Game on - ToyNews

Game on

Despite new pressure from the video games sector, which has moved into social gaming in a big way, a recent Reuters poll showed many consumers are returning to board games and puzzles, as staying in becomes the new going out. ToyNews finds out what is new in the market...
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TOMY - 020 8722 7300

Flex (£9.99) puts kids and adults’ flexibility to the test. Set up the Flex tower, spin the spinner and use the sucker on the wrap-around band to pick up the piece at the top of the tower with the body part indicated on the spinner – will it be elbow (easy), knee (harder) or forehead (not for the feint hearted).

Po’s Matching Game aims to bring the character to life. Push down Po’s aerial and watch her tummy spin to find out which favourite things will be shown in the tummy screen and find it on the matching playing cards. Po’s Matching Game (£17.99) offers three different ways to play.

RAVENSBURGER - 01869 363800

Sales of Ravensburger’s childrens range grew last year and boasts a number of top selling toy licences.
The adult puzzle sales also continue to grow and new titles include Cat Conundrums, where puzzle images contain hidden messages, codes and riddles. Also new are specially commissioned nostalgic and scenic images, cartoons and a broad range of internationally themed designs.

Puzzleball dominates the 3D puzzling market and new designs include Hello Kitty, Pokémon, Ben 10, Clone Wars, Spongebob Squarepants, High School Musical 3 and Disney Princess. There are new generic designs aimed at children and adults including the 960-piece world.

Memory celebrates its 50th year with a strong range of titles. Also new is a range of teaching games featuring Thomas & Friends and Bob the Builder, 3D action game Log Jam, Make & Break Extreme and the return of Snail’s Pace Race and Enchanted Forest.

MATTEL - 01628 500000

Adding to the Scrabble portfolio, a new Mr Men addition joins the kids line-up. Deluxe Scrabble also has a new look for autumn and will feature a pegged board system to keep tiles in place and new contemporary styling.
Another busy year for UNO is also on the cards with the introduction of UNO Moo. Designed to engage pre-schoolers, the game uses chunky animal characters instead of cards. My First Mr Men UNO cards are also new for autumn.

It’s also 20 years of The Simpsons with a Sceneit? DVD board game due for the autumn. Pictionary Man is also set for an electronic interactive makeover. Players discover the object or word they need to draw through the digital screen on Pictionary Man’s foot.

New titles are set to join Mattel’s kids’ game portfolio including new acquisition Whac A Mole. Building on Piranha Panic and Rhino Rampage, Saucer Scramble introduces space age to games time for little ones.
From Radica, 20Q continues to be a focus and collectible PC gaming concept UB Funkeys benefits from two rafts of new characters.

JOHN CRANE - 01604 774949

New from the Branching Out Collection are the Touch and Feel puzzles, with fur and fleece hidden below animal characters. There are two to handle – Touch and Feel Safari features a Cheetah, Monkey, Zebra and Lion, while the Touch and Feel Farmyard has a Sheep, Duck, Pig and Cow.

Continuing along the same theme is the Texture Puzzle Bugs, with a Ladybird, Frog, Butterfly and Snail. Each bug features a host of crinkly, fluffy and spiky add-ons.

GREEN BOARD GAMES - 01494 538999

The BrainBox range from Green Board Games is set to expand well into 2009 and beyond. The latest addition is BrainBox Maths, where maths concepts are approached using child-friendly illustrations. For instance, venn diagrams are shown using pirates and fractions explained using a pizza.

The BrainBox game is simple. A player has ten seconds to study the card and is then asked a question from the back of the card, chosen by the roll of a die. If the card is answered correctly, it is kept, if not it is returned to the box. The most cards held after ten minutes decides the winner. The game retails for under £10.

JUMBO - 01707 289289

Peppa Pig has new products including a Giant 24-piece Floor Puzzle shaped with the Spaceship Rocket. There is also a new electronic game called Tumble & Spin, which won Children’s Game of the Year at Toy Fair 2009.

Jumbo has been busy signing new children’s properties Mr Men, Teletubbies, Fireman Sam and Big & Small.
Puzzle Extra turns 2D jigsaws into a magical 3D image once it is placed into the display stand. New for 2009 is the tiny version of Puzzle Extra featuring 300 pieces which, when laid flat, form two A3 size jigsaws, but then stacked up in the frame, form a 3D model five cm high.

Also new this year is an educational range called I Learn. It has educational contents attuned to the basic knowledge children should be able to attain, developed in collaboration with teachers and educational theorists.

Wasgij gets new packaging and another 500-piece puzzle, while Falcon Deluxe has also undergone a makeover with new pack colours, brand messages, images and additional piece counts. A new brand of decade puzzles are being introduced featuring the best from the 50s, 60s and 70s, too.

