Every news outlet has their own take on this year’s trends, and many of the biggest ones have already been covered: as the TIA pointed out in their report, drones, robots and other tech toys are super hot today, as well as tech toys modified to encourage family bonding, STEM/STEAM toys (“STEAM” stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math), and so are products that teach kids creative skills and artistic techniques.
So with all of that already taken care of, I’m going to focus here on the smaller trends, stuff that I thought was cool, and toy trends that I think will be of particular interest to our audience. Ready?
1) Building your own dollhouse.
You may already be familiar with Roominate, the building toy that encourages girls to learn STEM skills by building their own dollhouses, but this year, they’ve inspired a broad range of other toy brands. The company with the most obvious similarities is Goldieblox, who have added the Invention Mansion to their line this year – it combines some of the elements of last year’s Goldieblox Craft-Struction Box with other building elements to make some seriously cool hangout spots for Goldie and the gang. They’ve also added a bunch of smaller crafting kits to make buildings like lighthouses and cable cars. Cool!
Another well-loved STEM brand that is trying out dollhouse building is Elenco Electronics, known for their Snap Circuits kits: their new 3D building sets let you build structures and power lights and other appliances inside them. Add more kits to make bigger and more impressive houses and inventions!
On the low-tech end of things, I’m absolutely in love with Manhattan Toy’s new Mio collection, which combines tons of modular wooden pieces to allow kids to build houses, forts, cars, etc. A lot of the blocks are reversible, and the little characters are simply wooden heads atop charming little beanbags – there are animal characters as well as human characters. (I mostly took pictures of the animal characters because they were just too adorable!)
Finally: since the HaPe Geometrics House got such a great response, they’re following it up with a lovely similar barn. Same thing: you can stack and arrange the pieces of the barn in different ways to create your own layout. Wonderful imaginative play!
2) Food with faces.
In the era of Shopkins, naturally, other toy brands are eager to capitalize on the food-with-faces trend, and the results are super adorable! My favorite new Klutz kit gives kids the materials and instructions to create their own teeny plush food-creatures – get a load of the bacon and eggs!
Smartlab has a new line of craft kits, and their Yummy Crochet kit takes a similar tack, with anthropomorphic cupcakes, burgers, donuts, and more.
Num Noms look a whole lot like Shopkins but I personally think they’re cuter!
These toy food faces also add in sweet scents:
And, a lot of other brands are taking Shopkins inspiration in a whole other direction, with similar simple and cute faces on other objects and items: moons, stars, and… cacti?
(The moon and star are part of my new favorite baby gym ever from Skip Hop, but we’ll get to their new baby gyms tomorrow. They’re so great!)
And then there were one or two things with faces that you definitely DON’T want to find on your dinner table:
3) Crafts for boys.
Craft kits tend to skew towards girls, and that just isn’t fair: why should they get to have all the fun? To tempt boys over towards the craft aisle, Creativity for Kids is adding a fantastic gargoyle-building kit with light-up eyes, and Alex Toys is introducing a kit that lets kids color in their own skateboard deck. Goldieblox is also providing an entry-point for young boys with a lighthouse craft kit featuring the character Li Gravity (and yes, there are male Goldieblox fans!).
4) Crazy hair!!!
Along with hair chalking, which has been around for a while, I spotted kits that let you add sparkly tattoos to your hair, kits that add glow in the dark color, and countless beading and braiding craft kits, with the widest variety appearing at Fashion Angels. The hair trend that amused me the most is the Coachella Festival-inspired Boho Hair, though!
5) Cute and funky monsters.
Along with that new announcement, this year’s show was brimming with goofy, weird creatures of all kinds. For starters, Crocodile Creek is introducing a new series of “Creetures”:
…and, there were tons of other monsters on display and roaming the show floor. Here are just a few:
Tomorrow: find out the number one trendiest animal of this year’s Toy Fair! Plus, other exotic critters galore.