The 112th annual North American International Toy Fair took place in New York this weekend. I didn’t get to go this year (I went last year), but that didn’t stop me from combing the internet to see all the latest products showcased at the event. Here’s my list of the most epic new toys being released this year.
Mattel is releasing Hello Barbie, who connects to Wifi and holds conversations with you. She kind of seems like a Barbie version of Siri.
Then there’s Film Director Barbie. Yeah, she’s got a cool career, but what really sets her apart are her articulated ankles. That’s right, this Barbie can wear flats AND heels! I’m so relieved. She’s always looked so uncomfortable.
MGA (maker of Bratz dolls) has a new line of Hispanic dolls called Vi and Va. Cool!
Hasbro is coming out with a line of dolls based off of the Disney Channel’s new movie Descendants. The movie is about the children of classic Disney heroes and villains. The line seems suspiciously like Mattel’s Ever After High dolls, but they are cute.
Dinosaur toys are already popular. I mean, everyone loves dinosaurs. And the Jurassic World movie is only adding to the frenzy. Lego is doing a whole line of official Jurassic World sets. Check out this one featuring the new, crazy, and genetically-engineered dinosaur from the movie.
Then there’s WowWee’s MiPosaur. This robotic dinosaur plays and interacts with its little trackball, and by holding the trackball, kids can even take the dino for a walk. Kids have been playing with pretend pets for a long time, and this little guy seems like a fun new addition.
Hasbro is adding Jurassic World to its popular Mashers line. The Mashers action figures are designed to be pulled apart and reassembled to create crazy new characters. Kids everywhere will be clamoring for the chance to make a Hulk/Velociraptor/Storm Trooper hybrid!
Well, Lego had a lot of cool stuff as usual, but what caught my eye was the Lego Friends Elves theme. Most of the sets in the Friends line have been more City-based, so I was excited to see a fantasy theme.
Plus, Duplo has a few new Disney Junior licenses. Check out Doc McStuffins, Mickey and Minnie, and Sofia the First.
Mattel and Google teamed up to reimagine the classic View-Master. This new version (priced at $30) is a virtual reality tool for kids. Like Google Cardboard, this headset turns your smartphone into a virtual reality device. You download the app on your phone and stick your phone into the View-Master. The reels are going to contain different experiences, like San Francisco or the solar system. Doug Wadleigh, Senior VP of Global Brands at Mattel, describes the goal of the toy:
“Virtual reality, photospheric imaging, and augmented reality are all technologies that aren’t necessarily new. But it’s our goal with the View-Master brand to make virtual reality accessible, easy to use, entertaining, educational, and family friendly.”
With all the buzz over virtual reality devices like Oculus Rift, it makes sense that Mattel would be interested in entering the arena. Sales at Mattel have slumped over the last couple of years, and CEO Bryan Stockton resigned last month.
In general, the toy industry has had a hard time adapting to the digital age and competing with newer technologies for kids’ attentions. One of the problems is price. It’s hard for a company to be an early adopter of cutting edge technology when parents expect toys to be relatively low-priced.
I am curious to see how this new product is received when it launches in October. When I first read about the new View-Master, honestly, the first thing I thought of was Nintendo’s Virtual Boy. When that product launched in 1995, my brother begged for one. My mom took one look at it and said “absolutely not.” As I remember from many futile attempts to change her mind, my mom didn’t like the idea of her child putting some new thing on his head that would probably end up causing seizures and/or brain damage. She was clearly not the only one, because I didn’t know a single kid who got one, and the Virtual Boy ended up being a huge commercial failure. Having said that, it’s been twenty years of technological advancements since Virtual Boy, and presumably Mattel has made a much better, less fear-inducing product. In fact, the View-Master is being pushed as an educational, kid-friendly, parental-approved product. Mattel is obviously hoping this new tech toy will be a hit, and I am curious to see how it ends up performing.
Well, with the upcoming movie, it’s no surprise that Star Wars toys are going to be everywhere. Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, none of The Force Awakens toys have been revealed yet, but there were still plenty of cool offerings. Some of the standouts include themed Hot Wheels cars,
a new collector’s edition Lego TIE fighter,
But the coolest Star Wars item has to be Hasbro’s Bladebuilders kits that let you build your own creative (and insane) lightsabers. There will be a basic “Master set,”
and then compatible add-ons. Think of all the crazy possibilities! Sorry, Darth Maul and that guy in the Episode 7 trailer, your lightsabers aren’t so cool anymore. Of course, it does seem like it would take a Jedi of great skill to be able to handle such an intense weapon, but that only gives more encouragement to practice/play with this toy as much as possible.
Other Cool Stuff
Look at this STEM-tastic gear set from Learning Resources. Tell me this doesn’t look like tons of fun. And look, there’s even a girl on the cover of the box.
Check out this Littlest Pet Shop Jet! What is happening here? Where are these pets going? Who is letting a littlest pet fly a plane? This is one swanky, tricked-out jet!
And finally, the Nerf Rebelle line is getting a bunch of new products, including the Secret Shot Blaster. It’s a dart gun that folds into a purse for covert travel/infiltration. Enough said.