Every February, toy manufacturers from across the globe descend en masse upon the Javits Center to showcase their goods. This year’s affair occupied a staggering 415,000 square feet of real estate, and we perused as much of it as we could (yes, it’s every bit as overwhelming as it sounds). Here, a few of the highlights of what’s new in the coming year for the little guys from some of our favorite brands and new discoveries.
1. Their first dollhouse. Later this spring, Manhattan Toy is launching MIO, a natural wooden dollhouse that encourages open-ended play. It’s completely unisex, with a mod design that we just couldn’t get enough of. You can pre-order it now.
2. Pre-Magna-Tiles. From the makers of the Magna-Tiles that preschoolers can spend hours tinkering with, People Blocks are designed for babies 12 months and up. Think chunkier blocks and stronger magnets (plus, cute little faces) to encourage motor and creative skills. One set’s available now, and more are being released this year.
3. For tooling around. HABA’s new Walk Along Tool Cart has got a lot going on. It comes with tools, a handyman “friend,” and wooden balls make noise when the cart’s being pushed.
4. Oball for the bathtub. So much more exciting than your basic rubber squirt toy, Oball’s introduced a whole range of easy-to-grasp playthings for the tub. There’s a submarine, wind-up turtle, scoops, and more—and, they’re all available for purchase now.
5. Gnaw away, baby. We fell in love with Great Pretenders’ Meiya & Alvin collection of teething-friendly infant toys. The mouse and elephant duo have sustainably-harvested natural rubber heads and soft bodies for rattling or snuggling. Buy ‘em now.
6. For tiny architects. Like People Blocks, Guidecraft’s Better Builders use magnets to make construction a satisfying (as opposed to frustrating) activity for toddlers. A variety of textured grips encourage tactile exploration, too.
7. Work that noggin. Babies go crazy over the NogginStik light-up rattle (so much so that it’s sold out on the brand’s website). And we just got the scoop that they have a new product in the works launching later this year. NogginSeek is a cognitive rattle that encourages wrist rotation, teaches object permanence, and has a textured handle for grasping. It’s all in the details.
8. Best-looking activity gyms. Ever. If you’re expecting this summer, this one’s for you. Skip Hop has teepee and cloud-themed baby gyms scheduled to hit stores in August. And they’re seriously gorgeous (we could even see older sibs getting into playtime in the teepee).
9. A back-to-basics ride-on. Plan Toys’ new Bike Ride-On just won a big (and well-deserved) design award in Hong Kong. The baby bike has a simple, thoughtful design that won’t intimidate early cruisers.
10. By land or sea. Kid O’s new Myland collection encourages STEM development (sense a theme here?) with a group of transportation-themed playsets that can be used in or out of the bathtub. Meant for tots 2+, different play patterns trigger lights and sounds, and all pieces can be used interchangeably. These are rolling out starting in March.