• TOV International Toy Fair 2014 Highlights

Hey gang, Valkor here. I know Toy Fair has passed, but looking back this year's event had to be the best I’ve ever attended. The last few times I went weren’t as memorable as I would have liked and I walked away more disappointed than anything else. This year however, I actually got to PLAY with a lot of the toys rather than just walk by booths, doing some small talk and taking photos here and there. While I got the chance to see what the big and small companies had to offer, I'm gonna keep this piece a little on the lowkey, sticking with a lot of the small companies with one mention from a mention for one of the bigger ones. Check it out, it’s TOV’s highlights from the International Toy Fair 2014. Oh and a shoutout to my homie Greg Wilcox over at Fanboy Destroy, definitely hit up his page to find more of all things geeky, gaming and fun.

Wallet Ninja – This one isn’t even a toy, but the coolness of it makes it worth mentioning. The Wallet Ninja is a credit card sized multi-tool that’s similar to a Swiss army knife; this everything tool pretty much replaces such as items as screwdrivers, wrenches, bottle opener, can opener and it can even cut fruit (though not demonstrated). It's made of a tough sturdy steel that’s hard to bend. And hey, it’s TSA friendly so you can take it with you as you travel. A multi-function tool that can fit in your wallet? Me thinks Alacran would definitely be interested in this.

Tattoos Alive – It’s temporary tattoos with a multimedia twist. The tattoos work with an app that uses augmented reality to animate the image and even play music and sounds. The possibilities with this one are endless, especially if the company picks up on a popular license.

Play Vision – Toy Fair took place at a time when the NJ/NYC area was pretty much sick of snow; hell I had to trudge through some icy sidewalks just to get to Javitz. But for those of you who enjoy the snow but live in areas where there isn’t any or maybe its summer but you want the fun of a snowball fight without all the mess. Then you'll be interested in Play Vision’s Snow Fort, Snow Shield and Snow Balls; you can have a snowball fight any time of the year. The snowballs feel real, like packed snow yet soft to the soft so it should be safe for the little ones to pelt each other with and hey even the big kids could find enjoyment in such a product. Each piece is sold separately, however the shield comes with a set of snow balls but it would appear the fort does not. Either way, it’s an interesting product that looks to be a whole lot of fun.

Hog Wild – We move from indoors to the outdoors and if I could I would have hung around Hog Wild’s booth all day. Poppin balls while sportin a light up brostache? All I needed were some of my buddies, some beers and that would be the best day ever. And they weren’t short on ball popping weapons that’ll definitely give the folks over at Nerf a run for their money. First up is the Atomic Power Popper that shots twelve balls in rapid succession. Next is my personal favorite, the Atomic double Barrel Atomic Popper that shoots 18 balls in rapid fire. Finally there’s the Atomic Shield Popper for those who like a strong defense with their offense. Finally Hog Wild has a wide variety of single shooter poppers such as Monsters, political, pets and animal poppers. And last but certainly not least we have ZipStix; these bendable boards that come with a variety of “gotta collect them all” stickers that makes for a fun game. You set up the ZipStix, load it into the launcher and fire it either into cones or onto stunt ramps. You can choose from four set ups – starter, dual, stunt or mega packs.

ThinkGeek – What started out as an April Fool’s day joke (and I was one of the suckers that fell for it), turned out to be the real deal after all. The gang over at ThinkGeek actually created the Technomancer Digital Wizard Hoodie. This state of the art jacket mixes lights and sounds with an accelerometer that allows you to perform a variety of spell movements (9 in total). So you can be really impressive during your next DnD, Larping or Magic: the Gathering session. Just don't take it too seriously, mmkay? Mmmkay.