Jumbo will also produce a range of puzzles based on Big & Small, due out this summer, followed later in the year with games. There are also developments for Stratego including a new version based on Star Wars Clone Wars. 

PAUL LAMOND - 020 7254 0100

2009 marks the 25th birthday of the Paul Lamond brand. The firm is launching a pre-school educational range under the Chimp and Zee Games name, consisting of six games and four puzzles.

In the existing pre-school area Postman Pat has been updated to Postman Pat SDS and there are three Gruffalo products – two puzzles and a snakes and ladders.

The children’s range has six new Rainbow Magic puzzles, an updated Famous 5 range and the Fundex skill and action game When Pigs Fly.

The family area sees the addition of Cacophony, a game of charades and In a Pickle and Luck of the Draw, two successful American games. There is also Revelations, the game where the sins are revealed, but not the sinner.

Family puzzle additions include Where’s Wally, Alex Baird’s Impossible Puzzles and three dragon puzzles from The Dragon Chronicles.

The Murder Mystery Dinner Party range sees the return of Inspector McClue in A Vintage Murder and the McNaughty range is extended with Sexual Secrets and Legless.

UPPER DECK - 0118 929 8520

Upper Deck’s new Trading Card Game, Huntik is based on the boy’s property and animated TV series, Huntik Secrets and Seekers, on Jetix. The show will also be broadcast on CiTV from June.

Aimed at six to 12 year olds, the TCG will consist of themed decks featuring Huntik missions and adventures as seen in the show. Cards also feature characters and Titans and will be fully interactive and contain rare cards as well as cards containing passwords to unlock content on the website.

The Starter Deck also contains one Huntik episode and a learn-to-play guide. Further sets will launch in summer and autumn. The marketing campaign will launch in the UK this month across TV, print and online media, including targeted cover-mounts, sampling and promotions. An organised play and retail support program started last month.

Dinosaur King TCG is another new game based on a TV show. Following the launch of the first set, the firm has launched new lines including a new booster set, Colossal Team Battle, containing eight cards plus a rare foil card in every pack, and a Collector’s Box, hit shelves last month.

There is also an educational aspect with dinosaur facts on each card plus rare cards to collect including Silver, Gold and ‘Colossal Rare’ cards.

The firm is also branching into pre-school products with a moving puzzle called Scrolly. It is designed for small hands with wheels on each corner that move the images on a puzzle screen. This self-contained puzzle is aimed at children aged three-years plus with seven different puzzles. Scrolly was launched last month featuring Disney Princess, My Friends Tigger and Pooh and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

CHARACTER OPTIONS - 0161 633 9800

Character Options’ games portfolio has two new additions. The Mad Mouse Game challenges players to capture the most cheese from the motorised mouse. Players must watch the rodent randomly run around with the cheese between his teeth, then try to capture him with their cat’s paw hook. The first to do so wins the token and the game starts again.

Scooby Doo’s Pirate Peril Game is a ball bearing-based adventure set on the high seas. The aim of the game is to steer the ball around the many obstacles on the pirate ship just as Scooby has to avoid hidden dangers.
Players must avoid traps, such as the sweeping pirate and the gang plank, to reach the buccaneer in the crows nest against the clock.

Characters’ new games, both available from May, join a line-up including Splashy the Whale and Cars Piston Cup Race Game and are supported with TV advertising.

GREAT GIZMOS - 01293 543221

Cross Three is a concept featuring triangular shaped pieces with complicated images of animals, space scenes and more.

Place the nine triangular pieces together to form one large triangle, making sure all the pictures match across the joins. With hundreds of possibilities and only two solutions, puzzlers will be kept busy for hours.

The IQ Block puzzle has 60 possible solutions. Once a coloured block has been chosen and placed in the top left hand corner of the accompanying case, the additional nine blocks can be arranged around it to form a square.

Young puzzlers can get in on the action too, with a new range of wooden pin puzzles that comprises six themes. Each puzzle is designed with a handle making it easier for small hands to get to grips with and features familiar images, encouraging conversation and language skills.

HASBRO - 020 8569 1234

Connect 4 is a classic game of strategy and now has three ways to play – Original, PopOut and Pop10. PopOut allows you to pop out your rival’s checkers from the bottom row. With Pop10, you start the game with a grid full of checkers and when you’re ready, start popping. The first player to get ten four-in-a-rows wins the game. This all-new Connect 4 is portable and the design means the checkers are locked in the grid and the base is used as a handle. Suitable for age six plus, retails at £9.99, available spring/summer.

Maintaining the strategy of the original Battleship game, the new version takes the game to another level with a dynamic hexagonal battlefield and new ships. To win, the victor has to sink his rival’s ships and rescue the crew from his fleet. The new design also features a reveal feature that allows the battlefield positions to be shown at the end of the game. Suitable for age seven and upwards, retailing at £12.99 and available spring/summer.

