The Toy Insider’s (TI) Sweet Suite event was back in full swing this past week. The 2023 installment brought together media outlets from across the continent. National news agencies to social app influencers of all ages convened at Manhattan’s Chelsea Pier to alert the public to what will be the most sort after toys throughout the summer and into the year-end gifting season.
To my recollection, Sweet Suite began life as a social media experiment held in a mid-town Manhattan penthouse suite. A cadre of early citizen reporters and collector nerds (myself included) met with approximately a dozen vendors and helped spread the word about noteworthy items.
At those intimate gatherings TI’s CTO (Chief Toy Officer) Laurie Schacht personally presented the products, and often coaxed participants to come up to the podium and engage in a game or challenge. Since then she has nurtured the event into the milestone industry gathering it is today. Backing up the “We Know Play” hashtag, the TI team has become the go-to experts for news and morning show toy round-ups nationwide. The scope of interest has expanded to fandom at large with the addition of The Pop Insider.
Through a balloon bedazzled archway heralding the event, participants entered into the expansive Pier Sixty space to an exciting rush of sound and color.
Greeted by larger than life costumed characters, families took advantage of photo opportunities with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a gigantic green crayon, Pudgy Penguins, and even Rainbow Bright. A face painting station and balloon animal maker gave the impression of a carnival midway and in keeping with the sweet theme there were plenty of delicious treats to be sampled.
Babes in Toyland…
Despite the dizzying array of possibilities, younger attendees quickly focused and spent the afternoon engrossed in individual and group experiences from coloring at the Crayola booth, “digging” for Dino eggs with V-Tech, to whooshing down the WowWee double slide into a pool of faux bubbles.
Over 65 companies were represented on site. Mattel’s Barbie was celebrating her movie celebrity moment. Fingerlings electronic pet monkeys have returned with a refreshed look and new set of skills. LEGO previewed impressive builds for brick-heads, and Super Impulse presented their pop culture mash-ups with Hasbro’s Mr. Potato Head.
SkeletonPete Says… My face hurts a lot
It’s hard not to respond in kind when confronted with a wall of giddy Jakks’ Ami Ami’s, but walking around for several hours with a perpetual smile on your face eventually hurts, a lot. As an involuntary reaction to the pixie dust atmosphere of Sweet Suite, it’s worth the minor ache. Beyond the enjoyment of the afternoon, it’s been a pleasure to watch Toy Insider, Pop Insider and The Toy Book ripen into the valuable informational resources they’ve become. Andy and I will be reporting on individual products that we found special in the coming weeks.