Top 3 Toys from The Chicago Toy & Game Fair

What will be the next must have toy for Christmas? What new toys are out there that will land on your kid’s Christmas list? It’s always a mystery, but less so if you spent the weekend at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair this November.

ChiTAG (the Chicago Toy & Game Fair) is North America’s biggest toy & game fair. You don’t have to be a toy industry insider to attend – it’s open to the public and designed to be fun for all ages. Toy and game designers and companies come to show off their latest and most popular toys and allow visitors to try out toys, play games, learn about the creation process, and purchase toys at a discount. Some of the toys and attendees at ChiTAG this year included: Legos playsets, Build or Boom, Shark Bite, Catch the Fox, Rummikub Twist, Fish Food, all new Doggie Doo, Greedy Granny, Ultra Dash, Marbleocity, Automoblox, Magformers, Tileblox, Clicformers, Ice Cool, King Frog, Reef Route, Woo-Hoo, Flower Fairies, Peter Rabbit Secret Garden, and 8-Bit Art Mario.

My three sons and I spent a Saturday at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair and besides having tons of fun, we discovered some really awesome toys and games.

Before I get to our favorites, check this out:

This is the kind of crazy stuff you find at ChiTAG. The kids nearly screamed when it moved because they didn’t realize there was actually a person in there.

We also had a really cool lunch with Star Wars characters from the 501st Midwest Garrison. And they have a pretty special way of greeting everyone for lunch!

After lunch the kids had to spend some time in the Adventure Sandwich cardboard play area. This was when I was wondering if I could JUST get my kids boxes for Christmas!

But no. I think we will make use of any of the boxes we get because the kids loved this, but there are definitely some toys and games we loved too. (Amazingly, one is made from cardboard!)

Top 3 Toys


It’s hard to keep my kids active in the winter. We do outdoor activities as much as we can, but I’m kind of a baby about the cold weather, so there are lots of indoor days. That’s what I love about UltraDash.

UltraDash comes with a tagger and four colorful targets. There are different modes for the game, but basically kids set out the targets and then they have to tag the targets in the order the tagger instructs. The tagger lights up in one of four colors so they know which target to run to and tag next.

Campbell had fun playing and Dexter liked helping him so he could finish faster.

Amazon has had UltraDash at a great price lately; it’s normally $24.99, but the price has been hovering around $8! It’s a great deal. I’ve already ordered two – one for Campbell (shhh! Don’t tell him!) and one for another child on our Christmas list.

PinBox 3000

What’s new, and retro, and made of cardboard? PinBox 3000!

PinBox 3000 looks like a simple cardboard box, but it has the instructions you need to turn it into a pinball machine. No batteries are required, just a few rubber bands (included) and you can design your own pinball game.

The boys loved playing the pinball games, and they seemed much more sturdy than I thought they’d be. It would be a lot of fun to design it too!

The PinBox 3000 is available on the PinBox 3000 website.

Sphero Mini

Sphero is know for having really cool gadgets and the Sphero Mini didn’t disappoint. The Sphero is the world’s smallest app-controlled robot. It comes with three little traffic cones and six mini bowling pins. Sphero comes in five colors, and you can buy shells to change the color.

Sphero Mini can be used to play games and learn coding.

You can drive the Mini in a variety of ways – Joystick, Tilt, Slingshot, and you can even control it with facial expressions.

Sphero Mini is available on Amazon in 5 colors.

Not Parent Approved

Okay, I lied. I couldn’t narrow it down to just three because there were SO many cool toys, so here’s my fourth choice as well. It’s Not Parent Approved and it’s a card game based on Cards Against Humanity, but designed for the whole family. The cards are family-friendly, but still funny, especially for kids.

There are two kinds of cards: blue question cards and red answer cards. Each player draws seven random red answer cards. The Burp Boss (determined through a burping competition, of course) chooses a blue question card and everyone must chose a red answer card to go with it. The Burp Boss determines which answer card is the best and awards the winner the blue question card (which is worth one point) and all the used red answer cards are discarded. The person to the left becomes the next Burp Boss. The box even includes blank cards so you can create your own, which is especially fun if you have inside jokes in your family.

We played a couple rounds of it with the creators of the game and the boys couldn’t stop giggling. Campbell can’t read, but he played to, just picking cards a random, and we read the cards out loud after each person chose their card. The boys weren’t concerned with who was winning, and they didn’t mind giving Campbell a little help to play. Everyone laughed an had a great time. I also love that it’s small and very portable. I could easily see us packing this in a suitcase or backpack to play in a hotel when we travel, or while at a restaurant waiting for food.

Not Parent Approved is available on Amazon.


Honorable mentions


I stumbled across SlapMap on Instagram before the Chicago Toy & Game Fair and I was really excited to see it in person and talk to the inventor, Hilary. SlapMap is a slap bracelet that unfolds into a map of Chicago. Not quite a toy, which is the only reason it didn’t make the top 3 (or 4). The SlapMap is water-resistent, tear-resistant, pen-friendly, and wearable. You can read more about it on the SlapMap website and SlapMap is available for purchase at local stores.


The only reason Octobo made the honorable mentions list rather than the top toys list is because it’s not available currently. Octobo is an adorable plush toy that holds a tablet and works with a dedicated app. Kids can interact with Octobo via the tablet screen, but also through various sensors and buttons in the Octobo body. As you can see in the video, the kids really enjoyed it. In fact, I had to drag them away from the table.

You can read more about Octobo on their website, Octobo is launching on Kickstarter in January 2018 and if you sign up for their email list you will receive a notification so you can be one of the first backers and get an Octobo as soon as it’s available at a 53% discount.

Merge Cube

The Merge Cube is a lightweight cube that becomes a hologram in your hands. Merge also sells soft VR/AR goggles.

The goggles are lightweight and easily washable, and the have an opening to access the camera on your phone (which is necessary to use with the Cube) and spring-loaded input buttons so you can interact with VR apps.

The Cube is quite impressive and can be used with or without the Merge goggles with the Merge apps. Some of the apps are free, but there are paid apps available as well. It’s not only cool to look at, but there are several games and activities you can do with the Cube.

The Merge Cube and VR/AR goggles are available on Amazon.

Shark Bite

Shark Bite is a simple game that the kids loved. Once the game is set up, players take turns hooking a sea creature with a fishing rod. You never know when the shark is going to pop up and bite!

Shark Bite is available on Amazon.

Did you attend The Chicago Toy & Game Fair? What is the toy you’re most excited about? 

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