Toy Trends 2011

From kid-friendly adult gadgets to bug motifs, we share the hottest trends from Toy Fair this year.

  • Courtesy of Fisher-Price

    Classic Revival

    Everything old is new again: Your classic childhood favorites have been modernized and updated to appeal to today's kids. Remember Doodle Bears from the '90s? Fisher-Price is rereleasing three new washable bears (seen here) with stencils and double-ended markers. Hasbro has given technological facelifts to Yahtzee, Simon, Monopoly, and Lite Brite, and after the success of Scrabble Flash, Yahtzee Flash and Simon Flash are coming out for portable play. Monopoly is going electronic with a computerized tower that keeps track of player moves and money. New versions of Lite Brite include hand-held tabletop flat screens, butterfly and seahorse shapes, and tablet/Web apps. Celebrating its 60th anniversary, Colorforms is releasing its original plastic Stick-ons in a commemorative book edition.

  • Courtesy of Madame Alexander

    '80s Cartoon Character Comeback

    Popular '80s characters from Saturday morning cartoons are making a comeback. At Madame Alexander, plush dolls featuring "Rainbow Brite" and "Strawberry Shortcake" (seen here) characters come in all sizes with totes and accessories. Debuting at Colorforms are "My Little Pony" items, including Colorfelts storyteller scenes and 3-D play sets. "ThunderCats" is also getting a fresh look with an upcoming series on the Cartoon Network; it will include Bandai America merchandise tie-ins such as collectible action figures and the very first (plastic) version of the Sword of Omens.

  • Courtesy of Manhattan Toy

    Macho Dolls

    The ?ber-girlie dolls out there finally have some competition! We were excited to see lots of cool new boy dolls this year. The Manhattan Toy Company debuted their new line of Boysterous Action Figures (seen here) for ages 3-8. We love that each action figure comes with its own sports equipment -- hockey puck and stick, skateboard, snowboard, soccer ball, and football -- and that magnetized feet and hands allow them to grab their gear. The PattyCake Doll Company and Corolle also showcased some great new boy doll options. We especially love that both offer big-brother babies -- perfect for those expecting a new sibling.

  • Courtesy of ALEX

    Let's Rock!

    Children's rocking horses of yesteryear have been given a serious makeover. We were blown away by an array of super-creative, colorful, and ultra-plush new rockers for toddlers and babies -- they make an adorable decoration to a nursery and provide a fun activity for your little one. Rockimals makes delightful versions in about every animal imaginable and we were especially charmed by the Whimsy Bug Rocker by ALEX (seen here), which features lots of colors, textures and patterns -- and a friendly, smiling face!

  • Courtesy of KaZam Bikes

    Balance Bicycles for Growing Kids

    Aimed at teaching young kids independence and motor coordination skills, balance bicycles come without training wheels and pedals. KaZam (seen here) has two versions (one for 2?-to-5?-year-olds, one for 6-to-8-year-olds) with a unique foot rest, sturdy alloy, and color-coordinated helmets. YBike produces its bikes in ergonomic plastic, also in two versions: the Original, with covered wheels that prevent injured toes, and the Extreme, with larger wheels for smooth riding. At SmarTrike and Wishbone, 3-in-1 bicycles (plastic and wood, respectively) can be taken apart, adjusted, and adapted for kids as they grow.

  • Courtesy of Fisher Price

    Kid-Friendly Adult Gadgets

    Think that smartphone of yours isn't baby-friendly? Think again! Thanks to the innovation of several prominent manufacturers, the little ones in your lives are now able to get their social media on! Our fave? The Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Baby iCan Play Case (seen here), which coverts your Apple gadget into a rattle or teething toy. Simply place your iPhone/iPod into the case, twist the lock, and, voila! -- it's now protected from your baby's spit-up and drool. It also features rattle beads on the handles, a mirror on the back, and easy-grasp handles -- perfect for a baby to hold. And be sure to check out the new LeapPad Explorer from LeapFrog -- a learning and entertainment tablet for kids ages 4 and up -- and the new InnoPad from VTech, which brings a lot of the same tablet feel to kids, along with the durability and kind of content parents can feel good about.

  • Courtesy of Hexbug

    Bug Motifs

    Kid-friendly versions of bugs are appearing in games to electronic robots to educational kits. ThinkFun Jr. has "Bug Trails," a domino tile game that aims to match the colors of bug feet. Colorful, robotic bugs controlled by remote control and by human touch, plus glow-in-the-dark nano bugs, reign at Hexbug Micro Robotic Creatures (seen here). At Insect Lore, science activity kits, books, and toys about garden-variety insects (think: butterflies, spiders, and ladybugs) are perfect for educational lessons. Plus, Hasbro has rereleased a classic, motorized Milton Bradley game called "Bed Bugs" -- so don't let the bed bugs bite!

  • Courtesy of Bandai America

    Voice Activation

    Interact with and command toys by using just your voice. Little Mommy "My Very Real Baby" doll and Fijit Friends dolls are making waves at Mattel. The lifelike baby doll recognizes and responds to voice, touch and objects (watch her tongue turn green from a plastic popsicle), and has a boo-boo that lights up on her knee. Squishy and sweet, Fijit Friends come in four colors and personalities, with the ability to dance, sing in sync, and respond to 30 commands with 150 phrases. At Bandai America, Skreemsters (seen here) offers voice-powered vehicles that run up to 50 feet, for as long as a child talks into a special voice box.

  • Courtesy of Hasbro

    Mini-Musicians

    The new musical toys on the market are hitting a serious high note this year. We love the new Big Sound Workshop from Haba and went wild for the equally adorable Sing-a-ma-jigs and Rock Star Mickey from Mattel. Another toy that's sure to be hot? The new Let's Rock Elmo from Hasbro (seen here), which allows your little rock star to join a band with none other than the furry red funny guy himself! Elmo recognizes each instrument that is handed to him and will even also ask the kids to play them. There are a number of add-ons available for purchase to create an even larger jam session, like the Let's Rock Cookie Monster Keyboard, Let's Rock Elmo Guitar, and Let's Rock Grover Microphone; all have fun features and additional songs for the kids to enjoy with Elmo.

  • Courtesy of Mattel

    Angry Birds Attack

    If you're not a devotee of the #1 Web app game "Angry Birds," you can still play with physical games that have leaped off the small screen. At Mattel, the Angry Birds Knock on Wood game (seen here) involves a series of structure pieces, plastic Angry Birds and green pigs, a slingshot launcher, and cards. The Angry Birds Card Game involves just a deck of cards and a die. At Commonwealth Toys, the official licenser of Angry Birds merchandise, large and small plush toys, rubber balls, and more also take flight.

  • Courtesy of Haba

    Toys Continue to Go Green

    Eco-friendly toys are back and better than ever! From nail polish to robots, we were thrilled to see mainstream manufacturers making the switch to nontoxic, sustainable materials for their products. For your chef-in-training, check out the Green Toys Pizza Parlor, a 27-piece set that includes 4 slices of pizza, 20 toppings, a pizza cutter, an order pad, and a delivery box, all made from 100-percent recycled milk jugs and free of BPA, PVC, and phthalates. Little readers can enjoy the new Educational Insights Reading Roundup!, a fun and educational board game that teaches 25 key kindergarten words and is made from recycled paper and vegetable-based inks. And for little builders, the Rainbow Whirls Pegging Game from Haba (seen here) includes 32 pieces made of sustainable beech and is designed to promote creativity among toddlers.

    Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.