The new Bop It! has 1,000 levels and four commands – Twist, Pull, Bop It and the new Shout It – Bop It. Players can go solo and try to beat their highest score or get sociable with the party bop mode. Suitable for age eight plus, retailing at £19.99, available autumn/winter.

Find it fast, find it first just got more frantic as Flipper – Pictureka’s penguin – now has his own game. Flipper spins around and flips out of pictures and mission tiles in every direction and to win this game, you have to race to find a picture that matches a mission. Suitable for age six plus, retailing at £24.99 and available in autumn/winter.

UNIVERSITY GAMES - 01359 243900

Guess What? sees players create a mixed up creature using a head, body and legs from different animals. The first to guess their opponent’s creature wins.

In Murder Mystery Mansion, players work in teams to solve the mystery using simple deductive reasoning. On each turn state a suspect, motive, method and place, and the faster you guess, the faster you win.

Sort it Out! is the game of putting things in order. Can you sort out which is faster – a cheetah, helicopter or steam train? How about which animal’s brain weighs more – a cat, giraffe, baboon, kangaroo or cow?

University Games also offers a wide range of puzzles with a plus. The Impossibles line has no borders, tricky recurring images and five extra pieces making for a different puzzle experience every time. Raining Cats and Dogs has been added for 2009. The Classic Mystery Jigsaw Puzzles line allows puzzlers to read the mystery booklet, put the puzzle together and find clues in the image to solve the mystery. Grounds for Murder and Foul Play and Cabernet expand the range.

ORCHARD TOYS - 01953 423422

2008 proved to be Orchard Toys’ best year ever.
The company has launched 15 of its best selling games and puzzles, fully translated into French, which were also well received by international buyers at the Nuremberg Toy Fair.

“We are bowled over at how the company is performing, with potential new customers coming from all our market sectors.

“Our French games are breaking new ground for us, and we are pleased to see that they are creating a lot of interest,” said managing director Simon Newbery.

“We are thrilled that our games and puzzles are now reaching a much wider audience through our many varied outlets, and happy that so many children are being started off on an Orchard Toys learning journey, that we hope will continue until they reach their teens.”
The company’s latest products will be launched in time for Easter.

DRUMOND PARK - 01506 855577

The Drumond Park team is in the final stages of developing a new family game entitled Logo (for children aged 12 and upwards, £25.99).

The game consists of 500 (mostly pictorial) question cards, ranging from full and part logo and product recognition through to, for example, questions about fictional brands all featuring on the soaps and themed questions under such headings as animals and relatives.
Pig Goes Pop is a new game for age four plus (£15.99).

On the roll of the dice, children feed the pig with the requisite number of hamburgers, pushing his head down to make sure he swallows every mouthful. Quite a few throws later, the ever-expanding pig will have reached max in the digestion stakes and explodes. His curly tail is then rewound and the next round commences.

Like the Rubik’s Cube, the new Rubik’s 360 (eight years plus, £15.99) requires skill, dexterity and logic. The object is to shake, rattle and roll, or otherwise carefully manipulate the Rubik’s 360, so that the six coloured balls pass through two inner spheres to the matching coloured dome on the outer sphere, then each one is locked into place. Like the Cube, there is knack to solving the 360, but it can take any number of tries and a lot of perseverance to get there.

RICHARD EDWARD - 020 8311 8888

Richard Edward, the UK’s only remaining manufacturer of playing cards, games cards and trading cards, says it has been overwhelmed by the response from environmentally aware consumers following the recent launch of GreenCards, its range of eco friendly playing cards.

Available through the company’s new retail sales arm, RedWood Cards, GreenCards is already attracting orders from the US, Europe and South America, as well as from UK firms.

The cards are manufactured entirely in the UK using sustainable and recycled materials. They use a green manufacturing process that includes vegetable-based inks and have a carbon footprint that is some 90 per cent lower than cards produced in the Far East.

GreenCards also feature court card character designs based on original illustrations. With a suggested retail price of £3.99 per pack, GreenCards give retailers a mark-up of around 40 per cent, while also enabling them to show customers they are concerned about the environment.

Richard Edward is also offering its green card technology to games and puzzle brands wanting to make existing products more eco-friendly.

The company produces card-based products for brands such as Winning Moves, De Agostini and Hasbro.

In addition, Richard Edward is offering its bespoke card manufacturing services to retail groups for the production of own brand cards

GIBSONS - 020 8661 8866

Gibsons has a number of new puzzles including a range of jigsaws entitled My World. These planet friendly puzzles are made in Britain on recycled board. Created in conjunction with child psychologist, Dr Amanda Gummer, the jigsaws are developmentally appropriate at every stage, linking to the Early Learning Goals and National Curriculum. The range consists of eight puzzles aimed at pre-school children.

