costing less is welcome here.)  A lot of times when something is cheaper, that could mean that there is less opportunity for learning but not when it comes to paper toys.  You change the medium and everything changes.  I think I have seen replicas of just about every famous monument in their booth.

I know we have videos to show kids about different places but we should never lose sight of the value of 3D representations.   While Scholas products are not really sold here in the U.S. (try eBay), I was told that they would likely retail somewhere from $5 to possibly $20-30 U.S. dollars.  That is really awesome! I think they would not only be fun at home but possibly for school presentations as well (without breaking the bank).

disclaimer: this writer is partial to products made in Korea as this writer is proud to have been born there!

I love the moving bridge parts.  This is great for kids who like to build toys but then don't want to let anyone touch them after you are done. Number 2 is like that.

These mini ones are very cool!

Awww, how pretty.  I like how easily you can stick it back into place too.


Smart Toys and Games

Everyone knows that my testers and I are huge fans of Smart Toys and Games and SmartMax toys.  It's incredible to me that most if not all of the Smart Games puzzles were invented by one person, Raf Peeters.  How brilliant can one person be?  Maybe if he just knocks my head with his head, I will become smarter.

On his website, it is written that he used to work in a school for special needs children.  Teachers are incredibly inventive, aren't they? Do you know any teacher that doesn't make his or her own "tools?"  I am told he has a big fan following and I am not surprised.  I hereby declare myself the president of his U.S. based fan club but duly acknowledge that Number 7's (a tester) family should take over my place since I shouldn't be so partial.  They love IQ Fit.

This reminds me of my favorite iPad logic game Titanic!

I think this is called "Hide the Bunny" or "Where's the Bunny?"  It's adorable.  I'm looking forward to its arrival.

What an awesome reinvention.   I love the eyes. They remind me of  Trucky 3.  It zips back and races forward too!  This makes each car a doll that is great for pretend play - even for those active ones who must constantly be moving!
One puzzles on two faces.  You must make sure you pay attention to both sides.  Awesome for spatial reasoning and I have a feeling it will help exercise that working memory too!! Fabulous!

Number 7 who is a HUGE fan of IQ Fit will LOVE this! So beautiful! I want to make earrings out of them. Is that too geeky?


At what age do kids start washing dishes and cleaning the bathroom?  Do not be mistaken, these scrubbers and sponges are not for kids only but what an excellent product to start those kids off to learning about why we need to be clean.  And....Why give them scrubbies (my nickname for them) like this?

1- Kids want to SEE the dirt disappear.  They need faster gratification.  2-  These are really grabbable. Kids can not have problems holding it.  If the grip doesn't work out, they will not be successful at cleaning because they will likely just stop.  They are still developing fine motor and visual-motor skills and so you don't need a troublesome grip ruining this teaching moment.  3- If they make a mess at the toilet (talking to fellow parents of boys here), encouraging them to clean up that stinky mess BY THEMSELVES is the number 1 preventor of future "missed" targets.  My nose will swear by it.

Note to folks at Bed Bath and Beyond.... Please bring these to America. Please! Did you see those little brushes that I can use to clean my kids food containers? Please don't deprive us!

Those holes of the faux terra cotta pot will help to prevent mold.  But it's also super cute.

You can use the handle or not! 
This would clean my kids' lunch containers and another one could be used to clean sink faucet areas.  You know, the nasty moldy part that sponges can't get to... So cool!  I know they aren't toys but kids CAN do this! I know they can! 

Inspire cleanliness in your home!  Did you know that the word "clean" (kireii) also means "beautiful" in Japanese?


Plus Plus from Geared for Imagination (U.S. based distributor)
This company brings many fine toys from all over the world but we know them best here at Toys are Tools because of those fabulous Plus Plus building toys.  So many of the readers have loved them and voted for them to be the number one readers favorite after my holiday toy list published last month. All I can tell you is that I love our Plus Plus box of 1200. It's so great (and so quiet) and I love how every piece is shaped the same way.  That is challenging and yet simple at the same time - the mark of a great toy.

Hey, look the MIDI is here.  (Left of the Mini size).  I wonder if there is a Maxi and how big they are? How cool would that be.
Can you see the little white bunny made of Mini Plus Plus?  You can really see the difference now, huh?  They are so cool!


(also distributed by Geared for Imagination)
Some of us in New York City are having trauma at the sight of this bus.  We are suffering from a monumental school bus strike and it is affecting yours truly in quite a tortuous way.  (6 bridge crossings and travel to three islands every day... don't ask... long story) BUT STILL, I love any toys and kids products that are school bus-related.  I forgot what this is made of but it sure gives off that eco-friendly vibe and it presented in what I think is a perfect color- not too bright to take your eyes off work but still bright enough to be cheery just as every school bus or Volkswagen pencil/pad holder should be.  ADORABLE!

Is it a toy or a desktop accessory? Why not both?

Don't they say, "Please stuff me?" Super cute! I wonder if they stack... hmmmm.

More from Germany...

I am kind of new to this company but I feel awful about that because they have amazing toys 0-3 and so my kids did not get to play with them too much.  However, since Toys are Tools focuses on 3-12, I have to say, that thank goodness they have plenty of toys for three year olds and up! (Just look at the spaceship!!!!)  They are all so beautiful but I have to make a special remark on the pretend play products for 2-3 year old boys.  WOW!  I love their UFO and Spaceship.  It's really a boy dollhouse but it doesn't at all have the feel that you get when you take a conventional boys toy and paint it pink.  No way!  This is just totally it's own thing that any kid who likes rockets can use to lift-off his/her imagination.

How cute is this UFO.  My brother keeps telling me to stop giving toys to my 2 year old nephew but I totally love this.  Look how open it is! 

photo: Hape Toys     Hello, this top part comes off.  How cool are you!!!!

Missing some details?  Yes, I know but these are not reviews, merely, I'm just showing you some highlights of what I've seen.  Thorough reviews may or may not be published dependent on incoming submissions as well as editorial space.  But please take a look at the links provided for more information.  These are definitely all very interesting!!

Additional note: Toys are Tools has not been compensated by any of the mentioned manufacturers or organizations to publish this coverage.  Coverage and reviews are never promised by Toys are Tools.

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