2012 Toy Fair Finds

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Last week, Shannon O’Connor, the American Booksellers Association’s ABC Children’s Group manager, had the opportunity to walk the floor of the 2012 American International Toy Fair® in New York City with two of the group’s members — Cynthia Compton of 4 Kids Books & Toys in Zionsville, Indiana, and Jill Miner of Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord, Michigan. Here, O’Connor provides a peek at some of the non-book offerings from among the show’s 1,000-plus exhibitors that drew their attention.

On Monday, February 13, Cynthia Compton and Jill Miner combed through hundreds of game, puzzle, and toy exhibits at the Toy Industry Association’s 2012 Toy Fair at New York’s Javits Convention Center.  What emerged were several new products that could be exciting additions to an independent bookstore’s non-book repertoire.   

Compton immediately gravitated toward a booth offering demonstrations of GlitterToos— easy, glittery, temporary tattoos.  These three-step tattoos are safe, dry instantly, are made in the U.S., and last for days.  Compton, whose store specializes in hosting children’s birthday parties, was excited about the prospect of using the tattoos to add to the excitement of parties and street fairs. GlitterToos are sold for store retail in kits of 15 stencils, six colors of glitter, and non-toxic body glue. Pro or bulk kits are available as well.  Stencil designs range from dinosaurs to flowers in bloom, and everything in between.

Miner and Compton then stopped to look at an interesting assortment of sturdy takeout coffee cups that housed three classic games—Scrabble Scramble, Scattergories, and Yahtzee.  Coffee Time Games, from Winning Solutions, were originally developed for Starbucks stores, but will instead be released to the wider market in July 2012. “I can’t think of a bookstore in our membership that wouldn’t buy those,” said Compton.  “They’re a bookstore no brainer.”  Winning Solutions also offers “Library Classics” editions of Monopoly®, Scrabble®, and Clue® that are housed inside replica books and nostalgic children’s games in vintage-inspired tins.

Nanoblocks, micro-sized, building block sets, were also a hit with the indie booksellers.  Building enthusiasts can tackle tiny versions of animals, from bald eagles to polar bears, as well as U.S. and foreign landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty and the Taj Mahal.  There is even a deluxe, 5,800+ piece kit that replicates Germany’s Castle Neuschwanstein, complete with LED lights for the interior.  “Nanoblocks completely sold out last year,” according to the booth’s rep.  

Miner was encouraged to play a fast-paced dice game called Tenzi, which promises to be “a fun, fast frenzy,” by Kevin Carroll, who invented the product with Steve Mark.  For Tenzi in its simplest form, players take 10 dice, roll them over and over again until they can get all of the dice to show the same number, and then shout, “Tenzi!”   Marks and Carroll offered discounts based on how fast visitors to the booth could get “tenzi.”  Rolling “tenzi” in a mere 25 seconds, Miner was able to snag 10 percent off her order.    Tenzi offers a starter kit that contains a display rack, header card, nine games, and one demo game to get customers hooked.  

Later in the day, Compton reminisced about visiting the Bananagrams booth during one of its earliest appearances at the New York Toy Fair.  The booth was bare, save for a couple of card tables where Compton had stopped to rest during a long day of buying and walking the floor.   The seat she took was next to the late Abe Nathanson, who at the age of 76 invented Bananagrams.  “I learned to play from grandpa,” Compton said.  Hopefully, her 2012 Toy Fair experience will net an equally fond memory.

Videos and photos of additional products from Toy Fair 2012 are available on the show website.