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The 2012 London Toy Fair Brings Great Toys For Children On The Autism Spectrum

3 Feb

In a post a few days back I shared with you, some of my favourite discoveries from the 2012 toy fair hosted at London’s Olympia’s Grand Hall. As promised, I will now share with you all, some of the up and coming toys, that I feel will be a huge hit with those children with autism and other additional needs. These conclusions have been made by reflecting on the areas of play that interest my own child (aka Little man, a boy with Aspergers) as well the conclusions drawn from speaking and meeting with other families of children with autism or other additional needs.

Toy fair 2012 brought with it a whole host of amazing toys from some top named toy brands to one or two smaller brands that are yet to make a huge mark on the market.

Doctor Who

Who doesn’t love Doctor Who? It seems to be a huge hit for both child and adult alike and the child with autism is not exempt from the list. Children with autism, especially those with Aspergers, seem to take their interest to a whole other level, making them “Special Interest” and Dr Who seems to be a “Special interest” for many! Ok, not Little man (his more a construction boy with a fond love of transport) but for many others it is. So, I’m guessing many will love the new 3ft inflatable Dalek, that has been specially designed by Grossman Ltd, to retail at under £20.00 therefore bound to make a great impression on parents too. Another awesome Doctor who discovery this time by a company called “Zeon Tech” is the innovative Doctor Who TARDIS Smartsafe! I really find it difficult to call this a toy as its more of a “Must Have” gadget if anything! This is a replica of that iconic blue travelling phone booth made into an awesome innovative safe that is only opened with the use of an iPhone or Android dedicated app instead of the traditional combination lock… How cool is that!

Collectables

Anyone who has a child with autism or even knows a child with autism will know how many of these children love a toy that holds that collecting aspect. Collectables and Asperger’s seem to go hand in hand for my Little man and I’m sure some of these would appeal to him!

Moshi Mosters: Moshi monsters are great for kids on the spectrum as the brand offer so many collectable pocket-money toys, some of which we have already featured here on the blog. Some of the newer collectables from this range that are set to launch this year, included Fizz pods from Grossman Ltd (also available in Disney princess). Where, Re:creation are bringing us Moshi Monsters Zippers, a variety of 3D Moshlings attached to a child friendly clasp which can be hooked to any zip, so, perfect for accessorising & customising clothing and school backpacks & pencil cases while doubling up as the perfect fidget for the sensory seeker. The range also includes Moshi Monsters charmling bands (with each pack containing a wrist band and two charms).

NUKO Cards: Nukotoys bring us these collectable innovative trading cards combining physical and digital play as never seen before! NUKO Cards contain characters and items that magically spring into action when tapped onto the screen of an iPad, iPod touch, iPhone or an Andriod device. Kids will be able to play with mythical creatures such as cyclops, griffons and phoenix or exotic animals such as the water buffaloes, tigers and elephants without leaving the comfort of home. This innovative collectable trading mastermind will be brought to us by flair and are due to launch this year.

Pokemon: This is a brand known all to well amongst many children on the autism spectrum, mainly due to the collectables aspect that the name holds. This time BANDAI are launching the all new series of Pokemon Black & White toy range consisting of collectable figures, poke ball and twister figures with battle stage and the digital great ball so trainers can exchange their Pokemon.

Construction:

I think its been made clear on this blog over the past few months Little man’s love of construction toys especially “LEGO” and judging by the comments obtained on the “Boy with Aspergers Facebook page consisting of some almost 5,000 members, its clear that this love of construction goes way further than just the Little man. Toy Fair 2012 wasn’t short on construction toys and I’m quite excited at this years new launches.

LEGO: Lego had lots of exciting new products on show and I could easily go on about the benefits of LEGO all night. LEGO DINO’S was one new launch that took hold of me quickly, what with many children on the spectrum having a fondness for dinosaurs these new construction kits seem ideal as it combines the two interest together. The range has already made it onto the mayor retailers shelves as of this January 2012, so you can head out and buy them today if desired.

