The Chicago Toy and Game Fair is a yearly event that takes place at the popular Chicago tourist attraction Navy Pier. I first learned about the fair a few years back when I was in the middle of actively pitching a reality show concept with a toy inventor who was involved with The Chicago Toy and Game Fair, also know as ChiTAG. ChiTAG has been around since 2003, bringing together “consumers, families, inventors, manufacturers, retailers, educators, hobbyists, and the media, at the start of the holiday season, to play, celebrate, discover, support, and promote the creation of toys and games.”
At its heart, this show is for independent game and toy creators who want to get their products and concepts into the hands of consumers. Unlike Toy Fair, which is more ‘look and don’t touch’, ChiTAG is ‘don’t just look, dig in and play’. The more approachable attitude of ChiTAG’s vendors, the fact that they want you to touch and interact with their game or toy, is one of the biggest things that draws it out from other toy shows. This show is heavily attended by families due to the affordable ticket prices and deals for boy and girl scouts.
Besides the fair, there are a number of other neat events that happen during ChiTAG. There’s the young inventors challenge, inventor conferences for new and established creators, PlayCHIC Fashion Show, and the Toy and Game Innovation Awards (the TAGIEs). In past years, this year included, ChiTAG also has hosted the Illinois State Yo-Yo Contest on their main stage in the fair’s exhibit hall.
I’d be lying if I said there were a lot of doll vendors there. 2016’s show wasn’t really attended by any besides one or two booths that had items that work with dolls. Even more so than in past years, this years fair was attended mostly by board and card game creators. There was a healthy amount of stem based learning companies displaying their wares, too. Below are just a few of the items that caught my eye at the show!
Snapeez are a plastic latching system that you can use to make doll clothes for your 18″ dolls (or smaller, if you’re creative)! They’re not just limited to doll sized accessories– you can make pretty much anything you’d like and there are plenty of kits to get you started! For dolls, you’ll want to check out the Mod Dress Kit, Wedding Gown Kit, the Metallic Party Dress Kit and the Doll Accessory Kit!
Magic MeeMees weren’t completely new to me prior to the show, but it was my first time seeing them in their finished look. They come in ‘play sets’ which are really just fancy displays. Magic MeeMees are supposed to represent the very, very tiny spaces in your refrigerator, holiday box, fruit bowl and other places like that. Magic MeeMees are plastic toys that talk to each other and share their emotions through their colorful belly marks. As their belly lights up (aka as they share their emotions with you), they turn in circles and vibrate. The MeeMees themselves are cute, but what I really like are the cute little play sets! You can’t move the pieces in the play sets, but they are really cute displays for these or other small dolls and toys! If you plan on buying a MeeMee for anyone this holiday season, I highly recommend buying a play set, an extra single MeeMee and a blind bag “food” item. The MeeMees are way more interesting when they can interact both with you and another MeeMee or blind bag “food” item!
PomPom Wow was a sponsor of ChiTAG. They had a huge PomPom tent/tunnel in their booth. Actually, I love the ease in which PomPom Wow’s pompoms work. It makes it very easy to add pizzazz to pretty much anything! We received a sample of pompoms at the show and even got to bling out our own little reporters notebooks. If you gift a starter pack to someone, I recommend picking up something for them to embellish, whether it’s a picture frame, room decor, notebooks, because it seems the starter kits don’t come with projects, just pompoms!
Play Monster, another sponsor, was there mostly promoting Roominate and My Fairy Garden, but also had on display Wonder Crew. Wonder Crew’s tag line is “Inspired by boys, made for all”. It looks like this line started on Kickstarter in 2015 and has been slowly getting into small, independent toy stores since. I know people are always on the look out for dolls that are ‘suitable’ for boys, so if you’re looking for something like that, you might want to give Wonder Crew a looksie!
As I mentioned, My Fairy Garden was on display at the show, as well. Now, I’m not in love with how plastic everything was in the sets on display, but I do love the concept! My Fairy Garden is an introduction to gardening for kids, but with a twist! While I would have preferred more natural elements to create the fairies world, I can see My Fairy Garden being a popular seller this Christmas!
