Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Toy Preview Show: The Buzz from Dallas

The economy may be taking a wild ride, but the buzz here in Dallas where the 2009 Fall Preview Show has been underway for two days is that there's one ride that everyone is counting on -- Santa's.

The toys for the 2008 holiday season may just be arriving on store shelves around the country, but the toy industry is looking ahead to next year already. We got a sneak peek at some of the toys that are currently in the works for next year, and it's pretty impressive. Of course, specifics are still under wraps, and everything is top secret, so we can't tell you exactly what you're going to see, but we can say that the industry is proceeding with the kind of optimism that has always characterized the toy business.

We didn't get a chance to see what Hasbro and Mattel are planning (that's coming up in a few weeks). However, overall, there are a lot of creative ideas that are going to be in the pipeline, and there's lots of creativity in store. In fact, creativity seems to be one of the motivating factors as we saw a boom in activities and arts and crafts, and new ways of capitalizing on how kids play today--with computers and electronics.

We also saw clever additions to existing lines that will add fun without adding a lot of cost. Probably the best news for consumers is that advances in technology, manufacturing and design mean that the majority of toys will stay reasonably priced, an acknowledgment that even if we do end up in an official recession, kids are still going to want to play, and parents are still going to want kids to have great play experiences.

And while we can't tell you exactly what we saw, we can make a few predictions. Computer time got a lot more fun. Classic toys get new twists, and if you're a young Star Wars or Ben 10 fan, you're going to be very happy. Maybe you could have made those predictions yourself, but it's been fun to see what everyone has been up to for the past year.

For now, though, we'll turn the focus back to this year, and the amazing toys that are going to delight kids and families.