A first timer takes on Day 1 of New York Toy Fair
There was a buzz in the air as I walked down 34th street in Manhattan. It was indeed a nice walk, taking the 7 train to the new Hudson Yards station would have to wait for another day. Standing near a lamb and rice guy you could see inside the Javits center and see a giant Pikachu floating near the so called Crystal Palace, he was guarding the secrets of the multi-billion dollar toy industry that was having its convention right inside. I had finally arrived at the New York Toy Fair.
I checked in and entered the labyrinth. In all honesty it was a bit overwhelming. I have been to other conventions at the Javits center but you knew basically what you would see, whether it was all cars or books or comics. But Toy Fair runs the gamut from action figures to board games to drones to fort building kits. Toys as simple as a kite to robots that can be automated to fly that kite for you. Most of the big name brands were off limits with prior appointments but the real gems were in the smaller companies. In these booths you don't just meet the smiling faces from the marketing department, you get to meet the president of the company. You will sit down and play a board game with the guy who invented the game. You might even meet a magician. True believers in the products that they are trying to get out there. Don't get me wrong the PR people and the marketing department people are also super nice and enthusiastic.
I saw a lot of really cool things but my favorites were:
A word game that just launched after a successful Kickstarter campaign. In Snippets you get a card with three letters and then you race against the clock to come up with as many words as you can. But unlike other word games, slang, proper names, acronyms and misspellings are all good. The design is also simple and clean and so appealing.
From Pai Technology comes a whole line of great interactive soft learning toys. Including a fit bit like device for kids, an adorable robot that teaches children how to code and my favorite Cube-Tastic. Basically it is a Rubik's cube that you mix up as much as you want. Then with the app it will scan your cube and tell you how many steps it will take to solve the puzzle. For very young children or adults you can watch a step by step tutorial. But eventually you will learn the patterns of a cube and will be able to do it with out it. And despite its interaction with a screen, it is very much a tactile toy that will enhance a child's problem solving skills.
A special shout out goes to the team at Fort Boards who made me a billionaire (in Zimbabwe at least).
GIVEAWAY: Learn how you can win a playdate in a box right here. The contest runs through the end of New York Toy Fair.