Fantasma Toys – You want to add some extra creepy to your Halloween festivities? Or give the ones you love a little scare? Then you might want to consider Fantasma Toys RC Web Runner or Zombie Runner (there's also Tarantula Runner); both toys are controlled remotely and can actually climb walls and ceilings, but the Web Runner can shoot a web that also retracts. I like the spider the most because… well it’s a spider! But I wouldn’t slouch on a creepy set of fingers to scare the bajeezus out of my nieces and nephews - especially when it can crawl up a wall.

Nat’s Toys – Sticking with the scary stuff, this messy devil caught my eye on my way towards The Monster Eater area; this little guy is part of the “Vicious Plush” lineup and you can see where he gets his name. And he’s not alone as he’s brought along a couple of his vicious friends. Great for Halloween or just super cool to have hanging around. That bloody bear though… might raise some questions…

Bandai – at the Bandai booth, guests were treated to a wide variety of product the company was showcasing; and while I kept solely to the guy side, what really caught my eye was the Power Ranger Legacy Dragon Dagger. If you were or still are a fan of the original Power Rangers series, then you that when Tommy aka the Green Ranger, blew his Dragon Dagger flute, it was about to go down! The Dragon Dagger is an impressive piece, nicely detailed, has some weight to it, plus it plays the call of the Dragonzord (though at the time it didn’t work for me). Still it was an impressive piece to look at and even nicer to hold.

Imaginary Kidz – The world is just too darn populated and Santa Claus isn’t able to keep track of all these crazy kids and their demands. Well the gang over at Imaginary Kidz has two special friends to add to Santa’s repertoire. First up we have Reindeer on the Roof; to help ease the burden of all those letters, Santa has enlisted the help of his Elf Wimbley to give kids all over the world a mini reindeer and mini barn. Children will right their letter to Santa, place the letter in the reindeer’s side pouch and while they sleep the little guy will deliver his letter to santa, reappearing back in his barn so the kids will know their letters are in Santa’s hands. Next and my personal favorite is Santa’s puppy Tracker; why is he my favorite? So Tracker is the guy who singles out who’s been naughty or nice. His story is, he’ll run up to you, give you a sniff and after he’ll raise one of his ears (white for nice, black for naughty). How cool is that? I’ll need one around the cave, find out which of the writers have been slacking off… hmmm…

A Crowded Coop – Now here’s a company that covers a wide spectrum of licensed goods in a wide variety of products that’ll make your geeky head spin. But since the TOV gang is always on the go, I like to keep an eye out for interesting bags (backpacks, messengers, etc). And Crowded Coop isn’t in short supply. First up is the Halo Infinity Courier Messenger bag, which is almost like the Bag of Holding, but with a softer, wool outer layer and enough storage space to hold all your every day needs. Next is the Star Trek Pattern backpack (there’s also a Retro design version as well); the outside contains a collection of images from classic Trek such as the crew, their ships and other items of interest – even the inner lining has cool Trek print. And that’s the tip of this iceberg as we’re not just talking bags here; Crowded Coop has plush, lanyards, toys for pets, just a wide variety of items that’s way too big to cover here. We’ll be keeping an eye out for this company for sure so stay tuned.

Whole Wide Toys – Working for an airline, I see lots of kids traveling by themselves either for short or long journeys. But for those extra long trips, specifically overseas, it’s a good idea to teach them the lay of the land, the cultures, and maybe even some of the language beforehand. Or better yet, introduce your child to a new culture altogether. Enter Whole Wide Toys and their World Village Playset. There first set, China, comes with a richly detailed playmat, wooden figures, info cards and a travel journal filled with all sorts of information about life in China. If you’re looking to immerse your child into a new culture, then this is the way to go. Next country on tap – Ireland. Should be informative and fun!

The Presidential Board Game – The voting system in this country can be somewhat confusing; it wasn’t until the 2000 election that I and many others learned just how important the Electoral College was. With the Presidential Board Game, you’ll not only learn about the voting process but also everything leading up to it such as fundraising and campaigning. This is a great game for any classroom and hey even some adults can learn a thing or two about how our voting system works.