Back from New York Toy Fair I’ve finally had some time to sift through the different innovative tech products on show this year. Battling robots, combining toys and drones and video game themed collectables were top of the pile.
Here’s what stood out for me this year.
PJ Masks Toys
This super popular cartoon show is taking children’s screens by storm and has cause huge interest in toys and outfits for the brand. At toy fair I had a sneak peek at the first official toy lines for PJ Masks and was impressed with the range of play options available. Just Play’s quality is second to none as usual, but it’s the variety that most impressed - Big HQ builds, cars, characters and dress-up outfits.
Although there were no new Nerf lines this year, it extended the current range considerably. Nerf Doom Lands had a new Persuader and Double Dealer weapon while Zombie Strike and N-Strike Elite toy-moines each had additional play guns added. Stand out toy here was the over-sized Mega Mastodon.
Aiming to take 3D printing to a wider audience, Mattel announced the ThingMaker. This not only keeps the 3D printing simple but also offers an app to grant better accessibility to the design of quite complex toy figures. The challenge here will be keeping the final UK retail price down and also ensuring the printing process isn’t too slow.
Sky Viper Hover Racer
This takes the usual open ended Drone play scheme and applies a video-game aesthetic. Players place a series of beacons on the ground to mark out the course then compete to get round the quickest. It sounds complex but works really well in practice. Add to these a range of virtual app-applied upgrades and different game modes and it feels a lot like Anki style game-play but in the air:
Minecraft Ghast Drone
Combing a popular toy brand with a quadcopter drone should be a popular approach for kids. There is a considerable wow-factor at seeing an iconic character take to the skies unaided. The Minecraft Ghast drone executes this well with a controlled and flying character that look spot on.
Mega Bloks Destiny, Halo and Call of Duty
Video game themed bailable toys from Mega Bloks were popular and paid close attention to detail on each of the new game inspired lines. Although there is some careful promotion to do here so they are not targeted at children too young to play the on-screen version, as collectibles these are great products. Along with Destiny, there was also new Mega Bloks for Halo and Call of Duty.
Another Zoomer pet robot from Spin Master, you may think you have seen this before. But it’s the level of automation here that really impresses. Not only the range of movements here but also how they are used in concert to create a genuine sense of character:
Hex Bug Battlebots
The Battlebots brand is a US version of Robotwars and is back for more episodes this year. Along with the show Hex Bugs have a great range of RC robots that recreate classic character robots from the show. Along with the accurate attention to detail is the sense of proper robot battling that Hex Big create that most impresses:
Jurassic World Rampage Indominous Rex
Although the movie was last year’s popular toy trend there were some good follow up products this year too. The Hybrid Rampage Indominous Rex was the best example in the Hasbro booth. This not only updates last year’s popular dino but also promises to do so at an improved price point.
Star Wars Rouge One and The Force Awakens
There were a lot of Star Wars toys this year at toy fair in New York, but these Hasbro lines stood out for both the range of characters and quality of play offered. Of interest to collectors will be this first opportunity to get a Maz Kanata figure, but also the Black Edition monopoly and Light Sabers will also draw strong interest at retail.
Ticked away in the Lego booth were new series for Mixels. These not only extend the collectable toy line in a number of new directions but also confirm the arrival this year of new episodes of the Cartoon Network show.
Hello Barbie Dreamhouse and Drone
Barbie is back this year with a connected play house, the Hello Dreamhouse, that extends Hello Barbie features from the doll to her accommodation. The house is voice-controlled and online. It has a variety of automated and light up features. Most impressive though is how simple voice commands can bring the experience together and create new play opportunities. There is also a Barbie drone to take the doll to the skies:
PPL1 - Paper Plane Launcher
Perhaps the simplest product at toy fair was also one of the most impressive. It's a paper airplane launcher that gets huge distance. Although this may sound like its re-inventing the wheel in practice it’s simple and effective. It also gets kids folding planes again.