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ASTRA Members Elect New Representatives

Members of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) elected three specialty toy industry leaders to its Executive Committee and four to its Board of Directors at ASTRA’s Marketplace Academy today in New Orleans, LA. The new representatives are:

Chair-elect
Christine Blumberg, CPE, Roberts Blumberg Giacobbe, Guilford, CT

Treasurer
Kevin McGrath, The Original Toy Company, Milford, CT

Secretary
Amy Saldanha, CMR, CPE, kiddywampus, Hopkins, MN

Directors
Melissa Beese, CPE, Little Pnuts Toy Shoppe, New Orleans, LA
Betty Skoke Burns, Angellina's Toy Boutique, Whitehorse, YT CANADA
Jacqueline Killian, Beyond the Blackboard, Aurora, CO
Nick Tarzia, Stamford Toys, Stamford, CT

Dee Farrell, CPE, of Ann Williams Group of Bloomfield Hills, MI assumed the role of Chair of the ASTRA Board of Directors. She has served as Chair-elect for the past year.

“ASTRA is so fortunate to have committed professionals who volunteer their time to lead this important organization and generate innovative ways to help members grow their toy businesses,” said ASTRA President Kimberly Mosley. “ASTRA has always been member- driven, and our creative, engaged Board of Directors has always been one of our great strengths.”

www.astratoy.org/

25 Years In Business

Pacific Play Tents has been designing imaginative children’s products since 1993, making 2018 their 25th anniversary! A lot has changed since those early days so they thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane and give you a peek into their creative evolution.

After 25 years of growing and evolving to suit customers’ needs, they are proud to be recognized as the unsurpassed standard for quality play tents and tunnels. From the all-encompassing core line to the elaborate high end line, Pacific Play Tents aims to invoke joy into the hearts of children everywhere.

Cheers to 25 years! May our imaginations stay forever limitless!

Read more here.

Bring your imagination to life with the future of educational gaming

Teaching children about the natural world around them including sea life and extinct animals can be a little daunting. How cool would it be if their learning was experienced in the 3D realm? Imagine the added value of combining modern gaming technology and education. Gone are the days where kids simply read a book or color flat pages, arrived are the days where the pages come to life for today’s tech savvy youth.

Odyssey Toys presents ARIA’s Adventures, the new wave of children’s education and play. Utilizing augmented reality, ARIA’s Adventures offers several interactive and exciting options. Simply use your smart device or the included VR headset and allow Aria to take you on a virtual journey through the jungle. 

ARIA's Augmented Reality Flash Cards come in 4 categories: Sea Life, Animals, Extinct Animals, and The Birds. Each set has 24 cards which are also translated into English and Spanish. Players can simply flash the card behind your device's back camera and watch the selected animal come to life on their device! Learn valuable facts or listen to the animal’s roar, adding a stimulating educational element to the game. Don’t forget to take a selfie with your 3D pet!

ARIA’s 3D Coloring Books come in 3 categories: Animals, Seal Life, and Dinosaurs. 3D coloring is a mesmerizing experience- watch as wild animals fill in and transform from flat white drawings to exciting, colorfully interactive characters. Each book comes with 10 unique 3D coloring pages and 10 augmented reality learning activities which range from “matching” to “what comes next” to “complete the square” type activities played on your smart device in 3D! 

This interactive game takes advantage of modern technology, allowing children to learn in an innovative, fun, and engaging way. Aria's Adventures utilizes augmented reality (commonly known as AR to techies), the latest gaming phenomenon that causes physical objects in the real-world environment to appear augmented. ARIA’s Adventures is a single or multi-player interactive experience recommended for ages 4+.

www.odysseytoys.com
sales@odysseytoys.com
305-933-4480

Turn Your Ordinary Bike into a Pony

Our Story
At Pony Pals Ranch we love ponies. We love fast ponies and slow ponies, young ponies and old ponies, big ponies and small ponies. But what we love most of all is seeing the smiles on the faces of the children riding the ponies. Unfortunately most children will never get a chance to experience this thrill. That is why we created our pony bike kits.

A Work of Art
To help us create our pony bike kits we worked with one of the world's most talented artist. The life-like pony head was created by Lado Goudjabidze. Lado is an award winning, internationally renowned sculptor and painter born in the Republic of Georgia. His numerous works include the bust of Mahatma Gandhi which is displayed at the United Nations headquarters in New York City and a portrait of John F. Kennedy which hangs at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Special Features
Our pony bike kits are designed to fit sidewalk bicycles with 12, 14 or 16 inch wheels. The life-like pony head is made of LLDPE, a lightweight yet highly durable material that can withstand the realities of children's play. The mane is made of synthetic hair and can be braided and groomed. The pony tail is designed to "bob" up and down, much like an Arabian horse"s tail, when the bike is ridden. 

www.ponypalsranch.com
ponybikes@aol.com
760-200-5729

Beautiful Dolls that Engage and Inspire

Meet Maru and Friends®, a beautiful doll collection, storybooks and accessories that are the creation of Maru, Maritza Gutierrez, the founder of this company. She too is an adult collector and wanted to create a beautiful doll that would look so real, that girls of all ages could associate with and be inspired.

