Updated: Toy Fair takes over NYC

Toy Fair took over the Javitz Center in New York City this week, and amidst the fun was some serious business as toy companies showcased what they hope will be the next big thing. Just take the Sing-a-ma-jigs line from Mattel. Introduced at last year’s Toy Fair, the harmonizing toy was a major holiday hit, and retailers who got their hands on them reaped the benefits.

Mattel may have another holiday hit on its hands with Fijit, an interactive robotic toy targeted to girl’s ages six and up that can understand and respond to more than 30 verbal commands. The toy also utilizes beat detection technology to respond with different dance moves based on the type of music and can sing and dance to four original songs. Fijit will be available this fall for $49.99.

While toy debuts do capture consumer attention, new spins on old favorites are sure to have shoppers rushing to the store. Hasbro, for example, has utilized its television network The Hub, a joint venture with Discovery Communications, to create a loyalty for such iconic characters as My Little Pony.  Hasbro reworked the look of the ponies to match the cartoon show and is introducing the new assortment this spring. The line will retail for $4.99 and will feature eight figures with an additional ten debuting in the fall. 

Mattel also revamped an old favorite, Hot Wheels, by introducing track sets that can be mounted on the wall using 3M brand Command Strips that are packaged with the product. The line will be available for $29.99 this fall. And for $59.99, boys will soon be able to experience what it is like to be in the driver’s seat with the fall launch of the Hot Wheels Video Racer vehicle. The vehicle comes with an encased video camera that enables users to capture footage of their car in action. The video racer can also be attached to such items as helmets, bikes and skateboards to enable further filming. To complete the experience, kids can edit their own movie using the camera’s USB port and utilize drag and drop options with preloaded music, scene transitions or special effects.

Ravensburger is another company that puts a new twist on things with the introduction of its 3-D puzzlepyramid designs. The introductory puzzlepyramid collection features five 240-piece designs for the suggested retail price of $25.99 each. And Jay at Play takes the soft toys category in a new direction with Happy Nappers a reversible pillow that turns from a “home” to a stuffed animal, priced at $19.99 each.

The latest tech trends were on display at Toy Fair this year. Crayola showcased a multi-activity iPad app that utilizes a custom digital stylus, or “iMarker,” that enables users to color and interact with special “live” animated coloring book pages that move and react as they color. The product, which also enables sharing via social media, will be available for $29.99 this spring. Even an old classic like Lite-Brite from Hasbro has a high-tech spin. For the first time this toy is utilizing LED lights.

This year’s highly-anticipated films have lead to some highly-anticipated toys. Many products displayed at Toy Fair are based on such upcoming films as Captain America: The First Avenger, Cars 2 and Green Lantern.

Hasbro presented a variety of action figures and role-playing products based on Captain America: The First Avenger, which is coming to theaters this July. Among them is the Captain America Disc Launching Shield. Available this spring at $19.99, the shield feature lights, electronic battle sounds and fires miniature foam discs.

Mattel’s Green Lantern product line includes the Movie Masters figure collection. The collection includes 12 figures representing six-inch scale models of the movie characters, complete with fully articulated figures. Each figure is sold separately and will be available this April for $14.99.

Both Hasbro and Mattel presented products based on the upcoming film Cars 2. Among its many varieties of Monopoly comes a Cars 2 version from Hasbro. Available this spring for $19.99, the Cars 2 Monopoly game features a race track instead of the traditional game board and is geared toward younger players. Among Mattel’s Cars 2 offerings is the Cars 2 Tokyo Spinout track set. Available in March for $29.99, the track features dual launchers for racing and comes with one die-cast Cars vehicle.

Several television series also saw their fair share of licensing at the show. "Dora the Explorer" continues to be popular, but the new star of Toy Fair was "Chuggington." The popular children’s series about anthropomorphic locomotives, or "chuggers,” was everywhere. Among the new Chuggington products is Mega Brands Chuggington Coaster. Available this fall for SRP $49.99, this buildable microsystem playset comes with two chuggers and utilizes new ball-bearing technology to enable them to race around the track.

Of course licensing partnerships are not just for the big and small screen. Mega Brands has partnered with the popular video game “Need for Speed” for a new line of construction toys including a garage set with 290 pieces for $29.99 and a 570-piece collector’s edition model Porsche for $49.99.

Toy Fair is an opportunity for companies to present new concepts. Among the companies launching new ventures this year is Playmobil. For the first time this year the company is bringing the concept of “good vs. evil” into one of its line through its Top Agents series. Included in this product line is the Secret Agent Headquarters playset, which features a trapdoor, jet ski hiding place and secret command center with LED board. The set comes with five figures, including a double agent with a changeable face, and is available this August for SRP $89.99.