A guide to this year's Chicago Toy and Game Fair


By David Wallach

Member of the Chicago Parent Blog Network

If you have ever been to an event at Navy Pier, you know it can go one of two ways: awful or awesome. If you're not prepared a family outing can go south pretty quickly.

The Chicago Toy and Game Fair is at Navy Pier this weekend and DAD is here to help make sure you get the most out of every minute.

Parking: The east most lot is where you want to be. If you
have younger kids, this lot is pretty much directly under the event and cuts
down on the walking. Leave your coats in the car, Navy Pier is heated and it's
just something extra to carry.

Once you are in, here are three big things you should know:
1. Coffee is in the northwest corner of the auditorium, next
to the stage.  
2. Water for kids is at Booth 17.
3. Make a plan on where to meet if someone gets lost. This is, after all, the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and there is plenty for kids to do. I made sure my 5-year-old knew his full name (never know) and what to do if we got separated. It took a minute and helped both of us relax.

My 5-year-old "beta tester" and I were on a mission to find things that were interesting, interactive and different. We were not disappointed! It's everywhere.

There is a lot to see and do, but it's not overwhelming. The Chicago Toy and Game Fair is well thought out so it's fun, but there's space to move around and enjoy the experience. We never felt overwhelmed or overcrowded.  

The fun begins right as you walk in and see Razor's new and insanely cool Crazy Cart. There is a line for this, but it's worth the wait. It's a motorized cart that your kids can drive forward, backward, do a 360, go sideways, diagonal and a whole bunch of other ways. It's a little red rollercoaster ride for your kids on wheels, inside. Just check it out you'll get it.

We saw and looked at pretty much everything. The things that stood out to us were so different and cool it was hard for us to walk away from them.

The Boogie Board.
It looks like an iPad and an Etchasketch had a baby but instead of costing hundreds, it is actually affordable and cool! This is something I plan on putting on the list for our kids and family. Starting at around $25, you can write, draw or doodle on it with a stylus and it
illuminates what you create. A simple touch of a button and it erases. Your creations can transfer from the Boogie Board to your computer to save and share. My Beta Tester asked if he could "add it to his holiday list."

As you work your way around and play with stuff  two of the most touching toys are right next to each other, Pocket Fuzzies and Cuboro.

Everyone loves a stuffed puppy dog, Teddy bear, and elephant, but what about the binturong, linsang, or tarsier? These are all animals on the endangered list and all part of the Pocket Fuzzies collection. Each Pocket Fuzzy comes with a story about the animal, so while you are entertaining your kids, you are educating them at the same time!

Next to Pocket Fuzzies is Cuboro, or as I like to call it "the kid magnet." With all the different things to see and do, this was where my son stayed the longest and even returned. While there are plenty of marble run-type toys on the market for kids, Cuboro is more than just a  marble game. It was designed by an engineer to help kids with disabilities be able to play and learn more comfortably. Cuboro is two-dimensional, which makes it easier for kids to understand, play and create. There are no batteries or crazy lights, just wooden stackable blocks with holes drilled into them for marbles to roll down, sideways and even up!

If you're looking for lights and lots of energy, then the Laser Pegs booth is the place for you. Picture light up Legos that come in bright colors and can change from a car to a plane to boat to anything your kids can imagine. The Zippy Do was nominated for toy of the year. They have licensed light up team buttons, light up tables, battleships and plenty more to light up and build.

TOMY wins for coolest collection of stuff.  From the massive Chuggington Stack Track to Battroborgs, there is something for every age to play with and experience in the TOMY booth. It's the first time in my Beta Tester's life that we got to beat each other up with Battroborgs and then play trains. It was a nice family moment.

The best money saver would be Cro Kickboards. We have 198 different types of scooters. Every time a kid grows, we get a new scooter, push toy thingy. The M-Cro Mini 3 in 1 starts as a sit-on riding toy and can be changed into a mini-scooter and then changes again into a scooter for a bigger kid. If I had one of these 187 kids ago, I would have a lot more space in my garage! They are colorful, easy to ride and one toy takes the place of three. 

This is the tip of the iceberg, Sunday is going to be full of fun things to do, see and win! Play Date Planet is planning the world's largest play date, Schmovie is giving away a personalized play piece and Game Truck is there to show off the coolest new party idea on wheels. German toys, Floppets, mini-golf,
baby sitters, bounce houses, boy scouts and battleships are all a part of this
year's Chicago Toy and Game Fair.

With the holidays around the corner, this is your chance to check out some of the coolest gift ideas before Black Friday.


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