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Twin Tuesday : Recap of Toy Fair 2012

| February 21, 2012 | 0 Comments



Toy Fair 2012 came and went! We followed the news, and know this is going to be a great year for toys for your twins. Toy trends range from re-fitted retro toys, to crazy electronics (the hover craft from Back to the Future is rumored to come out this holiday season), and more, we wonder where to begin!

Luckily, resources like NBC Minnesota rounded up some of the top toy trends from this year’s Toy Fair, and we thought we’d highlight some of our favorite trends from the list:

Eco-friendly Toys:

We’ve posted about eco-friendly toys for kids before, but Up-cycled toys, and Made in the USA products, are taking the toy world by storm.

One toy that’s getting more buzz now is makedo. Makedo is a set of parts, rather than a toy in itself, encouraging kids to use plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, or whatever recycled material they can get their hands on, and add their safe-to-use fasteners and corner joints to them to create 3-d creatures or structures. They have some amazing examples sent in by users, like this one:

Made in the USA is the other toy trend becoming more popular. An article on says: “But the idea of U.S.-made toys and games goes far beyond the price tag or patriotism. It makes our economy strong. It’s giving everything back, one community at a time.”

One toy that created a lot of buzz was the Un-block. 110 building blocks come in the starter set, and all completely interlock and connect in ways that transform the everyday wooden block.

A similar reinvention of the wooden block came out last year called Tegu - and these blocks, while they aren’t interlocking – are magnetic, and come in various packs and colors. In either case, these toys have a design aesthetic that will appeal to your twins as well as parents!

Tablets and Gadgets  - Toys and their Apps

We all knew this was going to be a givein at the Toy Fair this year…apps, tablets, and electronics. While electronic toys took the market by storm, we’re surprised with how many toys and games have integrated apps into their products. Not only that, there is a market growing for the kid-only Tablet as well.

Pamela Brill, Tina Benitez and Caroline Kennedy of Gifts and Dec say on the subject:

Technology is everywhere, and just as most retailers and manufacturers rely on social media to connect with patrons and clients, the products on their shelves are reflecting the times more so now than ever. It was hard not to pass one manufacturer who didn’t have something interactive, app-driven or expanded into an online community to add another dimension to play time. 

Kurio is one of the first kid-oriented tablets on display at this years Toy Fair. PC Magazine reviewed the tablet, expected to come out this Fall, and says:

The device itself looks like a basic Android tablet like a less sleek Kindle Fire or Samsung Galaxy Tab – distinguished only by a colored metallic case around the 7-inch multitouch screen. An included rubber slipcase provides the tablet with kid-friendly cushioned support while still being removable so young teenagers can use it without being humiliated.

It has full access to the Android Market, but with parental control settings, so youngsters have filtered results. The look is more “kid-friendly”, with larger icons and more playful fonts, but there is some debate as to what this has to offer the market where one can already set controls on Mommy or Daddy’s tablet instead.

PC Mag concludes:

The Kurio 7 could be just another cookie-cutter Android tablet with a kid-friendly skin, but it could also be one that’s finally worth parents’ attention. On paper, it beats out the Fuhu Nabi on Android version (2.3.4 Gingerbread to 2.2 Froyo), it beats out the Vinci Tab on price and design (half the price and no unremovable roll cage), and it beats the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer on actually being useful for kids over single digits.

This is definitely a discussion we’ll continue in future postings!

Traditional toys are also getting a makeover, integrating into the app world. Gifts and Dec highlights this puzzle:

Ravensburger brings puzzles to life with augmented reality through the camera function of an iPhone or iPad smart device.”

Combining toys with an online/interactive experience has many positives, as it broadens the market of buyers and follows the market trends of the tablet craze. But one must wonder what this is doing to the integrity of traditional toys. Are our kids going to always expect some sort of interactive activity accompanying their game or doll?  Nevertheless, it’s clear that toy makers are marketing their products to get kids off their computers, and start interacting and getting more active with their toys.

Newsday talks about this popular trend in an article, explaining that at least this trend is bringing kids away from the computer, and back to a traditional form of play (even if it utilizes characters they’re more used to from the web):

“There is an abundance of physical toys using apps,” says Adrienne Appell, toy trend specialist for the Toy Industry Association, which owns and operates Toy Fair, where more than 1,000 companies gather to introduce toys that will debut in spring, summer or for the holidays.

The newfangled toys don’t make physical toys obsolete but give them a new twist, she says. Or they extend online play in the offline world. “If the kids love Annoying Orange, but the parents say it’s time to turn off the computer, that lets them continue the play experience in a more traditional kind of way,” Appell says.

Check out the full list in the article here of some of the popular new toys-with-apps coming out this year, including Angry Birds Building Sets, App Gear by Wow Wee, and Fruit Ninjas
(the App Gear toy in action)

To see some videos and official recap of the fair, check out the official website. If you want to hear some first-hand reviews of these toys and more, check out (a blog of amazing reviews relevant to yours and your twins’ lives), where they collect real reviews from real parents and kids on toys yours might be interested in.

[This article also appears in Kidslit Musings]

Category: Arts & Entertainment

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