Click for Honors Winners
By Ellen Metrick
Each year, toy manufacturers present a new wave of intriguing and challenging toys that make us think, laugh and explore. Although their innovation seems impossible to top from one year to the next, we were once again amazed by the creativity and ingenuity on display as we strolled through the aisles of the annual American International Toy Fair in New York City. Both there and in the products we evaluated for NAPPA we saw ample evidence of toys’ power to engage children, impress parents and support teachers – stimulating many levels of intellectual, physical, social and psychological interaction.
A number of trends became apparent this year: one of the most pervasive and challenging for manufacturers is “kids getting older younger” (KGOY), in which children age out of toys much earlier than in the past. Another major shift is the emergence of products that encourage higher-level thinking. In addition, the prevalence of childhood obesity has motivated manufacturers to develop toys that encourage active fun – both indoors and outdoors.
On the technological front, “smart toys” have players interacting with toys that almost seem alive. And finally, collectibles and classic toys are another popular trend that find their way into intergenerational hearts and open the door for memories to be shared, stories to be told and new fans to continue the toys’ legacy.
Safety has been a renewed concern after the massive toy recalls of recent months. We strongly recommend that you check the Consumer Product Safety Commission recall lists at cpsc.gov before making purchases for the children in your life. While NAPPA judges thoroughly test for play quality and sustainability, we have to rely on government agencies and manufacturers themselves to take each toy through rigorous safety tests and to abide by mandated safety standards and regulations.
Against this backdrop of toy trends and safety concerns, this year’s NAPPA winners truly stand above the rest and are to be applauded for their innovation, creativity and play value.