By Samantha Schoenfeld and Matt Scott | February 19, 2016
NEW YORK–The International Toy Fair finished up in New York this week, but the results will soon hit kids’ playrooms all over.
The Toy Industry Association represents the $22 billion spent on children’s toys, and the industry celebration occurs every year at the Javits Convention Center.
The fair was “7 1/2 football fields filled with toys,” as toy trend specialist Adrianne Appell put it.
This year, the hits included drones, robots and toys that come to life, especially those with online components.
One representation of that is infrared laser tag, which is put out by SkyRocket Drones. “When you shoot your opponent, you actually change his flight, it will wobble, spin, it’ll forced to land — so this is a game changer,” Cory Ledesma explained.
But really, the fair isn’t about what’s hot now. It’s about what’s coming up. And unlike some other industries, toys are booming.
“The toy industry was up 7 percent last year,” said Appell. “That’s big news. So it really shows that families and kids are still playing with toys.”
And it’s not all Hasbro and LEGO.
“While there are huge companies here, there is also the inventor with his first idea looking to make it big,” Appell said.
Eric Palonen, who works at BigMouth Inc. based out of Glastonbury, has created inflatable pool toys, such as giant rubber ducks, which he explained works because “Connecticut is obviously the pool capital of the country.”
Then two moms took little dolls and created a new world.
Alli DiVincenzo, of FlairFriends, said, “We have developed a platform where we have these cute, cuddly, whimsical fun characters that you can style on your clothes, or wear on your backpack and each one has a unique identifier” that can be used online.
DiVincenzo partner, Christina Sfakanios, further explained how their upcoming prodcut works. “So if you and I have Flairs and we have the opportunity to play together, and we share Flairs, you can scan in my Flair and I can scan in yours and then it opens up a safe social network.”
They spent three years developing FlairFriends out of Westport, and this year they debuted at the fair’s Launch Pad for upstarts.
And if you’re more artistic, then Milford-based Ameico is the business for you. They create larger-than-life coloring books.
Then there are the superstars from the state, such as Wilton-based Melissa and Doug, who create popular wooden toys and educational products, and, of course, LEGO, which has its United States base in Enfield.
Read more: http://fox61.com/2016/02/19/toys-old-and-new-big-and-small-dominate-fair-in-nyc/