Most people in the toy and game industry breathe a sigh of relief when the New York Toy Fair closes, as it marks the end of the relentless tradeshows and announcements of new toys, gadgets, and games for the year.
It's also the time of year when the TOTY Awards (People Choice Awards for the Toy Industry) are announced. It's fantastic to see a number of true STEAM products take winning positions. The LEGO® Friends Amusement Park Rollercoaster won construction toy of the year and Toy of the Year. Hatchimals by Spinmaster was awarded most innovative toy and CodeGamer by Thames and Kosmos won best Tech Toy of the year. We're really excited to see the 3Doodler Start win Rookie Toy of the Year, as it's a fantastic tool for maker kids both young and old.
There was an announcement of the 6 top toy trends for 2017 which includes:
- Technology trends: This includes more variety it tech, tech such as 3D printing becoming more mainstream, an increase in "augmented and virtual reality toys, drones, virtual pets, robotics, and more." and toymakers building tech into traditional play patterns rather than replacing them.
- From STEAM to STREAM: The STEM and STEAM trend is increasing and a new R, Robotics has been added to create STREAM. Hmm, no one told us Robotics wasn't already in there! We've tended to treat Robotics as part of Technology and Engineering particularly. It's good to see robotics getting more attention, see our article on why kids should learn about robotics.
Many companies make their main announcements for new toys and games at the New York Toy Fair, but this year we have picked up announcements at CES, London Toy Fair, BETT and Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg. In this post we list new announcements that caught our attention and which fall into our realm of tech and creative toys and games that help develop the right skills in our kids for a tech age future. (Our list is in no particular order.)
HEXBUG - RoboticsHEXBUG has been innovating in the area of robotics, expanding their range to make robotics toys and sets more accessible for consumers. At New York Toy Fair they announced 4 new sets. Nano Space is a space themed playset which include nano bugs in galactic rovers. There are new space themed VEX Robotics Construction Kits and BattleBots which is based on the hit TV show. Kids are able to interact with the robotic components of the BattleBots. They also announced the Nitro Circus where kids can create their own tricks with 5 stuntment and then record and edit their "shows" in an app.
Klutz - New Kits & Klutz JrKlutz have been around for a long time and recently announced a new set of books and maker kits for young kids - Klutz Jr. At Toy Fair they launched number of new kits, many which was interesting for us at Tech Age Kids. Circuit Clay is a kit for kids 6+ to learn about electric circuits with 15 projects and using conductive and insulating clay (available from February). The LEGO® Make Your Own Movie (100% official LEGO® Guide to Stop‑Motion Animation) for kids 8+ comes with 6 different backgrounds and LEGO pieces to create a stop motion animation using a phone, tablet or computer. The Klutz Jr My Little Night Light for ages 4+ lets kids make their own starry night scenes to glow at night.
Nothing like a surge of #positivity to get you through the week! #NEW #Klutz #CircuitClay #Robots #Science pic.twitter.com/N0wY1tFqiM— Klutz (@KlutzBooks) February 8, 2017
3Doodler Start - Robotics Activity Set3Doodler Start announced their new activity sets, including the Robotics Activity Set. We saw the kits at the London Toy Fair, with one of their UK distributors and really excited about the new products. The 3Doodler Start is a brilliant tool for maker kids - read our review about the 3D pen.
K'Nex / TinkerToy My Little PonyK'Nex introduced a new TinkerToy range inspired by My Little Pony. There are several building kits in the series which will be available from Autumn 2017. The kits are aimed at kids ages 3+ and will each include building instructions, buildable pieces and ponies.
WowWee - DigiloomWowWee announced all their new toys for this year, including Coji Emoji, Fingerlings, Chippies and a Minion MiP Turbo Dave (which we included in your London Toy Fair Roundup) At New York, the WowWee digiloom caught our eye. A companion app allows you to design your bracelet, headband or more and then guide your weave using the digiloom craft machine. More info on digiloom coming soon.
The Bot Squad are two interactive construction robots, Joe-Plow & GRiP, that can grip and push objects around.
Hasbro - Coding Toys: Belle & MAXHabro have announced two coding toys. Disney Belle is a physical doll which kids can code using an app. The code is simple block-based coding where kids need to connect dots to make the doll perform dance moves. There are also non-appp related play available for the Belle doll. MAX is a codable pup, which uses the FURREAL MAKERS app to code routines, change lights and send emotions to the robotic dog. We love that you can see all the electronics inside FURREAL MAKER PROTO MAX. Both toys will be able from Autumn 2017.
Spinmaster - Rube GoldbergWe saw most of Spinmaster's announcements at the London Toy Fair including the Meccanoid M.A.X robot and MeccaSpider. We're really looking forward to the Rube Goldberg Playsets. We love crazy contraptions and these kits look like a lot of fun. These sets will really appeal to kids sense of humour.
UBTECH - AstroBot KitThe UBTech AstroBot kit is the latest in a range of buildable, programmable robot kits that encourage kids to learn about robotics in a fun way. The AstroBot as you might have guessed is a space-themed kit, this kit has lots of variety with three different robots to build.
Attention #TFNY! Stop by booth #4801 and meet AstroBot, the most diverse Jimu Robot kit ever! #STEM #toys #rock! pic.twitter.com/jSNhR7lIM8— UBTECH Robotics (@UBTECHRobotics) February 19, 2017
Elenco Snap CircuitsElenco's Snap Circuits have been teaching kids about electronics for years. Each year they tend to add a new themed large set to the range, but this year they have added several new products: Snap Circuits 3D MEG (Magnetics, Electronics, Gears), Snap Circuits STEM, and Snapino.
These products look fantastic. We're particularly interested in Snapino which allows beginners to build 20 electronics projects using a Snap Circuits with an Arduino microcontroller. (Source: Facebook.)
GEOMAG - MAGICUBEGEOMAG announced a new construction toy for toddlers (18 months+) using the magnetism to build. Each cube can "stick" to any other cube on any of its sides. A number of kits will be available from a Starter Kit, to Fruit and a variety of Animal Kits. The kits come with building instructions, but also encourage free play for preschoolers.
Hello Barbie HologramMattel demonstrated an early version of a Hello Barbie Hologram product. This is a holographic Barbie in a projection box which can change outfit and appearance. Hello Barblie Hologram responds to voice commands and will act as a virtual companion using artificial intelligence techniques to hold a conversation.
OWI - Detective BugSeeOWI make brilliant kits powered with solar power. The new Detective BugSee is a cute little critter, which you build from 51 different part and is powered with a solar panel on its back. My kids have loved building solar powered robots and machines, so definitely like the look of this kit as a summer project - from our experience you need direct sun to get the best results from the solar panels.
OWI also announced another kit - the Caption Roam-E-O which is a Mars rover with 67 building pieces.
VTech - Smart Communication & Gaming DeviceKids want smart devices that look like their parents, and VTech is planning to solve this with the Smart Communication and Gaming Device. The handheld device comes with an Andriod operating system which will give access to popular apps on the Google Play store. Kids will be able to send text via a messaging app, take photos and videos. The device will be WiFi enabled and comes with parental control settings. VTech also updated their popular Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2 with new games, clock faces and an additional camera. The Kidizoom Action Cam 180 also got an upgrade with a 180 camera and ability to shooting slow and fast motion video.
Lots of other brands that we love were at New York Toy Fair with products we've written about previously and there were loads of other interesting products including electronic pets, Minecraft themed LEGO, construction toys, STEM themed sets and more.