• Tina Benitez-Eves

Direct from Market: Toy Fair 2016

openingdayNEW YORK – It rained. It snowed. New York City was frozen over in teen temperatures, yet nothing stopped the toy industry from coming out for the 113th annual American International Toy Fair, Feb. 13-16 at the Javits Center.

Robots, three dimensional play across games and puzzles, play sets and more, coding and circuity, build your own toy sets and a hankering for all things tiny—miniature figures and collectibles—art and DIY combined playfully with science, technology, engineering and mathematics to empower STEAM-based play throughout this year's Fair.

Small Wonders

mixieqMy Mini MixieQ miniature figures and playsets by Mattel
Characters are getting downsized to smaller and collectible figures based on original and licensed characters with more miniature figures, playsets and collectibles. Play-Doh, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, expanded its Play-Doh town to smaller sets with miniature pieces. The Real Tooth Fairies by Hooray! Toys started by several industry veterans, former Mattel president David Mauer, come in fashion doll and miniature form. Miniature fashion accessories by HipFits feature fabric-covered, dress-shape charms. Smaller Peppa Pig character packs and construction sets show a tinier, more compact version of the popular British piggy from master toy licensee Jazwares. After a two-year hiatus, Automoblox made a return to Toy Fair with a new line up of wooden vehicles with new features, including new color palette pulled directly from car makers like Dodge and Ford, Brembo brake features and a first: miniature driver figures. Thomas and Friends miniature train collectibles expanded as well as Mattel’s latest My Mini MixieQ figures and playsets.
bloxelsBloxels turns a standard board game play into an actual video game.

Another Dimension

Anyone should be able to really look inside a work of art. With MasterSculptz by Kidzaw, kids can construct art pieces inspired by Surrealist and Cubist greats in 3D form. Roylco’s Crystal Color Stacking Blocks add dimension to play with light up building pieces, while Griddly Games' new STEM-inpsired Rocket Lander games adds a bit of three dimension with pieces on the game board.

Codes and Circuits

If kids are playing a video game for hours, they might as well build it first! Thames & Kosmos launched its Code Gamer DIY coding set, which introduces kids to programming with a Arduino-compatible gamepad that connects wirelessly to a tablet. Kids construct their own game manually using the gamepad and four interchangeable sensor modules. Kids get a playful introduction to writing programs on computers and inventing new applications.

Bloxels is a board game-turned-video-game set. Put together a board game by hand, snap a photo on a phone or tablet and play. Kids use color-coded pegs to create an animated story line complete with characters, environments and challenges on board, which can also come to life on screen.

kidzawKidzaw's MasterSculptz

Felt bears that hold hands and light up, moving critters and other circuit play were part of the tech mix. ThinkFun debuted its CodeMaster board game of circuits challenges on a physical game board, while Smart Lab added several new STEAM-inspired kits: Sew Science, sewable LED dolls that snap together and light up; Smart Circuits gives kids 50 experiments using the electronic drum kit, motion sensor alarm; and Motorblox, moveable vehicles with motorized components.

Also on the Toy Fair circuit were celebrations as the Toy Industry Association (TIA) celebrated its 100th anniversary. Attendees at Toy Fair could take a peek into the past 100 years tracing all the events in toy history on the TIA in place documenting highlights throughout the past 100 years. Women in Toys also celebrated its 25th anniversary during its annual Wonder Women Awards gala event, held on Valentine’s Day, and a few nights the 2016 Toy of the Year Award winners were revealed at the annual awards ceremony.

Making its debut was Play Fair, a Toy Fair open to the public in Javits, Feb. 13 and 14 in the North Hall. The interactive event brought out some popular TV characters (in “person”) and opportunities to see some new toys for 2016.

In 2017, the New York Toy Fair will take place Feb. 18-21.

Click Pikachu below to see more toys, games and moments from this year's Toy Fair.


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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