Seen at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair, Smart Toys Build Smart Kids.
Test drive a pedal derby kart. Replicate your hand in wax. Build a helicopter that will drive parents crazy. All this and more was on display at the 12th annual Chicago Toy and Game Fair. The event gave kids (and adults) a chance for hands-on fun and to learn about the hottest and newest toys to hit the market.
At first blush it might seem that the Chicago Toy and Game Fair is for kids. It’s true, young children are definitely the target market since many toy makers are introducing toys and games to this age group. But it’s also a great event for adults since the Toy Fair features challenging board games and innovative robotic contraptions.
My 9-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son couldn’t wait to attend the Fair, which took place November 22-23 at Chicago’s Navy Pier. While Navy Pier is accessible by public transportation, we opted to drive since we had plans that evening and we wanted to maximize our time.
The Fair can be overwhelming for little ones because there is so much to see and do. I’d recommend reviewing the floor plan in advance with your child and deciding which vendors to see first.
Here are among our three favorites that involve building things since that’s what my kids are really into right now:
- Have any LEGO fans in your family like I do? Snapo follows the same concept of building something but its pieces are different than traditional LEGO pieces since these slide and rotate in addition to snapping together. These are more appropriate for younger children but even my kids had fun creating objects.
- For a different kind of building experience, we checked out Kardtects. Remember when you used to build things using a deck of cards? This company takes that idea to a whole new level—literally. You build different types of buildings (like a castle) using the cards and then you get to knock down your building using Destroyers Disks.
- ITSPHUN is an acronym (Interlocking Triangles, Squares, Pentagons and Hexagons Using Notches) and the premise of the colorful interlocking geometric pieces is that kids will be drawn to them and want to build different things with them. This is the kind of product I love because it’s not only fun for kids but it teaches them about math in a way that they don’t feel like they’re being taught.
Not exactly a building toy but really cool nonetheless because it shows science in action is Waxed Hands. My daughter was mesmerized by the cart that held different vats of dyes and wax. Similar to creating a hand imprint using cement, Waxed Hands lets you create an imprint of your entire hand. Once the hand cast is complete, you can choose different colors to personalize it. Two siblings opted to do hands clasped together which was very cute and I’m pretty sure any parent or grandparent would love that as a gift. My daughter’s hand cast is now sitting in my office.
Have a budding tinkerer, daredevil or robotics fan?
The Chicago Toy and Game Fair had stuff for everyone. Kids were in line waiting to try out the pedal carts; the Young Inventor Challenge allowed kids ages 6-18 to showcase their own original toy and game inventions to industry professionals, members of media and the general public; and Star Wars fans could meet and eat with their favorite Star Wars characters.
The toys led to entire families sitting around tables playing board games, which was cool to see. Kids and their parents weren’t on tablets or watching a screen. Rather, they were looking at each other and putting out their best poker face. Some of today’s games are more sophisticated than when we were growing up and yet others are fun because of their simplicity.
The Chicago Toy and Game Fair wasn’t just for little kids, although there were plenty of fun toys and games to test drive throughout the entire weekend. Older kids also could find some great games to test and challenge their mettle, making the Fair a great family-friendly event to attend.