YouthBeat’s Take on Toy Fair 2020

Filed Under: Youth & Family, Toys


Mary McIlrath

Senior Vice President, C+R Alum

It’s the year of inclusivity and sustainability on the toy front.  We were impressed—the toy community has been listening to insights of the sort YouthBeat® provides. 

Here are our top 5 takeaways from the Toy Fair 2020 convention:

1. You Do You, Kids

Acceptance was all around the showroom floor.  What’s your mood? Show it proudly from Confetti and Friends.  YouthBeat® keeps saying we’re overdue for a bracelet trend…it could be this one.

The Magic Wheelchair makes disabilities normalized, interesting, and fun. 

It turns out that your parents were cool once, too.  Nostalgic offerings from cute rubber duckies to lava lamps gained our admiration on the showroom floor.

2. Hair Gone Wild

Who remembers their first “self-cut” or the one a sibling did, on a person or doll, and the realization of how long it takes to grow back?   This author once butchered a Barbie’s tresses and learned a hard lesson.  What’s fascinating in the hair space this year is the line of Mustaches for Kids and the German company offering color-changing hair, tattoos, and clothing for dolls—fulfilling youth’s need for control and personalization.

3. Nurturing Nature

Some of our favorite toy exhibits help bring sustainability into every home.  Froggy’s Lair provides tiny frogs in terrariums to get kids interested in aqua-cology. Shore Buddies, one of the star freshman companies, creates plushies from recycled plastic bottles.  They’re so soft as to be indistinguishable from other-sourced products.  They also make straws from bamboo, which this author will be looking for in August when they are available.

Did we tell you that we got to see Lee at Educational Insights (EI)?  The highlight of any toy fair.  They’re the best.  And, now EI is partnering with stunning photographer Robert Irwin on a talking camera in their GoSafari Jr. line—think ViewFinder of 2020 with audio.

4. Little Makers

One of our favorite ChiTAG items last November was the Playmat woodworking set for kids ages 8-12—you can give your child a lathe!  We similarly fangirled out at the Plush Creations booth at Toy Fair, with the zippable toolbox with sound-active plush “tools.” The toolbox is roomy enough to hold plenty of other treasures too.  

5. Cultural Inclusivity

Generation Alpha, today’s kid players, have no cultural majority.  And several exhibitors have listened up and helped provide play opportunities that celebrate diversity.  How’s your knowledge of Caribbean geography?  Right, the same as ours.  Terrible.  Beautifully illustrated puzzles are now available from Island Fun Inc—learning is likely peripheral to the fun of assembly.

Healthy Roots is an awesome company promoting natural Black Hair. Their doll educates about all of the steps to healthy natural Black hair, and makes it fun.  

Book of Cultures is offering a 30-chapter hardbound edition that would make a great addition to any child’s bookshelf.  Each chapter tells a tale from a country around the world.  In addition to generating inclusivity, this could foster a passion for travel in the youngest set.


Toymakers are listening to what buyers want, and kids need. This year’s themes underscore that some great companies are taking what’s important to families and helping kids learn key values through play.  Is your brand on board?

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