You are wasting your time reading this article. Yet, here you are on the second sentence, even after I told you you were wasting your time, so I guess I owe you an explanation. This is the space where I would normally write my observations from spending the day at Toy Fair 2011 in NYC – the biggest toy show in the Western Hemisphere. Then it hit me, you are busy parents, you don’t care about toy trends, all you care about is which toys will be the most fun!
It Turns Out Every Toy Ever Made Is Incredibly Fun
Want to hear something incredible? I spent the day talking to some very nice marketing people about thousands of toys. In fact, over 100,000 toys are on display at the Toy Fair and it turns out that every single one of them is incredibly fun and your kids will love them! At least that is what all the marketing reps said. What are the odds of that? 100,000 toys and they are all great.
The Junk Closet vs Toy Reps – Something Doesn’t Add Up
Ask any Mom or Dad and they will tell you about a closet filled with toys that their kids don’t play with. Yes, there are some toys they have outgrown in that closet, but there are also plenty of toys the kids got weeks ago that they no longer play with. The Junk Closet is no Loch Ness Monster – it is very real and very frustrating to parents.
Could it be that not every toy that a rep told me was fun, is actually fun? Wow, that is hard to believe – but I am a man of science and the facts do seem to indicate that plenty of the toys being shown at the Toy Fair will be flops with the kids. So, the answer is simply that Dad Does tells you which toys really are fun.
Here’s The Thing – Picking What Toys Will be Fun From a Demo is Hard!
Monopoly is one of my favorite games of all time. Settlers of Catan is another amazing game. You know how I know those games are fun – I have played them multiple times and enjoyed it. I told you I was a man of science.
Let’s assume that Monopoly was never invented. If I went to a booth at Toy Fair 2011 and a rep gave me a quick demo about a Monopoly, I would have no idea how fun it really is. The only way to know how great Monopoly is, is to play it, and here in lies the whole problem with trying to cover the Toy Fair.
When we covered the Consumer Electronic Show (CES), things were easier. When we saw a demo for the Bringrr, a device that reminds you if you forgot your phone, we could say, hey, that is useful. We still needed to do a full real world test before we could recommend the Bringrr, but at least we could look at things and say, “That looks helpful”. On the other hand, try looking at a board game for 3 minutes and then determine if it is fun and kids will play with it for more than a few days.
I Ask You Again, Do You Really Care About Trends in The Toy Industry?
I could talk about the trends of more social games. I could go on about how some toys are going green. If I really wanted to show off, I could babble on about how toys that teach social awareness are becoming more popular. But come on, you are not looking to invest in toy companies – you are busy Moms and Dads who just want to know what toys are fun and not a waste of money.
The Answer – Have Patience Great Warrior
I don’t think there are any shortcuts to finding the really fun toys – you simply need to play with them in a real world environment. Toy Fair, with no one under 18 admitted, is definitely not the real world! We will get our hands on the toys that “look” fun and do full reviews in the real world.
Tomorrow is Another Day, Maybe Everything Will be Different
In about 8 hours I will head back to Toy Fair 11 and continue my search for fun toys. Who knows, maybe everything will become clear to me tomorrow. In fact, I think I will now use a different approach to finding the fun toys. I will walk around with a bucket of water and drop the toys in… the toys that sink are winners and the floaters are witches!