I know that most sites have already put their Toy Fair wrap up article out but given that I was sick I’m putting mine out a little late, just because I want to add my 2 cents. Feel free to leave a comment and add yours too! Because I have a lot to share this is going to be a multi-part article.
Trend: Technology, in multiple forms
The biggest trend I saw at Toy Fair (not too much of a surprise) was technology. Hasbro increased the amount of technology in many of their board games as they have in past years. Following in the footsteps of their hit game Scrabble Flash, there is now Simon Flash and Yahtzee Flash using the same communicating-cubes technology. They also have new “Live” versions of Monopoly and Battleship which are supposed to make play feel more like a game show – but early reviews online and comments on twitter indicate that people think the “all-knowing” tower may be a bit too controlling. Far less tech-heavy than Hasbro’s items, but still more than any previous version is UNO Roboto. The centerpiece knows your name and creates rules specifically for you; you also pull cards out of it’s head.
Now understandably, some of the smaller companies who don’t have distribution like Mattel or Hasbro found alternative ways of making some tech-heavy games without actually putting the technology in the box. You need a cell phone – or better yet a smart phone — to play Buffalo Game’s new game Phone Frenzy. Players need to txt and call friends to get answers and see who wins each challenge. The example I was given is everyone calls a friend and asks them how much money it would take to get them to eat a raw egg. Whoever gets the lowest answer wins the round. Personally, I’d be pretty irked if someone kept calling me asking questions and one of them wasn’t “want to come over and play with us” but I’m a game night junkie. Discovery Bay also released a physical game that can ONLY be played with your iPad, called Yoomi. You download a free App from the App Store and then place the Yoomi Duo centerpiece on your iPad and all of the game’s content pops up on your screen. You can watch a video about it:
Still on the topic of technology, another interesting thing I saw at Toy Fair were the games based on Apps. Seems strange, but there were two big examples of this: The Angry Birds Knock on Wood game by Mattel and the Plants VS Zombies game by Screenlife. Both are totally lo-tech games based on hit App licenses. Seems strange, but they both got a lot of press.