Editor’s Note: I really appreciate the fact that a true insider has given us a peak into the new toys coming out for kids this year. Enjoy this guest post from play scientist and NYC Dad, Ross Marks.
There is no shortage of new toys coming out. I saw new toys developed around digital devices and fresh spins on old classics. Working in the toy industry and being a NYC dad, I could not help but take a self-centered approach to the toy fair. Below are some of my insights into toys coming to retailers soon.
Technical-integration: There is a whole new batch of toys developed around mobile devices (iPhone, iPads, and the others as well). Some of these toys encourage social play by turning an iPad into a board game with physical elements, like the GameChanger. Others encourage physical play by encasing an iPhone or Android in a foam ball that can then be tossed, kicked, and rolled around the room, such as the TheO.
Eco-friendly options: While not as dominate as environmentalists would like, there were a fair number of manufacturers with eco-friendly toys. However, most of these toys are geared for younger kids. Think wood blocks, stacking rings, and walkers. Some of the more notable toys in terms of both ecological and play impact come from: (1) PlanToys with infant toys galore; (2) Pkolino with a nice mix of wood and felt, and (3) Dwinguler, which makes an awesome play mat. Given how much the little ones tend to topple over, who couldn’t use a nice soft and easy to clean mat?
Active-play: The rapid growth of digital does not mean our kids will be tied to these devices 24/7 in some kind of Orwellian dystopia. There are many toys that encourage old fashion active play, which always has a unique twist for those of us living in NYC. One toy, Kickbo, is a hacky-sack with feathers that is a bit easier to master and, and for around $5, it is great for use in one of the local parks! Some other really cool toys include the beautifully designed wooden Wishbone Bike that starts as a tricycle and converts to bike, which makes me long for an apartment large enough to use it in!
Other cool things coming out include:
(1) A little yellow, cylinder shaped head, Frodo Baggins; that’s right, Lego Lord of the Rings! It’s Lego, even a Lego Anna Karenina would still be cool in my book.
(2) Online saving and shopping for kids—a VirtualPiggy—that lets kids engage in e-commerce with parental controls.
(3) The Little Green Money Machine teaches kids about business basics (does not cover insurance derivatives!) by walking them through all the steps necessary with a simple business.
On a final note, toys are getting safer! New mandatory safety standards are coming out and Safety by Design is a focus for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. So as parents, we will have more assurance that lead and other heavy metals are not in toys and dangerous toys from abroad are subject to customs seizure.
Full disclosure, I do not work with and have no association with any of the companies mentioned in this blog. But I <3 Lego.
Ross is a working dad with an 8-month old son, Austin. Ross works for PlayScience, where he spends time researching kids, play, education, and safety. When not at work he spends time strolling around Brooklyn and trying to keep the little guy out of trouble.