Feb. 18 - Toymakers at the annual Toy Fair in New York City continue to blend traditional physical toys with elements from the digital world as younger consumers gravitate more towards technology. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Making tunes with laser beams, turning an ordinary backyard into an adventure park, or having a talk with... a teddy bear. All that and more is happening at the annual American International Toy Fair at New York's Jacob Javits Center, where more than a thousand toy companies are showing their hottest and newest crop to some 14,000 buyers. Trae Bodge is senior editor of consumer affairs at the Real Deal by RetailMeNot. Among her standouts, toys that bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds. SOUNDBITE: TRAE BODGE, SENIOR EDITOR, CONSUMER AFFAIRS, THE REAL DEAL BY RETAILMENOT, (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "There is a theme that I'm really excited about right now. It's kind of a hybrid theme that takes toys and brings them into the future, so you can interact with your smart devices, your televisions. There is one in particular that I really love from Oregon Scientific called the Smartglobe. And it, actually, teaches kids with a Bluetooth enabled stylist the different locations around the globe, the dollars, the cents, the euros, the animals, all sorts of different facts. And it upgrades as the content upgrade, like, if there is a new president, for instance, you learn those things as well. So I love that. I love the connectivity and how it becomes current every time you download new content for it." Another favorite - the Fuze Wheel Writer with high-tech light effects. SOUNDBITE: TRAE BODGE, SENIOR EDITOR, CONSUMER AFFAIRS, THE REAL DEAL BY RETAILMENOT, (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "As you ride, it customizes the images that actually shine through the LED lights. It's amazing, flames, speedometer, smiley faces, your name, birthdays, anything you want." Lego, which is already gaining popularity with a new generation thanks to success in Hollywood, also getting in on the trend. SOUNDBITE: TRAE BODGE, SENIOR EDITOR, CONSUMER AFFAIRS, THE REAL DEAL BY RETAILMENOT (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "It's the Lego Ultra Agents, which actually combines a building toy for kids of eight or nine plus, plus an interactivity with an app that brings the build to life, so you can interact with the app, it becomes like a movie, it's really really amazing, so I'm excited for that, especially for holidays this year." Allison Humphries is a buyer for a Baltimore-based company aMuse Toys, and she's on the hunt for specific things for her clients. SOUNDBITE: ALLISON HUMPHRIES, SALES AND PROGRAMMING MANAGER, AMUSE TOYS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "They want things that are wooden, they want things that are interactive, they want things that have, you know, that high play value, that are sensory, tactile, that kind of fit into a wide age category that can really grow with the child that's another thing that they are looking for, they want to invest in something long-lasting." The toy industry is even turning to drones - as it tries to lift off after falling down during the holiday season.