Andy and Pete Say…
Once again it was our pleasure to join The Toy Insider team for the annual reveal of their choices for best toys for the holiday season lists. The HoliDAY of Play event highlights products in three categories, Hot 20 Toys, 12 Best Tech Toys, and 10 Best S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Toys.
You probably know “Toy Insider Mom” Laurie Schacht from her numerous television appearances demonstrating the operation of those products. The Toy Insider 2016 Catalog can be found nested inside the current issue of Family Circle Magazine, and you can get comprehensive details on each item at the Toy Insider Website link above.
Things to Make and Do….
There is probably no greater satisfaction for youngsters, really for anyone, than building something that works. That appeared to be the major theme this year at The HoliDAY of Play event. As we’ve seen in the past, from Lincoln Logs to LEGOS, the honing of dexterity skills, deciphering of instructions, assimilation of concepts, peaking of imagination and recovering from missteps, all make the final product a very personal thrill. The accomplishment makes the object all the more valuable to the builder.
Toy Insider’s Got Game…
Between the recent New York City Comic Convention and Halloween approaching, Andy and I have plenty of information and photographs to share with you, and miles to go before we sleep.
New York City’s Chelsea Pier complex was the site for the 2015 Sweet Suite event designed to alert traditional press outlets and the exponentially expanding blogger community to the play industry’s newest goodies. This season’s gathering, mounted by the folks at Adventure Publishing Group (APG) (Toy Insider, The Toy Book,The Licensing Book) was the biggest ever, encompassing the wares of almost 100 vendor/sponsors. See the link loaded list of participants on the Sweet Suite Sponsor List.
Sweet Suite 15 was a sensory riot with so many wonderful items vying for deserved attention. To document the afternoon APG president and Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht conducted on-site interviews with the industry sponsors and attendees were banging out Tweets, Instagram pictures and videos posts by the hundreds (thousands?) It was especially cool to find The Verve Pipe’s Brian Vander Ark providing the live soundtrack performing songs from the group’s Are We There Yet album.
As an information gathering excursion co-editor Adriana “Andy” Melendez and I have found the invitation-only opportunity to be invaluable, often leading to months worth of pre-holiday roll-out features about the newest toys.
It’s also a perfect platform to explore new products and have an easy-going tet a tet with their creators. Heck, I got so “toy-tipsy” I was even cajoled into donning an “Amy Poehler” wig for the gals at the Goldie Blox booth. Do blondes have more fun? I can’t say for sure but it likely beats being a balding 60 year old guy in a baseball cap.
What caught our collective eye? I know Andy was particularly taken with the I Am Elemental action figures and their empowering message for young ladies. I zoned in on Crayola’s “Color Alive” Easy Animation Studio and Hexbugs’ newest Vex Robotics kits (including an operational Zoetrope). Both were still in early development when first spied at the New York International Toy Association Fair last February.
I also enjoyed a thorough demo and up close look at the eye-popping next-gen graphics of Activision’s Skylanders SuperChargers multi-platform game. Anki Overdrive’s track hugging robotic race cars promise to be an exciting experience, and Madame Alexander Doll’s mirthful Muppets will be available just in time for ABC’s Muppet TV relaunch.
Also ready to launch in the vanguard of inevitable Stars Wars mania is Build-A-Bear Workshop‘s Darth Vader and Chewbaca bears.
Expect us to be reporting on those items and many other products in depth as they reach their release dates in the coming weeks. In the meantime enjoy this teaser gallery of pictures from the event.
Pete & Andy’s Play Date…
On a gorgeous late October afternoon co-editor Adriana “Andy” Melendez (@sylverwhisper) and I joined other members of the press and blogger community on the 44th floor of New York City’s Hearst Building for a grand event to kick off the coming gift giving season presented by the folks at The Big Toy Book.Com, in partnership with The Toy Insider and Woman’s Day Magazine. Dubbed “The HoliDAY of PLAY” the gathering was aimed at affording social media and online reporters a jump on building buzz for the best toy options of late 2014.
Top Toy Tips…
Attendees enjoyed a couple of hours of hands-on experience and information gathering directly from manufacturers with a focus on the annual Toy Insider Hot 20 and Top Tech 12 lists. These lists (broken into age appropriate categories) and the entire 2014 Gift Guide can be found in the November issue of Woman’s Day magazine, as well as at Toy Insider online.
Following an introductory period of play and networking Big Toy Book Founder Laurie Schacht (@toyinsidermom) addressed the group. She delineated emerging trends in the toy industry using onsite vendors’ wares as examples punctuated by a video featuring highlights from last summer’s Sweet Suite event and soundtracked by my favorite EchoSmith tune “Cool Kids.”
Laurie called up several brave volunteers to participate in a couple of only mildly embarrassing competitions, one of which had participants emote their best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle “Cowabunga Dude!” Winners walked away with nicely filled swag bags. She also treated attendees to the first announcement of the 2015 Blogger Bash and Sweet Suite, which will be held on July 16 and 17 at Pier Sixty in New York City. In a little over 3 hours attendees managed to spin up 16 million Twitter impressions for the #HotToys14 hashtag and hundreds of Instagram images.
SkeletonPete & Andy Say…
It’s an anything goes marketplace, with tech and retro play products holding equal footing. We saw choices ranging from the robotics of the constantly expanding HEXBUG line to the return of the much loved 1980’s Pound Puppies from Funrise. LeapFrog offers the movement motivating immersive screenplay of their new console system, while creative stalwart Crayola straddles the classic vs. digital worlds with their Virtual Designer Pro kits.
Those only represent a smattering of the multitude of possibilities which is why the helpful guidance of the annual Woman’s Day/Toy Insider supplement and Toy Insider is so valuable.
Below is a list of the vendors who presented their wares at the event, with live links to their respective websites – you’re welcome. 🙂
Andy and I will be giving you a closer look at some of our favorites in the coming weeks.