Overall, the Fair is a fun way to spend the day. If they were to ask us what we might change for next year, it would be blogger outreach. They try really, really hard to get as many influences through the show as possible and plan activities to keep them engaged throughout the day. But, this year, the activities, mainly the long and involved social media scavenger hunt, was a miss for me! It involved using Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, tagging companies, taking specific photos… It was way too much to do, while trying to check out the show and try to make connections with various vendors. That element fell flat on its face for me. I’m fine with a scavenger hunt, but let’s choose one social media app next time. Another thing that would have made this easier was for the scavenger hunt to be on an app itself, as opposed to having to read it all off and fill out an actual paper form. I felt like I needed six hands to do everything they wanted and at one point, had to stop, because it was super stressful.
Also, unlike last year, there was no indication of who might have brought samples for media who were attending. Let me disclaimer this– I don’t attend the show just for swag, but it’s nice, especially with toys and games of this nature, because 99% of the toys at the show are one’s I wouldn’t buy on my own. Two years ago, they handed us a bag of goodies; Last year, they gave us coupons to hand to booths. This year, they didn’t have any sort of indicator. It would be nice if next year, they give the vendors some sort of graphic to post on their booth, at the very least, to know they’re blogger friendly and might have freebies to give away for review. My mom and I very nearly missed the Magic MeeMees booth, which was quite generous! (You’ll be seeing them on my channel soon!)
That being said, I am grateful to the folks behind ChiTAG for the importance they put on influencers and online media. It makes for a fun filled day of play. For families, as well, ChiTAG is a great way to spend the weekend. I encourage those in the area to check it out!
I’ll leave you with this question: What toy or game has excited you the most this year? If you went to ChiTAG, what did you think? Share your thoughts below!
This past weekend was the My Little Pony Fair. Like last year, it was held in Schaumburg, IL. Being a My Little Pony collector, I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to attend! The My Little Pony Fair is a family friendly celebration of My Little Pony. Mostly centered around G1 ponies, it features a handful of high-profile guests, limited panel programming and, one of the most important elements of any convention, a vendors area!
To be honest, the convention could use some improvement. While it’s more organized than some of the conventions of its scale, it lacks a lot of quality panel programming. It would be great to see them expand on the panel programming for next year and add a little more variety to the mix. That being said, they have a great vendors area!
The vendors hall had a whole slew of My Little Pony sellers, the majority stocked full of G1 ponies. The room that held the vendors was a little small this year, which made it slightly cramped and hard to maneuver. We managed to find a lot of good finds, though! Care to know what they are? Here’s the goodies we came home with!
My main goal (pun intended) was to pick up some Big Brother/Clydesdale ponies. I’m happy to report that I found a few great examples of that kind of My Little Pony at the fair! While I couldn’t snag the Big Brother (series 2) Wigwam, I did buy Chief, a fireman themed pony with his hat and handkerchief. (The number of Big Brother’s missing their accessories was so sad! Half of their charm came from their hats, handkerchiefs, etc! I’m proud to say that both of my childhood My Little Ponies, Slugger and Tex, have their accessories.)
I also picked up the mail order only pony Coats n’ Tails (also known as Tux n’ Tails). He’s a blue Clydesdale with bow ties on his hip. Coats n’ Tails has been on my radar for a while, because he’s be the perfect companion for my Pony Bride!
The last adult Clydesdale I picked up was Daddy Sweet Celebrations. He was part of the Loving Family series that consisted of three (or four) like ponies (mom, dad, baby, sibling). I thought Sweet Celebrations would go well with my birthday themed ponies from the year 4 birthday set, so I picked him up.
The last of the Clydesdale’s that went home with me was Baby Drummer. Baby Drummer was just too cute to pass up with his dark coloring and freckles!
Also added to my My Little Pony family was a So Soft Cupcake and an Italian Peachy! Last, but no least, I picked up a print of concept art for the Pretty Mane series. Only two of the ponies on the poster were produced (both mail order ponies).
Usually, I come home with some OOAK My Little Ponies. This show had some very pretty OOAK ponies, but very few were in my price range. It wasn’t a total bust, though. I did come home with a beautiful Zorse from Sunshine’s My Little Pony Shoppe. She had a nice array of OOAK’s on display, a few of which I am still considering buying if they show up on the Etsy shop!
My smallest purchase was this cute little blind bag repaint by My Little Demon, dubbed a Petina Pony. I couldn’t pass it up!
My mom picked up a nice variety of ponies herself, mostly beddy bye eye ponies. She likes them and because they were only released for a year or so, it’s easy to collect them all. (See them in the video, linked above!) Overall, it was a fun day and resulted in a lot of great ponies being added to my collection!
I didn’t take a ton of photos at the show, but there are a few in my Flickr album. Check it out! Have you picked up a My Little Pony recently? Do you have any favorites of the ones we picked up? Let me know in the comment area!
