LEGO, Kid Galaxy, Playmobil…it was a good day!

Today at Javits we started at LEGO.  Always fun.

Our LEGO STAR WARS fans will be thrilled with the impressive number of new builds for this year!

LEGO STAR WARS NEW MILLENIUM FALCON

The line also includes new GAMES  (they rocked the game market last year -taking a 12% share of the market in their first year).

LEGO GAMES new PIRATE PLANK

Kid Galaxy–has a promising new line of vehicles that demonstrated more innovation than just about anywhere we visited this year–especially in the vehicle realm for preschoolers.

New Preschool Vehicle from Kid Galaxy

Playmobil - Pretty sure the new Zoo kits, the Spy Line and the Castles will be frontrunners with our testers this year.

PLAYMOBIL'S New ZOO Setting

Emerging Themes: Banana Splits, Taxis and Toilets

Each year there are certain concepts that just seem to be in the air at toy fair. This year we are already seeing certain themes emerging for 2011.

Banana Splits, Taxis and Toilets…

From Learning Resources

Banana Split from Earlyears (International Playthings)

Step 2's New Taxi Ride In

Viking Toys Taxi (from International Playthings)

All wood...from Maxim

Even the new Disney Princess Castle comes with a royal throne

Faux Wooden Toilet Seat from Calico Critters

What did Cookie Monster say to Elmo?

Cookie Monster

We moved! Did you notice last year that there was no new Tickle Me Elmo? That’s because the Sesame Street license moved from Fisher-Price/Mattel to Hasbro, but not in time for Hasbro to roll out a new collection.  In the absence of an Elmo novelty doll, last year Fisher-Price introduced Dance Star Mickey. He made our Platinum List.  Our testers loved how he danced not to mention his ability to moonwalk!

This year, here’s what you’ll need to know:

1. It will be a battle of the Rock Star Mickey and Rock Star Elmo. We previewed both today.

Rock Star Mickey is pretty snazzy!  He moves, he sings, he dances…and he can even do a Rock Star split (guitar in hand).  Move over Mick Jagger!  He is also interactive…teaching kids how to rock on! The demonstrator would not play along when it got to the split.

Rock Star Elmo is cute, although he doesn’t move the way Mickey does. But I think fans of Elmo will be happy to see him back. In his favor, he plays the drums, a tambourine and he also sings into a mic (all come with Elmo).  There are also musical toys for your child that also magically sync with Elmo–so that your child can play a small guitar, a small keyboard or sing into a mic — and Elmo will be able to sing along.  Rock Star Elmo will retail for $69.99 (the add on toys are $19.99 each).

We look forward to testing both. Both are planned for fall 2011 release.

2. Cookie Monster.  Ok, I have to admit it…I LOVE Cookie Monster.  I don’t really know too many people that don’t put Cookie Monster into the favorites category.  This new interactive version, eats cookies.  They disappear into his mouth and then the cookies will reappear in his backpack.  He sometimes counts the cookies…that’s fun, but I have a sense just feeding him will be the big pay off.

Watch our video of both at http://www.youtube.com/user/toyportfolio.

So embarrassing….

So every year we kick off Toy Fair with a sneak preview at Mattel and Hasbro.  The fair officially starts on Sunday at the Javits Center in NYC.  So we’re all good…we’re catching up with the pr folks for Mattel.  We were discussing how big our kids are (how did that happen?) …all is going very well.  There is  press event with Jeremy Piven for a new Hot Wheels launch. We are told to be quiet since there were lots of crews filming the event.  We opted not to watch the event, but get straight to the toys!

So we start on our tour and then I for some unknown reason BASH into an easel with a sign on it. The sign falls.  Yes, it was one of those moments that you wish you could take back…but you’re there…you just have to laugh it off.  I know my brother has a photo of me –probably looking horrified and laughing. Oh well.

Toy Fair Previews: Now That’s What I Call a Puzzle!

Tomorrow we begin Toy Fair with visits to both Mattel and Hasbro.  This week our mail boxes are FULL of new toys vying for attention at this year’s fair.

This one got my attention:  Ravensburger’s largest commercially available puzzle (according to the Guinness Book of World Records). Complete with 32, 256 pieces. It will measure 17′ x 6′ –so the family dining room table will be out of the question!

The puzzle features the artwork of the late Keith Haring. It weighs 42 pounds and comes with it’s own hand truck!

The puzzle will retail for $299.

For more info, visit Ravensburger.com

What draws grown-ups to toys?

For me it was clearly a combo of  hating practicing asbestos litigation and my mother having a really great time writing about toys and play.  I left her after a segment she did at the Today Show to go back to my office and thought–that just seems like a better way to spend the day.  I’m always curious how other people find their way to the toy industry. It is a business — and not all warm and fuzzy as you might think–but still it is different.

So I started a series called Meet the Toymakers.  This gave me an opportunity to find out how other people joined the ranks of toy industry insiders.  And since most people seem to have a desire to also be in toys, I thought it would be interesting to hear how other people fulfilled their dreams.

This week- we have an interview with Robert Pasin of Radio Flyer.  Unlike most of the people I’ve  interviewed, Robert is third generation in his family’s toy business. That’s hard core and brings it’s own set of challenges even when you are in charge of an established and iconic American brand.

I also interview Chris and Will Haughey of TEGU.  These brothers both left their Wall Street jobs to start TEGU.  Besides making a lovely product (wooden blocks with built in magnets) they are also finding a way for their business to give back to the people of Honduras by creating jobs.

Both interviews are posted on our website at www.toyportfolio.com