Show Update: Toy Fair 2008

NEW YORK ‘Fun’ is an understatement when it comes to describing the Toy Fair 2008 that is taking place at the Javits Center in New York City. The trade show looks very much like a gigantic toy store for attendees to play in. Each booth, big or small, exhibited a certain panache that awakened the child within.

The toys ranged from classics, like rag dolls from Best Pals, to technologically driven projects, like Playmates’ Draw & Dream, an interactive art studio. Among traditional plush toys, dolls and board games, a new generation are born and growing – traditional toys with a high technological component.

Hasbro has redefined the definition of plush with its FurReal collection that includes a cat, pony and golden retriever that are voice and touch activated creating an illusion of a real animal. Mattel’s Little Mommy Real Loving Baby Gotta Go Doll is programmed to demonstrate proper bathroom etiquette. When it comes to games, companies are working hard to incorporate video games into an offline lifestyle. IToys is working to perfect ME2, a cell-phone sized electronic game that encourages kids to walk around, as it gathers points that can be used when playing online.

Licensing is a huge factor when it comes to releasing new toys. With multiple movie releases, brands are not missing a beat to incorporate the characters into play: from Star Wars to Indiana Jones to Speed Racer to Batman. Kids can play with Hulk Operation board game or Sponge Bob LEGOs.

This year also marks a few notable milestones. LEGO is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a unique set that mimics the original building blocks and includes a golden block. My Little Pony, Hasbro, is also nodding to 25 years.

Although fun and games are the backbone of the show, the Toy Fair has a serious side. The subject of toy safety was thoroughly discussed at the Safety Update Seminar that was lead by TIA experts and government officials.

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