Highlights from the 2012 Chicago Toy & Game Fair

Last month we attended the Chicago Toy & Game Fair and had the opportunity to learn about lots of fun new toys and games. Here are a few of our favorite new (and some not-so-new) discoveries:

Buster Balloon

Recommended for ages 8+, but my 3 & 5-year-old love it! This is a fun game for the whole family. Each player rolls a die to get a number between 1-3. Whatever the number, that’s how many clicks they must move a stick into the balloon until it pops! You’ll be amazed how long it takes to pop it. Retails for $24.95; available at Toys R Us for $19.99.

We bought Buster Balloon at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair and it’s a new family favorite. We’ve even brought it with us to visit family and played with them. Everyone loves it.

Bananagrams and Pairs in Pears

Bananagrams is a word game similar to Scrabble, but it’s very portable and doesn’t require a game board, pen or paper. Bananagrams is for ages 7 and up and the suggested retail price is $14.95.

Pairs in Pears is also very portable and it’s designed for children 3 and up. There are 8 different activities and 2 different games; non-readers can try to sort the letters by pattern and advanced readers can race against an opponent to build word grids. Suggested retail price is $14.95.

Bananagrams also offers Fruitominoes, Zip-It, and Appletters.

Kapla Blocks

Kapla Blocks are pine, rectangular blocks. They’re simple and eco-friendly, but encourage experimentation and creativity. Cooper was fascinated by these blocks at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair and we eventually had to drag him away to explore the rest of the Fair. Boxes of Kapla Blocks start at $20.00.


We actually discovered BrickStix last year, but they’re so awesome I wanted to mention them again. BrickStix offers both cling decals and mod stickers (which are both removable and repositionable without leaving any sticky reside) for Legos, Mega Blocks, and other plastic bricks.

BrickStix offers a wide variety of sets that are themed for things like home, stores, transportation, and even medieval and  zombie. A set is $5.99.

Don’t Rock the Boat

Rock the Boat was the first thing that caught Cooper’s attention at the Toy & Game Fair. Players take turns putting pirate penguins on the ship and keeping the rocking ship balanced. Cooper played a bit at the fair, but because the game was on a really high table he wasn’t able to reach to put more than one penguin on the ship. Luckily, we got a game to bring home so we were able to really try it out. Cooper enjoys it; Dexter likes playing with the penguins and lining them up, but really isn’t very good at the game.

Rock the Boat is for 2-4 players and for kids 5 & up. It retails for $16.99.

Roll & Play

Roll & Play is a game for children 18 months and up. Kids roll a large plush cube (they had a gigantic soft cube at the Toy & Game Fair for the kids to test out!) and then choose a card based on the color they roll. There are six different card categories (emotions, body parts, animal sounds, counting, colors, and actions) with activities for kids to accomplish. Kids might be asked to find something blue, or “moo” like a cow, or wave “bye bye”. Roll & Play retails for $19.99.

Plan Toys

Plan Toys were a favorite for my boys last year and they loved visiting the Plan Toys area again this year. Last year Cooper spent quite a bit of time playing with the dollhouse, and this year both boys were most interested in the parking garage.

Plan Toys are made from non-toxic, natural materials such as organic rubberwood. The company prides itself on being environmentally friendly and they’re committed to minimizing their impact on the environment. Plan Toys offers a wide range of toys for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and older children.

We were invited to a media event at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and received complimentary tickets and promotional items.


  1. Love ChiTag. Great way to learn about new and fun toys and games!

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