Trends in Toyland

Even in a city like New York, there’s only one place where you can play Ping-Pong with a Korean robot, watch grown men ride rhinestone-encrusted tricycles and have your picture taken with Pikachu. It’s Toy Fair and—snigger all you want, marketers of cars and digital gadgets and French fashion—this happens to be the biggest industry show in the Western Hemisphere. Assuming your willingness to trudge through 350,000 square feet of exhibit floor, you would have seen 100,000 new products that represent the cleverest, funniest and, at times, most unimpeachably moronic stuff that the modern branding mind can conjure.

Yeah, we know: A trade show is still a trade show—so why’d we blow nine hours at this one? One reason. Toys mirror the shopping culture better than most anything by providing marketers with the most valuable piece of intelligence they can know: what kids think is cool.

Granted, that’s about 1,000 different things at any given time, and we only have two pages. But here are five trends that popped out from Toy Fair’s endless aisles of whirligigs.