Another awesome LEGO product, was the new additions to the LEGO Friends collection, including some fabulous unique construction sets aimed at girls. Check out the set above, which combines both classic construction with girls doll play! Again the range has launched already and did so on the 26th December 2011! So, if your little one love’s LEGO, keep your eyes peeled for these new beauties.

Laser Pegs: This was by far one of my most exciting discoveries at the 2012 toy fair! I knew instantly that my son and many other children just like him, would go crazy for the New laser pegs stackables, fresh to the UK all the way from the US where it is already a massive hit! Even the American “Autism society” are singing its praises! Laser Pegs are the first patented lighted construction set in the world, offering an innovative new way to enjoy a construction kit! Not only are the pieces able to illuminate with the use of brightly coloured LED lights once constructed and connected to a power source, (battery-powered operated unit or AC socket adapter) but they are also compatible with all mayor big named construction brands interlocking perfectly using construction boards or pieces (Yes, we have personally put it to the test, so look out for the pending review). You can also buy the illuminating model kits that allow you to construct a host of different models before adding the magic of illumination. This brings together construction and sensory play for the child with autism and once constructed the model kits would be a welcomed addition to any sensory room (I predict these will be huge). Laser pegs are brought to us by F4K (Fun4kids) and you can check out this awesome brand by visiting www.laserpegs.co.uk.

Sensory play:

Pebeo: Little man is a child that has a lot of sensory sensitivities but also a child who needs a certain amount of sensory input. His tactile defensive and hates the texture and feel of a host of different materials. One thing he does enjoy though is a good bit of messy play, and Pebeo offer just that. All children will love the Pebeo’s creative art products especially kids on the spectrum & those with sensory processing difficulties. Pebeo are now introducing a new range of awesome 3D Tactile Paint, in some super cool colours. This funky paint can be applied to any creative project and within just a few short hours the paint would have dried giving it that awesome 3D effect. We love the range and are busy putting the Tactile 3D paint through its paces, so… stay tuned for our pending review.

Yummy Dough

Image via Wikipedia

Yummy Dough: Another product I got to play with over at the Toy Fair, was “Yummy Dough” from Maps, This stuff was everywhere come Christmas and it looks as though it will continue to be a success, sailing through 2012. What’s great about Yummy Dough is the fact it lets a child unleash their creative flair, with art normally being a strong point for the child with autism, this also offers the sensory seeker a whole new aspect to creative play! What’s more children can bake it and then eat it! What’s not to love!

Happy Hopperz: These guys just have to get a mention in my “Must haves” They were featured in the NAS communications publication when Little man went toy test with a group of other children on the autism spectrum. This was actually one of the toys that was voted in the top five toys for children with autism. Happy Hopperz are a huge collection of brightly coloured inflatable toys that resemble something of the “Space hoppers” of the 1970s. These have been created with ears and horns for small hands to grip onto as well as feet to steady the bounce. This is the ideal toy for the child who is said to be a “Sensory Seeker” the child who continually seeks stimulation through movement. Other benefits include those of strengthening of core muscles, increased balance control, the development of improved co-ordination skills all while helping to expand a child’s imaginative play while helping promote physical exercise and overall confidence. New designs launched in December and more are constantly being added so get your eyes peeled.

Games & Educational Play:

Little man has recently started playing lots of games, which I feel to be important, as it helps him to learn how to interact with others and play a competitive game in a non aggressive manner (he used to be a very sore loser and at times still can be)! Toy Fair 2012, had plenty to share when it came to games and educational play and here are some of my favourites.