Gibsons’ adult range sees the launch of eight National Trust jigsaw puzzles. Reflecting the diversity of the work of the National Trust, these 250 and 1,000-piece jigsaws include imagery of the vast collection of property, landscape, wildlife and coastline the National Trust is responsible for. More than 50 other puzzles in varying piece counts are also being launched.

New games include a complete range of classics such as Backgammon, Chess, Mah Jongg and Dominoes. 

IMAGINATION GAMES - 01483 206955

Imagination will be TV advertising the Top Gear Board game for the first time in 2009. Adverts will screen throughout November and December.

The firm has increased its offering in the children’s category. The first new game is Mr Men Celebrity Head, which pits children against each other to guess which Mr Men character they are by asking questions. The second is Scabs and Guts, a ‘meducational’ board game teaching children about healthy living and eating and how the body works.

Imagination’s travel Games on the Go range has been building for two years. Flexible merchandising solutions are available to promote a range across card games, audio games and bag games. The firm expects Bag Games to change the way travel games are bought and played.

Bag Games are travel-sized, but played on a full sized board with full sized playing pieces. The attached board folds out of the bag allowing for contents to slide out for playing. The launch in April will see traditional classics Bag Gammon and Bag Chess hit retail with further launches coming closer to Christmas and a whole new range ready for preview prior to the key 2010 summer buying season.

Imagination has also introduced a number of express game formats based on both its licensed portfolio and its own IP. Battle of the Sexes, Beat The Parents and Planet Earth all have a new £9.99 version. The firm has also repositioned its DVD offering and now has seven titles, again at the reduced price of £9.99.

GINGER FOX - 01242 821 320

Ginger Fox is launching two celebrity hosted audio quizzes as part of the 26 new products in its 2009 catalogue. Actor Brian Blessed hosts A Very British Quiz, a general knowledge quiz celebrating the culture of our home nations, while Sir David Frost hosts Remember When, a quiz that will take you back on a trip down memory lane to when Betamax was the latest in high technology and even further.

HALSALL - 01253 778888

The Official X Factor Board Game is designed for two to six players and captures the journey the contestants go through on their way to the final, replicating the show’s highs and lows, with themed event cards and sound-alike judges’ comments.

Players must first select their choice of character from six hopefuls. With the use of the electronic central spinner that features lights, the theme tune and sound-alike judges voices, contestants make their way around the board passing through auditions, boot camp, the judges houses and all the way to the final. As they progress, players collect votes, get comments from the electronic judges and are tested on their X Factor knowledge or can opt to show off performance skills. Collecting as many votes as they can, players can trade them to upgrade their character’s hairstyle and outfit to achieve a new look ready for the grand final and their shot at the recording contract.

Halsall’s Wood Works range of traditionally crafted wooden toys includes pre-school wooden puzzles for 12 and 18 months upwards, such as chunky shape sorters, learning blocks, matching cards and jigsaws, as well as educational puzzles to teach about the mind and body, alphabet and numbers.

The Traditional Games collection provides a range from board games, bingo, towering blocks, educational games and 3D puzzles to travel games and magnetic compendiums.

Halsall also provides a pre-school range of Dora the Explorer wooden puzzles, including double sided and circular puzzles, dominoes, a 4-in-1 wooden jigsaw box, a 48-piece jumbo jigsaw and floor puzzle, a textured character puzzle, plus a clock and numbers puzzle.

FIESTA CRAFTS - 020 8804 0563

The wooden Match It board game compendium features eight family activities. With variations of classic favourites such as solitaire, bingo and dominoes alongside a range of pairs games, Match It enhances cognitive and memory skills. Centred around the wooden board, there are 28 carved pieces with brightly printed designs. 

Multiplay, meanwhile, is a mathematical game that helps children improve numeric skills.

The game has three versions with mathematical variations on the classic pastimes with Times Table Bingo and Go Fish; plus the fast moving test of Quick-fire Multiplay. All require quick thinking and a grasp of the times tables, but if kids find maths difficult, there’s a times table square to help.

Unlike other times tables resources, Multiplay aims to teach children the building blocks of maths through the medium of play. 

MARBEL - 01208 873123

Tipp-Kick Table Top Football is coming to England. In the game of Tipp-Kick, two teams of miniature metal football players face off on a tabletop playing field. The players take turns to use a button on the outfield kickers to pass, lob and shoot the ball towards their opponent’s goal. Play is determined by a coloured dice. 

Marbel currently stocks two sets of Tipp Kick. The Classic Tipp Kick Set contains everything necessary to set up an epic football match. Included in the set are two hand painted outfield kickers, two diving goalkeepers, two goal posts and nets, two footballs and an 80cm by 47cm fleece playing pitch. It retails at £19.95.

