Toy Fair Trends, 2012
Discovering new games is always a delight at Toy Fair, but my favorite game is a very old one: trendspotting! There are always running themes that pop up each year, and it’s fun to see how each manufacturer puts its own unique spin on a hot trend. Here are a few themes that we saw everywhere at the fair:
1) Wood you like to play?
The exhibitors this year were really determined to take wood toys to the next level. Brinca Dada’s new teak blocks (below) have a wonderful feel and a beautiful look, and the irregular shapes will change the way kids think about stacking blocks.
Fat Brain Toys’ Hexactly blocks make intriguing shapes whether you lay them flat, stack them up to play with balance, or try the challenges on the included challenge sheets.
2) Play with your food!
Healthy faux food looked extra tasty this year! The new salad set from Green Toys makes healthy food look quite alluring, with cleverly designed pieces of lettuce, tomato, and onion that appear appetizing and are very easy for small children to grip (see that little knob in the center?). The new PlanToys PlanWood also made their classic toy fruits look even tastier.
Of course, cupcakes and other sweet treats haven’t gone out of style, not by a long shot – manufacturers were serving up sugar, sugar everywhere, from Thames and Kosmos to Learning Resources to Alex Toys to LEGO.
3) Irresistible personal magnetism.
Magnets were everywhere! The Manhattan Toy Edtoy line uses rotating magnet technology to link wooden or plastic pieces so that they can rotate without disconnecting. LEGO used similar connectors for this triceratops and other new dinosaurs – you can pull off the dino’s head and limbs, put them on, and rotate them with a lovely tactile click-click-click. Love it!
Playroom Entertainment went in a whole different direction with magnets – their Three Magicians series of games uses magnets to add a challenging hand-eye coordination and memory element to each game. The Vampires of the Night game was our favorite – you have to push pieces of garlic off the board without dropping them through the holes onto the sleeping vampire kids. Adorable!
Other trends to watch:
4) Integrating iPads and iPhones into toys:
5) Crafts you can play with:
Creativity For Kids Stunt Squadron Planes fly incredibly well – I’m a klutz, and was trying really hard to limit my throw, and it sailed right across the aisle! (There were tons more Creativity for Kids kits that fit the bill as well – several Shrinky Dinks kits come with backgrounds where kids can use their Shrinky Dinks creations for pretend play.)
6) Hair feathers, anyone?
7) Games in tins!
Blue Orange assortment:
And finally, no trade show would be complete without our friend Jamie Grayson, the Baby Guy NYC, making sure we were all having fun!
“Honey, it’s for you!”
“He followed me home, can I keep him?”