Latest and greatest of toys

Armin Brott, Paul Banas and Samantha Feuss / McClatchy-Tribune News Service /

Published Feb 8, 2013 at 04:00AM

Well, it’s that time of year again. Hundreds of toy manufacturers and game publishers from around the world are converging on New York to show off their latest products to retailers, buyer, the media, and, of course, reviewers like us. The 2013 Toy Fair, organized by the Toy Industry Association, will feature roughly 100,000 products, including 7,000 debuts — every type of toy, game, electronic entertainment, and indoor or outdoor activity imaginable. Here are some of our favorite new products from 2012.

Brobo brobo.com Ages 2 and older

Billed as “huggable night-light toys,” these plush robot friends are designed to help young children learn to be brave in the dark. Kids take Brobo (or one of his many pals) to bed and can control the light themselves: Touch Brobo’s hands to his chest and he glows with a soft, comforting light (with a 5-minute auto shutoff feature). As with so many toys these days, parents and kids can extend the Brobo experience with animated webisodes, games, and books that encourage friendship, family, adventure and learning.

Rockboard Descender rockboard.com Ages 6 and up

Who says you have to shred on a smooth surface? Rockboard’s Descender is a true all-terrain board that uses high-performance tank-like treads to make skateboarding a year-round experience. Yes, you can even use the Descender in the mud and snow. One of the nicest features is that it holds up to 200 pounds, so dad can get out there and make a fool of himself. Don’t forget to wear a helmet.

Dino Dig unclemilton.com Ages 6 and older

Education meet, fun and dinosaurs. National Geographic has partnered with Uncle Milton to create an absolutely wonderful way for parents and kids to spend quality time together. Each kit lets kids (and their parent-assistants) excavate — and assemble — the bones of a very accurate scale model of a dinosaur. Tools, a brush and safety glasses included (no batteries required!), but you’ll make a real mess. Also comes with great learning materials.

La Dee Da Dolls ladeeda.com Ages 5 and older

If you’re concerned about the body-image messages young girls get (and if you’ve got a tween or teen daughter, you should be), you’ll love these adorable dolls. To start with, they’re dressed in a way you’d be happy to see your daughter emulate — not the typical half-naked, overly sexy body-disproportionate dolls that many feel encourage eating disorders and self-image issues. Yes, their heads are out of scale, but their chests aren’t, which is something else moms and dads will appreciate. Plus, they’re pretty, stylish, fun, glittery, and colorful, which the girls will appreciate. These dolls also encourage travel and learning about new cultures.

Incredible Creatures safariltd.com Ages 4 and older

These amazingly realistic models are a great way to have fun and learn a ton about animals. There are a few dozen options, ranging from sea otters and pufferfish to bald eagles and honeybees. Some are larger-than-life-size (like the bee), others are smaller (like the otter), and some are exactly the right size.