At the Canadian Toy Association’s recent Hot Toys for the Holidays event, tech toys shared floor and table space with a host of traditional products like plush, board games, R/C race sets, crafts and dollhouses.
This year’s broad range of toys on display was reflective of what’s going on in today’s toy industry, said CTA Chair Steve Morris, of Jakks Pacific Canada. He made his remarks to an audience of local media who’d turned out for the CTA’s annual toy preview at Toronto’s Ontario Science Centre.
Morris acknowledged that kids are gravitating to screen devices like tablets and Smartphones in growing numbers and at younger ages. But, he added, at the same time there is a resurgence of interest in traditional categories and products — especially those sporting a tech twist. And while hot trends like STEAM, Collectability, and Girl Power are certainly driving forces in the marketplace, Morris said licenses based on popular movie and TV properties, such as Star Wars, Frozen, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Paw Patrol, continue to be the biggest influence on North American consumer toy purchases.
About 25 youngsters of varying ages were at the venue to demonstrate product for media, and although there were several licensed items among the more than 70 products on display, the kids gave equal attention to both generic and branded toys.
This year, it was also evident that more toy designers and manufacturers are following the U.S. Toy Industry Association’s lead and are working to introduce really interesting elements to products that keep boys and girls equally engaged and entertained. For example, VTech’s Go! Go! Smart Wheels Treasure Mountain Train Adventure activity set had toddlers of both genders laughing and learning. Mattel Canada’s Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash track set also had boys and girls competing together in the action.
Toys & Games talked to several of the young demonstrators, who were at the event, to find out about their favourites. Although, there were many they thought worthy of being on their wish lists, here’s a look at some of their top picks — without consideration of MSRP, of course!
Barbie Hello Dreamhouse: Going for around $500, this fully furnished, two-storey dollhouse has enough bells and whistles to keep kids, three to six years old, busy for hours. Stairs that turn into a slide and a Barbie-sized motorized elevator are just a couple of the glamorous features. Mattel Canada;
Playmobil Space Rocket with Launch Site: Boys and girls lined up to try out this contents-packed themed playset, which includes an impressive rocket ship, a repair robot, and a moveable maintenance platform — all featuring lights and sounds. From Playmobil Canada;
Klutz Nail Charms: With its signature style, Klutz delivers everything tween girls need to glam it up for the holidays or any time. The kit includes an instructional book that teaches kids to paint 30+ mix-and-match nail designs, a 2-in-1 detail brush, and over 400 gems and charms. From Scholastic Canada Ltd.
Spinderella: Featuring a unique 3D structure instead of a traditional board, the Spinderella game challenges each player, six and over, to get his group of ants across the forest floor before an opponent can send their spider swooping down from the canopy to scoop them up. From Lion Rampant Imports;
Paw Patrol Zoomer Marshall: Kids of all ages loved this interactive pup who comes to life with the wave of a hand or by pressing his head. Based on the beloved Paw Patrol TV series, Marshall says over 150 phrases and is able to do 80+ missions and tricks. Spin Master Ltd.;
Force Band & Battle Worn BB-8 Bundle: Like something right out of Star Wars, this latest incarnation of Sphero appealed to tweens of both genders. With the Force Band strapped to their wrists, users controlled the app-enabled droid with a simple wave of their hands. From Sphero;
Little Tikes Tire Twister: Even kids as young as three loved this new twist on R/C action play. An easy-steer remote-control powers a sturdy vehicle that can be made to spin, flip and race on its own or inside the tire. The car is two sided, so the fun never stops. From MGA Entertainment Canada;
For more information on the Hot Toys event or to enquire about the CTA’s Toys for the North campaign, a seasonal donation of toys to remote Canadian communities, contact the Canadian Toy Association.