COMMENTARY: Toy Shoppers Have More Tools at Their Disposal than Ever

ToyBooklogoToday’s toy shopping experience has become a combination—or choice—of in-person browsing, online price comparisons, and research in a way we’d previously never seen before the dawn of the smartphone. Gone are the days of browsing the aisles of a single store, limited to its inventory and prices. Competitors used to be a trip or a phone call away, and often, shoppers didn’t have the time or desire to drive around town in search of a slightly lower price.

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COMMENTARY: These Classic Games Are Full of Fun Trivia Facts

Scrabble, circa 1948

Covering the toy industry, you learn a lot of neat facts about toys and games. That especially rings true in a year like this one, in which some of the best-known brands are celebrating impressive milestone birthdays. Here are some games with names you’ll probably recognize, and some related trivia, which hopefully you won’t have known until now.

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COMMENTARY: The Future of Toys Is Boxed Up and Ready to Go

SparkleboxThere was a time when consuming toys required going to where the toys are. That meant the neighborhood toy store, or the big chain retailer attached to the shopping mall. Even with the advent of Internet shopping, buying a new toy still required logging onto an online account, browsing for the item, and clicking a mouse to purchase it.

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COMMENTARY: These Toys Are Full of All-American Goodness

The Lemonade Set, from BeginAgain Toys

Shopping consciously is a lot easier when there are toy companies out there dedicated to manufacturing products in the U.S. While made-in-the-U.S. toys may not have been one the biggest trends at Toy Fair this year, we still wanted to round up some of the fantastic products we saw, that you all should keep an eye out for this year!

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GUEST COMMENTARY: Feds to Ban Kids’ Soft Plastic Toys for No Good Reason

by Jeff Stier, senior fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research

jeffstierThe Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wants to hear from you.

The agency has extended its comments period until April 15 as it considers a rule that would regulate a range of chemicals within a group called phthalates. These chemicals, among other purposes, keep plastics from shattering when bent, and play a useful role in a range of consumer products.

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COMMENTARY: Action Figures Moving Forward by Looking to the Past

Breaking Bad ReAction Jesse as Cook action figure, from Funko

Breaking Bad ReAction Jesse as Cook action figure, from Funko

Here at The Toy Book, we constantly find ourselves staring at the unfolding future of toys. In the case of action figures, the future always seems to be on bigger, sleeker, and more—whether that pertains to more points of articulation, more swappable accessories, more high-tech bells and whistles, etc.

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COMMENTARY: This Year’s Dinosaur Toys Extend Beyond Jurassic World

Sand Glove Dinosaur, by HABA

There’s no denying that Jurassic World and its Indominus Rex roared into the North American International Toy Fair in a big way this year. There are figures and role play and plush (oh, my!) and so much more inspired by the upcoming film—and they’re all really exciting. But, as a big prehistoric fanatic myself, I was excited to see that dinosaurs themselves were quite trendy this year (Finally! The world is catching on!), even if they won’t be appearing in a major motion picture later this spring.
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GUEST COMMENTARY: Montreal Toy Maker Wooky Entertainment Roars onto the World Stage

by Simon Forsyth, Media Relations Advisor, Corporate Communications, Export Development Canada

WookyEntertainmentAs kids we needed toys. They spurred our imaginations, occupied our days, and generally brought joy to our then simple lives. But our love for them was fickle–we’d obsess over them one day, discard them the next, and soon beg for new ones.
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COMMENTARY: These Toy Fair Exhibitors Have Science Education Down to a Science

Kids First Level 1: Amusement Park Engineer, from Thames and Kosmos

Science kits are typically geared toward kids ages 8 and up. There have been plenty of logical reasons for this—for one thing, kids need to be able to read the manual to do the experiments; and for another, science experiments can be complex, requiring kids to have longer attention spans and higher critical thinking skills. However, at this year’s North American International Toy Fair in NYC, many companies have found ways to introduce science to a younger audience.
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COMMENTARY: These Outdoor Toys Put a New Spin on Keeping Kids Active

Backyard Sports Mega Morph Super Hoop, from Day 6

Fresh air, sunlight, and exercise are all wonderful things. Unfortunately, many kids just aren’t getting enough of them. At the recent North American International Toy Fair, I encountered numerous toy makers who are trying to address this problem by developing new outdoor toys that encourage kids to get off the couch for some outdoor physical activity. Many feature novel tweaks to familiar play patterns, and the sheer breadth of items on-hand was impressive. Most surprisingly, not all of them try to pry kids away from their mobile devices or video screens.
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