The New York Toy Fair is many things for many people.
It’s about the 130,000 Lego bricks used to build the massive red Lego brick that stood in the lobby of the Jacob Javits Center during last week’s four-day affair in Manhattan.
It’s about the marketability of characters from Star Wars to Paw Patrol.
It’s about finding that next Tickle Me Elmo or Furby — that “gotta have” item — that will dominate Christmas wish lists.
It’s also about the smaller toy and game companies looking to make a splash.
The vast majority of the 1,000-plus vendors at the show are the latter: small companies with a product and a dream. One of those dreamers was a father-and-son team out of Brooklyn: Mel Goldberg and his son, Josh, were first-time exhibitors at the fair promoting their game, Crooks and Cash. The math puzzle game is available online through them and also at several toy and gaming stores in New York, but the duo was looking to go national.
The game, in which you form shapes using triangle tiles, started off as a middle-school math fair project. Back then, Josh said he was having problems with math and went to his father for help. Mel, a former math major and current lawyer, had made some puzzles for his children over the years, so they took one and tweaked it to show the power of proof. The coup de grace of their creation: the hardest of the puzzles has more than 83,000 possible solutions, but only four that are correct. Josh, he said, won top prize in the math fair.
Fast forward several years and Josh is working at a game shop in Chelsea. He told his boss about this puzzle game he and his father created, and his boss said if they made it the store would sell it. the father and son produced a new version of game and tapped into one of the big trends of the show, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) toys. STEM toys and games were all over the show — from kits that allow children to make their room more interactive with simple circuits to an array of math-themed board games.
The other hot theme of the show was that licensed characters were, and remain, king. And many manufacturers are betting the new king will be King T’Challa of Wakanda, aka Black Panther. Marvel’s latest cinematic hit was everywhere: blind bags and plush toys, ultra cute figurines and clothing, general consumer products and highly detailed collectors items. There is a Black Panther item for every price point.
But if STEM games or Black Panther are not your thing (or your kids’ thing), don’t worry — there were plenty of varieties of slime, brick-built robot bands, amazing toys for young and young at hearts, and even games where Girl Scouts try to save the world and sell some cookies, too.
There was also a 12 1/2 foot tall Gladiator Hulk. That, and the entire 2018 New York Toy Fair, was pretty awesome.