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  • Our Wish List of Toys in 2019: Educational Play Mat, Coding Kit and More!

    Spotted in Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair: toys we'd like to see in PH stores.
    by SmartParenting Staff .
  • HKTDC told us there were 125 buying missions, and it's typical for a big retail toy store chain to have a team of 100 buyers.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of HKTDC

    To give you an idea of how many products or brands there is that cater to children, all you have to do is to take a look at the fairs that Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) host each year.

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    Last January 2019, the halls of the gigantic Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre saw more than 2,100 exhibitors from 42 countries and regions for the 45th edition of the "Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair" and 610 exhibitors from 29 countries and regions for the 10th "Hong Kong Baby Products Fair."

    With so much floor space to cover, the buyers have their work cut out for them. The buyers for these trade fairs are not you and me, however, unless you want to order by the shipping container. The fairs' exhibitors are looking for potential distributors or baby and toy stores to sell their products.

    One of the giant booths at the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, which happened simultaneously with the Hong Kong Baby Products Fair and the Hong Kong International Stationery Fair for four days.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of HKTDC
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    If you're not "buying," exploring the fairs can be fun, yes, but it's extremely overwhelming. Every global brand you can think of is here with countries like Korea, Germany, and the United Kingdom setting up giant pavilions of their homegrown brands. The manufacturers and brands want to attract as many buyers as they can, so they are all showing off their latest products or prototypes they hope to put out in the market.

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    Of course, it is inevitable to see similar products, but with a lot of help from HKTDC, we spotted five that we'd love to see find their way to the Philippines.

    Toys we'd love to see in stores this 2019

    Educational play mat for toddlers: LIKU Edu Mat Kit

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    This educational play mat can play songs in three languages: English, Korean, and Chinese.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of MadebyMom Inc

    Thanks to some cool technology, toddlers can learn the English alphabet, phonics, numbers, days of the week, alphabet song, among others, on this play mat by MadeByMom of Korea. How? The mat has almost invisible dots printed on the surface. When a toddler presses the "pen" (shaped like a sphere or globe) on the mat, the learning happens. This reversible and waterproof mat has no wires or electronic circuits. Did we mention it can play lullabies, too?

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    Experiment boxes for preschoolers: Optiko

    We are big believers that kids can learn better (and faster) through play so we can't tell you how much we love this idea of an experiment box from Spiel Welle from Germany. It has 23 experiments, from blending light colors or transmitting light rays to create an interplay of light and shadows. Your child gets to discover the shadows he can create when he plays with two light sources or how a cinema projector works to make moving images, among others. In short, he can come up with his own stories with the help of this box.

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    Coding kits for preschoolers: Cubico

    According to Mark Zuckerberg, schools will soon teach computer programming just the way they do reading and writing. But coding classes are expensive, which can be a problem when you want to give your kids an early start. That's why we love the idea of this coding kit from PDM Korea, which is designed to teach 4-year-olds the basic concepts of "computational thinking" with the help of storytelling and augmented reality. The game's mission is to help the story's characters reach a destination. The kids do this by using "coding blocks to give commands and visually confirm the codes."

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    STEM gaming system for preschoolers and up: Plugo AR Gaming System

    There was a lot of toys at the fair that made learning STEM fun. But a child can play this one from India's Playshifu until he's well into his tween stage. Again, it makes use of augmented reality (no electronics). You connect the gamepad to a smartphone or tablet and pick from any of the gaming kits that help develop critical thinking, logical reasoning, ambidexterity, to name a few. For example, Plugo "Link" comes with magnetic hexagon building blocks that kids use to solve puzzles and constructional challenges.  There's even Plugo "Quest" to build vocabulary and grammar.

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    Foldable scooter for preschoolers and up: Maxi Micro Deluxe Foldable

    We can't conclude this list without a toy a child can take outdoors, and we're picking this foldable scooter from Swiss brand Micro Mobility. One look and you know this is a durable scooter the eldest can pass on to his sibling. The material is made from glass-fiber reinforced plastic and non-toxic foams are used for the handles to protect the environment. Most parts can easily be replaced because they are screwed together rather than welded. The steering mechanism is just about awesome. And did we mention it's foldable?

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