Toy Fair 2010: Crayola = Fun

Crayola's Model Magic!

Based on our visit at Crayola, there’s a lot of promisingly fun  products rolling out this year. Happily these toys will start arriving soon. For reviews, check our website

Chalk News. You know I’m all a huge fan of their chalk. This year there are new super sets of 3D Chalk (one features Toy Story). I love this stuff. But what’s really new is a chalk making set.  Looks like our kind of craft kit- we’ll have to see how it works.  They also have a spiral top for chalk. My brothers will tell you, I really stink at the spining top thing but even I think I can make this one work. Watch the next post for a demo of the spiral chalk top.New Chalk Sets from Crayola

Model Magic. How cute is this new set where you can make little pieces to add to forms.

New Model Magic Sets

Also big, things that Glow in the Dark. During our visit to their showroom, the lights were being turned off repeatedly to show off more glow-in-the-dark sets.  I have a sense some will be more successful than others -but we’ll put them all to the test as they come out.  We gave their Glow Station an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.

Glow Station...larger glow-in-dark toy!

New Crafts for Tweens. They have a new line called Pop Art Pixies,  featuring  four tweens (that look like they’re related to the Fashion Angels) – each has a theme.  One likes to recycle, one likes to decorate…you get the idea. Some of the kits looked like they would be great fun for 9-12 year old crafters. Stay tuned. I particularly liked the look of the recycle kits – and will be interested to see how our testers react.

Tween Craft Sets

Amazing On-line Program. You send in a picture of your child, they create a cartoon image based on that photo, you then customize your own coloring book adventure featuring your now “cartoon” child.  LOVE this.  You get the code for this site when you buy a certain size box of crayons (hey, who doesn’t need a new box of Crayola?).  This new platform will launch officially in the fall–but we’re working out details for making it available to our readers soon.

Toy Fair Previews: Hasbro's Talking Chuck Truck

Last year we had two talking trucks, Chuck and Matchbox Rocky. Take a look at this updated version of Chuck–he’s bigger and has more tricks. Look forward to trying this one with our testers.  Watch our video.

toyportfolio: Toy Trends 2010

With the pre-toy fair events behind us, we start the hunt for the best toys of 2010 tomorrow in earnest. Thousands of exhibitors, both large and small, present their new toys at the International Toy Fair in NYC. When I started covering toy fair, the big guys were all at the Toy Building at 23rd Street and Broadway.  We would try to schedule our appointments so that we could walk our way down the building. The elevators – always a scary event were full of buyers, toy makers and reps…and when I first started, they all seemed to smoke. It was really gross.  Of course, this was also the era of showbiz at toy fair. There were life size women that became Malibu Barbie…complete with pink shag rugs, moving stages and spotlights. If Hasbro was introducing a new pirates toy, you could count on  pirates carrying on a sword fight in the showroom.  There was plenty of sizzle!  Now it’s just a trade show–all of the actors are gone. The toy building is being converted into condos. Even Matchbox has stopped giving out special toy fair editions (very sad). In any case…here’s what we see as the emerging trends.

Retro is In

Strawberry Shortcake, Alfie, Monopoly, Life, Twister–are all major players at toy fair this season. Monopoly now comes with a board you build yourself or here’s  a break through, a round play board (see below) as part of Monopoly Revolution. Pretty revolutionary–it takes two million dollars to pass go!  The new versions of Twister no longer have that wonderfully smelly plastic mat.  Many of these versions look like fun.  And let’s face it with the Twister brand, you’re probably more likely to try it than if it had a whole new name!

Life Celebrates its 50th Anniversary!

Monopoly Revolution

Licenses Prevail

If there’s a successful franchise, you’ll see it everywhere. Ironman is back  full force and Star Wars has captured the hearts of a whole new generation thanks to the Clone Wars. But we wonder whether Weebles really needed to incorporate the Hulk and Spiderman?

Weebles now with the Hulk and Spiderman

Battle of the Battling

There will be a battle for your child’s battle dollars between Spinmaster’s Bakugan and Hasbro’s Beyblade. This will be determined by the nearest 8 and 9 year old near you!

Hasbro's Beyblade

Zhu Zhu Pets are Challenged- Last year’s run away hit is being challenged by Hasbro who wants part of that rodent action and is introducing a competing line of motion activated pets called Furry Frenzies.

Furry Frenzy to Compete with Zhu Zhu Pets

Sushi and Microwavable Easy Bake food

Food is big in toyland. Last year we got at least a dozen different food related kits including a motion activated birthday cake (Leapfrog). This year the trend continues with Sushi Ottomans ( and perhaps one of the biggest sign of the times, Easy Bake Kits for the microwave. It’s as if maybe enough kids mentioned in a focus group that they could make the same food in 2 minutes in their microwave!

Retro Dolls

Barbie is all about looking back at her past careers and Strawberry Shortcake, now 30 is a little big taller!

Barbie Student Teacher 1964

Baby Alive Bouncin' and Babblin'…not so scary anymore

We’re happy to report that Baby Alive doesn’t scare us as much this season. (If you’ll recall last year’s Baby Alive Learn to Potty won our Ugliest Doll Award).  This year Baby Alive is happy to just be bouncing and babbling. Watch our video.

LOVE Hasbro Games Scrabble Flash Cubes

It was only a prototype (and a buggy prototype at that)…but if it works the way it did during our demo, this promises to be one of the best games for 2010.  Takes the play of Scrabble, Boggle…and marries it with fun technology. Take a look at our video.

Princess & the Frog: Princess Tiana Just One Kiss Doll

Disney's Princess Tiana

Last week I talked about this doll as one of the top five hottest toys in toyland on the TODAY Show.  But because I only had two minutes to discuss five toys, I didn’t have time to demonstrate why this particular Princess Doll is so much fun.  Watch our video and you’ll see the interactive/light up features of this talking doll.

Right after my segment, I got an email from Disney–reminding me that there were less expensive Princess Tiana dolls…so true.  You can get your Princess fix for under $16.  The Just One Kiss doll retails for $24.99–and I already see lots of price gauging. There are plainer Princess Dolls–but we have not personally seen or tested them–I do see some complaints on line about the quality of the least expensive version–but we can’t confirm. We’re thrilled that Disney is featuring the first African-American Princess.  If you’d also like a book, we’d recommend Princess and the Royal Ball by Natasha A. Tarpley/illustrated by James Finch)–a full review is on our site.