After a long flight with a little hangover and a medical emergency on board that caused the paramedics to meet my plane at the gate, I’m back from 107th American International Toy Fair and it was a great time! Toy Fair has really changed over the past 10 years with the Toy Building closing and the development of Dallas Fall Toy Preview but it’s still an important event on any game inventor’s calendar!
In its current state Toy Fair is a mix of large companies with small (if any) booths, medium companies with large booths all the way down to the basement area with self-publishers pitching their one great idea. It’s a great place to meet new clients, catch up with old ones, demo and sign products and of course hang out with the inventor competition! Yes, that’s right folks – we hope our product concepts squash each other’s in line reviews but when it comes to Toy Fair we congratulate everyone on their successes and enjoy spending some time together. This Toy Fair I had dinner with Colleen McCarthy-Evans (inventor of In A Pickle and Gamewright’s new game Sounds Like a Plan), Keith Meyers (inventor of Out of the Box’s new game Shake ‘N Take), Peggy Brown (inventor of Backseat Drawing and Gamewright’s new game Hide and Eek), Jack Degnan (inventor of Word on the Street) and Roger Gehrke (inventor of the international hit Sybarit). And while we gushed over the idea of a group of us being picked up by the Cash Cab after dinner we munched on cricket tostadas – thanks to the adventurous tastes of Colleen McCarthy Evans. As a side note: the texture is crunchy but was really the little legs sticking out that bothered me most. I also had a blast at the Game Industry Get Together hosted by the wonderful Mary Couzin – it’s my favorite Toy Fair event and this year was probably the best one yet! Got to love an industry that knows how to put business aside and party together!
Besides enjoying the company of other inventors and game geeks, here are some of the highlights of my trip:
The Hasbro Inventor Event was Sunday evening in the New York Times building where they had a showroom of some of their new products including the new round Monopoly dubbed Monopoly:Revolution, which was not getting much attention. There was a great technology based word game that I’m going to get my hands on ASAP that was catching everybody’s eye. It’s called Scrabble Flash and the technology is really cool. There are five blocks with little screens that flash letters on them. Using “SmartLink” technology to communicate with each other, the blocks count how many words you can make by placing the blocks next to each other. Each time you create a word the letters flash to show that it’s been counted. I got to play for a little bit and really enjoyed the magic of the technology. I also hear that it has multiple modes, so seeing how it plays in a group setting is already on my to do list.
I saw Donnie Osmond walking through Javits (and he was much shorter than I expected). I assume he was visiting his sister Marie’s doll booth. Not super exciting, but I’ll admit it surprised me a bit so I’m calling it a “highlight.”
I got to see my new game that is still under raps at Winning Moves. I can’t wait to tell you all about it – it’s really some of my best work. I could play for HOURS! I also got to see a game I have coming out with Daddy-O Productions called Don’t Lose Your Shirt. They did the BEST job with the packaging; it’s a super cute little bowling bag. I can’t believe I don’t have a picture!
On Monday as I ran from meeting to meeting I wandered past the Discovery Bay Games booth and got to meet Kenan Thompson! He’s my favorite SNL cast member! (don’t judge the bad photo – after a day of running around a giant showroom you’d look like hell too.) He was there with Fred Armisen promoting the new SNL board game. On Tuesday when I had a meeting at the DSB booth Daryl Hannah was there promoting the game she developed with Hilary Shepard called Liebrary. The two of them were presenters at the TAGIE awards in Chicago during the Chicago Toy and Game Show this past November.
I also ran into the inventor of Jenga – again – and I’ll be picking her brain soon on how she came up with such a timeless product. I’m sure it will make for a good article!
And then most importantly for you readers – I found a bunch of great games to review during the next couple months. And yes, some of them will be shameless plugs as I have all intentions of reviewing my own games. Bonus for us all – a lot of them are going to nicely squeeze into the under $20 category! Yay! Check back soon for new articles. My box of game samples arrives on Friday and I hope to get them played really soon!