Once a year, toy makers and toy buyers of the world get together in New York for a 4-day extravaganza called Toy Fair. It is a showcase of the latest and greatest playthings for kids of all ages and an opportunity for retail toy buyers to make their predictions for which toys they think kids will prefer.
What they buy determines what will be under the Christmas tree, Chanukah menorah and everybody’s favorite, the generic, non-religious, holiday evergreen.
This much-anticipated event is held in the cavernous Jacob Javitz Center in New York. By my estimate, over 100,000 people attended. I think most of them were on the subway car I took to get there.
I’ve attend Toy Fair every year since I was 20. That’s over 300 years in dog time. I go there to see the new toys, meet colleagues, and pick up projects for my branding agency, Einstein da Vinci & Goldenberg.
I used to go to Toy Fair to see some of the toys I helped launch…
…toys I marketed…
…and toys I created…
I also go there to research my once-a-year Best of Show – Toy Fair Awards.
One year at Toy Fair, I had to promote a lesser known toy from a small company with little or no budget. I was challenged to create traffic for a 13″ action figure named Little Dracula. Our budget was smaller than the toy.
Challenges like that are when the most creative ideas percolate. I knew dressing up one character as Dracula was going to look like, well, one guy dressed up like Dracula. But three men dressed up as Dracula, now that was a little scarier!
So I settled on hiring five guys to dress up as Dracula. In the toy business, you can never have too many Draculas!
Not many people know this, but the very first Toy Fair was held in a cave in Mesopotamia in 24,342 B.C. The first show was so poorly attended, only one toy maker and one buyer showed up. And it was the same person. A caveman named Og.
Og the toy maker said to Og the toy buyer,”I want to show you this year’s hottest toy.”
Og introduced fire. Og was not impressed.
STAN: Hey, Harriet. Goldberger must be losing his touch. He’s written about 10 paragraphs and only cracked two or three jokes.
HARRIET: Not counting you, of course.
STAN: I don’t get that.
HARRIET: Didn’t think you would. Stan, I think it would be a good idea if you didn’t talk during today’s blog.
STAN: Why is that?
HARRIET: Well, Stan, for one, you’re not real. You’re just a character Jack made up.
STAN: And your point?
HARRIET: We have a lot of new readers checking out the Best in Show Toy Fair 2015 Awards. It’s a little confusing for new readers if you keep interrupting Jack.
HARRIET NOTICES JACK IS ABOUT TO GET BACK ON THE BLOG.
HARRIET: Shhhh, quiet, Stan. I think Jack’s back.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, I was announcing the winners.
It is with great pleasure that I announce Einstein da Vinci & Goldenberg’s Best in Show – Toy Fair 2015 Awards.
In the the two days I attended Toy Fair, 10 toys were so unique, creative or so cool they won a Best of Show – Toy Fair 2015 Award. Without divulging too much, here’s a rundown of the Winners.
1. Slime Baff: This toy turns bathtub water into slime!
2. IO Hawk: Another toy is a real personal transporter that can whisk you from here to there.
3. Pet Dino: It’s alive! A dinosaur toy filled with live one-celled bacteria that glows in the dark.
4. Loot Crate: A mystery toy. You never know what you’re getting, but you’re getting a lot!
5. Goldie Blox: A building toy for boy? No, girls!
6. Übertüb: A classic toy. Reinvented.
7. Chocolate Picture Maker: A delicious toy you can eat.
8. Insta-Snow and Sick! Science Kits: Two scientific toys that are amazing!
9. Crush It! and E-Z Grip Ball: A re-invented baseball bat and a ball that bounces on sand!
10. Air Pogo Xtreme and Zipline Fun Xtreme: High flying fun! A pogo stick on a rope and a make-over of the zipline.
SPECIAL NOTE TO ONE OF MY READERS: Darryl, this blog is very long. Don’t try to read it all tonight. Just paly your cards!
And now, the Best of Show Toy Fair 2015 Awards!
