• Tina Benitez-Eves

Direct from Market: ABC Kids Expo 2014

LAS VEGAS – There was something in the air in Las Vegas this year—and it wasn’t just the rain that poured down during the first two days of this year’s ABC Kids Expo, Sept. 7-11. It was clear that the market for juvenile toys, fashion, accessories, bedding—and some things for parents too—is not slowing down any time soon, which was evident in ABC’s uptick in exhibitors from 2013 at this year’s show with nearly 1,000 exhibitors and 3,300 booths.

This year, ABC kept things consecutive and continued its annual Invention Connection showcase, which gives attendees and exhibitors a chance to meet with new inventors and get a sneak peek at their new product. Additionally, more than 200 products that were new to market. "The New Product Showcase is a chance for retailers to see what is new in the industry this year," said Larry Schur, president and show manager, ABC Kids Expo, told Playthings, citing an uptick in toys, apparel, maternity items, gear, including carriers and more.

The show also boasted expanded offerings of eco-friendly products and a new Made in the U.S.A. showcase, which featured 74 products by 52 companies.
"Retailers from over 60 countries attend the ABC Kids Expo, and they want sturdy, American-made products," said Schur.

Driving the new, the old, the U.S.-made and beyond was one overriding theme: functional fashion. That’s the word you’d hear over and over again at the show. Influencing most categories—whether swaddlers, diaper bags, teethers, toys, personal care, furniture and other accessories—was fashion and functionality. Today’s parents are looking for more design-forward, fashionable pieces that are functional for baby and toddler, which was evident in all the designs coloring up the show floor.

Fashion Week

For their second year at ABC, Karina Margit and Lila Kydd of Brooklyn, NY-based RouxRoo had a few more pieces in the collection of designer home goods and toys for kids. New the line features colorful Canvas Letter Wall Art and The Soft Balls, squishy material balls with RouxRoo patterns on the material outside. The balls are made of kapok, s ilky fibers drawn from the seed pods of the ceiba tree, which are more commonly used as mattress fillings.

Nibbly BitsNibbly Bits

Hanging at Bella Tunno were three new gold, navy and grey diaper bags featuring chevron and other patterns. Each bad includes a parent pouch, changing pad and five interior pockets.

Also on a bag kick, Demdaco premiered its IllyBits at ABC. The versatile bags double as a carrier for baby goods on one side and a fashion handbag for mom on the other. Just flip it around.

A Big City, Apples, Navy Star, Russian Dolls and Chirpy Bird are the premier designs in the Penny Scallan Design collection of everyday wear for kids. The collection features everything from lunch bags, suitcases, totes for mom and dad and more for ages 0 to 4 and 5 to 8, all designed in Australia.

Take a Bite

Whether in the shape of a slice of pizza, a whale, elephant or other critter, colorful, bulbous necklaces, bracelets and more—teething is in style. Cao Ocho showcased its natural teethers made of pure rubber and durable enough to stretch, bend and pull in all directions without tearing. The teether covers all stages of tooth development, paying attention to the molars and other teeth.


It’s often recommended to let a baby rest its gums on a chilled spoon to help numb any discomfort associated with teething. The Toofeze helps bring the spoon on the road with a stainless steel part that can be chilled easily in a glass of ice water. The rest of the piece is a teether as the child goes back to chewing.

Endorsed by the Royal Children’s Hospital in Australia, Nibbly Bits made it into the U.S. The hig-grade silicone pieces include bracelets and more bulbous necklaces that double as teethers for baby, while Grapple brings toys to teething—literally. The Spindly, natural rubber springs come out of an egg-like shell to hold several different toys, while working as a teething device.

Itzy Ritzy has some chunky, vibrant jewel-inspired teethers, including lots of chevron. Meanwhile Chew Beads added to its collection and premiered some new children’s jewelry, teether line like the new “Where’s The Pacifier” clip badge in a mix of blues, pinks and purples with elegant, star, butterfly and other accents. Also new to the Chew Beads collection were bracelet-shaped rattles like the Mercer rattler in Chartreuse, Stormy Grey, Punchy Pink and Turquoise.

Infant TechInfant Tech

Digi Babes

Manufacturers are getting (tech) savvy to what parents really need—whether at home, driving in a car or anywhere with baby. At Infant Tech, cute plush dolls sat upright but were more than a squeezable toy for child. The dolls connect to the back of a car seat (or any other area0 with a live broadcast camera attached. Parents can see their child as they drive or at home while the baby is busy looking at the cuddly doll nearby. New zebra, dinosaur and unicorn designs are now available.

PawdPets also features a plush doll with a spot for mobile devices. The doll’s belly has a magnetic strip that can hold a cell phone and play music, game or can be used on its own as a doll for play without any added device. The doll also works as a carrier and has a plush pocket for phones in the back. The collection includes an owl, fox, koala and rabbit, all available summer 2015.

Keri LeeTree by Keri Lee

Meanwhile, Digi Puppets are actual finger puppets that can control any touch screen. Each of the seven character puppets also take on a life of their own with the added app, which opens up a fun, playful digital world for kids.

More on the low-tech end, the Tree by designer Keri Lee features a collection of handcrafted room decor, including wind up music and keepsake boxes, clocks and new mason jars with wooden figures inside. When pressed down on top, the mason jars light up to serve as a mini lamp for kids.

Bathing Beauties

Actress Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company made its debut to the wholesale arena. Everything from 100 percent natural belly and nipple balms, massage candles, body sprays and more are part of the collection.

Reese and Luke’s baby balm is a blend of shea butter, which is cold-pressed by a women’s cooperative in Northern Ghana, in addition to unrefined olive oil. A little goes a long way with the balm, which retails for $23.99. While it is primarily used for preventing

Honest CompanyThe Honest Company
diaper rash, moms and dads can also use for their skin and even on the lips.

Babyganics has 85 products in its collection. Mostly eco-friendly household cleaners, the line also features some body wash, lotions and more that are gentle enough for infants.

Produced specifically for the specialty market, Susan Brown’s Baby is an upscale line of infant skincare products, including shampoos and body wash, diaper creams, foot soaks and more.

All eyes were on Pee and Poo at the Sweden Toys booth. While none of the products in the collection are actually made in Sweden, the Pee and Boo plush dolls, which help teach kids about potty training in a comical fashion were created by a Swedish designer. The collection also includes a line of Pee and Poo stickers featuring for fun character plush, in addition to an app, which comes with the dolls for added memory and other play.

Sweden ToySweden Toy

The Writing on the Wall

Also from Sweden Toys were a whimsical collection of shapely chalkboard animal wall art that children can draw on, including an elephant, whale are part of the Wall Animals line, in addition to a giraffe, which can double as a growth chart. Just mark your chilld’s growth, up to nearly five feet.

Lucy Darling also offered up some retro-designed framed prints and even some belly stickers calling our a mom’s month of pregnancy. Cards, closet dividers and other items are also part of the collection.

RouxRoo also premiered its new wall art, featuring several of the duo’s original designs including 3 Dot Square, Letters and more, while

Next year, the ABC Kids Expo will take place on October 18-21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Tina BenitezTina Benitez-Eves | Business Editor, Gifts and Decorative Accessories

Tina covers the business of the gift/home decor and toy industry for Gifts and Decorative Accessories and Playthings. Also published in Men's Fitness, amNewYork, Wine Spectator and other publications.

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