The Pullip and Dal Doll Lovers Event, aka PUDDLE, was held Saturday, June 4th, 2016. It’s become a bit of a tradition for my mom (Barbee0913 on YouTube) and I to attend. PUDDLE is a one day celebration of Pullip, Taeyang, Dal, Isul and rest of the Groove family. This year, there was apparently record attendance.
What’s neat about this event is that it’s attended by collectors of all walks of life and even though it’s held yearly in Illinois, attendees come from all over the United States. PUDDLE is best described as a fun fan gathering. There are contests, raffles, door prizes and a few organized activities, like the Design Your Own Pullip icebreaker, but 50% of the time, I’d say, is left open for you to shop the vendor tables, mingle with other attendees and check out all the amazing Pullips brought in celebration.
There were a handful of group activities, like the Dress Like Your Doll contest/parade and the Design A Doll breakout session. Yours truly participated in the Dress Like Your Doll contest as Emma Swan. We (Pullip Emma and I) didn’t win, but it was an interesting experience. A lot of cool Pullip and friends were thought up in the Design A Doll Breakout. It would be neat to see these in person one day!
Like the past two years, PUDDLE was a fun way to spend a Saturday. (Shout outs to everyone we saw, by the way!) This years theme? Space! Because of that, there were lots of Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who inspired Pullips on the table displays and a ton of cute sci-fi merch in the vendors area! Both my mom and I came home with some fantastic outfits and accessories for our Pullip family. See what we got in the video recap. (Start 8 minutes or so in if you just want to see our loot!
While we weren’t lucky enough to win any of the customization contests, we walked home with two awesome raffle prizes. I won a pink mohair wig from Sleeping Elf (Etsy) and my mom won a cute Star Trek kimono from Keely’s Cute Kimonos (Etsy). Below are pictures of some of my favorite dolls displayed at this years PUDDLE!
PUDDLE is always filled with some awesome vendors. This year was no exception! Vendors included Denise’s Dolls, Darling Clover, EmmerzApparel, KaleidoscopeBJDWear, Keely’s Cute Kimono’s, Little Lenie, Quaint Quintessence, Sakuras Blossom, Shifty Lizard and customizer Doll Angel. Little Lenie and EmmerzApparel have some great items for very wallet friendly prices! Doll Angel’s customs were pretty amazing, too! Check out her Flickr here.
You can see more photos from the event on my Flickr or Facebook page! (Check out Facebook to watch some of the live broadcasts I did from PUDDLE!)Keep an eye on the event by liking PUDDLE’s Facebook page or bookmarking their website! Have you attended a show recently? Picked up/customized a new Pullip recently? Tell us about it in the comment area!
This weekend, my mom and I went to the Naperville Doll Show. I wasn’t expecting much from it, to be honest. I had heard it was much smaller than the show we go to twice a year at the Kane County Fairgrounds. But surprisingly, both my mom and I came home with a nice selection of dolls.
My first purchase of the day was a dark skinned Sasha Baby. I’ve been keeping an eye on eBay for one recently to go with Caleb, Gregor and my tan baby. This doll was one of only a few Sasha’s out for sale. This black Sasha Baby has very dark brown skin. Later versions were lightened.
My Luts Aru got a new outfit thanks to the show, which rarely happens. Local forums Chi Town Dolls (and Dairyland, I believe) had set up shop at the show. While they had very few actual BJD’s for sale, there were some cute outfit. This outfit, made by May Day, caught my eye. At $15.00, this four piece outfit was a steal. My favorite thing about this outfit is the cute cape. It makes Aru look like she stepped out of an anime.
If January is any sign of what 2016 may bring to my collection, than I suspect I will need more room on my Madame Alexander shelf. I left this show with a 20″ Maggie face Annabelle. Like many of my hard plastic Madame Alexanders, this one comes to me redressed. Maggie’s poodle skirt and white shirt are very cute, though.
Last, but not least, I picked up this cute red dress for my Parnilla Ghastly. I ordered her Black Friday 2014 and since then, she’s been stuck in a really horrid looking black leotard. While this doesn’t fit her perfectly, it’s much better than the look she was wearing before, believe me!
See what my mom bought in the video below!
Overall, the Naperville Doll Show turned out to be a great success. I found some great dolls at great prices. Not a bad way to start the week! Have you found anything recently that you want to brag about? Share your thoughts in the comment area!