The Junior Tipp Kick Set includes all the items in the Classic Tipp Kick game, as well as sponsorship boards, which are connected and placed around the edge of the pitch. The playing pitch is also slightly bigger at 80cm by 57cm. The Junior Tipp Kick Set retails at £29.95. Also available in the Tipp Kick range is the Tipp Kick Display Stadium.

RE:CREATION - 0118 973 6222

In 2005, Re:creation launched poker sets into the UK market, today it offers a comprehensive poker range through exclusive access to the largest global manufacturer of poker and home gaming products. 

A range of price points and poker chips are available: The Aluminium Case 500 includes 500 x 11.5g poker chips in an aluminium case, two decks of poker cards, a dealer chip and instructions for Texas Hold ‘Em. £49.99. Aluminium Case 300 retails at £39.99 and the Aluminium Case 200 version costs £19.99.

The Professional Poker Table-top transforms any table into a poker table. With a four-fold construction for storage, the table top has a surface area of 118 x 118cm. It features a casino quality surface, eight drinks trays and poker chip racks for £59.99.

Texas Hold’em Poker set: 200 x 7.2g Poker chips in rack with deck of cards, dealer button and casino green felt layout all stored inside a tin. £14.99. The Electronic Wooden Card Shuffler has a deluxe mahogany effect finish. Batteries required. Cards not included. £14.99.
Some of the other products available from Cardinal include a metal bingo cage set, a bingo cage with automatic random ball selector. It includes 34 different bingo cards, combinations and markers for £12.99.

Double 12 dominoes features 12 colour dot dominos in a collectors tin at £12.99. It is also available as double six dominos for £4.99. Folding cribbage (£7.99), Jumbling Tower (£6.99), Chess (£9.99) and Brain Benders (£9.99) are also available.

The Are You Smarter Than a 10 year-old Games Tin is a card game based around the show. Gameplay allows you to peek, cheat and copy just to prove you are smarter than a ten year-old. Includes over 500 questions, scoreboard and die. Suitable for age seven and upwards (£9.99).

BANANAGRAMS - 020 8876 3013

This year, Bananagrams won the TOTY award for Game of the Year at New York Toy Fair. The firm launched its flagship product Bananagrams at the New York Toy Fair just two years ago. Earlier this year at Spring Fair, Bananagrams was also short-listed for Gift of the Year and was the only Highly Commended award.

The game, invented by three generations of one family, continues to grow beyond all expectations. Also new, Bananagrams has joined forces with gaming software company, Majesco Entertainment, and has launched on Facebook, already attracting many thousands of users. Bebo also run the application and Bananagrams has been voted one of the top five games.
The application is also set to launch on the iPhone, with the iPod Touch, DS and Wii to follow.

The game’s foray into other languages has also begun with a Spanish version available and a Norwegian product in production and set to launch this month.

BIGJIGS TOYS - 01303 250400

Bigjigs Toys is expanding its collection with a new selection of 24-piece tray jigsaws. Suitable for developing the analytical skills and hand-to-eye co-ordination of children from three years and over, the new tray puzzles feature five designs: Tractor, Train, Teddy’s Picnic, Fire Engine and Digger. 

Contained within a 10mm deep wooden tray, the puzzles have interlocking pieces and when complete, each design measures 430mm x 320mm. Brightly coloured and depicting complex, lively scenes, each jigsaw in the range is designed to hold attention and provide lengthy play/learning sessions.

The new 24-piece puzzles are part of an ever-increasing offering of jigsaws from Bigjigs Toys. 

Other existing products include chunky puzzles for children under three years-old and much larger floor puzzles for children aged three to eight years. 

VIVID IMAGINATIONS - 01483 449944

New from Vivid for autumn/winter 2009 is Wogan’s Perfect Recall (£19.99). Based on the Channel 4 show, the answers never change but the questions do as you battle to become the master of memory.

Based on the ITV show hosted by Jasper Carrott, Golden Balls Electronic Game (£19.99) is a game of luck, intuition and bluff. Grab the cash and avoid Killer Balls that turn millions into pennies.

Electronic Fib Finder (£16.99) talks, with new questions to answer. You may have to reveal a secret, act, sing or dance and it’s up to you whether to fib or not. The first player to be ‘totally truthful’ wins.

New to Cbeebies from Aardman Animations, Timmy is a little lamb with a lot to learn. In the Timmy Time Pop Up Game (£9.99), players carefully load Timmy up with all his toys, but watch out he may pop. The Timmy Time range is supported with PR and TV advertising throughout autumn/winter 2009.

