Check out the latest news for families and kids on back to school toys and supplies!
Greetings Toy, Games & Toy Tech fans! Thanks for visiting my newly updated website!
So what’s new with me? I’m excited to bring you the latest news on what’s happening at Key ToyFairs and events in North America, and across the global world of Toys & Games, Kids & Family technology, Entertainment & Licensing. I am constantly on the lookout for new trends and products that affect kids and families with the “Trickle Down Effect” (What is happening now in adult products, will trickle down to kids products within the next 12 to 18 months, or before!) Kids toys have never been more fun, interactive or engaging.
I spent the New Year at the International CES in Las Vegas in January 2017, & previewed the latest technology products for kids and families. Live from the Kids at Play Summit, I reported live news and clips of hot new tech trends, worked with the other KAPI Jurors to judge and award the Best of the Best in KAPi (Kids at Play Innovations) Awards, and got to see, and play with the latest drones, robots, electronic pets, STEM to STEAM to STREAM products, and just be a big kid in the world of technology. Yup, I do LOVE my career!
Then, I flew over to Germany to play in the biggest playground in the world at the Spielwarenmesse 2017 ToyFair in Nuremberg, Germany, where 18 halls of toys, games, kids tech, baby and infant products, costumes and more were waiting to be discovered. (See my blog posts from that Fair, here on my blog page, as well as connections to articles where I was recently quoted). As their lead Global Trend Hunter and a part of the Trend Committee, I was busy reporting on the news, meeting with other journalists from around the world, providing daily Trend Gallery 2017 Speeches, providing journalist overviews at the new Tech2Play Pavillion and presenting then latest innovations in Future Emerging Tech, in the Toy Business Forum.
In mid-February, I returned to New York City for the American International ToyFair and the Digital Kids Conference for more trend sleuthing, digital toy trend presentations , media coverage and playing with games, toys and kids technology! Saw more amazing products, and met so many new manufacturers, in the Innovation Zones, Creative Factor areas and in the show floor exhibits.
Then back to Europe, in late February, to provide a Keynote speech at the Eastern European Kids Time Toy and Baby Fair in Kielce, Poland. This trade show focuses on sales to and between many European, Eastern European, Russian and other countries (17 counties in all, attended this year), My coverage will be appearing in April 2017 issues of the ToyBook and other international publications.
In early April, I travel to Bologna Italy, where I will be one of the KeyNote Speakers for the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair, which is running concurrently with the Digital Media Hall and the Bologna International Book Fair. There, I will be featuring a presentation on the latest Digital Trends in Toys and their impact on the kids toys & licensing business. I will share the stage with Kidz Global Research Kids & Digital study results and the power of Spin Master in new technology product arenas. More news to follow.
Living with Passion,
The holidays are right around the corner and we have an insider’s look at the hottest toys and games of the season!
Guitar Hero, the pop culture phenomenon from Activision, makes its return with Guitar Hero Live. It’s a first-person, live-action gaming experience where the player is the star of the show! Feel the rush of being on stage and experience the reaction of the crowd. The game also introduces GHTV, a 24-hour playable music video network that lets fans play along to a constantly-updated collection of official music videos from classic rock to the newest hits. Players can compete with their friends, as well as players from across the globe. The guitar controller has been redesigned to feature six buttons so it looks and feels more authentic and is fun for players of all abilities. Learn more about Guitar Hero Live here.
Laser Pegs is the original light-up brick construction toy that combines lights and building, two things every kid loves! Imagine the fun children will have when constructing illuminated monster trucks, space jets, cars, animals, tanks, and more! Each kit includes instructions to build multiple models. Laser Pegs come with a patented “Slide, Stack, and Spin” feature. The sets provide STEM learning, hand/eye coordination, creativity, math, spatial and language skills. A great value because they are compatible with the “Leading” brick sets. Learn more here.
Kids will love role-playing with Hazel, the popular lead character from the new Little Charmers TV show. Bring home all the magic of Charmville with 12″ Hazel Magic Doll from Spin Master. She is dressed in her signature “charmer-in-training” outfit that includes her removable hat and extraordinary cape. Watch as Hazel’s cape magically disappears with just the press of a button! She comes with her charismatic kitty, Seven, her special magic wand, a hairbrush, and can say eight charming phrases! This is great for ages 3+. Learn more here.