The Most Fun You Can Have in a Bathtub
Best of Show Winner: Slime Baff
Kids love the uglies! The more disgusting, the better. Kids love gross-out products for one simple reason. They know their parents will hate them. And when you’re a kid, that’s reason enough!
Slime Baff is a true-gross out product–it turns bath water into SLIME. But the makers of this thoroughly unique toy, Gelicity, a skin technology company, have added clean-up and safety features that parents will approve of.
Here’s what kids will love about Slime Baff. It comes in three yucky colors: Gunky Green, Oozy Red and Goo Blue. You pour the packet into a tub filled with water. At first it starts off gooey, but the more you churn the water, the slimier the water gets. And the slimier it gets, they more kids will enjoy it.
Here’s what parents will appreciate. In the past, parents had trouble getting kids into the tub. Now, it’ll be a struggle to get them out!
And when the fun is done (and the kids are clean), you just turn the water back on to dilute the slime. Slime Baff has passed all the required safety and toxicity tests and it doesn’t leave a residue, smell like the town of Elizabeth, NJ (although it is much better now!) or make a ring around the tub.
Slime Baff is environmentally friendly — which is more than you can say about some kids! Slime Baff sold six million packages overseas and it’s just being sold now into America. Bath time (or Baff Time) will never be the same! Congratulations, Slime Bath on winning a Toy Fair 2015 Best of Show Award. Here’s a commercial that shows Slime Baff in action:
And summer is a great time to play with Slime Baff outside in a kiddy pool. Just dump it in the pool and watch the slime begin!
For creating a way for kids to have good, clean fun, Einstein da Vinci & Goldenberg awards Slime Baff our Best of Show Toy Fair 2015 Award.
Best Personal Mobility Device
Best of Show Winner: IO Hawk
Until Captain Kirk’s Star Trek transporter is fully developed, you’ll have to make do with a more down-to-earth version, the IO Hawk. This intelligent, high-tech personal mobility machine has been described as the love child of Segway and a high-tech skateboard.
To move on the IO Hawk, you lean forward or backward. Mashable aptly described the ride as “strangely wonderful.” The fat tires give you a smooth ride and one battery charge will give you 10-12 hours of riding time.
You know the IO Hawk has to be a show stopper when comedian Seth Myers made sure he visited the IO Hawk booth so he could take it for a spin.
The IO Hawk can transport one person who weighs up to 280 pounds or four 70 lb kids standing on each others’ shoulders. (Kids, don’t try this at home!)
Just be advised you not only need to be upwardly mobile to ride the IO Hawk, you need to be upwardly mobile to afford it. The current retail price is $1799. Company officials informed me they are working to bring down that price.
Best Dinosaur Toy Not Licensed by Jurassic World:
Best of Show Winner: DinoPet
Everybody and their Smothers’ brother in the toy business are making toys based on Universal Pictures Jurassic Park sequel, Jurassic World. While the movie won’t be released until this summer, international toy manufacturers aren’t waiting to jump on the dinosaur bandwagon.
Here’s the official movie trailer from this summer’s sure-to-be blockbuster movie, Jurassic World.
Hasbro has a wonderful line of collectible Jurassic World creatures, including a fierce new dinosaur named Indominus Rex. Lego plans a line of Jurassic World toys lead by their lead dinosaur, Diabolus Rex.
And countless other manufacturers will license the Jurassic World movie logo for everything from backpacks to video games.
Dinosaurs are always a perennial favorite at Toy Fair, so there were also a slew of non-licensed dinosaur toys in plush, rubber and metal. And inflatable and puppet dinosaurs, too.
But only one dinosaur is so completely unusual, so fantastic, so revolutionary, he’s won one our Best of Show Toy Fair Award!
I’m putting my dinero on a dinosaur named the Dino Pet. I guarantee you’ve never seen anything like it!
