Our Chicago Toy and Game Fair favorites


We had a lot of fun at the 10th Annual Chicago Toy and Game Fair this year. You're really never too old to get excited about the newest toys and games on the market during the holiday season. After testing a few of the products ourselves and talking to local kids, we've narrowed down our five favorites from ChiTAG, plus two of our favorite games from young inventors.


Speed Stacks

A stack of cups might not sound like the hottest toy on the market but Speed Stacks had kids at ChiTAG mesmerized. Kids can play with the cups at home, against their friends or even compete nationally. You can buy a Speed Stacks kit in a variety of colors and get a timer or mat to make things more competitive.

The Speed Stacks website also has a Kid's Corner with tips for improving times and a calendar of upcoming events.

Pictured: Isyss Whittmon, 9, of Chicago, learns from a Speed Stacks helper about how the game works.


Plasma Cars

Kids of all ages had fun driving Plasma Cars and weaving through a chalk track. The cars are powered by natural forces like inertia, so they're also a great way to teach your kids some simple physics. Plus, your kids won't outgrow the cars quickly. We saw everyone from toddlers to adults trying them out during the fair.


Kapla Blocks

Kapla Blocks remind us of a mix of Jenga and Lincoln Logs. The blocks come in a few different colors and some kits come with books filled with building ideas. This wooden construction toy now comes with connectors, making it easier for small hands to build giant towers.

Pictured: Akash, 7, and Sahil, 5, of Toledo play with Kapla blocks. Their dad said the boys love playing with the blocks at their local science museum.


Penguin Foot Pottery

Don't be afraid to get your hands a little dirty. Take the kids to Penguin Foot Pottery in Logan Square and they can make their own holiday gifts for the family. Families were lined-up at the fair to take their turn at the pottery wheels and had a lot of fun spinning some clay.

Penguin Foot offers a variety of classes, including walk-in classes just for kids and parent/child classes.

Pictured: Elena Dunn, 8, of Plainfield takes her turn at the wheel. Elena's mom said Elena had never tried pottery before but seemed to love it.


Plan Toys

We loved seeing some of the newest releases from Plan Toys, an environmentally and socially conscious company. They had a lot on display at the fair and we love pretending with their latest sets.

Our favorite was a wooden flower pot and play planting set for little gardeners (pictured) but the meal and kitchen pretending sets are always a hit with the little chefs we know.


Grand Slam

Walker Ahluwalia, 10, and Bryce Wiersma, 9, of Palos Heights love baseball and they know other kids do, too. But baseball season can't last all year so the boys have brought the beloved pastime indoors and turned it into a board game.

Their game, Grand Slam, combines the classic elements of baseball with a catapult (so cool!) for six innings of fun. The player at bat catapults a die as far as they can to get on base, or even a home run. Your opponent can place outfielders to try to get you out though, so be careful where to aim.

Walker and Bryce say their game is best for ages 6 and up and works well with two players.


Bakery Battle

Maggie Reed (pictured) and Elizabeth Gildea, 10, of Palos Park, came up with their idea for Bakery Battle after a brainstorming together for a class project.

"We were talking about what we really liked and we both thought of baking," Maggie said.

In Bakery Battle, players begin in culinary school and learn about what it takes to be a Master Pasty Chef. Once they travel around each level of the board and reach the top tier, they answer final exam questions to win.

Maggie recommends Bakery Battle for ages 8 and up, and says game play works best with 2-4 players.


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