Schools have increased their focus on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) and in many schools they are broadening that focus to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). But the learning is not just happening in the classroom, it’s happening at home too! Companies in the education space are making fun and engaging products that are capturing boys’ and girls’ imaginations and simplifying what used to be considered difficult subjects. Toy and game expert, Reyne Rice, shares a few products & services that are getting kids excited about learning!
Youth Digital has a goal to create active creators and not passive consumers, with tangible, hands-on digital learning-by-doing for kids ages 8 to 14. Their Youth Digital technology tools provide relevant examples of STEM and coding practice to teach kids about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math with real, concrete examples AND with topics they are interested in, like Minecraft! They also teach kids around the world about creating digital animated movies, developing apps, using 3D programming and printing, learning fashion design tools and more! Founded in 2010, Youth Digital has empowered more than 55,000 students to become digital creators through summer camps, after-school programs and through an expanding portfolio of introductory and advanced online courses. How do they do this and make it fun? Youth Digital provides kids with a comprehensive learning experience that includes watching video tutorials, responding to questions, earning badges, completing interactive quizzes, and by attempting challenging assignments as they step toward mastering critical technology skills and professional-level software. As you can see, there is so much to learn … and it’s fun! Visit Youth Digital to learn more.
With GameStop’s Trade More, Save More program, parents are teaching their kids about the financial life skills that are important – with real life education that uses relevant examples about choices and money management. Do you have a gaming console or video games that are just sitting there collecting dust? Well, dust them off and bring them to GameStop! Trade in what you have at any GameStop location and put the value towards the purchase of the newest educational video games for your kids, or even the newest tech – such as tablets! Once your kids outgrow their educational game, upgrade to a new one through the trade-in process. GameStop will be offering a guaranteed $30 value on select titles releasing through the end of the year. So, trade more to save more! Did you know you can even keep up to date with what’s new, available and more via their apps? Get it at the app store on iOS and Android! So check out GameStop.com/trade to see how your old games and consoles can save you some cash!
Great for back-to-school and ideal for a variety of skill levels, Casio’s new Compact Grand Piano delivers groundbreaking technology, a sensational sound system and a world class keyboard action that is perfect for aspiring and professional pianists alike. The CGP-700 is equipped with Casio’s Color Touch Interface(TM) which features a premium icon-based 5.3″ touch display. It also features Casio’s Tri-Sensor 88-note scaled hammer action keyboard with simulated ebony and ivory keys, as well as a unique 3-way sound system with 40 watts of total amplification, 550 built-in tones, 200 rythms, two headphone jacks and more! Visit www.casiomusicgear.com to learn more!
Easter is right around the corner and many families are looking for alternatives to candy to fill those baskets! We’ve picked some of the best last minute gifts to finish off the perfect Easter basket, including toys and video games!
The re-launch of the classic favorite, LEGO Bionicle, is a different kind of LEGO experience called the “Constr-action” or constructible action figures. Kids get all the pieces they need to build heroes and villains. Each set includes 2 masks, cool translucent accessories, and a creature sidekick. Six of the original Bionicle characters from 2001 are available, with 18 new sets to collect, trade and combine by year’s end. A completely new series of animated Webisodes explore the storyline with lots of upgrades that inspire kids to use their imagination. Learn more at www.shop.lego.com.
Dance to the beat with the new Music Series of Elektrokidz by Wow Wee. There are six collectible figures with fantastic new looks and they are sound-activated. They are THE only figures whose hair “dance” to the beat of the music you are listening to. Each character has its own special hair dance, activated by music and together the Elektrokidz are United by the Beat. They come with their own pair of stylized shades and 2 sets of batteries so the fun will definitely last! Available exclusively at Target and at www.elektrokidz.com.
Most families love playing video games and GameStop is THE PLACE to help you find your favorite gaming and tech items, at affordable prices. GameStop offers great deals on new and pre-owned video games, consoles, accessories and consumer electronics. Some of Spring’s most popular new releases for the whole family include Mario Party 10, MLB 15, and games with interactive figures like Activision Skylanders, Disney Infinity, and Nintendo amiibo. With their buy-back program and PowerUp Rewards credit card, gift-givers get a boost to purchase gifts for their family’s Easter baskets and Spring wish lists! Learn more at GameStop.com.
