One of the things I love most about running CertifiKid, is finding new things my kids will love - and yours too. It’s like I get to be a kid all over again. I certainly felt like one this past weekend when I attended the 2015 Toy Fair in New York City.
Just imagine over 400,000 square feet filled with TOYS! I know, right? WOW! I had a blast getting an insider’s look at the latest and greatest toys, gadgets, and gizmos that will hit store shelves in the coming year. To say my kids were excited to see pictures and hear about the amazing things I uncovered, is putting it mildly. I may have just won the Coolest Mom Ever award.
There were certainly clear trends that stood out. For example, Beanie Boos were the BIG plush toy craze. These big-eyed versions of what you and I might know better by the name, Beanie Baby, were everywhere. Ironically my kids are totally obsessed with them already. I’m not sure what it is about them that sets them apart from other plush toys - maybe it’s those eyes? - but everyone seems to be into them.
Gru and his crew of minions were EVERYWHERE. Made me excited for the release of Despicable Me 3 this summer. I was surprised to see that FROZEN wasn’t so big. Maybe it’s finally feeling the chill of overexposure? Ha ha.
The Engineers Have It!
Building Toys like LEGO, Magna Tiles, and others of their sort, were all over. Kits with all the gears, pulleys, and levers your child needs to build his or her own contraptions are as limitless as their imaginations. The industry is catching on with the popularity of these types of toys and there will be nearly endless options on the market soon.
Cracker Jack Tattoos are so Last Year
The place was packed with tattoos of all sorts, everywhere. And not just on arms. The sheer volume of new products avaiable are likely to make temporary tattoos a trend with options for nails, skin and even clothes. Parents, guard your upholstery!
I loved seeing that there was a fairly sizeable contingent of back-to-basics toys (like wood toys and blocks) and Eco Friendly stuff. Though I would have expected to see more. Maybe these won’t be as popular as I may have expected.
As a parent, I was super excited to see that educational play took center stage. Science was certainly the star of the show among this toy genre. From kits that guide kids of all age groups through fun - age appropriate - experiments to exploration projects you can do together, this segment of the toy world is poised to make a BIG BANG with families! Or at least that’s my theory.
Blame it all on our obsession with Pinterest
DIY craft kits are HUGE! What I love about these types of toys is they provide guided activities, and all the supplies you need to help grow creativity, all while keeping kids busy. I can think of tons of reasons to have a bunch of these on-hand all year long; party activities, playdates, gifts, rainy, snowy and summer days too.
It seems that scooters are the next hot item to get kids outdoors, active and moving. There were more than a handful fun of companies peddling their version of these little people movers. What I was shocked NOT to see, was a ton of sports related items. There were some, but I went in certainly expecting to see a lot more. Could it be that so many of our kids go to sports themed camps, and/or play in organized leagues, that there isn't really as big a market for these toys at home?
Welcome Back Family Game Night!
There were oodles of options in the board game market. There is going to be literally something for everyone. Who knew there were so many board games? I guess Monopoly isn’t exactly enjoying a monopoly, eh?
Apps Are Where It’s At: Or At Least They’re Everywhere
I found it really intriguing that everything from building to plush toys, coloring books to readers, seemed to have its own app. Some of these were great and gave an obvious added value to the product. Others, not so much. I’m sort of on the fence about apps as add-ons to toys that would traditionally be non-screentime playthings. How about you?
Surprised and Excited
One thing that really surprised me was the small amount of “pinky girly stuff.” In years past there seemed to be an endless supply of pinked-up toys. Paint it pink, it’s for a girl. That seemed to be the norm in years past when it came to marketing to girls. Don’t get me wrong, there were dolls and all the frills that go with them, there just weren’t a ton of these type of things. Manufacturers seem to be spending a lot more time on turning out thoughtfully designed toys for girls. Bravo!
3D printing is coming and I’m SO excited! This technology is nothing short of mind-blowing. Once confined to laboratories and the tech industry - mostly due to costs and complicated operation (it literally took a Rocket Scientist to use one) - 3D printing is now becoming more widely available for PLAY!
Leading the way are companies like PieceMaker which offers a “DIY” 3D printing kiosk where kids, and kids-at-heart, can design and print their own toys. Yes. Print. Toys. Mind blown, huh? The technology has also found its way into creative toy kits, as printing the moving parts is far faster and more economical than traditional manufacturing.
I was thrilled to find our friends from local, award-winning, and generally amazing ThinkFun in this catagory. 3D printing technology is at the core of their BRAND NEW (coming in April 2015) Maker Studio Construction Sets. I love the blending of high and low tech in this toy that is sure to take its place alongside the other cutting edge toys that Bill and Andrea have developed.
I can’t wait to start bringing you some of these innovative and amazing new toys and products. 2015 is going to be an epic year here on our CertifiKid playground! What toy do you think your kids would love?
CertifiKid CEO & Founding Mom
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