Coding robots, MasterChef Junior playsets, and Edible Bubbles are highlights of this year’s toy offerings.
In recent decades, the world of toys has expanded far beyond the more conventional concepts of imaginative play culture. While Barbie and Tonka Trucks still reign, toy companies are finding even more new and interesting ways to help kids and adults alike get on their feet or stretch their minds. That especially holds true for the rising tide of food-themed toys, which hasn’t just offered new twists on things like the play kitchen and Easy Bake Oven but significantly grown beyond them.
Some of the new and more popular examples of this shifting toy landscape were on display at the 2018 North American International Toy Fair this past weekend. Food & Wine was onsite and scoured the multi-level exhibition for some of the most interesting and inventive food toys you’ll find on the market this year. From card games and bubbles to robots and culinary kits, here are a handful of the coolest food toys out in 2018.
Thames & Kosmos Coding and Robotics Kit
The rise of coding in the toy world is both impressive and rapid, with companies taking our increasing dependence on laptops, phones, and tablets and turning it into a means of building valuable skills. Thames & Kosmos, a publisher of science and craft kits, has gotten in on this trend in quite the interesting way. Through its new Coding & Robotics set, Sammy—a robot peanut butter and jelly sandwich—assists kids ages three to five with learning basic coding principles, minus the actual use of tablets or smartphones. You simply lay down a sequence of coding cards, let the robot drive the optical scanner on its underside over them, and the sandwich will load your program. Then place it down on a grid of map cards and watch Sammy move in different directions, light up its LED, play sounds, and more.
Wicked Cool Toys MasterChef Junior Cooking Essentials Set
In the world of licensed toy tie-ins, films like Jurassic World and Star Wars reigned supreme at the 2018 Toy Fair. But for the kids and families with more culinary-based tastes, Wicked Cool Toys' MasterChef Junior Cooking Essentials Set is the very best the show had to offer. Designed with your household’s chef-in-training in mind, this nine-piece collection includes its own apron, cutting board, mixing bowl, measuring cups, measuring spoon, spatula, spoon, and tongs. In addition to the real cooking tools with kid-safe, non-slip silicone grips, the kit comes with three unique recipe cards that let you craft dishes at three experience levels: line cook, sous chef, and MasterChef. There’s also a single blank recipe card so your burgeoning chef can concoct their very own culinary masterpiece.
Imperial Toys Disney D-Lectables
Last year Imperial Toys launched Disney D-Lectables, a line of colorful, sweet toys. Featuring four snappable elements, each D-Lectable lets you create Disney-inspired cupcakes, milkshakes, and ice cream cones. Sold in single blind packs, themed packs, and playsets, the parts of this line are interchangeable (with mixing and stacking highly encouraged), but die-hard Disney fans may appreciate their original stack combinations. That’s because each treat is designed to represent its very own Disney character. The newest wave of D-Lectables previewed at this year’s Toy Fair will release in 2018 and included six new characters, including Mulan’s Mushu. This year will also see the release of a special 90th Anniversary Steamboat Willie cupcake.
Little Kids’ Candylicious Edible Bubbles
Jelly Belly has its very own line of sweet smelling bubbles, but they don’t hold a tastebud to the Candylicious line of sweet floating edible orbs. The truly tasty spin on one of the oldest forms of play comes in three container shapes and three different flavors. A green popsicle bottle holds Tutti-Frutti flavored bubbles, while an ice cream cone features chocolate flavored bubbles. Lastly, a bright red plastic gummy bear serves as the container for Candylicious’s cherry-flavored bubbles. If you want to try just one flavor, you can get the bubbles a single pack, or taste all three with the trio packs.
Schylling’s Nanoblocks Mini Collection Series
Too long has block building only been reserved for creating walls and houses. Now, thanks to toy companies like Schylling, you can build just about anything—from musical instruments to wild animals to NASA space shuttles—through their colorful, pre-designed block sets. This company’s Nanoblocks line is capitalizing on the toy’s industry’s food market with its yummy (but unfortunately inedible) mini collection series. Create your own ramen bowl, birthday cake, pancakes, hot dog, and sushi plate, or try your hand at this year’s new collection additions: Pizza, ice cream, and a donut and coffee block sets.
Play Visions Color Change Floof Ice Cream Dreams
You’ve probably seen your fair share of Play-Doh food clay sets, but Play Visions color change Floof is a much more sensory-driven molding experience. The light and fluffy “indoor snow” material sticks to itself, making it easy to pack, stack and shape it into whatever you want. With the new color changing Ice Cream Dreams set, you can play around with the blue, smooth and soft molding material before using one of three ice cream toppers, ice cream scoop, and cone to craft your own clay creations. As you touch it, watch it change color to white, or try blowing into the air wand as you move across the clay to create sweet ice cream-inspired designs on your Floof cones.
Twee Sushi Chalk
Toys, games, and stuffed things in the shape of food were a common trend at this year’s Toy Fair. But Twee, a handmade, small batch, sidewalk chalk company, is taking this foodie love for the visual to the next level. Having already launched a collection of frosted, drizzled and sprinkled doughnut-shaped chalks, the company expanded out to a new food category for a special spring collection focused on sushi. This limited edition release features ten pieces of chalk designed to look exactly like sushi rolls. Contained in packaging similar to that often seen in grocery stores, the chalks feature a variety of colors, including pink, orange, yellow, green, and blue.
Sago Mini Kitchen Pillow Playset
The play kitchen is one of the oldest and most well-known food toys in the world. But Sago Mini is offering a twist on the conventional model through one of its fall 2018 releases. The Kitchen Pillow Playset is a traveling, convertible kitchen that lets your (little) head chef cook up some brunch, anywhere from the living room to the minivan. Designed to look just like a kitchen the, simple set-up features a removable fried egg, banana, piece of toast and frying pan. The stove at the bottom includes a pocket to let your food cook while you let your eggs sizzle in the pan. Onceplaytimee becomes nap time, you can fold the kitchen playset back into its original form: a throw pillow.
Redwood Ventures Sushi Bento Boxes
You could find squishy smelly toys around just about every corner at this year’s Toy Fair. The soft, colorful, sweetly scented foam-like figures clearly have an audience and it’s not hard to see why. Much of the toys are unequivocally cute, making them ideal collectors items, and their material (and smell) undoubtedly makes them cuddle-worthy. This Redwood Ventures line combines the growing love for smelly spongy toys with bento boxes. Each Smooshy Mushy Bento Box features an exclusive, scented Smooshy pet, collector stickers, two mini scented “besties” (or small figures) and a display tray that you can take your squishies in and out of. Fans will also receive a collector poster with a “find your Smooshy name” game inside.