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NY Toy Fair 2011: Reading the Crystal Ball

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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For the first time in five years, I won't be in Manhattan in February to cover Toy Fair – but I've been inundated with a digital mountain of press releases over the past several weeks, so I thought I'd give a report in absentia, a report from the future even since Toy Fair 2011 doesn't open until Feb. 13. Here are some of the games about which I won't be writing next week while Toy Fair takes place:

• North Star Games is releasing a new version of Say Anything titled – wait for it – Say Anything Family. Unlike the Wits & Wagers to Wits & Wagers Family transition, in which the game play was simplified in a number of ways, Say Anything Family will feature the same game play as the first game. To summarize, one player asks a question, each other player writes an answer they think the asker will choose, the asker secretly chooses an answer, everyone else bets on which answer was chosen, then the asker reveals his choice and points are handed out.

Say Anything Family will include 360 questions on topics that kids can handle as easily as adults – perhaps questions that certain parties (i.e., my game group) can't twist into something inappropriate for young ears. We'll see. Say Anything Family includes components for six players, retails for $20 and should be out March 15, 2011. Oh, and it features a more modern SELECT-O-MATIC 6000, which clearly must be 1,000 times better than the SELECT-O-MATIC 5000 of Say Anything.

• North Star will also be showing Crappy Birthday, a party game in which you try to give people terrible gifts – and guess which gifts people will dub the most terrible – in order to score points and win.

Reverse Charades will be released as an iOS and Android app on February 12, 2011, with more than one thousands words include from the base game and the "Awesome 80s" and "Sports Fans" themed editions of the game.

• The Pillow Pets line of stuffed animals that can be manhandled into pillows to comfort your bourgeois head is branching out to books, blankets, hats and board games, specifically the Pillow Pets Dreamland Matching Game (aka, memory) and the Pillow Pets Dreamland Adventure Board Game, the goal of which seems to be determining how many times you can use the phrase "Pillow Pets" in a game description:

Set sail on an exciting journey through seven continents of the world to Pillow Pets Dreamland. Spin a colorful wheel to travel along a colorful pathway filled with exciting adventures, adorable pets and even some pitfalls. On every turn, players may be lucky enough to secure one of 28 adorable Pillow Pets Animal Cards. As players race to be the first to enter the Pillow Pets Dreamland, they must be careful to avoid landing on a Pillow Pet Cage or they may lose a Pillow Pet Animal Card. The first player to collect at least four Pillow Pets Animal Cards and to reach the enchanted Pillow Pets Dreamland WINS the game.


• The folks behind Bananagrams have a new "word game in a zip bag" called Zip-it. Each turn, the two players randomly take twelve letter cubes and race to form them into miniature crossword grids, keeping track of the score via colored zippers on the pouch.

Racers Ready, a new release from FamilyTimeFun, challenges players as individuals or teams to compete in various challenges, many of which involve household objects like cotton balls, tongs or a deck of cards.

Whirled Peas is a party game in which players compete in two teams in five types of interactive challenges, with the winner of each challenge earning a pea to fill its team pod. The first team to fill its pod wins. Nothing new in terms of game play for those who have played a party game or two, but the press release makes it seem like game play is only a peripheral selling point of the game:

Whirled Peas has already created buzz in the toy and game industry and is owned by a number of celebrities including the Kardashian sisters when Whirled Peas was a part of the premier gift bag for Kourtney and Kim Take New York.

Part of the premier gift bag?! Is this the price of our desire to have games more visible in the marketplace at large? Shameless media whoring and incidental celebrity name-dropping?

Well, consider such actions a success, I suppose, as I did write about the game.
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