TF14Logo-cityDatesAfter Toy Fair 2013, the words “and there’s an app!” were ringing in my ears for weeks. This year, however, appcessories seemed more like a taboo than anything else, with most companies shying away from toys with app-enhanced features or reliability. Honestly, it was less than disappointing. I think keeping screen time and toy time separate is perfectly acceptable, and apparently, what kids and toy buyers prefer.

This year will truly mark a return to traditional play patterns. Rainbow Loom, a simple bracelet-making kit for kids, was huge in 2013, eventually snagging four Toy of the Year (TOTY) awards, including the overall Toy of the Year. That said, Toy Fair 2014 brought tons of cool innovations in the activities category, with companies fighting to be the next big thing once the Rainbow Loom craze comes to an end.

Kahootz Toys, the company that brought back Spirograph a few years ago, will expand its retro portfolio in 2014 with Fashion Plates. For those of you who don’t remember, Fashion Plates allows kids to customize their own fashion designs using a rubbing technique. Everything kids need to design is included in the fashion-forward fabric carrying case, making it a ready-to-go travel toy for summer trips. This is one moms are sure to love.

Fashion Angels has undergone a complete rebranding this year, with an entire portfolio of new products, including the It’s My Biz line, which not only gives girls everything they need to create fashion accessories and sweet treats, but also provides them with information and tools to launch their own successful businesses. The kits include business tips, business cards, sales receipts, and sales logs, as well as the components to create unique, original products for sale. Inspiring creativity in girls is key to this line, but what sets it apart are the entrepreneurial aspects, which empower young women to pave their own path to success, all while teaching the value of financial organization.

Fibre-Craft has a new line of paint accessory kits under the Aqua Swirl brand. Kids ages 8 and up can make hair bands, stickers, and jewelry featuring marbled paint effects. Kids can use multiple paint colors and the included wand to create all sorts of marble designs and then simply dip in the fabric or sticker into the paint tray to transfer the pattern they created right onto the accessory. Easy to master, the kit teaches kids Ebru, or the art of marbling, and will leave them with a professional-looking, fashion-forward creation of their very own.

And of course, I would be remiss if I listed some of the coolest new arts and crafts products without mentioning Crayola. While Doodle Magic is nothing new, Crayola will add an oversized play mat to the line this year, as well as adorable animal cubes. Kids can color right on the mat with the Doodle Magic markers and easily erase their creations using the included squeegee. The mat wipes unbelievably clean, with no trace of the color once it’s erased. The demonstrator even went as far as to color all over his crisp, white woven shirt and the color came out instantly and completely once erased with the squeegee—magic indeed!

Toy Fair revealed that this will be a year with a huge focus on traditional, creative play. While tech still has its place in the toy industry, it was great to see such a huge focus on craft and activity toys that bring out kids’ inner Picasso.

For more commentary from Marissa, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!