The Dino Pet is a new kind of pet that photosynthesizes during the day and glows brilliantly when you play with it at night. The alluring blue light emitted by the Dino Pet is made from a living creature called dinoflagellates — a type of single-celled plankton — found in oceans around the world and in the toy’s dinosaur-shaped micro-aquarium.
By using sunlight, water and nutrients, instead of batteries and electricity, the Dino Pet allows you to hold one of nature’s most magical occurrences in the palm of your hand. Every year, thousands of people travel the world to experience the magic of bioluminescence in nature. The Dino Pet lets you bring this beautiful phenomenon into the comfort of your own home, and enjoy it night after night.
In a way, the Dino Pet is a lot more than a toy. It’s a contemporary living art piece, a biological magic trick, a conversation starter and a science lesson that instills wonder in people of all ages. It’s available online from Bio Pop and sells for around $60.
For being more interesting and unique than the thousands of licensed Jurassic World toys, Einstein da Vinci & Goldenberg awards Dino Pet a Best of Show Toy Fair 2015 Award.
Best Toy Box and Best Box of Toys:
Best of Show Winner: Loot Crate
Loot Cate is more than a toy. It’s a bunch of toys and accessories and the premier subscription service for geeks and gamers.
Remember the old Grab Bags? You bought nondescript bags without knowing what was inside them. (Like arranged marriages.) And you could have a wonderful surprise or a disappointment, depending on the toy you got.
Well, instead of a bag, these surprises come in a box. A big box called the Loot Crate. It’s filled with 8-10 (or more) toys and video game accessories. You buy a subscription to Loot Crate for as low as $11.95 a month (for a year) or a one-month subscription for $13.95 (plus $6/month shipping and handling). And the retail value of each month’s toys is guaranteed to be $40. Or more!
Loot Crate was founded in 2012 by an entrepreneurial team of geeks and gamers who thought online retail was missing the sense of community, interactivity, and mystery geeks and gamers fell in love with at shows like PAX and Comic-Con. Each month, Loot Crate ships a themed mystery box of the best geek, gaming, and pop culture gear to a subscriber base of over 100,000 Looters. They include gear from some of the most respected entertainment and consumer product companies in the world.
How can Loot Crate offer so many toys for such a low subscription price? They steal them. No, no, of course, they don’t. They make incredible deals with manufacturers who want their products to get into the hands of geeks and gamers so they can act as brand ambassadors, spreading the word about how cool or hot something is.
Best Building Toys for Girls:
Best of Show Winner: Goldie Blox
Goldie Blox set out to prove building toys were not just for boys. So they created and successfully expanded a line of fun construction toys for girls.The toys were not only fun, they had a higher purpose: to teach girls about engineering, inventiveness, solving problems and to inspire girls that they can do anything they set their minds to. (Similar to how Sisterhood of the Pantsuit empowers girls and women on its Facebook page.)
You have to admire the creators of Goldie Blox. In a world where instant gratification has become the norm, these toys are designed to encourage girls to want to build the future. Father knows best? Not!
When Founder and CEO of Goldie Blox, Debbie Sterling, was in engineering school at Stamford, it wasn’t hard to notice how girls were underrepresented among her classmates. She figured the best way to change that was to create a line of building toys aimed at girls 4-9.
When she contacted toy stores, she was warned off trying to change the status quo. Toy stores buyers are not a very adventuresome bunch. They’d rather buy toys that knock off last year’s big hit, than chance it and try to sell something that was truly unique.
But after Goldie Blox ran a highly successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $150,000 in the first four days, it became evident the company was onto something. Sure, girls “wanna have fun.” But they also want to build something today and make something of themselves tomorrow.
For creating a gender bending line of fun construction toys for girls and inspiring them that the only limits one has are the limits you place on yourself, Einstein da Vinci & Goldenberg is honored to present Goldie Blox with a Best of Show Toy Fair 2015 Award.
Best Classic Toy Reinvented:
Best of Show Winner: Übertüb
I’ve always been a fan of classic toys. Like the ultra-classic red wagon, the Radio Flyer. The flying Frisbee. And the gyrating Hula Hoop.
