This was the second year running that Toy Fair in New York wasn’t. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t get some good insights into the state of play for the coming year. YouthBeat sat in on the virtual Toy of the Year Awards presentation, and most of the winners are what we’d call “Pros:” the brands you’ve heard of that perennially release great products that promote joy, comfort, imagination, escape from daily stressors, and stimulation during playtime. Some of our favorite award-winners:
- Mattel’s Masters of the Universe: Masterverse (Action Figure of the Year), because what other Gen Xer didn’t have a crush on He-Man and now can give it to their kids?
- LEGO’s Star Wars Boba Fett’s Starship (Playset of the Year), hours of fun and creates a nostalgic connection between parents who loved the original Star Wars movies, those who crave what Disney+ is creating now, and the children who enjoy getting “in the know” by having a shared favorite brand.
We also loved seeing some of the “Joes” win this year—companies that the mainstream may not have heard of, but understand the multifaceted nature of play, embrace kinesthetics, and are just great ideas:
- ZURU Crazy Bunch O Balloons (Outdoor Toy of the Year) is exactly what it sounds like and what you want it to be. Fill ‘em up with air or water. They tie themselves, so minimal effort and maximal fun!
- Just Play’s Ada Twist, Scientist Lab Doll (Doll of the Year) has her own Netflix series, but who can help themselves from cheering for a Black, STEAM-based science gal who makes careers like hers sound accessible to so many young people? What a role model.
Other toys of note:
- Faber-Castell kits for painting and posting at home let families build easily and display their artistry around the house.
- Metaverse themed-toys: letting play help relieve the ennui of the pandemic. What’s up? Squishmallows are on Roblox!
- Orbeez (from the geniuses at SpinMaster) has a new line of fidget squeeze toys that we here at YouthBeat will be ordering!
The fun of play is never-ending. It’s imagining the what-ifs, the what-could-be’s, and the what is true and real today. The toy industry is connecting generations and bringing creativity to life in ways that complement multiple intelligences. We salute our partners in this industry who want to keep making life fun!