You could say that toys have always played an important role in my life. Growing up I relished playing with my dolls, games and other favorites. As I grew, so did my desire to learn more about this fun industry and luckily for me, I was able to learn the ins and outs of the business in one of my first editorial jobs.
After more than 20 years covering this fascinating, competitive and sometimes tumultuous business, I have a unique perspective that I would like to share. I love spotting trends and sharing my view on new and upcoming toys and other products.
You could say I've seen it all from products that make people scratch their heads and exclaim, "what were they thinking?" or marvel, "what were they thinking!!" Raising my son has also given me insight into what bells and whistles, popular characters and unique product attributes today's kids are looking for. I still consider myself a student of the industry; never too old to learn something new, and always anxious to share my newfound knowledge.
My hope as I join my esteemed columnists at Global Toy News is not only to provide a look at what's new in toys, but punctuate that with unique insights and valuable information.
But I digress ….
As I set out to cover this year's Toy Fair for Global Toy News, I visited showrooms, attended press previews, strolled the aisles and previewed a few hush-hush products that embodied innovation, cool twists, cutting-edge technology and were just plain fun.
Would I consider these products "great?" Perhaps, but I decided to turn to the experts to see what they thought truly were the attributes of a "great toy."
Fred Dreyer, ceo of Fantasma, explained, "The secret of a great toy is something that makes the user smile and has a surprise to it that also makes their friends smile."
"A great toy must create an emotion. If it doesn't have an emotional connection with the user, it will probably never be played with," said Chad Weiner, marketing director of Bossa Nova Robotics.
"Simplicity and superior ergonomic design make a great toy," said Julien Mayot, founder of Blue Orange Games.
"Is it different, marketable, does it stand out, does it have play value and will it encourage interaction between kids? If the answer to these questions is yes, than it is a great toy," according to Scott Goldberg, spokesperson at WowWee.
"In this age of technology, a great toy is one that encourages child-directed play and lets kids be creative and use their imagination," said Lesli Rotenberg, senior vice president, children's media at PBS Kids Go!
"Does it sit on the shelf? or "Does it elicit giggles from kids?" Laughter is a good signal of a great toy," said Ian Chisholm, marketing and licensing director at Interactive Toy Concepts, Ltd.
"Open-ended play that engages kids time and time again and grows with them makes for a great toy," said David Silverglate, president of Rhino Toys, Inc.
Of course, there are many other attributes that make for a great toy. I'd love to hear what you think!