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Posted on Jan 25, 2014

Toy Tattle’s Trip Round Toy Fair 2014

Toy Tattle toured Toy Fair 2014 on Tuesday, scored a free Lalaloopsy keyring, munched a delicious Playmobil birthday cookie, was terrified by a tech-possessed doll, and got over excited at some of 2014’s new releases.

At this month’s Toy Fair I had one of the most surreal ‘is it just me’ moments. Towards the end of a guided tour of the Vivid stand, I was eagerly thrust towards a live demonstration of the award winning doll Cayla. The doll works with your tablet or smartphone to ‘Google’ your questions and speak them back. She will be £59.99 and goes on sale in July.

Here she is in action:

As the PR promo person proudly listed her features and functionality, demo dude continued to pose gripping questions such as ‘Cayla, what is the weather like today?’.

The audience around me ‘ooohed’ and ‘aaahed’ as Cayla stared blankly, waiting for the smartphone app to retrieve the relevant information, then reported back to us.

Open mouthed, I stood there, with one question thundering through my head ‘what were they thinking?’.

I think I managed to mumble ‘that’s extraordinary’ and ‘I’ve never seen anything like it’. I can’t really remember, as by this time my brain was telling me to run away from this creepy talking toy, which had clearly escaped from a Wes Craven film.

Eventually terror gave way to devilish creativity, as the drinking game potential of this doll finally dawned on me. I didn’t think I’d ever find a toy as funny as ‘w*nker Tigger’, but it looks like he’s about to be replaced.

But here’s the thing. Cayla won The Gadget Show Live’s Top Toy Fair Gadget Award, and was the focal point of much of the media coverage at the Toy Fair, so while I know I’m not the only person a little freaked out by this tech talking doll, there are plenty of people who loved it.

For every person who watched her in action and thought ‘good grief, that toy is possessed’, there were more who marveled at the integration of the latest technology into a play thing.

Later that day I had a long (and very enjoyable) tour around the LEGO stand.

This is me at the LEGO stand, being squished by the stars of February's LEGO Movie.

This is me at the LEGO stand, being squished by the stars of February’s LEGO Movie.

I spotted a few toys that were simply genius in here, like the new ‘Juniors’ range which includes pre-fab style pieces to make construction quicker and easier for younger children, and the new stackable DUPLO storage boxes. Neither of these had awards, but I’d buy them in a heartbeat.

I may have freaked the MGA girl out with my extensive / obsessive Lalaloopsy knowledge. Love the keyring she gave me.

I may have freaked the MGA girl out with my extensive / obsessive Lalaloopsy knowledge. Love the keyring she gave me.

Other highlights from the show:

– Good news for Lalaloopsy fans as MGA are launching a new style of doll this year. All I can say is they are cute and very lovable.

Zapf are launching a doll that can go in the bath, and contains quick-drying filling so she’s ready to play as soon as your little one is snuggled up in their PJs.

– There are some awesome jumbo Hexbug toys on the way – I actually emitted a little squeal of delight when I saw them.

If you take just one message from this incoherent ramble, know this: awards, media coverage and blog posts won’t tell you whether you and your child will enjoy a toy. Nor will the adverts. Track down online customer reviews, and ideally see the physical product before you part with cash, because no-one knows the toys that work for your family better than you do…..

….except maybe me, because I do have rather good taste in toys.

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Cheers, ta, and thank you very muchly.