Classic toys keep their cool without electronics or batteries. They don’t run down until your energy runs out.
Inventors of Übertüb, Steve Miller and Scott McCrindle, were just trying to solve a family problem when they reinvented a timely classic, the humble inner tube. A toy that was never branded was suddenly brand new fun!
The Übertüb can be pumped up by a gas station air pump, a portable compressor, or a foot/hand pump. And if you don’t have any of those handy, it comes with its own manual pump. (Brilliant Readers Note: There was a kid in my high school named Manual Pump. He sat right next to Jose Canusee and near Patti O’Furniture).
Remember how the air used to leak out of inner tubes when you screwed on the cap? Or deflate in rubber inflatable toys?
Not with Übertüb! A check valve keeps the air in place until the cap locks in place. And when the fun is done, it’s simple to deflate the tube and slip it into the dry mesh bag that is included.
Übertüb comes in five bright colors, red, white, yellow, pink and blue. And if you prefer basic black like the inner tubes of days gone by, that’s available, too.
Übertüb offers all the fun of yesteryear’s childhood, with none of the drawbacks that made floating on your back soaking up some summer sun a little less than perfect.
Best Toy You Can Eat:
Best of Show Winner: Chocolate Picture Maker
Kids love toys and kids love chocolate. Wouldn’t it be great if some toy maker could combine the two? Well, that’s exactly what a company called i-Spy has done. Kids can create their own personalized chocolate bar, decorate it any way they’d like, then eat the fun they just created. How cool!
Chocolate Picture Maker comes in three delicious flavors of pure Belgian chocolate. Eighty grams of milk, white or dark chocolate. And kids don’t even need an oven to “bake” it. Just warm tap water.
With Chocolate Picture Maker, a huge part of the fun is designing the chocolate bar. A child can design his toy freehand by spelling name or a message like “Love You,” or use one of the included stencils to add a spaceship, ghost, butterfly and many more, even licensed character like Mickey Mouse.
The delicious chocolate bar you can create with Chocolate Picture Maker contains no nasties. No artificial flavors, color or preservatives and it’s gluten free.
For creating the Best Toy a Kid Can Eat, Einstein da Vinci and Goldenberg is excited to award Chocolate Picture Maker our Best of Show Toy Fair 2015 Award.
Most Fun with Science Toy:
Best of Show Winners: Insta-Snow and Sick! Science Kits
Back when I used to work for Hasbro Toys’ ad agency on GI Joe (“Knowing is half the battle”), Transformers (“More than meets the eye”) and Weebles (“Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.”), we would often hold focus groups for kids and parents (separately) to ask them what they liked and didn’t like about a toy.
My favorite response was when we asked a mom why she didn’t like Weebles. She replied, “Because they ain’t educational.”
Sesame Street (TV show and toys) has done a miraculous job for generations educating kids and, at the same time, making learning fun. While they continue to mash up fun and education, the new leader in that field in the toy arena is Be Amazing Toys. Their toys are so incredibly fun, interesting and educational, I felt I had no choice but to award them 2 Best of Show Toy Fair 2015 Awards. making them one of 3 companies to win two Best of Show awards.
Be Amazing Toys was started in 2002 by Steve Spangler, described in Time Magazine as, “The science teacher you always wanted to have in school.” The science toys he developed both teach and inspire. While an imaginative team of creative toy designers and inventors now have added their genius to the toy line, Spangler continues to develop toys for the company.
I saw their demonstrations at Toy Fair and was mesmerized. That’s why we’re awarding Be Amazing Toys two Best of Show Toy Fair 2015 Awards for The Most Fun You Can Have With Science, for Insta-Snow and Sick! Science Kits.
The genius behind Be Amazing Toys is that they’re fun experiments that actually work and they stimulate a child’s curiosity. After performing a seemingly miraculous experiment, kids ask themselves, “Wow! How did that happen?”
