American Toy Fair lineup reviving traditional toys

Toymakers hope to woo parents who want to wean children from screens

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When Sara Tsiropinas goes shopping for her three-year-old daughter Maya, the New York-based mom shuns the aisles dedicated to electronic toys.

The architectural designer is one of those parents who is very strict about the amount of time her child spends in front of anything with a screen, be it a video game, iPad or TV.

Tsiropinas is not alone.

In 2012, a year toymakers bet big on “AppCessories,” or playthings that come to life when hooked up to an iPad, iPhone and iPod, U.S. shoppers spent more dollars on building sets, arts-and-crafts items, dolls and preschool toys instead, data from market research company NPD Group showed.

That forced toymakers, big and small, to focus more on reviving traditional toys in their 2013 lineup and many of them will be on display at the American Toy Fair, which officially kicks off in New York on Sunday — barring cancellation due to the projected major East Coast snowstorm.

The revival of interest in classic toys is good news for companies such as Danish toymaker Lego, known for its colorful building blocks, and is already being welcomed by parents and doctors alike.

“This is great news. The best toys are the things like dolls and blocks, trucks and cars, pencil and paper and crayons,” said Kenneth Ginsburg, a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “They fully engage a kid’s imagination.”

This year will see the return of classics such as Slinky, which will now be available in six shiny colors ranging from pink to black, as well as old favorites such as Tinkertoy building sets and Spirograph, a geometric drawing toy.

Jakks Pacific Inc. will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Cabbage Patch Kids by introducing a line dressed in party-theme fashions. Blue Box, known for its infant and preschool toys, will launch a Soft ’N Safe wooden toy set.

Spin Master’s big bets for 2013 include O.R.B., a levitating sphere that requires no remote control, and Boom Boom Balloon, a game in which a player rolls a die, then has to carefully push a stick into the balloon until it clicks, watching it squeeze and stretch and hope that it doesn’t pop.


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