New York Toy Fair 2012 Preview
W. Eric Martin
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According to its organizer, the Toy Industry Association, Inc. (TIA), "the 109th annual American International Toy Fair is the largest toy and youth product marketplace in the Western Hemisphere, bringing together more than 1,100 exhibiting manufacturers, distributors, importers and sales agents from around the globe to showcase their toy and entertainment products."

And nestled among the puppets and plush, the dolls and construction toys, the party supplies and the radio-controlled vehicles and all the rest will be a relatively small number of board and card games, most of them aimed at the mainstream U.S. retail market. In advance of what's more commonly known as New York Toy Fair, which takes place February 12-15, 2012, here's a summary of what publishers will have on display at the trade fair and what you might be able to find on U.S. store shelves sometime before the end of 2012. I'll keep adding to this list until mid-February 2012, and I plan to attend NY Toy Fair, so check back for updates or subscribe!
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Board Game Publisher: Playroom Entertainment
51. Board Game: Penalty Pong [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 99
Playing time: 60 minutes
Suggested ages: 13 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Description:

In Penalty Pong, players split into two teams, each with the goal of humiliating the members of the other team by making them do embarassing tasks while avoiding such punishment themselves.

If you manage to throw or bounce your ball into an opponent's cup, that player must draw a penalty card and perform the task shown on it: call one player "Master", sing "I'm a Little Teapot", admit to a lie you've told to someone. Blank cards are included so that you can create your own penalties, penalties that you might end up suffering if you're not careful. Good times – and a bit of after-game penance – await!

Other Information: Price: $30
 
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52. Board Game: Psychic Penguins and the Voyage Home [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 8
Playing time: 60 minutes
Suggested ages: 13 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Description:

Game description from the publisher:

From the makers of Killer Bunnies comes an all-new adventure starring those mysterious characters that KB fans have always wondered about: the Psychic Penguins.

Psychic Penguins and the Voyage Home features precisely that quest, and your goal is to be the first player to send them off on their journey – but before doing so you must gather a variety of items and take advantage of plenty of opportunities to foil the attempts of your foes.

Psychic Penguins and the Voyage Home includes both an "Ocean Blue" starting deck of cards and an "Icy White" booster deck to provide more variety.

Other Information: Price: $35
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53. Board Game: Speak Up! In the Home [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 3 − 10
Playing time: 15 minutes
Suggested ages: 8 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
French
German
Italian
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Description:

In Speak Up!, everyone plays in one of five languages – German, English, French, Spanish or Italian – and not knowing the language won't necessarily be a detriment.

To set up the game, lay out 49 of the fifty cards on the table with the picture side faceup; next to the picture is the name of the item in five languages. The back of each card features the name of some other item in five languages.

To start play, take the card set aside during set-up and read one of the words on the back, say "Markt" (the German word for "market"). Everyone then races to find the card depicting the market, which will also have the various words for "market" next to the picture. Whoever finds it keeps the card, then flips it over and reads the German word on the back. This process continues until all the cards have been claimed. Whoever has the most cards wins!

Other Information: One of two themed editions of this game coming from Playroom Entertainment.

Price: $12
 
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54. Board Game: Vampires of the Night [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:5153]
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 4
Playing time: 20 minutes
Suggested ages: 6 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
French
Spanish
Description:

The Vampires of the Night are in trouble. Can you help them against the wicked vampire hunter, who has managed to empty an entire sack of garlic throughout the old, abandoned castle. With the help of the little bat, you can magically move the vampires and get rid of the smelly garlic. But, be careful - if the garlic falls into the dungeon, it will spread its nasty smell to the rest of the vampires. With glow-in-the-dark pieces this exciting game can be played all day or from dusk until dawn.

Other Information: Price: $30
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55. Board Game: Zozzle: Deep in Space [Average Rating:6.28 Unranked]
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 4
Playing time: 15 minutes
Suggested ages: 6 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
French
Spanish
Description:

Zozzle challenges players to complete a nine-piece puzzle before any opponent, but players will need a good memory to put all the pieces in the right place.

To start the game, the 45 tiles – five tiles each of nine different images, with the nine images combining to form a 3x3 square – are placed face down and shuffled. On a turn, a player turns over two tiles. If the images match and that player doesn't already have that image in her puzzle, she claims one of the tiles, turns the other face down, and takes another turn. If the images don't match or the player has previously claimed that tile, she turns the two tiles face down and ends her turn. Finish your image before anyone else, and you win.

Other Information: One of four Zozzle titles being released by Playroom Entertainment.

Price: $12
 
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Board Game Publisher: R&R Games
56. Board Game: Double Take [Average Rating:5.41 Unranked]
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 3 − 99
Playing time: 45 minutes
Suggested ages: 12 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Description:

Double Take is a charades game built for two, so to speak. Each round, time willing, two players will present clues for a half-dozen familiar phrases that all have something in common. A sample category, for example, is "Something's Wrong" with the words to be guessed being divided as:

  • Play | Foul
  • In the Closet | Skeleton
  • Sheep | Black
  • Gun | Smoking

Each clue giver acts out one side of the card, and since they're facing the guessers, the phrases will be acted out in left-to-right fashion ("Black Sheep", "Smoking Gun", etc.) If someone guesses one side of the card, that player scores – but the clue givers score only after both sides of a phrase have been guessed, so they need to work together – but separately – to make their clues clear.

