9 things I'm looking forward to at Toy Fair

From LEGO to board games, Talking Plush to industry stats.
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It's finally arrived - Toy Fair week is here and with it over 200 companies packing into Olympia to showcase new launches, revamped favourites and freshly signed master toy licences.

A lot of news will be kept underwraps until the show kicks off tmrrw (Tuesday, January 20th), but in the meantime, in no particular order, these are among the nine things I'm looking forward to seeing this week at Toy Fair.

NPD 2014 figures

The toy industry market figures are due to be revealed by NPD on Tuesday (January 20th). Early indications are that 2014 was a strong year for the business, and, after several years of no growth, it is predicted that the market could be up by as much as four per cent.

The LEGO stand

A must visit at the show. After last year's excitement around The LEGO Movie, 2015 will see the firm ramp up its offering on other licences, including Minecraft, Star Wars, Spider-man and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Vivid's Thunderbirds Are Go range

We all remember Anthea Turner making Tracy Island on Blue Peter out of yoghurt pots and papier mache in the early Nineties, right? Just in case you don't, you can watch it on YouTube in 90 seconds here. The hero play-set will once again form a key role in Vivid's line of toys based on the new series, Thunderbirds are Go. Anticipation is high for the show - TV teasers ran before Christmas and last week we got our first look at the updated International Rescue. As well as Tracy Island, Vivid will also be showcasing vehicles, figures and a TB2 play-set.

Star guest appearances

This year, kicking off with Justin Fletcher and ending with X Factor boy band Stereo Kicks, Toy Fair always has an eclectic mix of star names appearing on press day - either to promote affiliated products or simply just 'because'. Pixie Lott (who will be launching a new fashion doll range under the Steffi Love brand) and Strictly Come Dancing's Aliona Vilani and Kristina Rihanoff (who will be unveiling a new craft set on the Galt Toys stand) are probably the biggest names. However, my money is on Mugly, the World's Official Ugliest Dog, bagging the biggest crowds when he appears at the Character Options stand to help launch the Ugglys Pet Shop.

The Re:creation stand

It is right at the very back of the hall - which sometimes has its own micro climate - but don't let that stop you from heading down to see Re:creation. I always enjoy this stand - even though Katy and Becca seem to love seeing me struggle with scooters/blasters, etc while wearing heels - because it has a fun atmosphere. This will only be helped this year by an appearance from the Crazy Cart creator to launch a number of new models.

Underground Toys

I've watched Underground Toys grow in stature over several years now at Toy Fair, and it now boasts an impressively packed stand in a good location. It's no secret I have a slight obsession with The Big Bang Theory, but there's plenty of other brands to see, too, including new Star Wars lines, Talking Plush for Avengers: Age of Ultron, Sherlock gifting and product from the firm's tie up with Funko.

Board games taking over

From Bananagrams to Accentuate, new Pointless from University Games to Drumond Park's stellar line-up, Esdevium's licensed collection to Monopoly's 80th celebrations, I could easily spend all three days just playing games.

The Toy Fair first timers

Newcomers to this year's show include Blueprint Collections, Jazwares, Smart UK, Bizzy Bitz, Bestline and Bonnie & Pearl among others, while Amscan will be making its first appearance in 15 years. Tomy and Chicco UK are also among those companies returning to the showfloor after a period of absence.

The Alternative Toy Fair Party

If you don't already have this in your diary, then take note - Wednesday, January 21st from 6pm at the Hand & Flower (opposite Olympia). There's still time to register for a ticket, but do it now! Email toyfairparty@nbmedia.com.

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