Kids can use technology (taking a picture of a QR code with a smart phone) to access a video link that explains the science behind the experiment.
Now I know Winter 2014-15 has brought inordinate amounts of show to the lower 48 (Hey, I can see Sara Palin from here), but once those mountains of snow melt and spring blossoms into summer’s heat, kids are going to be Jonesin’ for more snow. And they’ll get the closest thing to the real thing with Insta-Snow.
Climate change aside, no one makes more snow than Insta-Snow. It’s a dry white powder that creates an amazing reaction when combined with simple tap water. Insta-Snow is a compact, super absorbent polymer (I used to have shirt that was 100% polymer) that quickly drinks up a lot of water, then erupts instantly into an avalanche of fake, but realistic-looking snow 100 times its original size.
It’s very fast and very visual. Here, watch for yourself!
Millions of people who watched YouTube videos of volcanic reactions when Mentos were added to bottles of soda pop will look back on those videos as prehistoric compared the the videos created by Be Amazing Toys for their fascinating family of toys called Sick! Science Kits. Over 100 million people have tuned in to view company founder Steve Spangler on his various YouTube channels. They no doubt agree with the company’s assessment, “Sick! Science toys are insanely cool!”
Sick! Science takes science to a new fun, dynamic and educational level. Each kit has a QR code kids can click on to access a short video of their upcoming science experiment. Part of the magic and interactive nature of these kits is that the initial video doesn’t explain the science behind the experiments, it leaves kids to wonder, “How does that work?”
After conducting the experiment and experiencing it firsthand, kids can watch a second longer online video where “Science Professor” Spangler explains the science behind the experiment kids just performed. Be Amazing Toys’ Sick! Science Kits are sure to ignite the wonder, curiosity and brain cells of future scientists.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what seven year-old Presley says about one of her experiments with Sick! Science Kits. You’ve gotta take Presley at her word. After all, the kid’s already got her own YouTube channel. On one of Presley’s introductory videos, she charmingly answers a question posed by one of her viewers, “Yes, I am a girl,” she replies.
Best Sports Toy Reinvented:
Best of Show Winners: E-Z Grip Ball and Crush It! Bat
Tucker Toys mantra is they want to “transform play.” When you see what they’ve done with a bouncing ball and baseball bat, it’s evident they’re not just ahead of the game, they’ve created entirely new games. That’s why they’re one of three companies to win 2 Best of Show Toy Fair 2015 Awards.
E-Z Grip Ball
The E-Z Grip ball bounces high. But so do a lot of balls. And that’s where the comparison to other balls ends.
It’s got a patented super grip, so kids can catch it with one hand. It has a soft, but tough outer web and a durable, inflatable inner ball. On any playing surface, it provides high bounce performance, a great grip and a fun, unique look.
But what makes makes the E-Z Grip ball so ultra cool is that it also bounces on water, grass and sand! So it’s an incredible ball to take to the pool, beach, or really anywhere.
The E-Z Grip ball will put some real bounce in kids’ play. No matter where they’re playing!
When something is cool, people sometimes say, “It’s a home run.” The Crush-It! baseball bat is a home-run! Literally. Tucker Toys has redesigned the baseball bat and it definitely transforms the way kids play.
Crush-It! is the adjustable bat for high-powered hits and the only bat that offers the lightweight power of a tennis racquet. It has high tension strings that provide a spring-action bat that can smack a ball far, and even farther with its adjustable Power Knob!
The Power Knob allows you to adjust the string tension for playing on a large baseball field or a small backyard. It even provides its own sound effects making a “whoosh” sound when swung. It comes with a high-performance Foam Ball.
It is with much excitement that I am awarding Tucker Toys with two Best of Show Toy Fair 2015 Awards for The Best Sports Toys Reinvented, for their products, the E-Z Grip ball and the Crush-It! baseball bat.
