The China Toy & Juvenile Products Association (TJPA) reports that as of June 18, China Toy Expo is already 95 percent sold out, with a larger number of toy suppliers and manufacturers of dolls, wooden toys, playground equipment, and more waiting to be allocated stands. The TJPA has enlarged the scale of this year’s fair from 10 exhibition halls to 12, in order to satisfy demand.
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!
The Ravensburger Group has acquired the Swedish toy company Brio AB, known for high-quality wooden train sets, from the Swedish investor Proventus. Within the Ravensburger group, Brio will continue to operate as an independent subsidiary based in Malmö under its existing management. The acquisition also includes the company Alga, the Swedish market leader in board games. [Read more...]
PBS Kids and Whole Foods Market are partnering to bring PBS Kids’ line of educational and earth-friendly toys exclusively to the supermarket’s customers this holiday season. Starting this week, gift givers can find the PBS Kids line, including classic wooden toys and soft plush animals, at Whole Foods Markets nationwide in the retailer’s Whole Body department.
Appropriate for young children ages 6 months to 3 years, the PBS Kids toy line features race cars made from recycled milk bottles; colorful, wooden vehicles assembled by hand from local wood in Vermont; shape sorters and stackers intended to inspire a love for fruits and vegetables; and phthalate- and PVC-free plush. Each item is made with safe, non-toxic materials and inks, and all packaging is made from recycled materials.
Urban Canvas, an eco-friendly craft toy company, has introduced Design Tins, a new collection of portable tin boxes packed with art activities. The first two kits in this collection, Doll-Tin Cafe and i.am.ro.bot., contain wooden and paper board pieces that children can decorate, assemble, and easily transport from place to place in a tin box.
The Doll-Tin Cafe contains two wooden dolls, decorative tape, paper board furniture pieces, and wooden tableware. With this kit, children can use their imagination to create a cafe scene and “dress up” wooden dolls with removable decorative tape.
The second kit, i.am.ro.bot., is a do-it-yourself block set. With this set, children can mix and match robot parts with blocks that are decorated with stickers that they can stick on and color. The kit comes complete with four wooden blocks, robot stickers, and colored pencils.
During Toy Fair last month, I saw quite a few marble runs on display, which is not at all surprising. This particular toy has been around since my own childhood and never seemed to go away for any prolonged span of time. Meanwhile, one of the vendors I spoke to said marble runs have actually increased in popularity over the past year, thanks to the growth of the construction toy category. He also said that many customers opt for larger sets—or else buy multiple small ones of the same brand—and that the ability to combine sets to build ever-larger runs makes for exceptional toy value in their eyes.
Personally, I think marble runs are a thing of beauty: You drop in your fateful spheroid and watch as it winds its way toward its ultimate destiny, guided only by physics and skilled engineering. For young builders, they are a terrific means of developing an understanding of cause and effect, not to mention patience–as any seasoned vet can tell you, it can take repeated tries and multiple setbacks before a marble run is put together perfectly. But it’s worth it: A well-built run can have a downright pacifying effect, as watching the marble traveling along can put the mind in a focused, relaxed state.
Despite what they may have in common collectively, marble runs come in a range of different shapes, materials, and styles. Here are a few of my favorite companies currently producing them, but by no means should it be considered a definitive list. The breadth and scope of these toys is certainly worthy of a longer discussion; I’m just here to get the proverbial ball–or marble–rolling:
Giving kids their very first ride of their own, Buildex Riding Toys offer innovation in children’s toys. With cool suspension and steering, these easy-to-build, no-tools-required wooden toys, Buildex Riding Toys, from Kids Preferred, introduces many new wooden construction toys in a new product category.
Developed in conjunction with toy designers at Chelona Wooden World, Buildex toys are ideal for your little explorers looking to take their first independent ride. This new generation of real-wood toys with water based stains was designed for kids (and kids at heart) with an appreciation for movement and design. The collection utilizes Grid-Lock and Safe-Lock, unique construction systems that allow strong and safe assembly without the need for glue and tools. [Read more...]
This spring, Kids Preferred will debut two new collections of toys from The World of Eric Carle. The Little Artist Collection features artistic toys and accessories that offer young artists the chance to paint the world as they see it, while the Little Musician Collection helps budding little musicians create notes, rhythms, and tunes all their own.
The World of Eric Carle line has The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Carle’s best-selling children’s book, as its centerpiece. Both the Little Artist and Little Musician Collections will debut at the American International Toy Fair in February.
The Little Artist Collection includes a wooden easel with a paper roll, paint cups, and magnets, including a chalkboard and a dry erase board; an art smock /apron with vinyl pockets; and a splat mat/floor cover with a colorful design that absorbs paints and spills. [Read more...]
Guillow’s model airplane kits are still beloved by those who enjoy the simple beauty of building, and then flying, a balsa wood toy plane. Guillow will showcase six new miniModels in the company’s 4500 series at the upcoming American International Toy Fair. While Guillow’s traditional toy gliders can be put together in minutes, these miniModels require roughly an hour of engineering.
The 4500 series includes the U.S. Hellcat or U.S. Warhawk, each with red propellers, and a German Fighter with distinctive black markings on its wingtips. Three non-military planes—the Rockstar Jet, V-Tail, and Stunt Flyer—round out the six miniModels.
Guillow’s miniModels need no cutting or sanding to construct. Easy-to-follow 3-D videos can be found at the Guillow website. Each of the six new miniModels is appropriate for kids ages 13 and up, and can be found online and on hobby and toy store shelves next year.
Motorworks, from The Manhattan Toy Co., will expand its line next year with new models, a car trailer, and accessories. The vehicles are designed with a common, convertible chassis, which allows kids to choose between durable, snap-on parts and to customize in different ways.
The collection is comprised of three different trim levels: Street Series, Speed Series, and Extreme Series. Motorworks will attend next year’s American International Toy Fair with its latest offerings, all of which are suitable for kids ages 3 and up. [Read more...]