My trip to London Toy Fair 2011

Tuesday saw my first ever trip to the annual London Toy Fair, and as exhausting as it was I had a great time and met lots of lovely people. There were so many amazing products on display, it’s really hard to know where to start! So I’ve decided i’ll give you a little insight into my day by telling you about my favourite stands, and all the lovely goodies we have to look forward to from them this year.

Learning Curve – My first Toy Fair experience started off with a visit to the Learning Curve stand to meet with some other lovely mummy bloggers, and to have a sneak peak at the newest additions to the Chuggington range of trains and Playsets. We were very privileged to have a meeting with the Creator of Chuggington Don Toht, it was really interesting to have a chat about  how the idea for the show came along and generally talk all things Chuggington.

In terms of new toys my highlights from the Learning Curve stand were the new sets of Chuggington trains based around themes from memorable episodes, Like a very colourful Wilson from the Wilson and The Paint wagon episode, and a very snowy Brewster called Let It Snow Brewster inspired by the Snowstruck Wilson episode I think. Some new trains are being added to the series to such as Hoot and Toot in the diecast, and Puffer Pete and Zephie in the Interactive amongst others.

Also new from the Chuggington range is a new playset called the Chuggington Championship Set, which allows you to wind up the track and watch as your chosen chugger zooms around the course.

However Learning Curve’s stand was not only all about Chuggington, I was very excited to see the much anticipated (well by me anyway!) range of Special Agent Oso toys. Whirlybird, RR Rapide, Wolfy they are all there, and will be released just in time for the Easter holidays.

Playmobil – In my opinion one of the strongest stands of the show was Playmobil’s, everything I saw there was just! The thing I love the most about Playmobil is not only there amazing attention to detail (real working showers, light bulbs in the houses) but the fact that they make amazing playsets for both boys and girls. Having two boys I know how hard it is to find good quality playsets built with boys in mind, the brand new Playmobil Top Agents range is a prime example of how to make an amazing creative and imaginative toy range for boys.

As I was shown all of the vehicles, figures and features of the Top Agents series, I just couldn’t stop thinking “Wow, Thomas would love this” and “That is so cool, I can imagine what Thomas would do with that”. The idea behind the range is that there are two teams “The Spy Team” and “The Robo Gang”, The Robo gang are like every good villainous group trying to take over the world and it’s the Spy teams job to stop them. There has been so much thought put into the range, especially the high tech gadgets like the motion detectors, Metal detectors and even spy video camera mounted onto a truck. The Top Agents range was defiantely my best in show, well done Playmobil!

Meccano – I was very impressed with the Meccano stand, lots of variety with toys to suit all ages on display. My favourite product had to be the new Space Chaos range, which will be launching at the end of the month with the first wave of Dark Pirate and Silver Forces Drones, Patrol Ships, Raiders and bombers.

Set in the year 10110 Space Chaos is an intergalactic battle between the Dark Pirates and Silver Force, or more simply baddies against the goodies. The Dark Pirates are determined to conquer the galaxy by stealing and harnessing the power of the Green Crystal, and the Silver Force has to foil their plans.  Sounds like something we’ve heard before a thousand times, but Meccano have done a really good job of adding something new to the Space battle genre. For a start as it’s Meccano theres some impressive vehicles to be made before the battles can commence, and extras like lights and sounds, missile launchers, a trading card game and website,  all add another dimension to the sets.

Spinmaster – You already know I’m completely taken by Zoobles, love these cute little guys! However I was surprised to not only find something equally as cute, but  possibly even moreso. I’m talking about Gomu, a range of highly collectable little erasers which are sure to be this years big playground craze. To make it all even more collectable each Gomu has a G-score, so the more G-points the rarer and more desirable the eraser. Later on Spinmaster will be introducing Liceneced characters to the Gomu range, so you’ll be able to get everything from Star Wars to Disney Princess on top of your pencil!

Some other interesting new lines coming out towards the end of the year are Bizu and Fab Effex.

Bizu are beads which you make into charm bracelets and necklaces. The cool thing about these is that you can take the bracelet off and quickly twist it into a small toy animal like a cat, dog, zebra or monkey depending on which beads you’ve used. When you’ve finished playing pull up to untwist and place back onto your wrist.

Fab Effex is a reusable craft material which you can use to customise just about anything. The Fab Effex fabric will bend, shape, twist, wrap and stick to almost anything, so the styling possibilities are limitless.

Leapfrog – Finally in the afternoon I had the pleasure of a lovely long tour of the Leapfrog stand, wowing over all of the great goodies they had on show. The big Leapfrog product of the moment is still the amazing Leapster Explorer which I reviewed last year, but they still had plenty of new innovations on offer. One of which was the new Camera and Video recorder accessory for the Explorer which I managed to bag for review. The boys have been playing with it ever since I got home, so I’ll have a review of it posted up soon.

The spectacularly successful Tag reader has been worked into a very cool Tag interactive world mat game. It’s a two sided map which teaches you all about geography, languages, and world landmarks. You navigate your way around the map using your Tag reader and click on whatever takes your fancy ,learning everything from the travel time between major cities and how to say “hello” in different languages along the way.

The Tag reader has also had a slew of new books added to the already large library of titles. A new range of Learn to Read and Write books have been released, available in 3 box sets with 6 books in each. The Tag Learn to read books feature Leapfrog’s friendly Tad character, and the Learn to write books star my favourite Mr Pencil (I just love the Mr Pencil Doodleberg game).

Leapfrog hasn’t left the younger learners out though, Their range of toddler age toys was particularly strong this year. My pick of the bunch being the Count and Scan Shopper, this set is right up my street as I’ve always wanted a go on one of those barcode scanners. The set comprises of a chummy handheld barcode scanner, a very eco friendly canvas shopping bag, 9 scannable food items, and a scannable shopping list.

The adorable shapes and sharing picnic basket is suitable for little ones as young as 6 months, and is guaranteed to be a little girls favourite toy. However for a little boy the Fix and Learn Speedy would be an ideal gift. Speedy is a racing car which has an unfortunate knack of repeatedly breaking down, leaving it down to your little mechanic to keep tuning him back up.

And so came the end of an exceptionally long day, and the joyous prospect of another 3 1/2 hour coach journey home. Obviously this wasn’t everything I saw at Toy Fair this year as it was huge, but I just wanted to let you get a feel of my favourite stands and brands and what they have to offer for the year ahead.

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