I've been attending the New York International Toy Fair, the Western Hemisphere's largest toy trade show, for the past nine years and always have a blast combing through 400,000 square feet of wall to wall toys. I get seriously pumped about what's new.
I focus on toys that are made to last and that I secretly (or not so secretly) want my kids to leave in the living room on display for all to see and play with. But I also love knowing what the trends are so that I can find them applied in rad and aesthetically pleasing ways.
To help me focus my search for awesomeness at NYTF I spoke with Kristin Morency Goldman, spokesperson for the Toy Industry Association. What is the TIA? Well, to quote them, "TIA's member companies account for roughly 85% of domestic toy sales". And, TIA member products also account for a staggering annual total economic impact in the U.S. of nearly $75 billion. Wow. So when they tell you what the trends are going to be, you listen.
Kristin highlighted four trends that will be at the top of most kids' lists this year.
The Maker Movement
"Customization and DIY in every category of toy lets kids put their unique stamp on everything that they play with all by themselves." Kids love to make stuff and this trend takes it to the next level and transforms STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) into STEAM (science, tech, engineering, art and math).
Toy to watch: Compose Yourself (out in April)
Open-Ended Traditional Play
"In today's fast-paced child's life of being shuttled to and from activities and lots of screen time, open-ended play gives kids a chance to just relax, be kids, explore with no boundaries and no rules." Think blocks, games that let you create your own deck of cards, and other activities that have endless possibility.
Toy to watch: LEGO Classics
With two blockbuster dinosaur movies coming out this year, "Jurassic World" and "The Good Dinosaur," you can pretty much guarantee a dinosaur toy trend. From licensed to classic wooden versions of prehistoric friends; they will be everywhere by the end of the year.
Toy to watch: Dinosaur digger (out this spring)
There's something magical and relaxing about the water and kids are naturally drawn to it. So, from bath and beach toys to underwater fantasy toys like mermaids and other educational underwater life toys, water is going to play a bigger role than ever this year.
Toy to watch: Yookidoo Submarine Spray Station (available soon)
My blog, Metro Mom Club, will be covering specific toys from each trend in detail as they come available so visit me there often!