The idea flourished and she developed Maru and Friends®, a doll line with storybooks that would chronicle the life of a young Hispanic girl that comes to America in search of a better life.

Maritza’s professional background is in marketing; she has managed her own advertising
and public relations agency for more than thirtyfive years. Her agency, Creative Ideas Advertising, Inc., is an award-winning firm, known for producing some of the most successful political and public service campaigns.

Maritza still finds time to give back to her community as a civic volunteer at MDX, the expressway authority in Miami-Dade County. She was the first woman to chair this organization.

About the Artist

The Maru and Friends® original five dolls, and now all new mini pals, were sculpted by the
award-winning, American artist, Dianna Effner. Dianna has been making collectible porcelain
dolls for more than 35 years. She is a master doll artist that has perfected her craft, capturing the tender features of a child’s face in her beautiful doll creations. Her unique style and perfection of lifelike fine collectible dolls are only available at Maru and Friends®.

Thanks to their loyal friends from around the world, expect a lot more special surprises from
Maru™! They put a lot of love and passion into making their beautiful doll collection and designer outfits and they thank you for loving them too.

maruandfriends.com

Creativity Has Its Base

Strictly Briks encourages kids to be creative, dream amazing things and build imagination into reality! We understand the importance of making learning fun and setting aside time for kids to play away from tv, video games, and other digital media. It’s our mission to encourage creative play and to impact kids by developing innovative toys that provide opportunities for children to enhance educational skills while having fun.

Winner of an incredible 30 industry awards in 2017 alone, creativity has its base with Strictly Briks. Kids’ imagine then build upon stackable baseplates that grow to whatever is conceived at the moment. At the same time youngsters amass STEM knowledge from engineering to architecture -- just by playing.

The family-owned company – Brian & Carina with kids Sonja & Erik – thought leading brands of building sets only allowed kids to mimic the picture on the box and then gave little incentive to build again. So they created their own! Unlike other brands, this unique base plate has a bottom that is designed to be stacked then combined with existing bricks for tons of different construction possibilities. When children open a bag of Strictly Briks, they are encouraged to use the set however they want!  Parents, teachers, retailers and wholesalers have discovered Strictly Briks toys and games at strictlybriks.com and Amazon.com.

www.strictlybriks.com

info@strictlybriks.com

608-687-7572

Bluebee Pals

4.0 Interactive Bluebee Pals with FREE Life Skills/ Educatinal App

Soft, safe and FUN! Eco-friendly and natural toys.

In the search for safe sensory toys, whether for a one-year old or a child with special needs, Rubbabu offers a range of toys that encourage kids to develop their creativity and learn useful motor, spatial and social skills. 

What makes them so green? Well, they are made from the sap of the rubber tree, which is extracted without harming the tree. It's a renewable resource and comes to us from nature. In fact, natural rubber is biodegradable! The toys are hand made, with comparatively very little fossil fuel, at an eco-friendly and fair trade factory in India.

Rubbabu toys are kept simple in the belief that children learn by engaging in "make-believe" or imaginative play with open ended toys. Made from natural rubber foam with a fuzzy flocked surface, they are the perfect first toy for baby. When a baby is still too young for wooden toys, it's not too early to start learning with these squishy and natural toys.

Beyond meeting the strictest European and American safety standards for toys, Rubbabu toys are soft and bouncy – easy for parents to supervise, and kind to one’s furniture and home – ideally suited for indoor play.

They are specially helpful for children with special needs, for whom a soft and sensory toy is perfect, because they can learn safely without hurting themselves

This range has won over 50 toy awards, over the last 10 years from prestigious organizations including Dr. Toy, The Parents' Choice Foundation, The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, Academic's Choice, TNPC (The National Parenting Center), NAPPA, and PAL (Play Advances Learning). 

WWW.RUBBABU.COM
sales@rubbabu.com
(732) 428 5544


Helio Children's Night Light System 


Helio is an award-winning light projector that emits educational and entertainment based imagery through a series of interchangeable discs. Children can learn a wide range of topics including sight words, states, animals, geography, and more - and they will have fun while doing it. Before bed is one of the best times for children to learn and retain information, and helio takes advantage of this with its soothing light projector system that makes learning fun and interactive. Named 2017 Product of the Year by Creative Child Magazine, helio uses discs that coincide with lesson plans for all grades and age groups. 

Bred from success, helio was created to offer an alternative method for learning.  In April of 2014, John Fyke wanted to come up with a way to help his son with his Kindergarten vocabulary. He replaced the stars and moons on his son's existing light projector with his vocabulary words, illuminating them onto the ceiling before bed. Both he and his son's teacher were amazed by the success. Fyke had created something that helped his son, and would hopefully help other children as well. Helio was born. 

This brilliant spin on a beloved children's toy offers five different base color options for boys and girls. Each unit comes with 5 unisex starter discs with over 200 additional discs to choose from and 40,000 discs with different learning curriculum currently in production. 

John Fyke
Helio
www.helioproductionsinc.com
info@helioproductionsinc.com
657-247-0295
https://twitter.com/helioproduction
https://www.facebook.com/heliosite/

How Brighter Innovators Start Up!

It's time we teach the power of creativity. To soar beyond STEM education...to gameify innovation...and LAUNCH!

 

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