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

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

The Chicago Toy and Game Fair is at Navy Pier this weekendand 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. Thisis, after all, the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and there is plenty for kids todo. I made sure my 5-year-old knew his full name (never know) and what to do ifwe 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 findthings that were interesting, interactive and different. We were notdisappointed! It’s everywhere.

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

The fun begins right as you walk in and see Razor’s new andinsanely 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, gosideways, 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 thatstood out to us were so different and cool it was hard for us to walk away fromthem.

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 creationscan 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 rightnext to each other, Pocket Fuzzies and Cuboro.

Everyone loves astuffed 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 ofthe 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 sametime!

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

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

TOMY wins forcoolest collection of stuff. Fromthe massive Chuggington Stack Track to Battroborgs, there is something forevery age to play with and experience in the TOMY booth. It’s the first time inmy Beta Tester’s life that we got to beat each other up with Battroborgs andthen play trains. It was a nice family moment.

The best moneysaver would be Cro Kickboards. We have 198 different types of scooters. Everytime 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 intoa scooter for a bigger kid. If I had one of these 187 kids ago, I would have alot more space in my garage! They are colorful, easy to ride and one toy takesthe place of three.

This is the tip ofthe iceberg, Sunday is going to be full of fun things to do, see and win! PlayDate Planet is planning the world’s largest play date, Schmovie is giving awaya personalized play piece and Game Truck is there to show off the coolest newparty 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 holidaysaround the corner, this is your chance to check out some of the coolest giftideas before Black Friday.

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