Orchard Toys: These guys are brilliant, not only do they offer a host of awesome educational games but are also sponsoring this very blog in order for me to attend the fabulous Britmums live conference this June 2012. On discovering that my sponsor were setting up at the Toy fair, I considered it my perfect opportunity to check out some of their new “2012” releases. Thankfully, I attended the fair on the last day so it was a lot less busy, as it had been on previous days. I met with a very nice representative of the brand who done an awesome job of showing me around the stand and one by one talking me through the New games. All the games & puzzles sold by Orchard Toys are 100% educational with many of the games being perfect for the child with autism and those with special educational needs. New games include rhyme robber, Dinosaur Race, Rocket Game, Teddy Bear Game, Animal Four In A Box and my favourite Football Game, where players race to score the winning goal. We have recently donated a few the Orchard Games that we were sent to review, to Little man’s special school for children with Aspergers and autism and we will be sharing the feedback with you all soon.

Traditional Garden Games: This was a brand with some very interesting and large games on show! We reviewed the Giant Jenga during the run up to Christmas 2011 (note this was from a different brand)! Traditional garden games had a great version of the game on display called “Jamanga” which consisted of huge soft colourful pieces, making the game more child friendly as well as visually stimulating. Little man loves Jenga and I could see him loving this colourful version, what with its giant foam dice the game is much more inviting for all children with or without autism. A game of Jamange will help the development of social interaction, logical thinking, while improving a child’s fine and gross motor skills.

Phonics Puzzles: These good quality wooden puzzles are great for any child, but could be a god send for the child with special educational needs. Phonics Puzzle 1 & 2 are the perfect introduction to reading and goes hand in hand with the recommendations given by the Department of Education itself. The Puzzles have been tested by parents and their children as well as schools throughout the early years and primary sector and the feedback given to the brand responsible “desi doll” has been nothing less than positive. Phonics teaches children how to recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes as-well as how to identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make, such as “Sh” or “oo” then finally blending these sounds together to make a word. Children can therefore take this knowledge using it to de-code new words that they see, a proven first important step in learning how to read. Phonics puzzles are learning made fun and are a worthy purchase at around £19 retail price.

Rubiks: Children with Aspergers love a mind challenge and many tend to be great at using the part of their brains that helps them to problem solve when it comes to mathematical challenges or the de-coding of puzzles. This is why Rubik’s are great for children like my Little man and John Adams have given Rubik’s a new face for 2012. Players will require logical thinking when trying to guess the masters code hidden pattern of nine hidden colours. This is a two player game and it launched last month January 2012, so is already out there for the taking. If this doesn’t take your fancy you could try the New Rubik’s 2×2 cube.

Kurio: One that I’m eagerly awaiting is the launch of the new “Kurio” by the tablet maker “Inspiration works”. This smart new device is hoping to please both child and adult a like and with more and more children with autism finding it easier to interact & work with touch screen computers, this is likely to be a massive hit in the world of autism and special needs. The Kurio will be powered by Android 4.0 and will be Google approved (so easy access to apps via the Android Market) it will come in a range of sizes (3 in fact) and will each offer a 4GB internal storage with an SD card slot allow it to be taken up to a 32GB. The device will be HDMI compatible and will offer a USB port socket for connection to external devices. Each will feature cameras of different megapixels as well as video recording & playback features. With the product expected to launch by July 2012, I’m pretty excited and so are my children Little man and his sister (who are both already demanding one)!

Science4you: Lastly I thought I would share Science4you a brand trying to get its products played with in the UK. All ready a huge hit within a string of European countries Science4you brings the UK educational affordable kits. What I love about the product and sure the children on the autism spectrum will too, is the fact that each kit doesn’t only come with a detailed instruction guild, but a booklet covering some need to know interesting facts! For example, if you were to choose the “Geology – Volcano” kit then not only would you be able to create your own “geyser” but also learn all the interesting facts, such as the components & structure of the world of volcanoes, plus the composition of the worlds planet surface. I really did like the many kits on display and know my son would especially enjoy the one I have just described. To discover Science4you visit www.science4youtoys.com

Great discoveries at London’s 2012 Toy fair

30 Jan

I recently attended toy paradise (known to most as “Toy fair 2012”) which was located at London’s Olympia’s Grand Hall!

Here you will discover some truly amazing toys, many yet to launch and hit the shelves of our UK stores.

