Toy Fair is an annual toy industry trade show held mid-February in New York City. The event is open to industry only and is the largest toy trade show in the Western hemisphere. It's the place to be if you're an up and coming studio trying to get your big break and where the big studios show off their new toys for the coming year. This was my second year at the fair, and I saw a lot of exciting new booths and some familiar faces.
DIY culture and customization were very present in toy designs this year. Modern toys are all about how a child can really make the product their own. There was also a focus on space-saving items to please parents living in small spaces. Kids are notoriously bad at cleaning up after themselves, so many products try to make the clean-up process easy and fun.
A big trend across the whole fair was getting kids interested in programming. STEM has become a big theme in a lot of kids education as we enter further into the digital age, and the toy industry is jumping on board. Designers seemed split down the middle in terms of how we should be handling the large amount of technology kids are exposed to these days. Half of the educational toys focused on reducing screen time; getting kids off screens and learning in real life. Others took a more optimistic approach to screen addiction—kids are going to look at screens anyway, so we might as well teach them something while they do.
Magnets have always been cool to kids (and honestly adults). This year I saw some really creative uses of magnets in everything from stuffed toys to building blocks and robots. As a designer myself, it gave me hope—sometimes it can feel like everything innovative has already been done with classic ideas like magnets, but there is always a new application out there waiting to be thought of.