Our Toy Trend Expert Reyne Rice is at the New York Toy Fair showing us some of her favorite finds this year.
Celebrating imagination, LEGO offers a creative building experience for the entire family. This Large LEGO Creative Brick Box features bricks in 33 different colos, along with doors, windows, wheels, eyes and more to create anything a child can imagine. There are six sets available, no instructions, but lots of visuals to get kids started with building, right out of the box! The package provides built-in storage, making cleanup easy. Learn more at www.shop.lego.com and follow them on Facebook & Twitter!
From Disney Imagicademy, we have Mickey’s Magical Arts World. With five inter-connected apps, children use learning-based tools to create their own Disney-inspired neighborhood. Kids can explore drawing, music, drama, cartooning and building skills. The Disney Imagicademy Parents companion app lets parents take an active part in their children’s progess. By year-end, Apps for Math, Science, Reading and Social Skills will be included; for kids ages 3 – 8. Learn more at www.DisneyImagicademy.com and be sure to follow them on Facebook!
Mattel found that 9 out of 10 girls wanted to be BOTH a SuperHero and a Princess, so they combined the two! The Barbie in Princess Power: Super Sparkle easily transforms from her pink princess gown to her Hero alter-ego. The DVD introduces Barbie as Kara the Princess that turns frenemies into friends using her magical SuperHero powers, special gadgets and everyday acts of “Being Super”! Visit www.BeSuper.com to learn more and definitely visit their Facebook and Twitter pages for more info!
Ozobot is the world’s smallest programmable robot and makes learning fun! Kids can program Ozobot to move and play on any surface. Using thick markers, kids can draw paths and instructions for this mini robot to follow on paper, OR use a tablet to unlock additional free apps. Using the new OzoGroove App, kids can teach their robot to dance and play other games as well! Visit www.Ozobot.com to learn more. Want one? Click here to get it at Brookstone right now! Visit them on Facebook and Twitter too!
Let’s put the pedal to the metal with the Carrera Digital 1:32 Hybrid Power Race Set! It includes 27 feet of reconfigurable track with two exclusive cars, the retro-look Porsche RS Spyder and the sleek LaFerrari by Ferrari. With a 50-year heritage, the retro Carrera racing system adds digital technology by combining physical race-cars with a unique digital wireless 2.4 GHz controller system. Beginners and more advanced driving enthusiasts can enjoy racing together! Learn more here. Check them out on Facebook and Twitter too!
Written and Produced By: Amelia Floyd
We are coming to you straight from Toy Fair 2014 in New York City! Reyne Rice is giving us a rundown of some of the neatest finds this year!
New in 2014, LEGO announced a new line called LEGO Juniors. They are tailor made to transition young builders from DUPLO to classic LEGO brick building. We are showcasing the LEGO Batman: Defend the Batcave! We also have the LEGO Pony Farm. There are other sets which include superheroes, police and princesses! They all come with step-by-step story book style instructions and photo inspirations to get young builders started. Learn more about the new LEGO Juniors here.
The Beatrix Girls are a whole new line of collectible dolls. They form a REAL pop-star band standing at only 12 inches tall! With fully developed personalities, the four band members live and interact in the human world producing real music, real hits and real fans! Kids can collect their music, join their fan club and vicariously live the fantasy of being a pop-star through play. Learn more about how these dolls empower and inspire young girls through their music here.
Today, more than ever, children need a way to explore their feelings and learn about courage, acceptance and forgiveness in the face of bullying. The “Mookey” app is the newest installment in the Mama Mae and Lee Lee ebook activity series created by Grammy Award winning musician and mother, Alicia Keys. The topic is current and the app has the ability to facilitate the conversation among families, kids and teachers. Set in a colorful location, “Mookey” features an engaging digital eBook, activities, original music and a story topic that appeals to both girls and boys. Learn more about Mookey and the Mama Mae series here.
From the makers of the best-selling Kurio Android family tablets, comes the first ever Kurio Phone, the safest Smartphone for kids! It is an Android 4.2 fully loaded smartphone that has all of the features kids want, combined with the advanced parental controls and safety features that parents have been waiting for. Some key features include app management, time management, time control features and the Kurio Genius Internet filtering system for selecting age appropriate apps. Kids can alert parents in case of emergency and parents appreciate the geolocation and geofencing features so they know where their kids are. Learn more about the Kurio Phone here.