With some 200+ exhibitors of brands big and small, I have been forced to write this post in not one by two sections, as post two will showcase some of my top toy discoveries that I predict will make big impressions on those children with autism and other additional needs. But first here are some of my exciting discoveries of toys that will impress all (yes, children big & small)!

Toy fair ran for three consecutive days 24-26th January 2012. I visited on the last day which meant it was less crowded, therefore allowing me a better opportunity to get up close to toys and have a good old natter with some of the brands representatives.

Web Interactive toys

One of the first things I noted was the hype centred around toys that boast interaction with online websites. H. Grossman Ltd, the guys who brought us them gooey alien eggs that all our children went crazy for, now bring us the brand new, yet a little bit freaky “Deadstone Valley” (My, daughter of nine, is actually quite excited about the launch). Deadstone valley is all about collecting or creating corpses and then burying them on the interactive website. Collect different characters, each in their own coffin, log onto the online, interactive site which allows users to create their own characters and tombstones, then bury them in their own epitaph! This may sound a little gory, yet Grossman’s state that, judging by market research, kids are going to go barmy for the wacky range (judging by my daughters reaction, I can only guess their right)!

Outdoor play

Last year we saw quite a bit of them Moshi monsters, here on the “A boy with Aspergers” blog, it would seem the phenomenon is set to continue and become even bigger this year! In part two I’ll expand, telling you more about the new pocket-money collectables, however for now, check out the super cool all new Moshi Monsters foldable light up scooter which is again brought to us by them guys over at Grossman LTD & Ozbozz.

Staying on the subject of outdoor play and ride on toys, Re:Creations are set to launch its new Razor Flashrider 360 this coming July. The Flash rider 360 definitely looks the business with its super sleek design. The 360’s awesome features allow kids age from 6+ to spin & spark, unleashing 360 degree turns & drifts on dual inclined wheels. You must agree, it looks pretty impressive doesn’t it?

Other top ride on’s included the awesome brightly coloured balance bikes known as “Tinybike” yes, they have already launched and some of you may have come across them before, however I haven’t and having seen them at the toy fair, I was pretty interested in this super cute addition to the world of balance bikes. The tiny design has a tiny price tag too, as these sell from as little as £45.95 and come in 7 stunning colours. Children from as young as 2 years can enjoy a “Tiny Bike”

Another top contender in the world of balance bikes has to be the wooden kiddimoto, with literally loads of designs to select from I quite like the one below, though there is a whole new design range coming to the “Kurve” range of balance bikes! So, with the addition of some very smart head-gear, these are going to ride through 2012 without a hitch.

Lastly, keep a watchful eye out for one of my all time favourite scooter brand’s “Micro scooter” for the new limited edition. It’s of a white colour design and set to be launched in celebration of the London 2012 games.

Toddler Play

What an exciting year it looks set to be for our toddlers & pre-schoolers, what with a delightful range of beautiful coloured wooden toys forming part of the John Crane Sevi range, consisting of some very pretty and beautifully made pieces, such as the stunning wooden dolls house with additional 78 pieces and a fab pretend play collection, including the stunning little orange kitchen and oven, pre-schoolers will be in toy heaven. Another great addition to the sevi range are the beautifully made play puzzles, that double up as a puzzle play area and tidy little storage case.

Gander kids are also set to impress with new additions to its P’kolino collection. The brand that brings us beautiful yet affordable products are gearing up to launch its wooden 5 piece brightly coloured xylophone that can be nested inside on another for tidy & convenient storage once play has come to an end. I’ve received products from this brand before and was overly impressed by its quality.

WOW Toys, one of mine and the toddlers all time favourite pre-school brands, also have some exciting new launches. A real girlie vision of the “Motorbike Max” we now have “Whiz-around Amy” plus a stunning pale blue addition to the range “Ryan’s road trip” aimed at girls and boys alike.