Jane Easterly is one of the coordinators of PUDDLE. Jane was kind enough to answer a few questions for this little blog.
Question: Tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been collecting? What brought you into the doll collecting hobby?
Answer: I have loved dolls since I was a kid. I have most of my childhood dolls, still in good shape although I played with them a lot. My first major purchase in life was Barbie’s British friend Stacey when I was in grade school!
Question: What kind of dolls do you focus on? What drew you to that particular kind of doll (or kinds of dolls)?
Answer: I used to collect Barbie mainly, but since I discovered Dal doll she is my focus (although unfortunately there have not been many Dal releases the last two years). I saw Hina Ichigo Dal in Haute Doll magazine and just flipped for her. I love that serious face – it makes her look like she is always thinking about something. I also like Dal’s age, 13. Still a kid, but growing up. She reminds me of my own childhood. I do also have a few BJDs, a few Monster High, and a few antique dolls.
Question: How did PUDDLE come about? Can you share its origin story with us?
Answer: I love Dal doll so much that I wanted to meet more fans and share my love for her. I knew I could not start a convention for Dal alone, and I like Pullip and friends also, so I started PUDDLE in 2008. The first one was very informal. I picked a date and put out a call on various doll forums. About 35 people attended, from as far away as Minnesota , Indiana , and Ohio , and I could tell there was enough enthusiasm to hold another one.
Question: What goes into planning a convention like PUDDLE? Give us an idea of the process you go through when planning an event of its scale.
Answer: It’s a lot of work! I have to be very organized. Even though the registration fee is low, I take very seriously that people are paying to attend. I have to update the website, reserve the meeting and guest rooms at the event hotel, publicize the event, encourage people to register, solicit donations, keep track of who has paid and who has not, and lots more. Soliciting donations and thanking the donors is really important. Fortunately as the event has grown, so has the number of people helping in various ways. Babelglyph/Crayola Bolger is now the co-coordinator.
Question: What is the aim of PUDDLE?
Answer: The goal of PUDDLE is to share our love for Pullip, Dal, Taeyang, Isul, and other Groove dolls and to have fun.
Question: Who attends PUDDLE? What should attendees expect during PUDDLE?
Answer: People who really love Pullip attend PUDDLE! We have women and men, girls and boys, old and young. People come alone or with friends, parents come with children – last year we had a father and son. The best way to know what to expect is to visit www.puddlestyle.com. We have contests, vendors, icebreakers, and lots of socializing. We have not yet had a workshop or panel, but if someone volunteers we’d love to include one.
Question: Are non-Pullip and family dolls allowed to attend the event?
Answer: Yep, all dolls are welcome at PUDDLE. We love dolls, and it’s the rare doll collector who collects only one type of doll. We love to see example of other dolls, like Blythes and BJDs, and of custom dolls of all kinds. One event, the dress-like-your-doll costume parade, can be entered with any kind of doll. Other contests are reserved for dolls from Groove.
Question: What’s the difference between PUDDLE and smaller fan meet ups?
Answer: One of the great things about PUDDLE is how many people attend – over 100 last year – and from how far away. We’ve had people from Canada , California , Florida , Louisiana , New York . We also have events on Friday from those who arrive early, and we party late into the night on Saturday, so it’s really a Pullip-intensive weekend. It’s also a great chance to buy dolls, outfits, wigs, bodies, and accessories. Seller Shifty Lizard brings two tables’ worth of dolls, and it’s fun just to see all those new dolls in one place!
Question: Can you tell us anything about PUDDLE 2016? Do you have a theme?
Answer: PUDDLE 2016 will take place on June 4, at the Holiday Inn Chicago-Elk Grove once again. In honor of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, the theme is Space: The Final Frontier, but the theme is very broad. Space, space travel, astronauts, science fiction, the planets, and fandoms like Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Sailor Moon.
Question: How does registration work for PUDDLE 2016?
Answer: Registration is open now!
Question: Where can readers go to find out more information on PUDDLE?
Answer: The best place to start is www.puddlestyle.com. You can also visit us on Facebook and Flickr. If anyone would like to receive email updates, you can email me at jane_easterly(AT)hotmail(DOT)com.
So, now that you’ve heard a little about PUDDLE, join in on the fun! If all goes well, I will be attending 2016’s convention. You should, too! If you have other questions, feel free to leave them in the comment area or email Jane at the address above.
Have you attended PUDDLE? What did you think of the event? Share your thoughts below!