 
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57. Board Game: Pass-Ackwords [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:7309]
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 4
Playing time: 50 minutes
Suggested ages: 12 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Description:

As the name suggests, Pass-Ackwords turns the long-lived game of Password on its head, with players now giving clues that they hope their "partner" will not decipher in the right way.

As in Password, four players compete in teams of two; unlike in Password, you and a member of the opposing team take turns giving clues to the remaining player on the opposing team. How this works is that the clue givers have a device that shows a list of clues. Each turn, one clue giver chooses one of the listed clues, presents it to the opposing guesser, and hopes that he presented it with the wrong intonation so that the guesser won't guess the secret code word. As the crummy clues are used up, the clues will get better and better, so your challenge as the clue giver is to quickly figure out what might give a hint to your partner without giving the thing away entirely – which again is pretty much like Password!

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58. Board Game: Pluckin' Pairs [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:3199]
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 3 − 8
Playing time: 50 minutes
Suggested ages: 12 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Description:

Pluckin' Pairs embodies the same spirit as the classic party game Compatibility in that you want to match images with other players in order to score points, but the game play is more free form with everyone competing individually instead of in teams.

At the start of a round, eleven images are laid out on the table. All players secretly pair off images – say, coins and a manhole cover because they're both round, or a mirror and a building because they both reflect light – and write these pairs on their player sheet. One image will be leftover as the outcast.

After everyone has finished, you compare your pairs with those of other players. If no one – or conversely if everyone – created the same pair as you, you score no points for that pair. If only some of the players created that pair, each of those players scores as many points as the number of players who record the pair. (You can optionally compare outcast images as well, scoring points based on who had the same outcast as you.) The player with the most points after a certain number of rounds wins.

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Board Game Publisher: Steve Jackson Games
59. Board Game: Castellan [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:2295]
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2
Playing time: 45 minutes
Suggested ages: 10 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Description:

In Castellan, two players work together to build a castle. Finely-detailed wall and tower pieces link together to form courtyards, and the player who finishes a courtyard claims it with a Keep, scoring points for that courtyard equal to the number of tower pieces surrounding it.

In more detail, each player starts the game with two decks of cards: a wall deck and a tower deck. Each card allows a player to play the components shown on it, with the wall deck cards always depicting at least one wall (and some combination of walls/towers) and the tower deck cards always depicting at least one tower (and again some combination of walls/towers). On a turn, a player can play as many cards as she wants, but she draws only one card at the end of her turn. The goal is to create courtyards – and subdivide existing courtyards – while keeping your opponent from doing the same. Players have the same cards in their decks, so the challenge is all about what to use when. The game ends when all the castle pieces are used up, and the player with the most points wins.

Two different pairs of Keep colors are available in the two versions of Castellan, so with two copies of the game – and the right combination of bits – up to four players can play.

Other Information: Price: $40
 
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60. Board Game: Cthulhu Dice [Average Rating:5.32 Overall Rank:10974]
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 6
Playing time: 5 minutes
Suggested ages: 10 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Description:

Serving Cthulhu is fun... except for all those other cultists out to get you. So get them first!

Cthulhu Dice lets you drive your rivals mad...very, very quickly. Players take turns rolling the big, beautiful, custom 12-sided die, embossed with tentacles, Elder Signs, and more. Destroy your opponents' sanity! Better yet, steal it. But watch out for Cthulhu – when he comes up, he takes sanity from everyone! Eighteen glass Sanity marbles are included. Lose all your marbles and you're mad. The last sane cultist wins...unless everyone goes mad together. Then Cthulhu wins!

Other Information: One of six new colors of Cthulhu Dice coming in May 2012 from Steve Jackson Games. A metal version of the game is also in the works.

Price: $7
 
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61. Board Game: Halloween Dice [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 3 − 99
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Description:

Halloween Dice comes with a set of big orange-and-black six-siders, with custom Jack o' Lantern designs on each face. Your goal: roll those dice and try to reach the lucky total of 13. (Normally 13 is considered an unlucky number, but for Halloween, when darkness and otherworldly things are celebrated, luck stands on its head.)

On a turn, you choose one, two, or three dice and receive respectively $2, $5, or $9, with money being represented by tokens. You then roll those dice. If the sum on the dice equals 13, you end your turn and keep the money you collected. If the total is less than 13, you can stop and pay $1 times the difference between your sum and 13, or you can again choose 1-3 dice (receiving more money) and roll again, adding the newly rolled sum to your previous sum. You again face the same options of stopping or choosing more dice and rolling again. If your sum goes over 13, however, your turn ends and you pay $2 times the difference between your sum and 13!

The player with the most money after three rounds wins.

Other Information: Price: $10
 
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Board Game Publisher: Stratus Games
62. Board Game: DiceAFARI [Average Rating:5.74 Overall Rank:8229]
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 4
Playing time: 15 minutes
Suggested ages: 8 and up
Categories:
Mechanics: Show More »
Language:
English
Description:

You and your friends are going on a photo safari! To see as many animals as possible, you will have to plan your trip well. Whoever visits the most areas and takes the best photographs will be the safari champion!

In DiceAFARI, you select a route to visit on the animal-shaped map by rolling the custom dice strategically – but choose wisely because routes are limited and other players can revisit the areas you select. Be sure to take a photo of an animal you see before someone else does. Once the entire map has been visited, points are scored for sets of photos taken and areas most recently visited. The player with the most points wins!

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