NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Games and toys are serious business at the 111th annual American International Toy Fair.
Toy trend specialist Jackie Retzer told WCBS 880’s Monica Miller that this year’s four-day event at the Javits Center, which kicked off Sunday and is open only to industry insiders, is the biggest yet.
“We expect over 30,000 people,” she said. “We have over 1,100 exhibitors, and 300 of those are first-timers. So we’re getting a really diverse crowd this year — over 100 countries are represented.”
Pop star Alicia Keys cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony to the fair, which features everything from talking disco robots to the classic Slinky.
“That’s a lot of toy fairs, a lot of toys and a lot of happy kids,” Keys said.
Remote-control toys are hot items. “So whether they fly or there’s mats inside of slot cars, people are coming up with new, creative ideas,” Retzer said.
LINK: More Info On Toy Fair
Adrienne Appell of the Toy Industry Association stopped by the CBS 2 studios Sunday morning to show off some of the hottest toys.
Among them was a Daniel Tiger plush doll that talks to kids and lights up.
“It’s great for younger ones who may be afraid of the dark, and he’ll sing a lullaby,” Appell told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu. “Really soft and cuddly.”
A couple of other toys had a similar concept — Elmo and a robot aimed at girls ages 6 and up both change characters as their hats are switched. Elmo, for example, can become a cowboy or king. The robot becomes a cowgirl or cheerleader.
Appell and Retzer agreed that zombies and monsters are big this year. Appell displayed a “Walking Dead” trivia game and Monster Poppers — squeeze their bellies and their ball-shaped heads shoot out.
“A trend we’re seeing this year at the Toy Fair is zombies and monsters,” Appell said.
Appell also showed off the prototype of a floating Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles blimp. The crime-fighting turtles, starring in a movie due out this year, will rappel from the blimp.
But Mattel executive Michelle Chidoni said classics such as Hot Wheels and Barbie still fly off the shelves.
“Barbie and Ken are still together living in the Dream House very happy,” she told Miller. “So all is good there.”
Some of the toys on display on Sunday, were even designed to help children learn.
“This product is a skill developing toy,” Crazy Cart inventor Ali Kermani told CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell.
The Crazy Cart is a go cart with a twist and it took home an award from the TOTY Awards which are known as the Academy Awards of toys.
“What makes it different is the drift bar. When you lift the drift bar up it frees the chasse so it can rotate freely around the front. The net result is that you can run forward, backward, sideways, drift, and reverse,” Kermani said, “You can move it unlike anything else.”
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