May 15, 2013 11:00 pm
Updated: May 15, 2013 11:01 pm

The toys of summer: Bowling, bubbles, building blocks among hot items for season

Jeffrey Versluis, 12, plays with an oversized inflatable bowling set at the Canadian Toy Association's 8th annual Hot Toys of Summer event on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 in Toronto.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michelle Siu
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TORONTO – Kids keen to try their hand at bowling can finesse their skills at throwing strikes as the weather warms up – and without having to leave home.

From cartoon-branded models to colourful inflatable pins, variations of the popular sport were among the games and activities highlighted at the Hot Toys of Summer event held on Wednesday.

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The Canadian Toy Association featured more than 110 items to help keep idle kids busy during the upcoming season. Association chair Kerry George said about half of the toys on display at the annual event retail for under $25.

Parents may experience a little deja vu seeing some of the items geared toward youngsters which update games and activities that likely kept them entertained as kids.

George said one notable difference among some contemporary toys is the use of eco-friendly materials, like the PVC-free Green Toys Tractor crafted from recycled milk jugs.

“If you think about 20 years ago … you think about boys, and they love to play with their diggers and sandboxes. That’s still the case today,” she said in an interview.

“Boys still love to dig and play in the sand and the dirt … So there’s just new stuff that comes up where they can continue to do that.”

George said building blocks and construction toys remain strong with brands like Lego, Mega Bloks and Playmobil along with German-made Anker Stone Blocks crafted from natural materials, including chalk, colour pigments, linseed oil and quartz.

She said bubbles continue to be big with the younger crowd, from colourful solutions with the traditional built-in wand to machines cranking out the globules at the push of a button.

Reptiles seem to be reigning supreme among toys for the season, with George noting that dinosaur items in particular “seem to be hot.” In addition to models of TV’s “Dino Dan,” the reptiles are also going the transformer route with some toys showing the prehistoric creatures converting into vehicle form.

Fans of the animated series “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” will see the crime-fighting reptiles as action figures, squishy collectible Mash’Ems and emblazoned on splat-catch paddles with accompanying villain splat balls.

For the more artistically inclined, sidewalk chalks in a multitude of hues – and even glittery varieties – will keep pavement Picassos occupied. George said there are also charms crafted from clay as well as bracelet-making kits, including braided wristbands and threaded friendship bracelets.

“There’s a lot of arts and crafts for the younger and the older girls,” said George.

“I used to make those (bracelets) in the ’70s myself. That kind of brings me back to my retro days.”

© 2013 The Canadian Press

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