Last weekend, we were called upon to visit the Toy Fair, a massive gathering for sellers of dolls, games, memorabilia, and other items for the younger set. The fair also showcased winners of the recently-announced 2012 Toy of the Year awards, including Lego's Ninjago line and the tiny Hexbug Nano robots, which we took for a respectively literal and metaphorical spin.
Despite what you'd expect from something called the Toy Fair, there were no children to be seen — the conference is strictly adults-only, and unlike even at CES, we didn't see anyone with ten-year-old "buyers" or "industry analysts" in tow. Save for a few toy store owners, most attendees weren't all that interested in playing with the wares either, preferring to swap business cards or dispassionately examine parts from third-party manufacturers. Toy sellers were more enthusiastic, giving us skateboard lessons, Coke-and-Mentos demonstrations, and exclusive interviews with giant plush policemen.
Besides a few standout exhibits, the Toy Fair was low-key. The big brands, like Lego and Mega Bloks, didn't have open-air booths at all, opting instead for smooth white walls that obscured everything but a protective statue of Master Chief or Superman. And even that paled in comparison to Mattel, which loomed over us in its own massive booth, hiding wonders like the Barbie Photo Fashion Doll behind bolts of black cloth.
As you'll see, casual games made a huge showing at the fair, with Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja appearing in everything from plush toys to glassware. We also got our hands on some PC and console game reproductions, like a replica portal gun and Assassin's Creed wrist blade. Even after a full day, we'd barely scratched the surface of Toy Fair's massive offerings, but rarely have our jobs been so much fun.
Oh, and Sam Byford? The Solowheel booth attendants still remember you.