Toy Fair New York 2016 was bursting at the seams this year. I noted a couple of trends that are picking up steam and carrying on. One trend I haven’t bought into is coloring. Coloring for adults became really big last year and the show floor indicates that it’s not dying off any time soon. I saw coloring books, sheets, posters, book marks, note pads, etc. The only one that tempted me was the Cirque du Soleil coloring book, but I’m really more of a puzzle and game person.
MINIS and MYSTERIES
Miniatures and mystery packs continue to delight and more and more companies are picking up on the trend. Just about any character or toy line you can think of has a miniature collectible available. Star Wars minis, LEGO minifigs, Disney Tsum Tsums, Thomas the Tank Engine minis, and too many more to list, can now become part of your collections (and play, if you’re anything like my niece, who has made a house for her Disney Tsum Tsums). Mystery packs (also called blind packs) are one the rise, too. They’re a great way to get people buying and striving for that one limited edition to complete collection and, most importantly, they’re so much fun to open!
ARTS and CRAFTS
Paper crafts seem to be on the rise. I saw several booths offering paper-folding crafts, including these adorable animals and life-size human heads (I don’t think they quite qualify as busts).
Spirograph is adding a card-making kit and a coloring book to its line of drawing kits.
And, of course, we can’t talk about paper crafts without mentioning Crayola. Crayola continues to innovate artistic expression for children. The big new product is the Air Marker Sprayer, which turns any Crayola marker into an airbrush spray.
Perler has beading kits and pencil-by-number kits (same as paint-by-number, but with colored pencils, rather than paints). The detail is remarkable.
Metal Earth, makers of single-sheet metal-crafting projects, have quite a few entertainment licenses, including Star Wars, Doctor Who, the Avengers, Disney, and more, made especially vibrant by the addition of color to the metal sheets. These are quite intricate crafts and are made from cut steel, so the recommended age is 14+.
Beading crafts are also increasing in popularity. Aquabeads has a Zootopia kit and several princess kits, including Cinderella with a slipper that doubles as a ring holder and you make the rings, too.
Perler has the Secret Life of Pets in bead form.
TRADITIONAL PLAY AUGMENTED BY MODERN TECHONOLOGY
This is my favorite new trend. Children are spending increasing amounts of time using smartphones, tablets, computers, tv screens as play platforms. Rather than fighting the trend, smart toymakers are incorporating screens into the play methods of their toys. Here are just a few examples of this trend.
Style Me Up has created a weaving loom that works with a tablet app to create designs, along with many paper craft books.
4D Cityscape has partnered with National Geographic on a line of puzzles of ancient civilizations and now has an app the works with the puzzle, offering additional information and trivia quizzes about the subject of the puzzle.
Crayola has improved the technology in its Virtual Design Pro line. Not only can the program pick up colors, it can also pick up fabric and textures. Check out the detail on this jelly bean skirt.
Viewmaster has added a new game to its smartphone technology. In addition to being able to view various worlds from all angles, we can now play Escape the Labyrinth with it. Two players work together to find their way through a maze, using both the Viewmaster and a physical game book/board.
Mattel has Code-apillar, which uses technology to help children learn. Code-apillar brings coding to the toddler set.
There’s also a Chameleon in production that will teach children about colors.
Nerf has incorporated a video camera into its N-Strike Modulus line, allowing users to record First Person Shooter movies from their own point of view.
3D drawing pens are becoming popular. I found two notable versions. The 3Doodler has a new version of the pen and this one is not only biodegradable (within 45 days of being introduced to soil), but it also has a max temperature of 55 degrees. When I arrived at their booth, the designer was drawing onto his bare skin to illustrate the safety of the pen. The plastic also acts as an adhesive for ink, so you can add images to your sculptures by drawing onto a picture, then peeling away the paper once the plastic has set.
Tech 4 Kids has expanded its 3D drawing line to include a 3D drawing pen that sets by UV light. Rather than leaving the sculpture to sit and set, the pen includes a UV light that dries the plastic as it draws. Talk about immediate gratification!
STACKING GEOMETRIC PLUSHES
Stacking Geometric Plushes is what I’m calling Disney Tsum Tsums, which have exploded in popularity. I found several other types at TFNY, including Teeny Tys, which are conical versions of their popular plushes:
and Wish Factory’s Kawaii Cubes, including Warner Brothers and DC Comics characters. My favorites are Marvin the Martian and the Tazmanian Devil.
As part of my TFNY, I like to honor the anniversaries being celebrated. This year, I found a variety, including toys, games, and books.
Bananagrams, an anagram-building tile game, turned 10. I’d heard of the game before, but new nothing about it. I was lucky enough to watch a game between one of the Bananagram vendors and an attendee who apparently play every year. I’m very intrigued by the game and hope to find someone to play it with soon. Are any of you Bananagrammers?
Spirograph is offering a special 50th anniversary kit, complete with gold discs, and a new kit with shaped discs – strawberries, hearts, and more.
Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm celebrated their 60th Ant-iversary, releasing a new series of farms that are now interconnectable (but only if the ants are introduced to the various farms at the same time – otherwise, it’s war!). Thank you to Uncle Milton for the Ant Farm! I was happy to be able to rehome a live farm and I think they’re happy with me, too.
Hasbro’s Play-Doh is turning 60, too, and some old favorites are being released with new features. Anyone want to drill some teeth?
Believe it or not, Curious George is 75 years old this year. That mischievous little monkey has been entertaining youngsters (and their grown-ups) for three quarters of a century and his charm hasn’t faded in the least.
Lincoln Logs have been around for 100 years – a full century of building miniature log cabins.
And last, but not least, 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the Toy Industry Association, the hosts of TFNY, and the organization that helps shape the toy market.
It’s only February, but it’s never too early to start planning for Christmas. Toy advent calendars have been around for years. LEGO has new advent calendars for three of their lines: Star Wars, Friends, and City.
Playmobil has three, as well, with Christmas on the Farm, Pirates, and Princesses.
This year, Crayola will be releasing a multimedia craft advent calendar. Each day will reveal a new craft utensil – a pencil, marker, pack of clay, etc. – and there will be instructions for completing a daily craft, as well. It’s a fantastic idea – one of my new favorites this year.
I have more to share of my favorite vendors at TFNY, so subscribe to Adventures by Daddy now to receive a notification by email whenever a post goes up. For more family entertainment news and reviews, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.