From Tiny Cars to Fuzzy Stick-Ons, These are My Top Picks
I just came back from the Chicago Toy and Game Fair, my second year attending this exciting and fun event. The Toy Fair is a terrific opportunity to see new toys on the horizon and to assess which ones may become the next big hit. And, yes, that is me in my tux at the gala!
While I usually write this blog for entrepreneurs, business startups, and inventors, today’s edition is dedicated to the moms, dads, and grandparents out there.
You heard it here first: These are some of the toys to keep an eye out for this Christmas season.
Tesla was very good at sending positive messaging to current and future buyers of their products, with a long line of eager kids waiting to drive around the test track.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the parents were likely interested, too. Taking and sharing lots of pics of their kids driving will help reinforce the event long after it ended.
I also noted that Radio Flyer was sponsoring the driving area and that Radio Flyer appears to be collaborating with Tesla. What a terrific way to keep your brand fresh by partnering with a “hot” brand like Tesla!
Griddly Games had several interesting toys, but one caught my eye. Reisa Schwartzman, pictured, shows off Just Add Sun, a solar-powered steam oven kit.
What did I find so fascinating?
First, it’s the box (but don’t tell her)! While packaging serves as protection and attracts a buyer, it usually ends up in the landfill pretty soon. But, in this smart design, the inner lid is lined with foil to increase the solar heating inside the box for making fun treats and conducting science experiments.
Second? Combining snacks and science! Come for the food, but stay for the science. Brilliant!
Furry and Smart, Too
Tony Landek, pictured, and Shen Guo were showing off their Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered Woboo, a fluffy stuffed toy marketed as an interactive playmate. As I wrote in an earlier post Playing Robot Games: What’s Ahead?, the distinction between robots, virtual worlds, and play will grow even blurrier in the coming years.
This product hasn’t hit the market yet, but it did show how kids could interact and talk to a more traditional toy and receive both auditory and visual responses. AI allows for “personalization,” a long-time trend in the marketplace. Each toy “learns” through questions and instructions from its human playmate.
Another long-time trend in the toy marketplace is the effort to attract girls. While some methods are pretty crude, such as adding pink or flowers to a traditional boy’s toy, Orbeez seems to have a product that is interesting to both boys and girls. This gadget allows kids to inject colored balls of goo into molds to create art pieces.
Personal Bounce House
A toy for the more physical types is Knockerball. As you can tell in the picture below, one of the kid’s feet is up in the air after a good bump by another player. This gift is likely better suited for the yard rather than the living room.
I’ve saved the perhaps most interesting/attractive toy for last, Pom Pom Wow! This toy includes dozens of small cylinders of flower-like blooms that expand like a cheerleader’s Pom Poms. Each Pom Pom has one sticky end that can attach to nearly any surface, creating endless opportunities for fuzzy decorations, fashions, and messages. The end of the video below shows how this works.
At the fair, this entire tent, below, was covered in Pom Poms. (Wow.)
Pom Pom Wow! was eagerly accepted by both boys and girls, and it also received the most attention during the fair, a winning combination!
I can’t close this article without a shout-out to Mary Couzin, whose hard work made this another blockbuster fair. “Thank You, Mary!”
Many others noticed the same and presented Mary with an unscheduled award for her superhuman efforts for the ninth year in a row! Hope to see you again next year.
IN MY NEXT BLOG: More toys and some takeaways from – and for – inventors.