The region's only dedicated toy trade fair, Playworld Middle East, opens today in the Dubai. We find our childish side (which wasn't particularly difficult) and pick out five products likely to be making an impact.
Child's play for the grown-ups at Playworld Middle East
If you see a group of business folk in drab grey suits sitting around with a load of children’s toys sometime this week, they might not be as odd as they look. Playworld Middle East, the only trade show dedicated to kids’ toys in the region, starts today in the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (Hall 4) and goes on until Thursday. There are six categories of toys on display, from models and electronics to bike and sports equipment, and – probably – not a child in sight to play with them. We’ve gone through the new products that will be exhibited to pick out a few standouts. Obviously, we’re far too old and grown-up to want to actually have a go on them ourselves, just so you’re absolutely clear.
mic o mic Emirates Jet
Localisation is the flavour of the day at the moment, even it seems in toyland. Mic o mic, the colourful and educational toy range from Germany that encourages children to learn through construction, is going to be landing in Playworld Middle East via the mic-o-mic Emirates Jet. Designed by Klaus Micklitz, this DXB-endorsed flying machine will be exhibited by local distributor Desert Beat. Chicken or beef?
FirstBIKE Balance Bike
Not only do FirstBIKE Balance Bikes look rather cool, but they’re also designed to train kids to hone their balancing skills while also helping them learn the correct posture for bike riding (which isn’t, apparently, waving your arms in the air and screaming at everyone in your path), possibly why the bike won 12 awards last year alone. Designed in Germany, they’re being exhibited at Playworld Middle East by the local distributor The Little Mustard Seed. And no, unfortunately, they don’t come in adult sizes (they’re aimed at ages 2-5).
Holland, home of clogs, cuckoo clocks and Triqo, a unique construction toy that uses just two forms – a triangle and a square – to offer an endless variety of building opportunities. With 10 different colours available, your child could construct a delightful 3-D flower, a cheery-looking animal or, maybe, as the picture suggests, a gigantic, dark, looming fort in which to entrap their younger sibling. For ages 5 and up.
Generally speaking, kids + paint = a lot of mess. Which is probably why most parents aren’t overjoyed at the prospect of letting their little ones loose with a brush in the living room (especially one with nice magnolia walls). With Cobra Study mixable oil paints from the Dutch arts-and-crafters Royal Talens, however, they can paint anywhere – inside or outside – and, even better, the paints can be mixed and thinned with water (ie, no nasty solvents required) while still giving the same brush strokes and natural gloss as traditional oil paints. Unleash your little Van Goghs, only outside, perhaps.
Finally, something that fights! We were getting a bit worried about the state of toys today, but these remote-controlled bots from the Canadian inventor Jaimie Mantzel are here to set our minds at rest. The 10-inch tall robot pictured is the Attacknid, which can move easily in any direction and has a 360° rotating head that fires projectiles (foam discs) up to 30 feet. But things get really juicy when you stick two or more in the arena to battle. Once hit, bits of detachable armour fall off and if you strike the main “Battle Brain” area three times, the entire robot shuts down and you win. Rather terrifyingly, the wireless technology allows for more than 40 individually controlled Attacknids to fight at once. Being displayed at Playworld by Simba Toys, Combat Creatures could well be a highlight of the exhibition. Or they might form an army and enslave the whole trade centre.