by Tina Manzer
Ellie Lee Tate, Marketing & Events Manager, Wonder Works Toys in Charleston, South Carolina
“Marky Sparky’s Faux Bow 130 (1) is perfect for younger kids. It has reduced string strength so children as young as 6 can use it, but it still shoots more than 130 feet! Parents like that the tips of the ultra-light foam arrows make them bounce off whatever they hit.
“The Neon Set from Crazy Aaron (2) includes five tins of the brightest Thinking Putty we’ve ever seen. We love that they’re packaged as a gift set with a retro vibe.
“B4Adventure’s Obstacle Course Set (3) comes with 37 pieces and diagrams for creating custom courses. They can be created for different ages and skill levels, so whole families are playing with it. It’s been endorsed by real American Ninja Warriors.
“Upshot (4), also by Odyssey Toys, is a smart bow-and-arrow set for kids ages 8 and up. It uses augmented reality to take gaming to the next level. Its gaming apps test accuracy and skill. Targets – ducks, dragons, and more – show up on a phone screen.
“Gizmo (5) by Odyssey Toys is the season’s must-have gadget. The artificially intelligent puppy responds to voice commands and also dances to the beat of the music he plays via Bluetooth speakers. His embedded educational feature helps kids learn their alphabet and numbers. He responds to praise and petting!”
Alex Rojas from Amuse Toys in Baltimore, Maryland
“Anything from Jellycat (6) sells like crazy. Their plush figures, made in the U.K., appeal to a wide range of ages. They’re safety standards are very high, so the plush characters are even safe for newborns. The eyes are pressed into the fabric so they can’t be pulled or chewed off.”
“Parents who are paying attention to the STEM trend are buying Ozobot robots (7) from Evollve Inc. They introduce children to coding.
“Occupational therapists come in all the time to buy Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty (8). They use it to help people increase hand strength or dexterity, and to teach relaxation techniques. It’s not your typical medical therapy putty. People enjoy the many different colors they can get, plus the special effects like glow-in-the-dark.
“Kids love to collect them, too.”
Nancy Teed, Once Upon a Time Toys in Stowe, Vermont
“I’m always looking for new, different, and unique products to bring in, so the animal-shaped puzzles (9) from Madd Capp Games are perfect. There are 100-piece puzzles for kids ages 5 and up – everything from a fox to a flamingo to a sloth and more. The 550-piece and 700-piece jigsaw puzzles are poster-sized when complete. The largest ones are the elephant head and moose head, but there’s also a bear, a horse, a longhorn, a panda … you name it!
“Parents love the Colour-A-Capes (10) from Great Pretenders, especially the superhero ones. They come with markers. After kids color them and wear them a while, parents can put them in the washing machine and they can be colored again.”