JP’s favorite toys and games

Dinosaurs still rule

Dinosaurs, friendship bracelets, X-Men and chemistry sets are favorites of local kids, according to local toy and game shop owners.

Kim Mitchell, owner of Boing! JP’s Toy Shop at 667 Centre St. , and Paul Bryant, co-owner of JP Comics and Games at 603 Centre St. recently offered the Gazette their perspectives on what’s hot in the JP toy market.

Some parents “come in wanting a game that bridges the gap between age groups, “Something that four-year-olds and seven-year-olds can enjoy,” said Mitchell.

“You also do have parents coming in looking for a TV alternative,” she said.

The old stand-by Legos remains one of the store’s hottest-selling items, she said, and other building toys of various levels of sophistication are popular.

Dinomorphs, which offer kids “different heads, tails and body shapes” of dinosaurs to mix and match, are big among younger kids, Mitchell said. “You can make a Tyrannosaurus rex, or kids get a big kick out of putting a T. rex head on a brontosaurus,” she said.

One item that Mitchell said she thought would be hotter is not: The classic Erector Set—a sophisticated building toy that where metal scaffolding is put together with nuts and bolts, and sometimes made kinetic with small engines.

Erector sets have not sold well, she said, but other toys that have kids conducting experiments and crafting are popular. “Parents are looking for some kind of play value,” she said, “I am selling tons of arts and crafts supplies.”

Friendship bracelets—colorful wristbands woven out of embroidery floss—remain popular, she said. Now there are friendship bracelet looms and instruction manuals available.

As far as games are concerned, there are some that she recommends to parents as potential fun for children playing alone or with friends. Those include dice games that teach kids math, the popular word-tile game Bananagrams, and a hugely popular game called Rush Hour.

Rush Hour features a board where traffic jams of varying degrees of complexity can be set up. Alone, players are charged with getting their cars out of the mess in as few turns as possible by moving all the cars around. Playing against someone, the goal is to be the one who makes the last move, she said.

Bryant told the Gazette that most of the games at that store are geared toward adults. Young adolescents who attend the store’s regular game nights usually prefer games “where there is a high level of interaction,” he said.

“Those games generally have people working together toward a cause and someone trying to sabotage it in secret,” Bryant said. Those mostly card-based games include titles like Saboteur, Bonhanza and Werewolf.

On the comic books side of the store, Bryant said that hot kids titles include the classic “Archie”; “Star Wars: Clone Wars”; and “Marvel Adventures,” which features common Marvel super heroes like Spider-man and the X-Men in youth-oriented story lines.

Not surprisingly, another hot title, “Super Dinosaur,” features stories about a boy and his best friend, a T. rex who wears a robot suit. “T. rexes have worthless tiny arms, but this T. rex has a game controller to use his robot arms,” Bryant explained.

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