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Kids Sidelines For Summer
Cynthia Clark -- 7/31/00
It's summer, when vacationing kids' fancies
turn to finding new and fun sidelines

George and Martha are now
available in three plush sizes.
For folks little and big(ger), both traditional and unconventional sidelines attract more and more attention from manufacturers.
Crocodile Creek, of Portage, Ind., makers of fabulous children's literature“related sidelines, adds several new items to its noteworthy credentials. The company's Book Friends line already includes plush toys based on such popular stories as Altoona Baboona, Caps for Sale, Dr. DeSoto, Little Bear, The Little Prince, Maisy, Stellaluna and many more. Joining the plush line are Runaway Bunny, an extra-large Daisy the Duck, Frederick, Goldie the Dollmaker, Lydia Grace (The Gardener), George and Martha, and Sylvester. There are also various accouterments to established characters (such as a Little Prince mouse pad, pencil case and play cases). Crocodile Creek also makes colorful, wooden-bead jewelry and hair accessories that tie in to kids' books, among them necklaces and bracelets for the very young, fashion-conscious fans of Arthur, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Maisy or Madeline.

New to the company's Whimsy line of festive painted wooden jewelry are play watches to help kids learn how to tell time while looking colorfully cool. Two charming new designs for wooden alphabet letters; four new collections of whimsical wooden toys, among them banks, bookends, picture frames, toothbrush holders (with two-minute timers attached) and various playthings; and a new series of captivating, sponge-filled, floatable and machine-washable bathtub animals sporting polka-dot inner tubes top off the offerings. Call (219) 763-3234, fax (219) 762-1740, e-mail customerservice@crocodilecreek.com.

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, Calif., and its associates weigh in this fall with some hefty sidelines for young and old alike. Leave Your Mark Here, a teen journal (written by a Canadian teen, Celeste Kadatz), stands out among Chronicle's entertaining selections. The brightly colored paperback comes with a sealable envelope at the back and a rubberband closure to encourage privacy. For younger folks on the move, the 52 Travel Activity Kit provides diversionary tactics for car, plane or train trips in a briefcase-style game pack. Mensa word and number puzzles could also come in handy for particularly lengthy journeys. Comic- (or kitsch-) minded young travelers might also enjoy Chronicle's classic Batman and Catwoman blank journals, which this fall join the popular Wonder Woman and Superman editions. This fall Chronicle also announces the launch of an American line from the British children's publisher Ragged Bears, which offers some delightful puzzles, games and color-in postcards for the youngest far-flung correspondents. Call (800) 722-6657, fax (800) 858-7787, e-mail frontdesk@chroniclebooks.com.

Several well-established, high-quality children's manufacturers continue to build on their successful lines. In addition to several clever new games for kids of varying ages, Gamewright, of Newtown, Mass., introduces the Card Cuddler line, designed to carry the company's card games in style. Each soft case replicates an image from the game. Slide in the cards, zip it up, clip it to backpack or belt loop, and you're prepared to play on the run. Each case comes with the original card game; Slamwich and Rat-a-tat Cat lead the pack. Call (800) 638-7568, fax (800) 735-7020, e-mail jester@gamewright.com.

Folkmanis Inc., of Emeryville, Calif., creators of fabulous plush hand puppets, presents the KidFolk collection, a new line of seven-inch-tall, full-bodied finger puppets portraying children from around the world. Each puppet has a life story that is told on special hang tags and Velcr d palms, so they can hold hands in friendship. The seven premiere puppets span several continents: an Arctic native girl; a North American cowboy; a Native American boy; a Scottish girl; an African girl; an English boy; and a Korean girl--all dressed in traditional garb. Call (510) 658-7677, fax (510) 654-7756, visit www.folkmanis.com.

In 1999, Kid Galaxy of Manchester, N.H., launched its new product, Bendos, a line of flexible, 5½-inch collectible action figures that portray human (or human-like) figures in a variety of nonviolent occupations, activities or roles. Now counting over 70 distinct characters, the award-winning Bendos encompass action sets, key chains and play date kits. Not wanting to let any occupation go unrepresented, Bendos debuts two additional key chain figures, Democrat and Republican (no running mates necessary). Call (888) 809-0608, fax (603) 647-9419.

Hoberman Associates Inc., of New York City, combines mathematics, geometry and aesthetics to create fanciful toy versions, in several sizes and a wide range of colors, of the spectacular, 18-foot, 700-pound Hoberman sphere that dramatically expands and contracts in the atrium of the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J. Literally expanding on the sphere's success, Hoberman launched the Expandagon Construction System, a series of building sets with components that transform and expand into different structures. Colorful square and triangular building blocks called Expandagons snap together into unique shapes that unfold and grow; detailed instructions plus suggestions for experimentation come with each of the three sets, graded basic through expert. Winner of several 1999 and 2000 best-toy awards. Call (888) 229-3653, fax (212) 647-7424, e-mail designs@hoberman.com.
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