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2014 American International Toy Fair round-up

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Blimp
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Blimp
Courtesy of Playmates

February 16th-19th marked the 111th American International Toy Fair in NYC at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. This was my first Toy Fair and I couldn’t believe how big it was. It’s the largest toy marketplace ever held in the Western Hemisphere. Over a 1,000 companies exhibited here their hottest toys, games and youth products. It was a huge playground for adults! Unfortunately I was only able to attend one day but I crammed in as many booths as I possibly could and saw so many cool toys that my 9 month-old and my 5 year-old would love. I put together a slideshow of some fun toys I think would be great for babies up to 6 years old.

With the new movie, Transformers: Age of Extinction coming out this June there are a slue of new toys launching to go along with it including the awesome Chomp and Stomp Grimlock, which converts to dino-mode with a chomping jaw and light-up eyes. Optimus Prime figure comes with it and can ride Grimlock into battle and unlock electronic lights, sounds and pop-out weapons. My Little Pony Equestria Girls are back with a new movie and a new line of dolls such as the Dolls That Rock collection, where kids can make the Pinkie Pie, Twilight Sparkle, or Adagio Dazzle dolls high five and each doll will ‘come to life,’ singing the My Little Pony Equestria Girls song. Hasbro’s hot item is the Star Wars Command Star Destroyer Set. Kids will have the chance to pit huge armies of micro-figures and vehicles against each other for the fate of the galaxy! It comes with a controller that you can use to move the Star Destroyer backwards and forwards, then unleash up to 4 Energy Blast balls to demolish your opponent’s army. It also comes with eight permanently posed and collectibly sized figures —six soldiers and two specially detailed Generals. For those that fell in love with last year’s hot item, Big Hugs Elmo (myself included) you will love Let’s Imagine Elmo. This cute 13-inch Elmo pal comes with three different hats that unlock different imaginary themes and play modes. Place the crown on Elmo’s head to play a game of “Prince Elmo Says,” pop on the cowboy hat to learn about numbers in the “Countin’ Cowboy” game, or put on the sea captain hat for a fun “Sounds of the Sea” game. Kids can also tickle his belly, squeeze his nose, or bounce him for a fun reaction.

I loved all the new Fisher-Price infant toys coming out especially the Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair. The seat features Smart Stages™ learning content, an exciting new technology that updates content automatically or lets you update manually as baby grows, extending the play. The chair also features a light-up remote, a flip book and a lift-up cushion that teach baby about numbers, shapes and more. Thomas fans will love the Thomas & Friends TrackMaster Avalanche Escape Set. In this play set watch as Thomas makes his way up a 30 degree incline before crossing an avalanche gap and racing down the other side. Redesigned TrackMaster engines feature enhanced power and performance, driving Thomas to greater speeds, taller heights and bigger adventures. My daughter is a huge Barbie fan and loved the Barbie Iron-On Style Doll, which comes with the fashions and tools girls can use to create their own printed t-shirts. The doll includes iron, dress form, three tops, two skirts, one jacket and 30 decals, where girls can mix and match styles, colors and fun. A big trend I saw is create-your-own type toys and I thought the Hot Wheels Airbrush Auto Design Custom Kit was pretty cool. The kit features specially formulated airbrush pens that offer great coverage fast drying times, and are virtually mess-free. One customizable car, three colorful airbrush pens, stencils and a spray mask are included in the kit.

Wicked Cool Toys
One thing I’ve noticed with my daughter is that she likes to pack things into suitcases so when I saw the VRÜM Ride-On Storage at the Wicked Cool Toys booth I just know kids will love it. This ride-on portable storage for kids is packed with 3 in 1 features: Pack, Ride and Play. The VRUM product line will feature today's top kids brands to include Spiderman, Ironman, DC Comics Batman, Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Disney Princesses.

Battroborgs from TOMY were on just about every hot toy list last year and this year they introduced Battroborg Warrior, where players control the battle and the borg’s every move with a single-handled katana blade controller built for slashing and sword fighting, delivering realistic, non-stop battle action. Players choose their Warrior from themes including Samurai, Ninja, Alien, Roman, Knight and Viking, and then customize the borg with interchangeable weaponry and lunge into a metal-meets-metal battle to end all battles.

Playmates Toys
Playmates Toys, the company behind the beloved Teenage Mutant Ninjas Turtles toy line over the last three decades. They have a great lineup this year of new and exciting toys. My favorites were the Z-Line Ninja Playsets and the TMNT Blimp. The Z-line Ninja playsets allows kids to zip their Turtles action figures around the room and from wall to wall. The playsets attach safely to walls and the zip-lines are easily connected, allowing kids to trigger a chain reaction, launching even more Turtle figures! The blimp inflates to about 30 inches long, features Turtle gliding wings, authentic Turtle graphics, holds up to five of the Turtles basic action figures and includes a rappelling system to quickly drop the Turtles into battle.

