Feb 11 - What makes a toy a potential best-seller months before it hits store shelves? Toy companies use a little bit of color and flair but a whole lot of psychology and science, say innovators and experts gathered at the annual Toy Fair in New York City. Hoda Emam reports.
REPORTER ON-CAMERA: HODA EMAM, REUTERS REPORTER (ENGLISH) SAYING: "As technology continues to target a younger audience and big boy toys are really grabbing a larger part of the market share. The battle to create the hottest toy is becoming more and more competitive. And believe it or not there is a method behind the madness." When you make a toy with a Wow factor you make a toy that people want to play with. Richard North, CEO of Wow!Stuff says it takes creativity and excitement to invent the must-have toy. SOUNDBITE: RICHARD NORTH, CEO, WOW!STUFF (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We start finding, sometimes an inventor or the ideas come internally and through the process various scientists get involved. We have a whole team of them working in-house. The way we work out which ones are the winners are if the whole team says, wow." In 2011, the U.S. toy industry generated $21.1 billion prompting more companies and inventors to fight for a slice of the pie. At the 110th Annual Toy Fair while thousands of dolls, action heroes and gadgets were on display, some companies kept their hottest pieces locked up. According to toy expert Jim Silver it's to keep away the copy cats. SOUNDBITE: JIM SILVER, TOY EXPERT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We found more copycats than ever before in the toy business and manufacturers really want to protect what they have. They spend a lot of money on their IP's (intellectual property), on the creation and the development of a toy and to see it knocked off in one week over in China or Hong Kong, it's frustrating." And while Jim can't talk about what's behind closed doors, he says he did spot a few items that will be big winners this year like "Boom Boom Ballon". SOUNDBITE: JIM SILVER, TOY EXPERT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "You have a die with one, two and three and all you do is roll it and you pray for a one because then you got to take this and push it in one notch. And, you don't want to pop it. Oh I got it in! So a lot of people can play at once, there's a lot of drama, there's a lot of fun and the skill level is low." Toy inventor David Fuhrer says developing a top toy is about incorporating traditional ideas while staying one step ahead of the game. SOUNDBITE: DAVID FUHRER, TOY INVENTOR (ENGLISH) SAYING: "At the end of the day we want to have a classic play pattern and some kind of innovation to that classic play pattern. I mean the way that kids have played has really never changed. Girls like dolls and boys like vehicles. So what we try to do is we try to find innovation with technology or mechanisms or compounds and solve some kind of a problem for a child." So it seems there is a lot more to toys than simply playing with them, it takes, science, marketing and of course business.