Dolly Field Trip: Chicago Toy and Game Fair aka ChiTAG

On November 22nd, My mom and I attended the Chicago Toy and Game Fair, also known as ChiTAG, at Navy Pier. Celebrating its 12th year, the Chicago Toy and Game Fair’s mission is simple: to build community through play by providing opportunities for people of all ages to connect with one another and experience the joy and educational value of traditional play.

Welcome to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair at Navy Pier!

Welcome to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair at Navy Pier!

For those who would prefer the video summary, here you go!

According to game designer and ChiTAG founder/CEO Mary Couzin, the idea came to light when she was going through the process of developing and selling her own game.  While attending the Essen Game Fair in Germany, she realized that the States had nothing like the event, which took a more ‘show and tell’ approach to the trade show floor, as opposed to ‘look and don’t touch’. So, with that inspiration and a few industry friends hopping on board, ChiTAG was born.

Berg Racetrack

Berg Racetrack

Berg Booth

Berg Booth

The neatest thing at the Berg Booth-- a build it yourself car!

The neatest thing at the Berg Booth– a DIY car!

Keychain

Floppets

Downton Abbey 'Clue' like game

Downton Abbey ‘Clue’ like game

Exhibit Hall

Exhibit Hall

I first heard of ChiTAG in 2012, when I befriended a local toy inventor who was (and still is) on the leadership and advisory committee of the fair. This, however, was my first year attending. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect! Would it be like a crowded convention? Would it be like your traditional trade show? As it turned out, it was a mixture of both. Toy and game manufacturers displayed their wares in a way that promoted interactive play. They wanted you to play their games. They wanted you to stay at the booth and ask them questions. That’s definitely not something you see every day!

Manuscripts Board Game

Manuscripts Board Game

Word Winder

Word Winder

Hex Bugs

Hex Bugs

SPRK

SPRK

SPRK in action

SPRK in action

Itsphun

Itsphun

Plan Toys

Plan Toys

While the doll vendors were few and far between, there were a lot of table top, board and card game creators and manufacturers. Also on display were toys, from plush products to engineering based play items to all natural manipulative. The variety of products on display to play with and explore was vast.

Makies

Makies

Makies

Makies

The BUSY Makie booth!

The BUSY Makie booth!

As I mentioned, dolls weren’t represented as much as other types of toys. One of my favorite doll lines, Makies by MakieLabs, attended, though.  (See my review of my Makie Seina here.) The booth wasn’t terribly large and there were only four dolls on display, plus one in a box, but the booth was always busy when I passed it. Clearly, the 3D printed doll was popular! I’m sure if they had brought samples to sell, they would have sold like hotcakes! I met quickly with Alice, from MakieLabs’s, early into the show, but didn’t want to take up too much of her time, as, like I mentioned, the booth was hopping. (I did gush over Makies when a potential customer was asking about them and I was standing close enough to hear. Seriously– I love this doll line!)

Springfield Dolls

Springfield Dolls

Our Generation Diner

Our Generation Diner

Our Generation Car

Our Generation Car

Our Generation girls

Our Generation girls

Springfield Dolls and Our Generation were, also, on hand. One doll line that is relatively new, College Savings Dolls, attended ChiTAG, too. I have been following this line for a while now on Facebook. Up until now, I was somewhat unclear as to what this line was trying to convey (outside of the obvious). Now, I have a much clearer idea of College Savings Dolls aim.

College Savings Dolls

College Savings Dolls

Doll houses, though all over toy store shelves, weren’t very prevalent at ChiTAG. There was one company who had on display the most adorable paper playhouses imaginable! That company was Lille Huset.  In hindsight, I wish I had picked up a sample to review here.  I know you guys would have loved them.

Lilli House

Lilli Huset

Lilli House

Lilli Huset

Moving away from dolls, I did do some really fun things!  I made my first Rainbow Loom project (a fun multicolored ring) and was assisted by none other than the creator of Rainbow Loom himself, Cheong Choon Ng. (I didn’t know he was the creator of the Rainbow Loom craze when I asked him, and I quote, “do you know how to close my ring?”. Whoops! Of course he would know how to do that. He created it!!!)

Rainbow Loom (my first real try!)

Rainbow Loom (my first real try!)

Rainbow Loom Poodle

Rainbow Loom Poodle

Rainbow Loom Suit (Jimmy Kimmel related?)

Rainbow Loom Suit

I, also, met the creator of Operation, John Spinello! He encouraged me to wear a red nose in the photo where I’m standing behind a life-size cut out of the Operation Board game. (More hindsight– I should have asked for a photo!)

Operation!

Operation!

