This year was my seventh time at Toy Fair, and finally I’m starting to feel like it’s a manageable task. My strategy this year was to start upstairs and go aisle by aisle. I was thorough and slow, but I finished it in two and a half days. The lower level is smaller and went much faster. I was able to wrap that up in a half day. This left me with a whole, leisurely day to go back and revisit certain booths and place my orders. It worked out well.
Recapping my thoughts for the blog?
Well, that still needs work. Coming home with hundreds of pictures, dozens of videos and three kids starved for some parental attention was a poor combination. Add a couple of colds and a bad ear infection and – well, look at that – it’s March already. But I’m getting to it all, slowly but surely. I’ve written hundreds of words about all the booths I visited, and am still trying to edit it so it won’t put you to sleep. But to start, I’ve winnowed down to 10 favorite products from Toy Fair 2010. To be clear, these are products we will actually sell in our stores. There were dozens of crazy cool products that, for one reason or another, are not a great fit for us, but deserve accolades.
This is a start; the rest is yet to come.
Melissa & Doug Felt Cookie Set
I really liked all of the new felt play food sets from Melissa and Doug, but this one was my favorite. Start by “cutting” the cookies out of the felt sheets using cookie cutters. Lay them on the cookie sheet and decorate. The felt sticks to the felt, the decorations are adorable and there’s just so much awesome play value (and it makes me hungry).
O Ball Roller
The O Ball has long been a favorite toy for babies, but it’s such a simple concept, it was hard to imagine that they could extend it too much further. This idea was pure genius.
Remember the old catch game with the velcro discs and the tennis ball? Squap takes that concept to a whole new level. Wear the catcher like a mitt and trap the ball inside the clamshell. When you open your hand, the fabric inside the shell snaps taut and propels the ball back out again. It’s easier than you might think and totally addictive.
Bubber (aka Moon Dough)
This space-age play dough feels silky smooth and light as air, but it can holds a shape or an imprint with surprising sharpness. It’s a gluten-free material that’s non-toxic and will never dry out. Bubber is a more open-ended iteration of the material; it comes in a 5 oz bucket. Spin Master will be releasing it under the brand name Moon Dough later this year, and their sets will be more directed, with animal molds and other fun themes. However it’s packaged, kids will love it.
Thomas Early Engineers
Wooden railroad is making a comeback, and the new Early Engineers set from Learning Curve is a great point of entry for toddlers. The trains are chunkier and the sets have fewer pieces and more interesting designs.
Kid Galaxy Fisher Price Trucks
Kid Galaxy is best known for affordable, well-designed remote control toys, so this favorite came as a little bit of a surprise. Their new line of Fisher Price construction trucks have no electronic components whatsoever. They’re made of a combination of plastic and metal, so they’re built for heavy duty. They have lots of moving parts, and because they worked with Fisher Price to develop the designs, Little People fit in the driver’s seat.
Chicco 1 Two 3 Playhouse
Kids love playhouses, but not every family has the space for them. Chicco came up with a brilliant design that uses a nice set of hanging pegs that mount to the wall. The fabric play house attaches to those three pegs and pops out. When playtime is done, just remove the fabric and you have cute pegs to use for hanging clothes, towels, whatever. I loved the space-efficient, useful design, and Chicco did a very good job of keeping the color scheme unisex.
Crayon rocks by Clementine Art
These soy-based crayons made me swoon, they are so pretty. Shaped like rocks, they’re easy to hold, and they glide smoothly over paper, creating bright, vibrant colors without much pressure.
This is not your grandmother’s Silly Putty. These jumbo-size tins are packed with a hefty portion of putty to roll, squeeze, bounce and stretch. They come in a variety of colors, including a totally rad magnetic version that comes with a piece of metal for awesome experimentation. Thinking Putty is made in the USA in a factory staffed by mentally and physically handicapped people, which makes it all that much cooler.
Grill by Hape
My husband is addicted to smoking. No, not cigarettes – meat. So I knew he would fall head over heels for this wooden grill, a beautifully detailed piece that attracted a lot of attention. Something tells me my son will be getting one of these for his birthday this year…