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  • Writer's pictureKelly Miele

Toy Fair New York Recap & 2020 Trends

Overview & Highlights

Toy Fair New York is the largest toy trade show in the Western Hemisphere, bringing together manufacturers, distributors, importers, sales agents, and other industry guests from 100 countries to showcase over 150,000 toy and entertainment products. When I was asked to represent The Creative Fold last month, I agreed without hesitation. Being part of the toy industry for the last several years, I had become quite familiar with this trade show and could not wait to feast my eyes on all the exciting visuals and incredible products held inside of the Javits Center. Between Shaquille O’Neal’s ribbon cutting, the TY Fashion Show (these kiddos can DANCE!), the stilt-walkers, the Carpool Karaoke car, and more, it’s always sure to be nothing short of an amazing, unforgettable experience.

2020 Trends

During Day 1, I made sure to head over to The Toy Association's Toy Trends Briefing to get an exclusive first look at the top toy trends of 2020. This is where trend experts highlight the hottest new trends using examples from the show floor. Here is a short overview of each of the five categories:

1) IRL: These are products influenced by what kids are watching on YouTube, social media, Netflix, etc. This trend includes digital toys that cross into the physical world and encourage active/social play. Two of my favorite examples include:

2) H20 Play – Toys that transform before your very eyes using one simple ingredient – water! This trend includes unboxing/surprise toys that use water to reveal a hidden message, color, or character; arts & crafts that use water to create beautiful designs that wipe clean; aquatic-themed toys like mermaids, sharks, boats, etc.; educational toys that teach kids about underwater life; and, of course, bath and outdoor toys.

3) Kid Powered – These are products that put the power of play in kids' hands, helping them build creativity, leadership, discipline, confidence, and critical thinking skills. These open-ended toys are more inclusive and let children control and customize how they play.

4) Boom, Smash, Crash! – From toddlers to tweens, kids are gaining independence, developing gross motor skills, engaging in friendly competition, and finding more excuses to get up and moving – whether playing inside or out!

5) Generations of Play – 2020 will see a rise in family games, outdoor toys, engaging crafts, and nostalgic brands that have cross-generational appeal. Whether you're 6 or 60, play is beneficial, and when children play with adults, they display higher levels of language development and problem-solving skills.

My Top Picks One of my favorite products displayed this year was a STEM product by Oribel called VertiPlay STEM Marble Run. (Full photo shown below). Essentially, it’s a playground for your walls. How genius to take something from the floor to the walls for consumers who might not have much square footage in their homes and/or apartments. It is also used as a teaching aid in schools and STEM learning centers by offering a way for kids to explore concepts like gravity and propulsion.

Another favorite was the new line of products by Shifu. Their games are what they have coined “Phigital” which combines “Physical + Digital” play for an immersive, AR-based learning experience.

Day 2

The second day was primarily dedicated to spreading the good word about Creative Fold as well as catching up with some of our clients in the industry. I had the opportunity for a quick meet and greet with super talented packaging illustrator, Kenny Kiernan. (pictured on left with our new "My Singing Monsters" friends).

The folks over at ThinkFun provided a great run-through of their newest products, one of which is the follow-up to their top-selling deductive reasoning game, Cat Crimes. You guessed it, it’s called Dog Crimes.

And as if there wasn’t enough cool stuff to see on the exhibitor floors, the Javits’ upper floor hallway featured a gallery of some of Mitchel Wu’s toy photography. I was even able to meet him and received an autographed print from his collection, which now hangs proudly in my home office.

Albeit a brief trip, there was so much value in attending the show. I walked away with more insight into the future of toys and games. I also gained a stronger appreciation for the dedication and hard work that goes into making a quality product, which at one point in time, had been just an idea on a napkin.


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