VTech is a leader in age-appropriate and developmental stage-based electronic learning products for children and they introduced more than 40 exciting new products at Toy Fair. My favorite was the Lil’ Speller Phonics Station. It’s a fantastic product for children learning to read. Kids can build and learn words with fun sounds, melodies and animations that encourage interactive learning and reinforce words. They can discover letter names and hear their sounds by plugging in the letter blocks one by one, or learn letter order by determining which letter is missing, then plug in the correct letter block to complete the letter order. With the help of the Spelling Bee, kids can learn to spell more than 200 common three-letter words.

JAKKS Pacific
Little girls will love the Disney Princess Royal Kingdom Kitchen Café, which is a magical two-sided play kitchen featuring several Disney Princess characters. Girls can experience the magic of the Disney Princess world as they learn to cook, host and serve like a Princess. This kitchen café allows girls to “cook up” magical treats in the kitchen and then display them in their café! The Royal Kingdom Kitchen Café features five magical sounds including two stove sounds, ice dispensing and running water sounds and magnificent welcome music as the kitchen café’s shutters are opened. It comes with three accessories including a gold frying pan, a teapot and a teacup.

International Playthings
International Playthings distributes a wide range of brands including Earlyears, Quercetti, ELC, and more. Earlyears is a high quality infant toy line targeted to enhance a variety of milestones within baby’s first year. The toys are age graded for 3, 6, 9 and 12-month play patterns. Their new toy, Monkey Basketball is adorable. Little dribblers can learn to shoot and score. Babies can discover rattle or crinkle sounds in each of the four colorful soft balls. The monkey's head folds over and closes securely for storage.

MGA Entertainment
MGA Entertainment is a consumer entertainment products company manufactures innovative lines of award-winning brands such as Little Tikes, Lalaloopsy, Bratz, Moxie Girlz, Mooshka, and more. Lalaloopsy, one of the most popular doll brands and top rated show on Nick Jr. is getting even cuter and bubblier. MGA introduced Lalaloopsy Bubbly Mermaids in Pearly Seafoam and Ocean Seabreeze. Fill her hair with bubble solutions and squeeze her tail to watch the bubble hair grow. Each doll comes with an adorable pet octopus.

Melissa & Doug
This is one of my favorite brands for babies and kids. Both my kids enjoy Melissa & Doug products. I loved seeing the classic wooden toys here like the Jack-in-the-Box and Sort & Swipe Cash Register. It brought back memories of my childhood. The Jack-in-the-Box is housed in a sturdy wooden box with cheerful farm-themed illustrations on every side; a smiling, overalls-wearing cow is the cheerful pop-up “Jack”. Turn the oversize red knob to hear “Farmer in the Dell” and see the bandanna-clad cow pop up with a smile. With the register kids can press the number buttons to see different counting pictures, then “pay” for the purchase with numbered coins to match the quantities. Also comes with a play credit card to swipe.

ALEX Toys is another favorite brand of mine. The Sound & Play Busy Table is terrific and so much fun. With this table kids can pound, slide, peek, explore and make music. The table features a modern design with eight fun activities including a xylophone and drum. Up to three kids can play at a time. The table also includes two peek-a-boo doors, spinning gears, curvy bead maze, two track sliders and a wooden mallet.

Tiny Love
I have some great products from Tiny Love that I have been using for my baby so I was happy to see so many fabulous new products like the Tiny Hugs Baby Carrier. I have been looking for a baby carrier that’s not only comfortable but also easy to use and this is it! My favorite feature of this carrier is what makes it unique compared to other carriers. Parents secure the baby prior to putting the carrier on themselves, making the dressing experience much more comfortable for baby and parents. The carrier can be worn on the back and holds up to 40 pounds.

Reeves International
Reeves Intl. is the exclusive U.S. distributor of high quality specialty brands such as Breyer Animal Creations, Red Toolbox, Tolo, and WOW. I was not familiar with Tolo but I fell in love with their products. I felt the quality was really superior. Toddlers will have lots of fun with The Teatime Shape Sorter. They will gain an understanding of color matching and shape recognition, and practice fine motor skills as they match four mini teacups to their respective color-coordinated holes. It has an easy to remove lid that makes it easy to access the cups to play again, and a clear beaker inside the tea pot means liquid can be added to create a true to life teatime experience. My daughter is really into toys that you can take into the bath especially ones where the hair changes color when wet. I know girls will love the Ella Color Change Surprise from Breyer Animal Creations. Ella is full of energy and after a long day of playing she likes to relax with a bath. Kids are in for a surprise when they play with Ella’s hair. Put her in water and all her purple markings, mane, and tail turn pink.

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