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Sunday, February 14 2016 18:48

Toy Fair: Top Toy Trends of 2016 Announced...

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If there's one place I should be right now, it's in New York for the 113th North American International Toy Fair. Instead, I'm covering virtually from Rock Father HQ in snowy Northern Illinois, and tonight comes news that the Toy Industry Association (TIA) has released their list of the Top Toy Trends for 2016. Working with toys (toymakers) year-round myself, I'm in complete agreement with this year's list - one compiled in the weeks leading up to Toy Fair, as global toy companies identify what families will be playing with in the year ahead, leading into the all-important holiday season - something I watch with great interest as I compile my annual Holiday Wish Guide. Check out what's hot this year...

“This year, the toy box will be filled with products from both ends of the spectrum. From high-tech toys to classic and outdoor-based products, there’s something for each child’s interests. The best toys hitting the market are ones that challenge kids and foster their development, all while maintaining an element of fun. While the focus is on kids, what’s noteworthy is that many elements of these toys and games encourage parents to join the activities.”Adrienne Appell, TIA trend expert
A summary of the five top trends follows: 
  • TECH: Drones, Robots and Toys-To-Life
    In the air and on the ground, drones allow kids to do amazing things, like control multifunction nanodrones and launch them from the palms of their hands. The hottest robots of the year will be customizable and teach kids important concepts, including coding, engineering, problem-solving and building. Younger children will also find them as, or with, their action figures, puzzles and bath toys. The Toys-To-Life mash up innovative and affordable technology with traditional toys to provide a truly 360-degree interactive play experience. As tech continues to innovate we are seeing the enhancement of classic play patterns, in many different toys and categories.

Includes: robots/robotic pets, RCs that interact with smartphones, apps that allow kids to play with physical toys in new and different ways, smart tablets for toddlers, augmented reality, wearables, flying nanodrones, etc.

  • FAMILY MATTERS
    Millennial parents have grown nostalgic for their own childhood board games, puzzles and other traditional toys, and want to share in those unplugged experiences with their children. We are also seeing a growing number of toys that incorporate technology while also promoting socialization, face-to-face interaction, and family bonding for all. Whether online or offline, these toys help bridge the gap between generations by helping families create lasting memories through play.

Includes: family and board games; craft activities; outdoor games; etc.

  • ULTIMATE CREATOR
    Elaborate culinary concoctions, Pinterest-worthy designs, and stop-motion movies are just a few of the many creative projects that the “Ultimate Creator” will be found working on. Toys and crafts under this trend teach children to skillfully cook, design, build, grow, and create physical and digital masterpieces that they can proudly share with family and friends. Many teach techniques and skills that can be applied throughout life – including videography, sewing, dip-dyeing, crocheting, watercolor painting, laser cutting, embroidery, and more.

Includes: stop-motion technology and videography sets; food and baking sets; jewelry making, building sets, etc.

  • BRAIN BOOSTERS/STEAM
    Educational toys are “STEAMing” ahead, and toys that teach or reinforce Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) continue to be top contenders in the toy market. Parents and educators appreciate these toys because they help prep kids for school by building important spatial, reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. “Brain-boosting” playthings that fall into this trend also encourage kids’ proficiency in subjects beyond STEAM, such as language and history, and support children as they grow and gain new abilities. From enhancing kids’ communication skills to improving their logic, the latest cohort of educational toys encourage kids to explore, experiment, design and discover … all while having fun!

Includes: classic toys with an educational twist; infant/pre-school learning toys; science and engineering kits that teach coding and advanced mathematical concepts; activity-based books and educational board games that teach language and culture; toys that encourage parental/educator involvement and teaching; etc.

  • COVETED COLLECTIBLES
    Collecting has long been a favorite pastime for children, but in 2016 you can expect to see these affordable and/or coveted toys everywhere. Collecting is an art form for kids who are on the hunt for the perfect item to complete their set. For other kids, collecting is all about socialization – they love to share and trade characters, pets, cards and other minis with their friends. Collectibles teach children patience and perseverance (due to “the hunt”), organization, and negotiation skills (when it comes time to trade).

Includes: novelty toys; high-quality miniature versions of existing lines; franchise collectibles; etc.

To learn more about the benefits of play, check  out http://www.thegeniusofplay.org/

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

Learn more here

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