I have been going to consumer electronics trade shows for over a decade (anyone remember Comdex?), but I had never attended the Toy Fair in New York city until this past week. I thought it was about time that I checked it out and now I want to share with you a few of the more interesting products that caught my eye while I was there.
Most of the images in this article can be clicked in order to see the full size versions.
Building and construction toys always grab my attention. I had never heard of Uberstix and UberArc building sets from Patch Products.
They offer kits to build a steampunk style monorail and Empire State Building. The architectural series kits use full-sale authentic blueprints. The builder even applies for a building permit online that shows the seismic and wind loads for the proposed UberArc building location.
I have to get my hands on a set of these FridgiGears from Can You Imagine.
It’s a set of 20 magnetic gears that you can arrange anyway you like on a metallic surface such as a refrigerator. There is one large gear that is powered by 2AA and rotates when you tap it, causing the other mated gears to turn too.
How about a Vertibot Climb@Tron window walking robot from BSW Toys? It’s a 2 AAA battery powered robot that climbs up and down windows mirrors and other smooth surfaces. Yeah, I don’t want one either… Moving right along…
There were a bazillion and one dolls, action figures and stuffed animals at the Toy Fair. My eyes glazed over on all of them except for the display from Hansa.
These large and extremely lifelike ‘toys’ come with a hefty price tag. Try searching Amazon for Hansa and you’ll see what I mean.
Back to more construction toys with Space Chips.
They were basically thin flexible plastic disks that could be combined to create the interesting shapes that you see here. Unfortunately, I can’t find a website or any mention of them online. I don’t think the booth had any literature either. That was one problem with the Toy Fair, there were lots of people displaying products that were just there looking for buyers.
When I saw this toy, I had to stop and find out what it was. It’s called the Brainstring puzzle from Recent Toys. It’s a polycarbonate cube with 12 multi-colored elastic bands that can be twisted and untangled. The main goal of the game is to switch the outside button colors, without creating a knot inside.
I’m a sucker for yo-yos even though I have never been good at them. Yomega had a cool display with some colorful offerings.
I was treated to a demo of their Power Brain XP with the patent pending smart switch. When turned on, the smart switch activates a clutch system that will automatically return the yo-yo to your hand. Turn it off and it becomes a regular yo-yo.
Kids love bugs and other little remote controlled thingies. Desk Pets include the GoBot that jumps/hops at a touch of a button, SkitterBot moves forward, backwards, turns left and turns right and stops, and TrekBot is a hubless wheeled robot that is controlled by a unique patent pending 5 button USB remote controller/charger. Trekbot moves forward, backwards, turns left, turns right and stops, as well as does headstands and flips.
Each one is controlled by a combination USB charger / controller.
Right about this time, I got a text message from gadgeteer team member Jackie Cheng. Jackie lives in NJ and we made plans to meet for the first time at the show. It’s always fun to finally meet someone face to face that you’ve been emailing for awhile. We ended up walking around for a couple hours, checking out the rest of the show.
The Be Amazing Toys booth had a lot of interesting science type toys. We’ve all seen the Diet Coke and Mentos videos on YouTube right? Now you can make your own 25′ Coke geyser with the Geyser Tube. It gives you an easy way to deposit a whole stack of mentos candies at once.
They even demonstrated it without spraying everyone with diet coke.
The Grow Snow powder was very cool too. Pun intended
For a demonstration, a thimble full of white power was poured into our cupped hands and then a little water was poured over it. Within a couple of seconds, the powder expanded into a soft snow like substance 100 times its original size. It wasn’t cold, but warm. But, as the water evaporated, the ‘snow’ because cool to the touch.
I had posted a small news blurb about Hexbug Nanos not too long ago, so I was interested in seeing what they were like in real life. They are actually pretty cool. More so than what I thought they would be.
They even have little habitat sets that you can build mazes for them to navigate.
This new version is battery operated and will keep you busy with over 10,000 different puzzles. The object of each puzzle is to rearrange the pattern of lights by shifting and twisting until they match the solution for that puzzle. I was able to play with a demo unit for a few minutes and I’d probably buy one.
The Talkatoo booth had clip-on charms and necklaces that I think would be eye catching for younger kids or teenage girls.
They have one button that you press to record your message and another button to play it back. Kind of pricey though at around $18 each.
Yay, more building toys! OLLO sets are sort of like LEGO, but focused on robotics. The also kind of remind me of my Dad’s Erector set that I played with as a kid.
Next up was the Bioloid booth, another robotics construction set reminiscent of iSobot.
These are hardcore robotics kits, with servos, controllers and sensors. I love little robot toys, but not the kind you have to program.
The Beamz Interactive Music System was most interesting product that I saw at the Toy Fair, and the funny thing is that I wouldn’t consider it a toy at all. It’s an electronic musical instrument that uses laser beams. You know if it uses lasers, that it has to be cool!
The instrument is shaped like the letter W, with laser beams that shine across each opening. By using your hands to break the beams, you play music. I wanted to start moon walking when he started playing along with Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean.
From lasers to LEDs, the Hi-Tec Art booth had some modern day Lite-Brite products. They offer large US and world maps that you can stick colored LEDs into. This booth caught Jackie’s attention more than mine. He had ideas to use this type of product to create signs for his computer store.
They also offer 8 x 11 and 4 x 5 kits that you can use to make your own designs with LEDs and glowing artwire.
I think that people that enjoy board games with a group of friends might be interested in the CUBE timer from DGT. At the end of a player’s turn, the CUBE is passed on to the next player by turning the color of the next player to the top. This stops the time of the last player and auto-starts the timing of the new player. It seems like a neat gadget for games of up to 6 players.
There were many products to see at the Toy Fair, but these are the few that caught my eye in the time that I spent there. After we had seen all the booths, Jackie took me to the Free Sony Wonder Technology Lab and the the RCS Experience store across the street. We also got a chance to try out Sony’s 3D TVs, which were really cool after I figured out that the 3D glasses had to be turned on in order to work I’m not sure how comfortable they would be for an extended period of time for someone like me that would have to wear them over an existing pair of glasses though.
My trip to NYC was short but fun. I always love visiting there. I got to see some cool toys, got to meet Jackie, walked around in China Town, had some great steamed dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai Restaurant, had some good comfort food at the Tick Tock Diner and rode the NYC subway for the first time. One thing I didn’t do this time was go to the Apple store on 5th Ave. Oh well, there’s always next time.