Toy Fair 2020

I’ve lost count of the number of Toy Fairs I’ve attended. Some years, I’ve seen little that was new and much that was repetitive, while other years have been exciting in their innovation.

2020 was a mix of both.

There were yet more “surprise” toys and collectibles – many just so-so, others with a twist.

Ann Williams introduced a nice blend of surprise and arts & crafts with Craft-tastic Surprise Balls. Kids decorate wrapped surprises filled with bracelets, backpack charms and other accessories.

Thin Air cleverly packaged its new collectible Pea Pod Babies—baby, clothing and accessories –- in a big green peapod.

Hexbug’s Junkbots were a novel take on collectibles, featuring pieces of…well, garbage…that snap together to create one-of-a-kind mini bots that can truly be called “trashy.” They also light up or vibrate.

There were new STEM products too, although seemingly fewer than in past years, as more companies focus on selling them to the education market rather than directly to consumers. Thames and Kosmos offered an interesting kit for building a solar-powered robot and a very cool hydraulic Mega Cyborg Hand.

Smart watches, more often spotted at CES, made appearances for kids in multiple LaunchPad booths. I especially liked the variety of designs and features at PlayZoom.

On the softer side, Gund’s animated pup Puddles responded when you pet him and Cuddle Barn offered plush soufflé pancakes—not your typical plush fare.

Crazy Aaron’s great-looking new Land of Dough compound was made with natural ingredients and plant-based colors, while Yulu’s parent-pleasing Swirl & Style Tie Dye studio created mess-free tie-dye designs.

Hape’s sweet Monster Math Scale included weights that teach children simple addition and subtraction.

And I loved Open The Joy, a new brand that designs fun activity kits specifically for kids in the hospital.

There were anniversaries galore and special products to mark them. Spin Master celebrated Etch A Sketch’s 60th with a limited diamond-edition version and licensed partners including Monopoly and NASA.  Schleich recognized its 85th year with a limited-edition glittery gold lion figurine. Aurora World, meanwhile, acknowledged Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary with a Dr. Seuss Lorax plush.

Which of 2020’s Toy Fair introductions will become the toy of the year? More on that come holiday season.