Sunday, February 19, 2012

Toy Fair 2012: Locomotion

Toy Fair 2012: Locomotion:
Yesterday I went to the 2012 Toy Fair, and to be honest I was really disappointed. I’m 23 years old, and I’d estimate that 90 percent of what I saw yesterday was a variation of a toy I played with as a child. My 50-year old parents might even say the same thing. There were more stuffed animals than I care to remember, lots of toy guns and building blocks, and plenty of R/C cars and the like.

But some toy makers were more innovative than others, with a couple actually trying to reinvent the wheel (or the bike, more honestly).

One company, CycoCycle, takes on the challenge of riding a unicycle by making a sort of unicycle-tricycle hybrid. It sounds dumb, but I can actually see kids picking this up. The seat is placed directly above the main, front wheel and dips a bit to keep you in place. From the seat comes two tricycle-style bars that connect to smaller wheels.

It’s more difficult than riding a bike, and feels totally different. Kids can learn an entirely new set of tricks with this thing, and throw a kid sister on the back to ride along courtesy of a rear step bar. Plus, that same rear step bar allows for scooter-style riding and the tricks I mentioned earlier, and you’ll see clearly in our video that neither John nor myself can do any of them. It can also fold up for easy transportation should you want to lug it to a park or beach.

The CycoCycle can be had for the odd price of $82.69 at

Another interesting, albeit seemingly dangerous, wheeled device that we saw is the Solowheel. Actually, the Solowheel is more of a transportation vehicle than a toy, but whether it'll be used for fun or transportation will be up to the owners.

It's basically a single wheel with small training wheels on each side for balance and two pegs coming out of the center. You control it by leaning forward, backwards and side to side, and simply roll around. If a pogo stick and a Segway were to hook up, their baby would look a lot like the Solowheel. (At least in my somewhat warped mind.)

The Solowheel runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and a 100-watt motor, and can run for 15-20 miles at 10mph before crapping out. It takes about two hours to recharge, so if you live close to work in a relatively mild climate then this might be a solid idea. Just like an electric car, the Solowheel generates energy going downhill or slowing down.

It was bit difficult for me to get used to, but I'm sure with time I could have a lot of fun on one of these. The PR girls rolling around on them were even comfortable enough to text while driving.

Unfortunately, the Solowheel doesn't quite go for the price of a toy. Its retail value is at $1,795, which means you should probably give this some thought before “adding to cart.”

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