Best Backyard Family Fun Toy:
Best of Show Winners: Air Pogo Xtreme and Zipline Fun Xtreme
Adventure Parks, a newly organized company that markets a collection of classic outdoor adventure toys, won two Best of Show Toy Fair 2015 Awards because they redesigned two classic outdoor toys, a pogo stick and a zipline. Now, moms and dads can join their kids in backyard family fun. Adventure Parks was one of three companies who won two Einstein da Vinci and Goldenberg Best of Show Toy Fair 2015 Awards.
Air Pogo Xtreme is like a pogo stick on a rope. It lets kids take a big bounce on air instead of on a concrete driveway or pavement. You just suspend the rope from a tree limb, deck, wooden swing set or any other sturdy overhead support that’s at least 8 1/2 feet high. Kids love bouncing up and down and with Air Pogo they can swing, twist, twirl, dive, float and fly to their heart’s content without hitting the jarring ground.
It has been redesigned it so Moms and Dads can now bounce around on Air Pogo, after their kids’ turn is done. While the previous limit was up to 90 pounds, Air Pogo Xtreme can now handle up to 250 pounds.
The original zipline was introduced for family backyard fun about 40 years ago. Like Air Pogo, the parent company has improved Zipline Fun Xtreme, so kids and parents can enjoy flying through the air together, one at a time, of course.
Weight limits have increased from 80 pounds to 200 pounds on the entry level Zipline and it has a 90 foot cable. The top of the Zipline can accommodate a 400 pound weight limit so parents and kids can still enjoy their Big Mac and Quarter Pounder with cheese (in moderation, of course!) without negating their ability to zip along in their backyard.
We are very honored to award Adventure Parks two Einstein da Vinci & Goldenberg Best of Show Toy Fair 2015 Awards for Air Pogo Xtreme and Zipline Fun Xtreme.
The Worst Toy at Toy Fair
It is with some sadness that I have to report that the worst selling toy at Toy Fair was the 4,500 pound Jacob Javitz statue. Is it an action figure? Apparently not. A backyard toy for the kiddie pool? No way.
No one can quite figure out who the target audience is. So for the 10th year in a row, no toy buyers have ordered this monument to the man who created a great hall and exposition center and the $8.00 hot dog, hold the mustard.
Thanks, Readers, for joining us for our annual Best of Show Toy Fair Awards. We hope you’ll check out the many unique toys we’ve honored. They’ve earned a place in toy history and we appreciate that you were a part of it.
STAN: Well, did I keep quiet enough?
HARRIET: Yes, I was very impressed. So, I suppose you’ve given up your plan to be the STAR of this blog.
STAN: Yes, but I’m replacing that idea with an even more diabolical plan.
HARRIET: What’s that?
STAN: I’m going to publish my own blog.
STAN: Here! I’ll post it right here under Goldenwasser’s nose.
HARRIET: But how can you write a blog? You’re not real.
STAN: I’ll hire real people to do it for me.
HARRIET: So, you’re a man with a plan, huh, Stan?
STAN: That’s right And I plan to make my blog more interesting than this one. ‘Course that won’t be hard.
HARRIET SCOFFS AT STAN’S ABILITY TO PULL IT OFF.
STAN: Plus, my blog won’t have some idiot interrupting the blog’s writer to make his own asinine, stupid comments!
HARRIET: But you’re the idiot!
STAN: A detail, Harriet. A small detail.
STAN: So, Readers, look for my new blog, right here. But whatever you do, don’t tell Goldenberg.
HARRIET: Hey, you got his name right for once.
STAN: Lucky guess.
HARRIET: That’s quite enough. Now, “Say goodnight,” Stan.
STAN: Goodnight, Stan.
HARRIET: Goodnight, Brilliant Readers. Thanks for joining us today for our annual Best of Show – Toy Fair Awards. I’d invite you back to see the next 10 Minutes of Brilliance blog, but I’m just not sure what Stan has up his sleeves.
STAN: Both arms.
HARRIET: Here we go again.