Trade article: Outdoor Fun with Oomph

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Outdoor Fun with Oomph: Outdoor Toys Keep Kids’ Motors Running

By: Leslie Birdwell

Electronic and motorized toys provide outdoor fun with a little extra zing. The big trend is stuff that kids (big and small) can fire at each other safely, from marshmallow-tipped bow-and-arrow sets to old favorites like disc shooters, according to retailers that spoke with TDmonthly Magazine.

Kathy Bultman of The Rocking Horse Toy Company of Charlevoix, Harbor Springs, Mackinaw City and Petoskey, Mich., agrees that anything kids can shoot at each other (“Even though they’re not supposed to”) is a winning item. She said that Wild Planet’s Dodge Disks fit the bill, shooting foam disks using AA batteries. She added that the company’s “Mission: Impossible”-style gizmos, such as its Spy Agent Walkie Talkies, sell well. Set to release this year and expected to sell well is the company’s souped-up remote control Spy Video Car.

My Little Red Wagon in Stow, Ohio, is selling a lot of marshmallow guns by The Marshmallow Fun Company, according to Joyce Stephens, one of the store’s managers. They come in two sizes: The Blaster shoots standard size treats and The Blower puffs out the minis.

The Marshmallow Fun Company is getting ready to release two new products, The Bow and Mallow and The Executive Blaster. The Bow and Mallow will shoot marshmallow-tipped arrows and The Executive Blaster will be chrome and black, shoot marshmallows about 80 feet, and be geared more toward adults. No word yet on the suggested retail price for these items.

Other popular items include the safe flying disc Beamo, by Stuff Design Inc., the Surefire Compound Bow, by Monkey Business Sports (new for 2006) and the quick-to-recharge Backyard Flyer,by Kid Galaxy Inc., according to Kyle Buckley, a cashier at My Little Red Wagon.

And for those kids that get a little overzealous in battling their siblings, there’s always Take-Out-Time-Out by TOTO Products. This thin, flexible, waterproof mat can fit into a purse or bag and be toted to the pool, playground or simply the back yard. “During outdoor play, TOTO allows for parents to continue the consistency in teaching children proper social skills,” noted Lisa Bogart Carvajal, founder and president of TOTO Products.

Funrise Toys is staying in the “extreme sports” market with the Nylint Rock Crawler, a safe way for kids to participate in the X-game phenomenon without the physical dangers that go along with the real thing, says designer/inventor David Neal. More than a remote control truck, it fills the void between off-the-shelf monster trucks and the modified productions of remote control hobbyists.

But things that shoot aren’t doing so well for some folks, according to R.C., at on-line retailer Store4Knowledge in Stephenville, Texas. Instead, these retailers are doing well with the kinds of things grandma and grandpa buy for their grandchildren come spring — pint-sized garden tools that run on dirt and muscle power, like the Kid’s Tools by ToySmith.

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