From the Front Lines of the New York International Toy Fair
The New York International Toy Fair kicked things off this chilly February; complete with something you don’t see every day (even in New York). A group known as Granny Peace Brigade took time to protest the show’s press conference that announced the best new toys. The reason in question was that G.I. Joe, one of the longest lasting toy brands in America, was once again making a showing at Toy Fair with a range of comic book styled offerings. It might seem ironic that the group would target Joe over some of the comic book, horror and science fiction toys that remained popular with manufacturers.
In fact, while legions of 12-inch and other action figures had invaded previous Toy Fairs, this year the larger figures – at least of the military variety – were seemingly in full retreat. The focus has shifted to the fantasy and science fiction inspired toys, of which there were no shortage. Even in the scale figures fantasy won over historical. When one vendor was asked if there were any "historical miniatures," this reporter was directed to Lord of the Rings, and when pressed on the issue of "military" the direction turned to the futuristic variety. Sadly, this is par for course as much with toys, as it seems to be with movies and books. Real history is considered "old," "tired" or "boring," but set the action on a planet with blue aliens or in a world with magic and it is a blockbuster in the making.
Soldiers in Scale
All was not entirely lost however. Numerous companies continued to produce extremely nice chess sets, replacing the usual pieces with figures of those from Ancient Rome, the American Revolution, Napoleonic Wars and the American Revolution.
Forces of Valor looks to introduce several more armored vehicles in the 1:16 and 1:18 scales this year, while Toys and Models will continue to produce its high quality desktop models in 2010. For those looking to build it themselves, Ark Model will be importing a number of kits, including new Russian BA-20 Armored Cars and T-34-85 tank kits – both imported from Russia no less!
Board or Just Bored?
One surprising area that took a hit with this year’s Toy Fair was a much smaller than expected showing of board games. While computer and video games continue to get more immersing each year, the tried and true beer & pretzel games had seen a resurgence in recent years, but sadly it could be that beer has gone flat and the pretzels all eaten as there were much in the way of new historical games. However, there is hope for the future, as several companies looked to bring out historical trivia games, and other attractions for the younger crowd. Maybe this will create a new generation of history buffs who will learn to appreciate our past rather than learning about galaxies far away, and battles for rings that never were.
And even if the kids turn their back, those of us that never really grew up still have some really cool toys!