This is a truly exciting innovation in what you might think is a pretty generic category. Not when Crayola draws on their experience. This is the next step above sidewalk chalk. The 15 different crayons work on sidewalk surfaces and lay down brighter, bolder colors than sidewalk chalk. They're satisfying to draw with and really inspire the outdoor artist to express him or herself. Plus, it cleans up quickly and easily with the garden hose.
CRAYOLA, $4.99; For ages 4 and up.
You wouldn't think that there was much difference between bubble solutions, would you? It's just soap and water. So you think. Gazillion Bubbles actually is a better solution. We don't know how they do it, but the bubbles last longer, float higher, and, here's the most important part, are easier for even little kids to get great results with. Plus, it's non-staining. Yes, the solution is a little pricier, but it's worth it. That said, unless you're blowing a pretty bubble or two, these are outdoor toys. This is one of our favorites for this year. Pour the solution into the tray of the launch pad, place the rocket and the launcher, and... STOMP! The rocket goes shooting up into the air leaving a trail of bubbles behind it.
FUNRISE, $16.99; For ages 6 and up.
MONTANA ROCKIN' LIGHTS GUITAR
The all-new Hannah Montana Rockin' Lights Electric Guitar will dazzle fans just like Hannah Montana in her new movie! Movie stars, get ready to rock the show with 3 of Hannah Montana's hottest hits! The guitar plays "The Best of Both Worlds", "You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home" and "Rock Star". Press the star buttons for rockin' sounds and effects, and watch lights pulse along to the music's beats.
JAKKS PACIFIC, $29.99; For ages 6 and up.
CHANNEL KARAOKE KIT
Is your family the next Jackson Five? Do you belt out Mariah with the best of them? Do you and your friends fight for the mic every chance you get? Well get ready to make your living room center stage! The KARAOKE Channel ONLINE (
STINGRAY DIGITAL, $39.95 ($9.95 a month of membership); all ages
A complete new twist on one of the most classic toys of all time-the basic ball. It's about 5-inches in diameter and comes in a variety of transparent, gem-like colors (red, blue, green and orange) and bounces up to 75 feet in the air. We're not sure how the physics of it works, but the bounce is way out of proportion to the force exerted by the player. In plain English, that means that a little kid can really get it to sail with just a "regular" amount of bouncing.
MAUI TOYS, $8.99; For ages 6 and up.
A line of licensed die-cast cars, based on popular real-world Dodge, Ford and GM vehicles, that interacts with a series of collectible trading cards and a 3-D online racing game like never before. Each Tracksters die-cast car comes with a unique code to unlock a virtual version of that vehicle in the Tracksters MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game), which is downloaded free of charge at Tracksters.com. TrackPacks cards, sold separately, allow players to unlock exclusive performance parts for their virtual vehicles through a scratch and redeem code system.
10 VOX ENTERTAINMENT; For ages 4 and up.
About Chris Byrne:
As director of content for Time To Play, Chris brings 29 years of industry experience in the toy industry to his role. During his career, he has held a variety of positions with toy companies covering marketing, media, operations, product development and creative. In 1988, he formed New York-based Byrne Communications and is a researcher, analyst, and consultant who has worked with a variety of Fortune 100 companies tracking kid trends, product development, and strategic marketing campaigns. He is regularly sourced by the investment community for insights into all aspects of the toy industry.
Chris is widely published on the topic of toys and family life and in addition to his work with Time to Play he is editor-at-large for the trade publications Toys & Family Entertainment and Royalties.
Chris is extensively quoted in the media and appears regularly on local and national television commenting on toys and demonstrating new products. His media appearances reached more than 120 million consumers in 2007 in just a three-month period (October through December). He has appeared on "Live! With Regis and Kelly" (2008 Relly Award winner), "Oprah," "LIVE," "Soap Talk," "The Today Show," "Good Morning America," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," "ABC Nightly News," "Fox & Friends," "CBS This Morning," "Good Day New York," CNBC, CNNfn, MSNBC, ABC, "The Motley Fool," National Public Radio, Bloomberg Television and Radio, and on countless other national and local market business and consumer programs around the country and internationally.
In addition to his work in the toy industry, Chris is involved in several non-profit organizations benefiting children and literacy and sits on the board of America Scores: New York, the nation's largest after school program that combines soccer and poetry in a unique mix that fosters literacy, fitness, teamwork and personal growth.