It’s that time in New York where power-mongering retail buyers and high-end designers decide what we’ll be craving for the rest of the year, while editors jockey for front row seats.
Not Fashion Week, Toy Fair.
While there are plenty of new “Frozen” products for the younger set, we also found cool goodies that are either specifically designed for us, or at least get away with setting on your desk without claiming that “some kid must have put it in my bag.”
Robert Haynes-Peterson covers wine, spirits, cocktails and luxury lifestyle topics. Including toys. He lives and drinks in New York City.
No one's going to fault you for coveting the latest Lego Star Wars kit (there's a huge new Boba Fett Slave 1 ship out!). But the age range on the box still tops out at 14.
Enter Todd McFarlane Toys. McFarlane (creator of the 'Spawn' comic books) set about creating a grown-up building block set with a more finished look. Super detailed components, like Daryl on his bike, the Governor's zombie-head room or modular prison cells run between about $US10 and $US70. It also means you can display a small build on your desk, or turn the entire basement into a postapocalyptic nightmare.
Not a zombie fan? McFarlane says more themes are coming up. We're rooting for 'Breaking Bad's' SuperLab.
The new, non-slotted Anki race system is seriously cool in a way Hot Wheels never could be.
Taking a cue from the 'toys to life' category (think Disney Infinity), Anki is a radically different sort of track: Your smartphone controls the car, which can traverse any part of the track, accelerate, and even battle other cars (for points, achievements and to unlock upgrades). There's an entire virtual story arc, but the action happens in the real world. Race or battle against friends (iOS and Android) or NPCs with AI capability.
'We like to bring out the little kid in everybody,' says Joby Otero, chief creative officer at Anki. Generation 2 -- Anki Overdrive, previewed at Toy Fair -- consists of flexible, interchangable segments, allowing you to design endless tracks.
$US150 for a starter set with two cars, chargers, 10 track components and the downloadable app.
Remember Big Wheel? Plastic tricycles with giant wheels that (on TV at least) power-slid around corners years before 'The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.'
Designer Matt Arbruster decided it was time to up the ante with a full-sized ride. The 'High Roller' features the bright yellow seat from your childhood on a metallic red steel frame. 14-inch rear wheels provide maximum slide and drift, and the whole thing can be accessorized and customised.
At $US650 - $US800, nostalgia doesn't come cheap, but it does come fully loaded with fun.
Same toy, different alloy.
In celebration of Slinky's 70th anniversary, Alex Brands has released a 14K gold-plated brass executive version of the classic toy, encased in a cedar-stained wooden box.
For $US150, it can sit on your desk as a nostalgic trophy, or be employed in the most baller 'Slinky vs Escalator' YouTube vid ever.
Another category rife with built-in restrictions. Too small, limiting tracks, etc.
Invented by Ali Kermani as his graduate business thesis, he partnered last year with Razor (as in the scooter) to create the child-sized Crazy Cart. This month, Kermani and Razor launched Crazy Cart XL specifically for the big kids.
With a robust, tubular steel frame, and controls that allow you to spin, navigate and manoeuvre almost instantly even in tight spaces, the wall-charged electric cart (with Razor's first quick-switch battery) ought to make for awesomely dangerous bumper cars as well. Add some bananas, eggs and coins, and it's Mario Kart writ live.
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