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The best of International Toy Fair 2011

The 108th International Toy Fair wrapped up its four-day run in New York this week and over 10,000 buyers and press were treated to an overwhelming display of toys, action figures, games, and gadgets. All told, there were over 100,000 new products from industry giants such as Mattel, Hasbro, and LeapFrog, and hundreds of lesser-known manufacturers.

While some of the news fell a little flat (Barbie and Ken are back together; who knew they had split up?), a few offerings rose above the considerable noise level and gave us a glimpse of what could be some of the more popular toys once they hit the shelves later this year.

LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer

Worried that your 4-year-old might not take such good care of your $600 iPad? Worry no more! LeapFrog, the reliable maker of fun and educational toys for younger children, is coming out with a LeapPad Explorer tablet. The LeapPad has a 5-inch color LCD touch screen, a built-in microphone, a headphone jack, a camera, an SD card expansion slot, and a USB connection.

The LeapPad comes with a stylus and is powered by four AA batteries. There will be some pre-loaded software but other game and activity cartridges can be purchased for $25 each. The good news for existing LeapFrog fans is that the LeapPad will also run the current library of Leapster Explorer cartridges.

Cost: $99.99
Available: Summer 2011

Kid-Tough See Yourself Camera

The See Yourself Camera is the latest in Fisher Price’s rugged Kid-Tough camera line. As the name implies, the camera allows young photographers to include themselves in their pictures by utilizing the 180-degree rotating 1.2-megapixel lens.

The hard-wearing plastic camera can also shoot video and has a 4x zoom for those important close-ups. There is a 1.8-inch LCD screen to check out the photos, an SD card slot, and everything is powered by four AA batteries.

Cost: $69.99
Available: July 2011

Monopoly Live

In a move that will have board game purists howling in protest, Hasbro has given its flagship Monopoly game a serious electronic makeover. Gone are the piles of money and the Chance and Community Chest cards, and in their place is a computerized game-directing tower.

Using infrared sensors, the tower tracks hand movements and the position of the game pieces on the board, keeps a tally of money totals and property assets, and even lets you know when there is a breach of the rules! Another popular board game, Battleship, will undergo a similar digital makeover. Hasbro hopes that the computerized versions will appeal to a younger generation raised on video games.

Estimated cost: $50
Available: Holiday 2011

Meon Picture Makers

Remember lace-up cards? Meon has taken the same idea and applied it to neon picture signs. You weave strands of electro-luminescent wire through a grid of holes in a plastic frame. The frame contains a character from Cars or Toy Story, a Disney Fairy, or you can make your own picture.

Once you have finished the needlework, you plug the finished Meon into a base powered by one C battery, which can light your creation for up to 50 hours. The wires themselves will last 5,000 hours. There are three different kits, ranging from a 7-inch frame and a single 3-foot strand of wire, up to a 15-inch fame with strands in various colors. The higher-end models include sound effects, games, and other features.

Cost: $9.99 to $34.99
Available: Holiday 2011

Radica MindFlex Duel

The original MindFlex was a groundbreaking toy, allowing players to move a ball through various obstacles using brainwave activity captured through a special headband. But its popularity has been hindered because only one person can play at any given time.

Mattel’s new MindFlex Duel is an upgraded two-player version, in which you and a friend can compete to see who can move the fan-powered ball into their opponent’s “end-zone”. Lights measure each player’s brainwave activity and tell them if they need to up their game and concentrate harder!

Cost: $100
Available: August 2011

Spin Master Air Hogs Hyperactive

Billed as the fastest remote-controlled car of its size, the Hyperactive four-wheeler from Air Hogs zips around at up 22 mph. (That’s the equivalent of over 200 mph for a full-sized car.) The little guy produces enough torque for it to spiral its way to the top of a 10-foot cylinder. And if you do turn it over, the roll bar makes sure it gets back on four wheels without any outside help.

The Hyperactive comes with both foam and rubber tires for indoor and outdoor use, and the upgraded wireless remote technology allows for precision control up to a range of 600 feet.

Cost: $49.99
Available: Fall 2011

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