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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

Are you ready for the next playground craze

19 Aug

 I’ve been seriously excited about sharing this review, but had my  instructions to hold of from posting till nearer the big launch date.

 Bumpeez are set to become the next big pocket money, playground craze  throughout the UK.

 Bumpeez are twin packs of fun collectable, pocket money toys priced at  just £1.99. These exciting new toys are all set to hit newsagents, toy  stores and supermarkets nationwide from the 24th August 2011.

 When I received the email back in the beginning of July, asking if the  children would be interested in giving Bumpeez a try, I knew these  would be an instant hit with Little Man.

 Bumpeez are aimed at both boys and girls between the ages of 5-11  years (though little man is 11 on the 1st of October, I think these  may appeal to those that little bit older too).

 Its fair to say that when it comes to collectable pocket money toys,  many children on the autism spectrum take to them like a duck to  water! Just look at Pokemon, (a game which is said to be created by a  guy with high functioning autism, likely, ‘Aspergers syndrome’) or  that of Yu-Gi-Oh cards, both have  been a hit with children on the  spectrum. This is not only for the appeal of forming a collection but  also the social aspect that surrounds these games,Just like Bumpeez  they offer the opportunities needed to better a child’s social  skills.

 Bumpeez go one step better! These are not cards but instead highly  collectable solid circular chips encased in a highly tactile removal  silicon ring that come in a variety of different shapes, colours and  sizes, (another appealing aspect for children on the autism spectrum  who may require lots of sensory/tactile input during play).

 The idea of the silicon outer ring is to allow the Bumpeez to bounce.  These can then be bounced against different surfaces to play tricks or  games. The different shapes of the ring mean each will require varying  degrees of skill to bounce.

 Bumpeez offer the child versatility in that they can be played both  with or without the silicon ring, either indoors or outdoors. There  are already a total of 25 games created, yet children are encouraged  to make up their own, improving the child’s imagination skills (an  essential tool for those with autism).

 Collectables

 Little man loved his packet of Bumpeez that contained the characters,  ‘Cloud’ & ‘Candy killer’ He loved how there were so many different  characters to collect, 100 in total. Bumpeez also have 10 different  colours to collect.

 The overall goal is for the child to collect all the coloured chips  with matching coloured rings. Each chip has its own character and  trading value. ‘Omar’ is the lead character therefore the rarest with  the highest trading value. Other characters include Omar’s friends,  Robot, Pam and Johnny-Q.

 Little man loves the whole trading concept that surrounds Bumpeez. He  told me that the fact you don’t know what bumpeez you’re getting makes  the collecting aspect more exciting.

 From a parental point of view, I found Bumpeez to be great value for  money. The fact that each pack contains two bumpeez is fantastic. I  have known other products aimed at children labelled as “pocket money  toys” priced at anything but pocket money prices. I can honestly see  little man collecting these from the time they hit the shops next week  till the day they disappear! I can easily vision my 8 year old daughter  following suit much to little mans “delight” (yes, that was good old  fashion English sarcasm)! Since early July when little man first  discovered Bumpeez his continually asked, “Mum, how much longer till I  can get some more Bumpeez?” I’m being driven loopy with anticipation.  He has already taken these into school (an autism special school)  before the end of term and told me his class peers showed a keen  interest his new toy.

 It seems that the fun that can be had with Bumpeez is limitless. What  with the chance to acquire special rear addition packs containing,  silver, swirl (Bi-colour) & golden chips resulting in the child  winning a fantastic prize makes the purchase of a packet of Bumpeez  even more exciting.

 “Oh, I almost forgot to tell you!” Bumpeez have an interactive  feature. The online element means kids can access cool game, tips and  tricks, plus lots of new and exciting features at the official website: http://www.bumpeez.com

 So, parents be prepared… in just 5 days from now Bumpeez will hit  the shelves of your local store, how cool will you look when your  child asks, “Mum, what’s these?” and your able to tell them with  confidence!

 Bumpeez will be available to buy at all good newsagents, independent  toy stores, (such as the entertainer) national supermarkets and high  street stores including WHsmiths & Toys R us from 24th August priced at just £1.99

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