Fifi’s Stack a Cake and Roary’s Pitstop Panic (both £9.99) are designed for pre-schoolers. Take it in turns to build Fifi’s cake as high as you can without it toppling over in Fifi’s Stack a Cake game. The race is on for the boys in Pitstop Panic where you need to construct Roary the Racing car as quickly as you can before the timer runs out. If you are too slow, all the pieces pop off. All pre-school games are for up to four players and are suitable for ages three years and over.

Vivid also offers pre-school jigsaws, including Fifi Jigsaws, which come in four or ten-in-a-box variety. Roary Jigsaws are available as two, four or ten unique jigsaws in a box. The pre-school puzzle range starts at £4.99 and is suitable for two years plus.

ESDEVIUM GAMES - 01420 593509

Chaotic is a new trading card game (TCG) integrating traditional face-to-face gameplay with an online experience. Currently showing on Jetix, the Chaotic series has ranked as the fourth most watched programme on the channel for kids aged four to 15. The show has also ranked as the top-performing programme on the channel amongst the older boys aged ten to 15 demographic (Source: BARB MCH Homes).

The Chaotic brand will be further supported throughout the year with a major TV campaign from Esdevium Games, which began last month. Print activity running across older kids print media will feature alongside targeted PR. Last month also saw the launch of a UK localised version of ChaoticGame.com which allows players to upload cards to their virtual decks and battle against online opponents.

The Pokémon trading card game continues to perform year-on-year for the company, with early 2009 seeing a strong upward trend in sales. The latest release, Platinum, launched in conjunction with a new Pokémon video game of the same name.

Historically, video game tie-ins have always driven strong performance for TCG and Platinum has performed well across territories in which the game has been released.

BRAINSTORM - 01200 445113

2009 sees the Brainstorm launch of products developed in conjunction with the Natural History Museum.
Products have been developed to reflect the inspirational approach to science promoted by the Museum and the brand.

What is the national animal of Sweden or the world’s largest lizard? Check out the clues and race around the world with Animal Detective, an animal spotting game. It includes a 50cm inflatable globe with 270 illustrations of animals, plus 68 clue cards packed with information. Each player can choose a different skill level meaning players of all ages can play together. A fast moving, educational game.

LEGO - 01753 495000

Games are a new venture for the Lego Group, with a range developed for 2009. The games are intended for two to four players aged from six years plus and usually taking around ten minutes to half an hour playing time. 

The Lego Games project has been developed behind closed doors for the past 18 months and incorporates products based on the classic board game developed specially for tomorrow’s market. Initially, there will be eight games ranging from £7.99 to £19.99 and launching in Germany and the UK later this year. The games will be marketed globally during the second half of 2010.

“Our brief was to create a product range which could help to generate growth in 2009 and subsequent years,” comments Cephas Howard, creative lead on the Lego Games project. “The range had to appeal to core Lego users and be based on the Lego concept, but should also supplement our existing range. The challenge was to come up with something which was ‘Obviously Lego – but never seen before’. At the same time, the intention was to give our products a more social dimension.”

The classic Lego concept has been retained at the heart of the range. Children have to build the games with classic bricks on the principle: Build-Play-Change. Users begin by building the actual game, playing it as set out in the game rules, but then introducing their own personal house rules to adapt the game play and evolve the game as they see fit. Boxes are designed so games can be stored for repeated use.

Players have to build every element of the games, down to the special Lego dice which feature studs on each face so kids can adapt any of the sides to change their rules and consequently the way they play the game. 

Reflecting the in-depth research into the development of the LGS range, the aim at retail is to have Lego Games displayed in games aisles, not the traditional Lego home sites. 

COILEDSPRING GAMES - 0870 446 1515

Coiledspring Games is bringing a new jigsaw range to the UK from Ceaco including Walter Wick’s Can You See What I See? and the One Hundred And One series. New from Gigamic is Eclipse, a wooden abstract featuring solar systems and comets. The Tactic range of games is now also available from Coiledspring. This includes the Mexican Train and Flags Of The World games.

POINT ZERO GAMES - 07905 367390 

Army Of Zero is the first game produced by Point Zero Games. The company was set up in 2008 by Steve Mainprize and the game was showcased for the first time at Toy Fair 2009. 

Army Of Zero is based on 84 warrior characters, each with ratings for skill categories: Speed, Combat, Weapon and Armour. Each player is dealt ten cards to make up their warrior army. Then, to wipe out the opponent’s army, players pit warriors against each other, either defending or attacking, by rolling a dice and adding the number on the dice to the relevant skill category rating on the cards. The overall winner is the first player to knock out the opposing army.

Players must solve a series of puzzles hidden within the cards to work out the solution and crack the riddle brainteaser. Point Zero Games is running a competition to win £1,000 cash for the most elegant way of unravelling the riddle.

Army Of Zero is a two-player card game suitable for ages from seven years and upwards, and is based on two warrior armies in combat against each other. Army Of Zero is available now from www.pointzerogames.com retailing for an introductory offer price of £10. The closing date for entries is April 30th 2010.

