New York Toy Fair 2009, Blue Orange ToysWow! Talk about a kid in a candy store–try spending the day at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, being captivated by all the new toys created for this year’s International Toy Fair. I am going to write a series of blogs on my impressions, new great finds in books, toys and games and some fun stories about the inventors and creators of the toys and games.

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be photographed with my friend, Pengoloo as well as Blue Orange president, Julien Mayot. As you know, I love games from Blue Orange, a toy company who values creative play as well as the environment, donating two trees for every one that is cut down to make their innovative, charming wooden characters and toy pieces.

This year’s newcomers for the younger set are “Chickyboom” and “Gobblet Gobblers.”  Plump purple chickens roost on hay bales, and wagon wheels, trying to be the last chicky standing in “Chickyboom,” a game of balance. “Gobblet Gobblers” is a younger kids’ verson of their popular Goblet, animating the gobblers with deliciously amusing faces in this strategic game of tic-tac-toe. Look for these games coming out this spring. Other favorites from past years that I have reviewed are Froggy Boogie, Pengaloo and Quack, Quack.

As I entered the Playmobil booth, I was drawn into their new lands of pretend, to be introduced throughout 2009. Providing all the props for a trip into adventureland–flowers, veils and cakes for a wedding theme, the sphinx, pyramid and camels for the Egyptian secrets of the pharaohs, a greenhouse, garden and wading pool for the new modern playhouse–all Playmobil, Egyptian pharaoh setthat is needed is to add a child. As much as I like their pirate, constuction and safety worker sets, I was impressed with new themes of an animal clinic and a trip through Egypt which was quite magnificent. In keeping with other toy manufacturers represented at the Toy Fair, Playmobil has some new offerings that are a bit smaller and more affordable than past items, like a slightly downsized pirate ship with all the potential adventure of a larger size. I learned that all the boats float and there is a power pack avaliable to pick up the pace! 

As I was handed my free Egyptian figure with his bow of arrows and sword, I was reminded of the man who first created these little figures back in the 70’s, Hans Beck, who recently died after many years of being the head of research and development for Playmobil. Think of all the hours of fun he gave to kids.

Playmobil Egyptians on camelsIf you have toddlers and preschoolers, take a look at the 2 in 1 Play and Do puzzles. The “Wild Animal Puzzle” has been added this year. How fun to complete the puzzle and then take out the three dimentional figures for pretend play.

Since research shows us that creative play builds language skills, take a look at the perfect tools to do just that!