Going to Toy Fair is always a bit overwhelming. To start with, hundreds of manufacturers from all over the world are showcasing thousands of products. Some are amazing, innovative, and creative. Some are copycats or retreads, and some are just plain awful. But what’s especially fun is trying to predict which of the trends we’re seeing will actually become hits – and which will bomb. Here are a few categories we think are worth watching. Some of these are already hot – and we believe will get even hotter. Some are just appearing but will be all the rage in 2013. Over the next few months your parents@play team will bring you reviews of these and many, many other categories.
Archery. With the amazing success of the movies “Hunger Games,” “Brave,” and the “Avengers” – all of which featured archers – it was only a matter of time until bows and arrows took their place alongside swords as the low-tech weapons of choice for today’s young adventurers. Everyone from well-known brands like Nerf (hasbro.com) and Zing (zingtoystore.com) to tiny brands you’ve never heard of (but will soon), have introduced bows or crossbows that fire a variety of (safe) projectiles.
Zombies and Vampires. The “Twilight” series, “Dark Shadows,” and animated fare like “Frankenweenie” and “ParaNorman” have taken vampires and zombies out of the crypt and enrolled them in high school. The Monster High girls have been out for a while. But some of the most fun – and most creative – are the face-changing Mystixx Vampires (mystixx.com). At first glance you’ve got a cute-as-a-button doll. Turn the head around, rearrange the hair, and you’ve got one stylin’ vampire.
Moustaches. Maybe it started with the Got Milk? mustache campaign. Or maybe it was the Movember campaign when men around the world grow their facial hair during the month of November to raise awareness of prostate cancer and other men’s health concerns. But however it happened, mustaches are hot. And not just for men and boys – plenty of girls are getting in on the act as well. We especially liked the Ha! Ha! Moustache game from Haywire Group (haywiregroup.com) where player try to identify famous (or infamous) people based on a cardboard mustache and a handful of clues. And Stachetats (stachetats.com) has a line of wild and colorful temporary upper lip decorations for every taste.
Duct tape. Once upon a time duct tape was grey, sticky, boring, and available only in hardware stores. Today, there are entire aisles in arts and crafts stores devoted to far less sticky, and definitely not boring duct tapes in dozens of colors and patterns. Specialty companies like Creativity for Kids (creativityforkids.com) and Klutz (klutz.com) have wonderfully colorful kits that are built around duct tape. And so do some of the giants, like Melissa and Doug.
From app to reality. Another interesting trend is to take popular apps like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds and turn them into real-life games. Sometimes there’s a branding double whammy, such as when “Star Wars” character start flying through the air knocking down structures.
Pink and glitter. Just about anything you can imagine-building systems like Lego and Megabloks, science kits, tattoos, cameras, mustaches, sports equipment, action figures, and even guns and other weapons – are now available in pink and glitter.
(Armin Brott, Paul Banas and Samantha Feuss are the Parents@Play team. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
By ARMIN BROTT, PAUL BANAS AND SAMANTHA FEUSS