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The International Toy Fair

The 107th International Toy Fair wrapped up at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City on Wednesday.

The 4-day event attracted over 30,000 attendees and showcased everything from pre-school toys to mini computers and video games and everything in between.

In an announcement that was about as big a surprise as Titanic winning the Oscar, Zhu Zhu Pets by Cepia was named the overall "Toy of the Year". The runaway holiday hit from last year also picked up two category awards – Girl Toy of the Year and Innovative Toy of the Year.

Despite its success, Cepia is not resting on its laurels. It plans to introduce more of the cuddly hamsters later this year, including a line for young boys called Kung Zhu!

Other category winners of note included Sort It Out!, a board game from Australia that took Game of the Year; Crayola Beginnings Color Me A Song, which won Infant Toy of the Year; Mindstorms NXT 2.0 from LEGO, which took Educational Toy of the Year; and My 1st Scooter by Radio Flyer, which won Outdoor Toy of the Year.

Electronic toys were everywhere, with advances in technology being used to update old favorites, as well as launch new products. Rubik's TouchCube by Techno Source was a typical example of a revamped oldie, but thousands of action figures, craft games, soft toys and modeling sets also benefitted from a digital makeover.

One thing that hasn't changed is the toy industry's ability to ride the back of Hollywood whenever it gets the opportunity. Research firm NPD estimates that toys based on characters from movies, TV shows or books accounted for $5.4 billion, or 25% of all U.S. toy sales last year. There was even an award for that: Property of the Year recognized "the licensor that had the greatest success spreading its brand or property throughout the industry". (This year's winner was Bakugan from the Cartoon Network.)

That trend is set to continue in 2010. As Disney's Pixar gears up to release Toy Story 3 this summer, virtually every major toy maker is lining up dolls, action figures, vehicles, or board games based on the film. The Los Angeles Times reports that as many as 250 toys will be appearing in stores before the movie's June 18 release date – three times as many as were made for Toy Story 2.

Overall, this year's Toy Fair was notable for renewed optimism in an industry that has been particularly hard hit by the 18-month recession. Expect Buzz, Woody and pals to spearhead the slow recovery – with a little help from a cute hamster or two!

Comment by Jenney, posted 10/24/2011, 10:29 AM:

Interesting. But nothing will ever beat Mexican jumping beans! Remember Mexican jumping beans when you were a child? Now you can get Mexican jumping beans online at http://www.amazingbeans.com
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