The most interactive booth at ChiTAG was Spin Masters. You may be familiar with them, as they made the now vaulted La Dee Da dolls.  As a sponsor, they brought their A game to the show.  Spin Master showed off multiple products, including three really fantastic looking toys!  Have you seen Digibirds?  They’re so cute!  The perfect pet for those who might not be able to have birds.  They’re adorable when they sing together.

Digibirds

Digibirds

Also on display was the super neat Sew Cool Sewing Studio.  This is an amazing toy.  It is a no sew sewing machine. Essentially, you ‘felt’ your items together.  Needles are secured under plastic, so you never touch them and there is no way to get pinched by them.  It’s pretty neat!  I think I would have appreciated sewing a lot more if I had tried it with this machine at a young age!

Sewing

Sew Cool Sewing Studio

Sewing

Sew Cool Sewing Studio

One of Spin Master’s most popular wares were the Flutterbyes!  At first, I wrote these off as a re-hash of all the other flying fairy toys that have been made, but honestly?  They’re pretty cool and they look really neat when they fly.  I like that they levitate above your hands and that they don’t need a ripcord to fly.

Flutterbye

Flutterbye

Flutterbye

Flutterbye

Flutterbye

Flutterbye

Here’s a look at some of the other fun things going on over at Spin Master!

Dinosaur

Dinosaur

Mustache

Mustache

Kinetic Sand

Kinetic Sand

One of the coolest discoveries at this years ChiTAG came when testing a new no sew crafting toy called Fablossom. Fablossom makes it easy to make adorable (not to mention perfect) flowers with no sewing or gluing! Seriously, I love this crafting accessory. It’s fun for both kids and adults! For those who make doll outfits, this is a super easy way to make nice, neat flowers to add to your designs.

Fablossom

Fablossom

Fablossom

Fablossom

Fablossom

Fablossom

Finished product!

Finished product!

In a similar market, the creators of the popular friendship bracelet looms, Choose Friendship Company, were showing a number different looms. I was reminded of my youth as an avid friendship bracelet maker.  I always used to safety pin bracelets to my jeans.  A loom would have come in handy during the summer months! The company was even kind enough to offer all bloggers a sample product for review.  (Other companies did, too, so you’ll be seeing a lot of new reviews of items that were in my ‘goody bag’.)

Friendship Looms

Friendship Looms

Educational Insights had some really fun games for the younger set.  The designs were all so playful and very eye catching.  We played a few of them and they seemed really sturdy, which is good for that age level!

Educational Insights

Educational Insights

Educational Insights

Educational Insights

To add to the experience, earlier during the Blogger breakfast, the creator of Jenga, Leslie Scott, spoke a bit about her journey bringing the game to market.  (See her here, with John and Cheong.) She even gave us all copies of her book, “About Jenga: The Remarkable Business of Creating a Game that Became a Household Name“.

Jenga Creator

Jenga Creator

There were definitely some organizational issues and the breakfast left a little to be desired, but ChiTAG was a great experience overall.  I made some great new connections, found myself with a number of new items to review and got to play with some really fun toys!  I’m already looking forward to ChiTAG 2015!

Tic Tac Toe

Tic Tac Toe

Mayfair Games

Mayfair Games

Razor

Razor

Find it!

Find it!

Very big Hex Bug

Very big Hex Bug

For more information on the Chicago Toy and Game show visit their website or their facebook page.  Those on Twitter (follow me here), can search #ChiTAGFair to see other updates from this event.

Mayfare Games

Mayfair Games

Lego

Lego

candy

Pucker Powder

501st

501st/Garrison

What’s your favorite game (board, card or table)? Have you been to a toy conference recently? Share your thoughts below!

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November 24, 2014. Tags: . Uncategorized.

5 Comments

  1. Jackie replied:

    Ok, talk me through College Savings Dolls because I am super duper confused.

  2. SaturdaySequins replied:

    Oh, this looks like it was a fun event! I didn’t get to go because I was working, but I might go to the next once, since I’m in Urbana and the drive isn’t too bad. Plus, it’s a good excuse to visit The Chocolate Shoppe in Skokie! ❤

    — Sarah, Illinois doll collector/customizer.

  3. Spotlight and ChiTAG 2014 Review: College Savings Doll (Contest in post, too!) | Confessions of a Doll Collectors Daughter replied:

    […] ChiTAG 2014, I met Patty.  Patty is the CEO of College Savings Dolls.  I’ve been following this line on […]

  4. Toy Review: Sew Cool Sewing Studio | Confessions of a Doll Collectors Daughter replied:

    […] first got to see the Sew Cool Sewing Studio in action at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair.  I saw it again at Toy Fair. And now?  I have one of my own, sent from Spin Master for review. […]

  5. ChiTAG Review: Fablossom Maker Kit | Confessions of a Doll Collectors Daughter replied:

    […] the Chicago Toy and Game Fair, I left with a bag of items to review. One of those items was the fantastic Fablossom Maker Kit. […]

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