NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

March 8, 2013

Classic toys stay popular; many are collectible

In a megabyte-driven world, you’d think kids would be playing solely with mega-tech toys.

But at the recent Toy Fair 2013 here, buyers gathered like kids on a playground around the booths stocked with the classics — wooden play sets and ride-on toys, craft materials, table games and building sets.

“Retro-style toys for the under-tween crowd are on the upswing,” says Adrienne Appell of the Toy Industry Association.

Kids may see the un-wired stuff as novel; parents appreciate having some balance in the toy basket.

Here’s a look at some of the new offerings, and also which toys are worth hanging onto after kids outgrow them.

WHAT’S NEW

Building sets — including Lego — are hotter than ever, according to consumer market research firm NPD Group. The category grew nearly 20 percent in 2012, the group said.

Lego’s booth at the February fair included new entries in the Lego City and Lego Friends categories, the new Galaxy Squad space fantasy sets, and the DUPLO Read and Build sets, among others.

K’Nex representatives were writing orders for glow-in-the-dark rollercoasters, and construction sets based on Angry Birds, Pac-Man and Super Mario. The manufacturer’s Robo Battlers allow kids to make smaller figures and stick them together to make a more elaborate creation.

And Tinkertoys are turning 100 this year, now rendered in durable high-density plastic. The colorful components include favorites like rods, spools and washers, as well as some new bendable pieces.

British-based Le Toy Van offered high-end, high-quality, creative-play toys: sustainably produced rubberwood and engineered-wood dollhouses, pirate ships and accessories, with accompanying characters. The company’s faux food array included petit fours, fine chocolates and croissants.

Some toymakers were touting franchises beloved by today’s kids’ parents: board games and figures based on Cabbage Patch Dolls, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Fraggle Rock. There were Bozo the Clown outdoor games. And New York-based Yottoy had old-timey books like “Harry the Dog,” ‘‘The Poky Little Puppy” and “Scuffy the Tugboat” paired with plush toys.

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