INSPIRED GIFTS AND TOYS - 01344 989624

Wordinoes is a major new game launch this year from Inspired Gifts & Toys. Wordinoes is a word game using tiles played similarly to Dominoes, with two words on each tile.

Players must try to find a link between words to justify a match.

Wordinoes was invented in the UK by Dawn Fletcher, a novice in the business, but has had the input of a number of industry veterans to produce the finished product.

Commenting on the game Inspired Gifts & Toys’ Lee Crocker says: “The game makes sense for us as we can see the appeal of the product to the core word game player and to the broader family market. Our strategy in launch year is to focus on reaching the word gamers market through the leading retailers of this type of game. In following years we will be able to broaden out to the mass family market.”

The UK & Ireland are the first markets in which Wordinoes is being sold, although it has attracted interest worldwide during the recent trade shows. The Wordinoes launch is being supported with a PR campaign, retails for £20 and will be available from mid-year.

IMC TOYS - 01904 720908

IMC Toys has launched a games line related to Ben 10 and Clone Wars. The broadcasting of Ben 10: Alien Force will be followed by the launch of the Alien Force Guessing Game. A game of investigation and intrigue, kids need to discover the identity of the Ben 10 secret character from Ben, Kevin or any of the monsters or DNA aliens.

With Clone Wars, IMC introduces several table games inspired by the cartoon’s characters. R2D2 repair is a 20cm figure with the addition of an extra play value: using the stellar tweezers, it will be a challenge to try to save the R2D2, sounds and light effects add to the game.

In the Star Cruiser Attack, two trooper helmets hide the galactic play board and starships. Clone 4 and the Guessing Game Clone complete the line, mixing a classic game to a current licence.

DKL - 01604 678780

Children from three years-old can enjoy Wonderworld’s range of boxed games for two or more players.
Included in the games portfolio are Eco Town Game, Chicky Memo Game and Traffic Domino Game.

Firstly, the new Eco Town Game is a dice game for children to learn how to save the environment. A town can be created with houses, trees, bicycle, recycle bin and a rain water tank. The towns on each playing board can be joined together in many different ways for more creative play.

The Chicky Memo, meanwhile, is a memory game where children need to remember the exact location and colour of eggs hidden by chicks sitting on them in nests. Chicky Memo has two levels of difficulty – beginner and advanced – and builds on concentration skills.

Traffic 3D Dominos offers a version of the traditional dominos game with a modern twist. The aim of the game is to make up a road network by matching up the coloured vehicle parts in front and rear sections on chunky wooden squares. The winner is the first to get rid of their pieces. Children will have to think strategically whilst completing a different roadway each time they play.

New for 2009 is the 3D Creativity Blocks, with the firm promising that endless imagination and creativity is possible with these uniquely designed blocks. Kids can practice puzzle skills on one side and creative skills on the other. Colourful and educational, the game is suitable for children aged 36 months and over.

ASOBI - 01628 200077

Asobi has been set up to focus on supplying eco friendly products and GeoPuzzles is the latest in a list of offerings now featuring in the company’s eco portfolio. GeoPuzzles are jigsaw puzzles of continents and each piece represents a country. This simple idea makes it educational in teaching children the shapes of different countries and where they all sit in relation to one another.

GeoPuzzles were developed in the US and was launched to the education market by Education Essentials in 2008, now Asobi is looking to replicate that at retail. Asobi is launching the Europe GeoPuzzle first, but other continents can be ordered in if required. The puzzles retail for £14.99.

Asobi is also distributing for Bioviva – a French company with a focus on games centred on green living. Key titles include Bioviva (The Game), the Enchanted Forest and the latest game Pinturlu. Bioviva games have won numerous awards in France, Canada and the US. All products are produced from 100 per cent biodegradable materials. The packaging is made without glue and/or staples. 

LEARNING RESOURCES - 01553 762276

Learning Resources launches Road Block, where players stop the thief by trapping him in with police cars. Subways is a maze game and the challenge is to untangle the worlds train tracks. Nine pieces of track must be placed so the tracks stop at each station in the correct order. The Smart Games range offers 12 themed challenges. The games are designed for one player and each features an activity booklet or cards with up to 60 challenges.

JC GAMES - 01323 647886

Manufactured in the UK, Qb was launched at this year’s London Toy Fair and has been well received nationally and internationally. Hamleys will be launching the game in store this spring.

Qb is both a word game and a puzzle. The inclusion of two-letter combinations (e.g. st, ch, ed) on the 48 moulded cubes makes playing Qb different from other word games based on letter tiles.

The demonstration page on www.qbgame.co.uk shows how two, three and even four-letter words can be used as links to the word grid. Players form words easily from the choice of 41 letters on their five cubes (compared with a choice of seven letters in many word games). Qb can also be played solo.

