With the pre-toy fair events behind us, we start the hunt for the best toys of 2010 tomorrow in earnest. Thousands of exhibitors, both large and small, present their new toys at the International Toy Fair in NYC. When I started covering toy fair, the big guys were all at the Toy Building at 23rd Street and Broadway. We would try to schedule our appointments so that we could walk our way down the building. The elevators – always a scary event were full of buyers, toy makers and reps…and when I first started, they all seemed to smoke. It was really gross. Of course, this was also the era of showbiz at toy fair. There were life size women that became Malibu Barbie…complete with pink shag rugs, moving stages and spotlights. If Hasbro was introducing a new pirates toy, you could count on pirates carrying on a sword fight in the showroom. There was plenty of sizzle! Now it’s just a trade show–all of the actors are gone. The toy building is being converted into condos. Even Matchbox has stopped giving out special toy fair editions (very sad). In any case…here’s what we see as the emerging trends.
Retro is In
Strawberry Shortcake, Alfie, Monopoly, Life, Twister–are all major players at toy fair this season. Monopoly now comes with a board you build yourself or here’s a break through, a round play board (see below) as part of Monopoly Revolution. Pretty revolutionary–it takes two million dollars to pass go! The new versions of Twister no longer have that wonderfully smelly plastic mat. Many of these versions look like fun. And let’s face it with the Twister brand, you’re probably more likely to try it than if it had a whole new name!
If there’s a successful franchise, you’ll see it everywhere. Ironman is back full force and Star Wars has captured the hearts of a whole new generation thanks to the Clone Wars. But we wonder whether Weebles really needed to incorporate the Hulk and Spiderman?
Battle of the Battling
There will be a battle for your child’s battle dollars between Spinmaster’s Bakugan and Hasbro’s Beyblade. This will be determined by the nearest 8 and 9 year old near you!
Zhu Zhu Pets are Challenged- Last year’s run away hit is being challenged by Hasbro who wants part of that rodent action and is introducing a competing line of motion activated pets called Furry Frenzies.
Sushi and Microwavable Easy Bake food
Food is big in toyland. Last year we got at least a dozen different food related kits including a motion activated birthday cake (Leapfrog). This year the trend continues with Sushi Ottomans (sushistyle.com) and perhaps one of the biggest sign of the times, Easy Bake Kits for the microwave. It’s as if maybe enough kids mentioned in a focus group that they could make the same food in 2 minutes in their microwave!
Barbie is all about looking back at her past careers and Strawberry Shortcake, now 30 is a little big taller!