London Toy Fair 2016 - London Olympia
The UK’s only dedicated toy, game and hobby trade show
Our Good Toy Guide scouts had a blast at London Toy Fair looking for new products to give to our testers to put throughs their paces. Here are a few that we think they will really enjoy testing.
We spotted two key trends at the toy fair, as Amanda explained to the BBC’s Rory Cellan Jones during the show – retro (often with a modern twist) and tech toys being done well. Until recently, many toys that incorporated an app in their play didn’t maximise the added play value that this combination offers. It was exciting to see several new products that give children engaging offline play opportunities but add an app to extend the play and provide children with more engaging, developmentally beneficial products. Here are some of our highlights that we’ll be giving to our testers to evaluate – keep a look out in the Good Toy Guide and Good App Guide for their verdicts.
We visited some current Good Toys and had a look at their new products too – Le Toy Van were showing off a lovely Budkins farm set and we also spotted Nutty Putty’s new Mr Men version of their craft set (due to be released this year).
Here are some more of our London Toy Fair 2016 highlights:
My Fairy Garden
My Fairy Garden is a range of fairy houses, flowerpots and decorations that are not only lovely small world sets, but they also come with seeds so children can grow real miniature gardens. This could be a great way to encourage an interest in plants and gardening!
There’s something mesmerising about marble mazes. What we like about the Q-BA-MAZE is that it uses lots of small, individual blocks to create a maze, giving children even more flexibility when creating their designs.
Roll-up Draw Mat
Travel toys can be indispensable to consumers and the Roll-Up Draw Mat looks like it could come in really handy! On one side is a dry-wipe blackboard that works with both crayons and chalk – children can draw on it again and again, play games such as noughts and crosses, or even use their drawings as a setting to play with toys. On the other side is a placemat, making it ideal for restaurants and picnics too.
We’re increasingly seeing toys that can connect to tablets and apps to add a whole new dimension to play – here are some we spotted at Toy Fair:
SAM Labs launched in 2014 with help from crowdfunding website Kickstarter. The sets come with buttons, buzzers, switches, fans and more to allow little inventors (as well as, let’s be honest, the older ones too!) create their very own working circuits from scratch.
At the end of last year we saw the Hot Wires snap together electronics set achieve an exceptional score in our Good Toy Guide so we know how popular something like this can be with kids. SAM labs goes one step further by introducing wireless technology as well as opportunities for coding that expand the boundaries of what children can do with the set.
Using a simple drag-and-drop app, children can connect the blocks wirelessly and add a number of different features. At Toy Fair we were shown how the sets could be used to create and play a tune through a buzzer, and even use a light sensor to set up a security cam that sends a photo of the culprit straight to the owner’s Twitter feed!
Our favourite thing about the i-Loom is that children can use the app to design their own bracelets, dragging and dropping ready-made patterns, adding text and changing colours – making it a lot easier for children to try out different designs. The designs can be shared with friends too so they can create matching bracelets.
i-Loom only works with iPads at the moment but should be available on Android by the end of the year.
Scalextric ARC ONE
Scalextric is one of the oldest and most popular slot car brands around, and now with the ARC ONE you can connect your smartphone or tablet for a more realistic racing experience.
Players can choose from different race modes including Drag Race, Grand Prix and Endurance, count laps, record top speeds and much more. Turning on the Fuel Load or Tyre Wear settings means that players have to make pit stops to fill up on fuel or get their tyres replaced mid-race – or they might get disqualified!
Baby & Toddler
Amongst Galt’s baby toys was their Playnest, that offers safe support all around for babies while they play and rest. The bright, colourful images and textures help to stimulate little ones too.
We also spotted their Teether Soft Books, which feature different images and textures on each page to engage babies and a teether to chew on.
Clementoni Baby’s World Cup Winner is both a football goal and an activity centre, with lots of interactive features to teach letters, numbers, shapes and colours. We think the toddler-sized goal could be great for getting them active and the variety of features means one toy can offer lots of possibilities for play.
They were also demonstrating the Baby T Rex, another adorable interactive and educational toy. The T Rex also reacts when babies shake the rattle, making it easy for them to control without complicated buttons.