With no need for a board, Qb can be played on any surface, even as small as the pull-down tray on an aeroplane. It retails at £12.99. European versions of Qb will be launched at the Essen Toy Fair in October. 

MANHATTAN TOY - 020 8944 3160

Featuring a flexible and hexagonal interlocking puzzle piece design, Puzzibits by Manhattan Toy is a hybrid between a traditional puzzle and a construction kit. The flexible and colourful Puzzibits pieces encourage children aged six plus to create endless artful creations from flat puzzles, to three-dimensional objects.

The firm worked closely with independent child development experts and mothers of school-age children, to assess the product and its developmental potential. They found Puzzibits develops problem-solving, planning and systematic thinking skills and improved pattern recognition and sequencing at the same time. Connecting the pieces refines fine motor skills, vital when learning how to write and as there is no limit to the things a child can make with Puzzibits pieces, they also help develop attention to detail, creativity and inventiveness.

Available in sets containing 150 (£8.75), 300 (£12.75) and 450 (£18.50) pieces and a Megamix bucket with 1,250 pieces (£38.99), Puzzibits offers artistic possibilities that children can enjoy on their own or as a family. Thanks to product durability, children can interact with the masterpieces they build. 

New for 2009 are six sets with themes including the circus, the jungle and bugs galore. Each set offers different design projects from simple to complex kids can also uncover additional designs at www.Puzzibits.com.

FLAIR - 0208 643 0320

Flair’s licensed Uno range is simple to learn for all ages, and is fast paced and travel sized. New for 2009 is Star Wars Clone Wars Uno. The fully moulded Clone Commander Rex card case to store the 112 playing cards will really fire their imaginations. Uno is a game that can be played by two to ten people.

Hello Kitty is one of Flair’s top licences this year and Hello Kitty Uno continues to appeal to girls of all ages. The character features on every playing card, plus the moulded Hello Kitty shaped card case.

Dr Who Uno is a firm favourite for fans of the TV series, with a Dalek-shaped card case and cards featuring favourite villains and heroes, while Simpsons Uno with its Homer Simpson moulded case and characters from the show will add a touch of humour to the game.

THUMBS UP - 0845 466 8880

When does anyone have time to do puzzles these days? An obvious answer to this question is the inspiration behind a new range of puzzle-based toilet rolls from Thumbs Up.

Following on from the success of the Sudoku Toilet Roll and the Mind Trainer Toilet Roll are three new puzzle based toilet rolls, this time aimed at making the bathroom a more interesting place for a younger audience.

First up is the Maze Toilet Roll, featuring a maze printed directly onto the sheets you can use a pen, pencil or just your finger to trace a path through the maze.

Another simple puzzle is the Spot The Difference Toilet Roll. This traditional puzzle involves spotting the difference between the two pictures printed on the toilet paper sheets and finding as many changes as possible.

Also joining the range of new novelty puzzle toilet rolls is the Dot-to-Dot Roll. Follow the numbers and join the dots to make a picture. 

HABA - 0161 304 9555

With the game starting with the player pulling the coolest face, Casino Hot Dog sees golden bones, precious jewels and poker chips piling up on the table in front of the animal gamblers – Suzy the Pedigree Poodle and Bruno the Bulky Boxer.

Each player has nine betting chips in the bag and pulls out a chip to get a high score. Players can voluntarily opt out, but there is one chip, which features a picture of doggie doo doo. If a player pulls it out, he drops out of the round. The two players with the highest scores can move their figures on the game board – the aim of the game to reach the kennel first. A game for two to four players, Casino Hot Dog is suitable for age seven plus.

Haba has a range of puzzles including Fire Brigade and On the Farm both with chunky, wooden pieces and three suggestions for playing, assigning, puzzling and observing closely.­

JAMES HAMILTON GROVELY PUZZLES - 01747 440093

James Hamilton Grovely Puzzles has completed the purchase of the puzzle cutting division from Handleys Print Solutions.

The ranges have now been merged, and incorporate James Hamilton, Grovely, Classic Deluxe and JR. The combined collection now offers over 350 puzzles with sizes from 1,500-piece luxury puzzles, 1,000 and 500-piece puzzles to children’s floor puzzles and a pre-school range.

Images featured cover both the luxury nature and wildlife puzzles, which have been the mainstay of James Hamilton Grovely, and also the traditional photographic scenes and bespoke artwork from Classic Deluxe and JR.
Brian and Julie Wilkins, the directors of the company, will now be cutting the full portfolio at their new premises in Dorset and are able to offer puzzle manufacturing services.

The premises house a wide range of cutters and boxes and the firm can arrange to make both large and small quantities of bespoke puzzles to individual requirements.

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