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The joy, wonder, and weirdness of Toy Fair 2013

This is what over 300,000 square feet of fun looks like

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Toy Fair 2013 hero
Toy Fair 2013 hero

Toy Fair isn't what you would expect. The New York-based toy trade show is the largest in the Western hemisphere — it had nearly 30,000 attendees last year — but there are no children. Hundreds of thousands of square feet are dedicated to the things children love, like action figures, dolls, model cars, board games, arts and crafts, sports equipment, and video games, but there's a strict rule: no admittance to anyone under 18 years of age. In fact, you need to be in the industry to get in, but in case you couldn't be there, we figured we'd bring you a taste.

The atmosphere of the trade show is far more subdued than the tech conventions that litter our calendars. Like last year, businessmen and women seemed far more content to trade business cards than join in on the fun, but that doesn't mean that there wasn't plenty to see — once you get past the giant walls designed to keep prying eyes from seeing what competitors have up their sleeves.

The tech world has affected these toy companies greatly. We saw the beginnings of it last year, but at Toy Fair 2013 the largest companies are all integrating iPads and iPhones in some way into their product lines. Entire toys built around iPads were very popular; we saw everything from an iPad-enabled farm set for pre-schoolers to a magic Barbie mirror that takes advantage of Apple's tablet. It's no longer just "batteries not included" — you'll need to buy an iPad if you want to play with some of these toys.

Toy Fair 2013 in pictures


Toy Fair celebrated its 110th anniversary this week. Despite the fun fonts, bright colors, and cornucopia of toys, not a single child is allowed through the gates: you must be 18 or older to play.