Other brands specialising in pre-school toys that brought some magic to the fair, were BANDAI with their Tinga Tinga tales (already launched but continuing to grow) plus a lovely noddy range of toys and figures. Flair are also launching the much-anticipated range of Baby Jake toys (much to my toddlers delight), where’s the famous LeapFrog brought lots of toy magic with its innovative collection, including a host of new apps and software for its Leapad Explorer (aimed at 4-9 yrs) & by way of its “Magic Discovery Board” which allows pre-schoolers, and children that little bit older, the opportunity to make hundreds of learning discoveries as they explore their local community.

Something for the girls

Toy fair 2012 had plenty to impress the girls of the world! HTI Hello Kitty Vellutata collection is creating excitement on a huge scale, what with a number of huge Advertising campaigns due to hit our TV screens and the fact they were crown winners, bagging themselves an award at this years toy fair for the best girls toy 2012 for its Vellutata Mushroom house! Now you can see why I want to share this. This super sweet but cool Mushroom house, 11 piece playset is so simple, yet creates lots of playability. The set features a pretty pink mushroom house shaped carry case, that once opened up, reveals 4 delightful interior rooms set over two levels. The set includes Kitty and Fifi figures plus additional pieces of furnishing for this cute little house. Other pieces in the range include, pushchairs & pram’s, bags on wheels and this innovative “Magic Oven” a little cupcake makers dream oven, that really bakes!

Other exciting launches for girls, include the Victorious collection, based around Nickelodeons hit Children’s television series. This includes craft sets, fashion dolls, and even a stage for tweens to perform. Brands set to bring the range include flair and H. Grossman Ltd amongst others.

Ingo devices also host a great range for girls delights, many of their products are innovative yet included many of your top names such as the ever-growing monsters high! This range included a D. Camera Necklace + Bracelet that concealed a 1.3 MPX 8mp spy cam, though my favourite would have to be the Monster high 15 inch LCD TV, or the portable DVD/MP3 player with innovative 180 degree routable screen. Also check back on the blog for part two of this post to discover what ingo devices can offer the child with autism and additional needs!

If it’s a dolls house you’re after, then I suggest you look no further than the fabulous KidKraft, the brands range of dolls houses blew me away and I’m seriously considering one for my own daughter. They stock all types of doll house from super modern to very traditional. Some of my favourites are the beautifully crafted “Savannah” as well as the fabulous sleek shopping centre. I feel in love with everything KidKraft stocked. Their children’s furnishings are stunning, with their children’s bedroom furnishings certain to put a smile on the faces of both girls and boys a like. The funky vanity & stool boasting a grown up zebra print, looks set to be a winner, I even want one for myself.

Something for the Boys

There was heaps of surprises for the boys (no children over five can attend the fair, though it would seem the guys where having good fun testing out the boys toys)! Here are some of my top spots!

LEGO was one toy for boys we knew would be a hit, however I’ve included this in post two so wont include it here. IMC toys are planing to launch its fabulous new “Toy Story” range this July 2012. The range includes a funky little RC Spaceship complete with removable woody and Buzz, as will as a RC car (RC meaning remote control). Corgi, also have a fab addition to its collection of collectables diecast models, in the way of Olly, Yes, that’s “Olly the Little white van” from Mini Citv (Really looking forward to that one & so is the two boys)! BANDAI are all set to launch a new Ben 10 range as well as a new Power rangers collection (set to hit stores this July) to form part of the Super Samurai collection, and it’s looking like its going to be a big one! Other great contenders were of course Meccano with some great new construction kits including the new Gears of war 3 (yes, as in that video game). The theme construction kits allow a number of vehicles to be constructed and are due to hit stores sometime this August. Lastly lets not forget Hexbug who have a host of creepy surprises in store, from all new bugs to those controlled with a remote control.

Other exciting toys due for release are new educational games from Orchard toys, Doctor who toys, awesome new LEGO ranges and of course the Kurio Tablet.
All will be revealed in part 2 where I’ll reveal my top spots & predictions for children with autism and other additional needs

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