ChiTAG Preview: What you’re going to see this weekend!

ChiTAG Preview: What you’re going to see this weekend!

Before all the craziness last week (Toy Hall of Fame Induction, Neighborhood Toy Store Day, National Gaming Day) I wrote about Befuzzled (read review HERE), one of the many games you’ll see at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair which is happening THIS weekend at Navy Pier.  You can get all of the info HERE and you can get a coupon for $2 off admission HERE.  And now I’m going to give you a little preview of what kind of games you’ll be able to try before you buy at the fair this weekend!

For those of you who have been to ChiTAG in the past, you know that it’s a mix of mass-market games from larger manufacturers and mass-appeal specialty games from medium to very small manufacturers.  Overall, I’d say that the majority games appeal to casual gamers and families and here’s a small taste of what you’re going to see:

Educational Insights  

I’m so excited that they have a booth this year because they have so many fun games in beautiful packaging!  First there’s Buck Buck Moose by Mary Jo Reutter, who was last year’s TAGIE winner for Excellence in Game Design!  Buck Buck Moose is a speed game for kids 4+ and you lay out 4 stacks of colored Moose cards, which have the most adorable drawings.  Then players take turns pulling long skinny cards out of a cardboard holder – which will either be Buck, the ranger, or a Moose!  When a Moose card is pulled, players race to slap the matching colored Moose and they get to keep that card.  Player with the most cards wins!

They also have The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game! (invented by their very own Riley Wilkinson) and I raved about this game’s adorable packaging right after New York Toy Fair. (see HERE)  Thankfully, it’s not just a cute box – it’s also a fun game for kids 3+!  Players use squirrel-shaped tweezers to grab and steal acorns to complete their stash.  There are just so many cute things about this game that I’d like to post a bunch of pictures, but instead I’m just going to say “go to their booth!”  After seeing it I’m sure you’ll FIND a 3-4 year old to buy it for!

I should mention that Educational Insights doesn’t do just children’s games – they also have games like KaBAM!, a word-building card game for players 7+. Flip over 2 cards and use this 2-letter combo to create a word.  So if the cards are A and C if I yell “ACROSS” before my opponent yells “PACK” then I would win the pair of cards.  There’s also a KaBAM! round that adds some variety to the game, but I want to give the folks at their booth something to talk about.

Buck Buck Moose Stats:
~$12 ChiTag,, Amazon
3-6 players
~10 minutes
Ages 4-7

The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game Stats:
~$20 ChiTag,, Amazon
2-4 players
~10 minutes
Ages 3-5

KaBAM! Stats:
~$13 ChiTag,, Amazon
2-4 players (although I recommend at least 4)
~15-20 minutes (you decide how many rounds you want to play!)
Ages 7 and Up



A new exhibitor this year, MindWare is a catalog company that creates “brainy toys for kids of all ages” and works with inventors like Peggy Brown and Susan McKinley Ross to create fun, puzzle-like games.  Susan, who is up against me for the TAGIE for Excellence in Game Design, invented MindWare’s best selling game QwirkleQwirkle is a family game where players create lines of tiles with matching colors or shapes similar to the crossword-style play of Scrabble.

My favorite MindWare game was invented by Peggy Brown, and it’s called Q-bitz (reviewed HERE).  Q-bitz is a game where you use patterned dice to solve visual challenges and there’s going to be an oversized version of the game at ChiTAG with cubes that are 1 foot by 1 foot!  This is definitely a booth to stop by!

Qwirkle Stats:
~$25 ChiTag,,
2-4 players
~30-45 minutes
Ages 6 and Up


North Star Games 

I’ve reviewed their Wits & Wagers and Wits & Wagers Family games (see HERE and HERE) but they’ve come out with an interesting new game called Crappy Birthday.  I’ll admit I haven’t played this one yet, but I know it’s going to give at least a couple good laughs because the game is about giving and receiving bad gifts — and who hasn’t gotten a bad gift they laugh about years later?!

Crappy Birthday Stats:
~$15 ChiTag, Amazon
2-4 players
~30 minutes (or so the box says…)
Ages 8 and Up



I’m a big fan of their single-player challenge game Solitaire Chess (reviewed HERE) – especially the iPhone app.  ThinkFun also has a bunch of great games like Zingo (see HERE) and Smart Mouth, but personally I’m looking forward to trying out their new word-search, single-player challenge game, PathWords, in which you use see-through Tetris-like pieces to mark words by covering the letters on a grid.  Does that make sense?  Well one look at the picture and you get what I’m trying to say.  Worth a peek I’m sure!

PathWords Stats:
~$20 ChiTag, Amazon and anywhere that sells ThinkFun products
1 players
Play as long as you’d like
Ages 12 and Up


Spin Master

Yes, they’re in the game business!  And I believe they’ll be showing games like Quelf, which is like Cranium on Red Bull, and it’s counterpart Quelf Junior which is a game of wacky stunts for kids which is funny for a little while but didn’t have as much variety as Quelf.  Spin Master is also the one manufacturing Greg Zima’s game Stomple, which I talked about last year and reviewed this spring (see HERE).  Greg is another inventor who is nominated for the TAGIE for Excellence in Game Design.  I hear that there might be an oversized Stomple game at ChiTag, which would be really cool!

Quelf Stats:
~$25 ChiTag, Amazon and many others  (~$18 for Quelf Junior )
3-8 players
~30 minutes
Ages 12 and Up


and the best for last…..Top Trumps

If I had to give ONE reason to go this year, what’s going on at the Top Trumps booth is it.  Yes, they have the World Record challenge happening with the Girl Scouts – but that’s not it.  They’ve giving away FOR FREE the Toy & Game Guru Top Trumps decks – and they’ve scheduled almost all of the inventors in the deck to be at their booth (#603) signing their cards!!  Yes, I’m lucky enough to be in the deck, so PLEASE stop by sometime between 12pm-12:45 on Saturday to say hi and pick up your free deck!!   I can tell you right now that I’m REALLY exciting about getting my deck signed by some famous inventors that I will most definitely geek-out about meeting!

Top Trumps Toy & Game Guru Stats:
*FREE* at ChiTag — and it is ONLY available at Chitag
2-4 players
~10 minutes to play — hours of fun reading all the inventor bios!
Ages 6 and Up


Some other companies you’ll see at the fair (and I’ve gone nuts linking each to a review of one of their games): Endless Games, Bananagrams, Find-It Games, Fun Q Games, Out of the Box, Buffalo Games, Rio Grande Games, also Mayfair Games, Talicor, Zobmondo, Moosetache Games, Smirk and Dagger, HL Games, Griddly Games…and I’m sorry to anyone I might have missed!


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  1. Kim Vandenbroucke

    David Hoyt, Leslie Scott, Ron Magers, Colleen McCarthy-Evans, Mike Gray, John Spinello, Ora and Theo Coster, Gary Donner and Michael Steer, Peggy Brown, Randy Horn, Richard Gill, Steve Velte, Philip Orbanes, Tom Liddell, Mary Jo Reutter, Bob Knight, Tim Walsh, and of course I signed my own deck. 🙂

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