Thursday, February 20, 2014

Toy Fair 2014 Highlights – Part 1: LEGO, Science, Crafts and Dolls

Entrance to Toy Fair 14 at Javitz Center in New York - See the Ty Beanie Babies Banner

The International Toy Fair in New York is a huge event.  This year over 30,000 people made it through freezing cold and snow to the Javitz Center to see what over 1100 toy companies have to offer in 2014.  Some of the toys are in prototype stage and won’t even be out until the Fall holiday season or they are timed to come out just before the movie with characters they feature.  You get to see the toys out of the box and how they work demonstrated.  For small companies you can talk to the owner/inventors.  This is my fifth year going to Toy Fair so I also get to see my friends who work in the toy industry.  It is a huge event and it takes a lot of organizing to get the most out of it.  I make appointments with the public relations/media people in advance and work my schedule over two days. Then I go home put my feet up and pass out.  I am one of the oldest people at Toy Fair but I enjoy it and love taking it all in.

Here is what I perceive to be some trends:
1.       Science toys and kits are in – for both boys and girls
2.      Crafts are big
3.      Toys with an internet component to “enhance” the play experience are gaining speed
4.      Collectibles still rule and new ones abound
5.      There is a doll for everyone – baby, little girl, tween and collector – I loved them all
6.      If it’s for a pre-schooler they feel they have to tell you it is educational – it can’t just be fun because it is after all a toy

I’ll be writing individual reviews and offering giveaways on some of these items but here are a few of my favorites this year:

LEGO Juniors – Spiderman Spider Car
Th new Junior line designed with pieces for the 4-7 age bracket looks fantastic and I think it will definitely be a keeper.  My grandson is 4 ½ and he has grown out of DUPLOs but he doesn’t have the dexterity to work with LEGOs by himself.  (See my article about my husband and workingwith LEGOs with Zach here).  LEGO is introducing this new line called Juniors which are easy to build and geared for the 4 -7 age bracket. Perfect. There are also Junior sets in the LEGO Friends series which are designed to appeal to girls.  I can’t wait to get this set for my grandson – a big super hero fan – and see how he does with it.  Look for my review in the next few months.
LEGO Juniors Spiderman Spider Car

Crafts are big this year and I particularly like crafts for grandparents.  Crafts provide us the opportunity to work together with grandchildren and perhaps to teach them a new skill or pass along a passion of ours.  There are lots of things for both boys and girls.  Here are two of my favorites:

Smithsonian Museum Craft Kits by Skullduggery
There is a whole series of these kits but my favorite is this classic Human Skeleton.  This is an excellent project for kids interested in science and it is something that older kids can do on their own.  This is also a project that a grandparent can do with a younger child (6+).  I will have a fuller review and maybe a giveaway later in the year.
Smithsonian Museum Craft Kit by Skullduggery

Alex Crafts
If you would like to teach a skill to grandchildren that you enjoy and they might enjoy for a lifetime check out these kits from ALEX that feature knitting, crocheting, sewing and more.
Craft Skills for Life by ALEX

Madame Alexander Gone with the Wind 75th Anniversary Dolls
There are so many dolls across so many categories again it is hard to narrow it down.  But this is a highlights report so I must include the Madame Alexander 75th anniversary Gone with the Wind dolls.  This may be more for you grandma collectors than grandaugthers.  But hey, that’s okay that there is something for us too.  The Scarlet O’Hara wedding dress and iconic green drapery dress will be added to the existing Scarlet doll this year.  This picture shows all three dolls.
Madame Alexander 75th Anniversary Gone with the Wind Dolls

And here is the hat being made.  This was something to watch…..

My First Microscope by GeoSafari
Science starts young these days and you don’t have to just stick to homemade volcanos anymore.  There is some great stuff for young children on the market.  This microscope can be enjoyed by a preschooler.  It is sturdy but the best feature is that you use both eyes and so a young child doesn’t have to squint one eye to use it.  It has 8X magnification and is a great way to begin magnification exploration.

Smart Car Robotics by Thames and Kosmos
Science for older kids is getting more sophisticated all the time and features modern themes.  The Smart car by Thames and Kosmos was one of my favorites.  First you construct the car and then you use your tablet or smartphone to control the car's motorized wheels and steer it in any direction.  There's more you can do with the internet connection but that will be in the full review later.

Next time Highlights from Hasbro, collectibles, and favorites: new small company, social good toys and cuties.

Here's what you can get at Amazon now....

1 comment:

Susan Adcox said...

So happy to see more science toys. They are desperately needed. My grandson loves science, and it's hard to find good items for him.