I got an email last month from my editor asking if I wanted to go to Toy Fair. I had no idea what it was but I said “sure sounds like fun”. The reality is that I was completely unprepared for the largest display of child entertainment I had ever seen in my life. Holy moly never have I been so afraid and so excited at the same time. The Javitt's center was transformed into a sea of toys, anything you could think of. Some parents best friends some a parents worst nightmares (Marshmallow guns, Really? Like I want marshmallows shot behind my couch where they can be discarded or months). By the end of the day I wanted to scream down the isles “I WANT ALL THE TOYS”.
This fair is no joke; I needed to show ID and my editor needed to send in credentials weeks beforehand. No children were admitted and you needed to show your badge at all times. I tried to prepare beforehand by checking the map of thousands of vendors but really I was planning on just aimlessly roaming the isles until something caught my eye. Sure that sounded like a good idea except half the booths on the upstairs level were invite only. That’s right these huge toy manufactures actually had full booths assembled with receptionists and security. These were some top-secret toys. I tried to talk my way into one of the super secret booths. Too bad when they asked for my business card I didn’t have one. Instead I whipped out a piece of loose-leaf paper and wrote my info on it. I think I lost her at that point because she told me she’d call me. I’m still waiting for the call.
After I was pretty much ignored by the super cool upper level toys I made my way down to the more mom and pop toy section and then the real fun began. You couldn’t shake your fist without hitting something Angry Birds or Hello Kitty. There were sparkly tattoo stations, friendship bracelet kits and clay cake decorating set! Everyone was nice and wanted to talk to me. They saw my press badge and thought I was cool, after awhile I started to feel cool. I was playing with toys and making some contacts to boot.
Then I stumbled into the “recreational toy” area. After about 10 minutes looking around I realized that traditional bikes are dead. They had three wheeled scooters, unicycles, balance bikes with no pedals, they even had souped up jeep Cherokees with foot pedals but no bikes. I made my way around this bike free zone and gave most of the products a whirl, since I’m a sucker for a good scooter. I may have had the most fun here because this was the only time I could view toys without a two year old having a tantrum because I wont let her press the buttons for the 9th time. This was probably the first time I’ve every relaxed and enjoyed toys.
There are a few things I’ve learned from this experience. One: I should probably get some business cards if I want to be taken seriously. Two: If kids played with a toy ten years ago they will probably play with the same things today, just change the color and repackage it and you’ve most likely got a winner. And three: if I make some sort of Angry Bird/Hello Kitty non-bicycle ill probably be a millionaire.