Standout Companies at the American International Toy Fair


The American International Toy Fair was held at the Jacob K. Javitz Convention Center in NYC on February 14-17. The Fair is the largest industry show of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, drawing thousands of presenters from across the world. If you’re a business that makes toys or games, the Fair is a dream come true. It’s a place where presenters can put their brand on the world stage. Tech toys, classic toys, activity-based games… the Fair has it all!

Companies that put new twists on classic toys got a lot of attention at the Fair this year, making their way into the hearts of buyers with products sure to charm even the most fickle kids. Flybar, InRoad Toys, Walrus Toys and Mingo all have something unique to offer the industry, and the Toy Fair was their time to shine.

Flybar Sticks It with New Pogos

The pogo stick has enjoyed quite a bit of attention in its long history. Introduced in 1918, the fanciful invention delighted early 20th century crowds in the Ziegfeld Follies. Nobody had ever seen such a novel toy, and its popularity quickly spread. During the Baby Boom, pogo sticks made a comeback, and were at the top of many a 1950s kid’s Christmas list.

Today, it looks like we’re in for yet another pogo renaissance, and Flybar –– the originator of the pogo stick –– is leading the way. This new generation of pogo sticks offers cutting edge technology and a streamlined, contemporary look. These new sticks come as a surprise to many kids who only know about pogos from their parents (or grandparents) and from cartoons. They’ll discover again that pogo sticks are lots of fun and great exercise.

Flybar knows that kids today are growing up in an environment that celebrates “extreme” sports and eye-popping tricks that can turn regular youngsters into YouTube celebrities. They’ve responded to this cultural shift by offering the Extreme Series, a line of pogo sticks that allow for smoother, higher jumping (up to 4 feet or more), while at the same time encouraging smart-safe pogo stick usage. The company discourages irresponsible riding and promotes helmet use.

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InRoad Toys Puts Tape to the Tracks

InRoad Toys
For a parent of a child who likes toy cars, it can be a challenge to keep the many attachable plastic roads and racetracks in order. At the beginning, the intentions are good; parents may even set aside a special box or bag for the roads to go into as soon as the kids are done playing. Unfortunately, that plan rarely works out and in the chaotic hours of playtime, pieces become misplaced and are usually not found again until mom or dad steps on them while walking barefoot through the living room at night.

Dad and IT specialist Andy Musliner found himself in this very predicament with his own kids, and he decided that something must be done. There had to be an easier way to manage these racing surfaces. His brainstorming led him to create InRoad Toys’ PlayTape, an ingenious tape designed as roads for toy cars.

PlayTape is printed to resemble a road surface. It can be used on any flat surface and is easy to tear, apply, and remove. No scissors needed! Parents will love PlayTape because it doesn’t leave a sticky residue and because it’s a budget-friendly way for kids to add more and more tracks to their toy car landscape.

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Chimeras from Walrus Toys Are Something Else

Walrus Toys
Most kids love to be creative with toys, sometimes to their parents’ surprise. It’s not unusual for a parent to find that their child has “customized” his or her toy to fit whatever their latest flight of fancy might be, whether that means adding wings from a bird to a horse to create a unicorn, or turning regular dolls into monsters or other fantasy creatures using various spare parts from the toy box.

Walrus Toys understands how much kids love to make one toy into a completely different toy, and it has introduced Chimeras, a new line of plush toys with interchangeable parts that allow kids to make “hybrid” pets. The cute, cartoon-like characters come in pairs and their parts are meant to be mixed and matched. For example, a child who gets a Bat-Elephant pair can create their very own “Elebat” in just a few minutes.

The Portland-based company used children as product testers to ensure high-quality and playability. They must have done something right when designing their Chimeras because the reception has been excellent.

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Mingo Helps Kids Build Toys… and Confidence

Kids love building blocks because they’re versatile and allow for creativity; they love ride-on toys because they’re exciting and fun. Bring the two together and you have a winning combination! Mingo has done just that, offering wooden toy kits that let kids assemble a number of different ride-on toys as well as furniture items. The Austrian company is a big hit in Europe and hopes to catch on in the U.S. market after their promising reception at Toy Fair.

The kits include only six components but offer a wide range of possibilities. Parents can help young children assemble the toys at first, but the goal is for children to get the hang of doing it on their own so that they build confidence in their abilities over time. The products were designed with the help of child development experts for maximum educational potential and ease of use. Parents will love the fact that the toy is its own packaging; the pieces can all be stowed in the wooden main body.

As more parents focus on simple, educational toys made of natural materials, Mingo and companies like it are sure to capture the imagination and take hold on this side of the Atlantic:

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