The Chicago Toy and Game Fair is two days of toys, games, and so much fun you won’t want to leave! Now in it’s 12th year ChiTAG offers everyone a chance to preview, play and buy the hottest toys and games out there. You can meet inventors of games you know and love and maybe rediscover a few games you used to play. There is even an opportunity for young inventors to display their games!
This is our second year and I already can’t wait to go again next year. We live in Indianapolis, IN so Chicago is just a few hours away which makes for a nice mini vacation for us. The drive isn’t too bad and there is so much to do and see in Chicago that ChiTAG is a great excuse to get away for a weekend.
The Fair is held in Festival Hall A at Navy Pier which is pretty much near every museum in Chicago. There are tons of hotels nearby along the Magnificent Mile and lots and lots of shopping, food and parking options too. Parking at the Pier is reasonable though and they even have lockers to hold your coats! In fact if you park at the Pier for ChiTAG you don’t have to leave for anything except of course going home or to your hotel.
Navy Pier has gift shops, tons of food choices, fun things to do and the Children’s Museum is right there too! You could literally spend your entire day playing at ChiTAG…well until they closed for the day anyway. We attend the Blogger Breakfast which is a fun way to meet new bloggers and hear from sponsors. Plus we get in a little early to the Fair.
When the doors open to the public at 10 am it gets busy pretty quickly but you never feel cramped or crowded. There are a lot of booths with toys and games and things to do that no matter how busy it seemed to get you still have room to walk, play and breath. The hardest part was waiting your turn to try a toy or play a game…and it was harder on me I think than the kids!
Every year ChiTAG holds a Young Inventors Challenge which allows kids ages 6-18 the chance to show off their games or toys. Guests of the Fair can check out the Inventors area and play all of the unique kid created toys and games and vote for their favorite. My son created a game last year at Gen Con and now he wants to finish it and submit it for next year! I need to learn to help without helping…
I am awful at Yo-Yo but got to see some talented people when they held a Yo-Yo Contest this year. The Diva thinks she has it when it goes out and rolls…she’s learning. I was good at singing “Let It Go” which came in handy on Sunday for the Frozen parade. In fact if you came dressed as a Frozen character you got in FREE! Best part was it didn’t have an age limit! I totally would have dressed as Anna!
Adventure Sandwich performed live action cartoon scenes. They combine music, art and storytelling to help kids get their imagination going. Also, you get to play in a giant cardboard wonderland to build and create whatever you want with boxes. Yep cardboard boxes…kids are like cats or am I alone in that thought? I LOVE the creative freedom (and the inexpensiveness) cardboard boxes give to kids. One box opens a whole new world of play time. Genius!
If you are a Scout of any kind and wear your uniform you get in FREE! Plus they have a Legoland Discovery Center booth that holds a program for Girl Scouts to make their own LEGO scenes to make a comic. Wish they had that when I was a kid…and then I wish I was a scout if they had it.
The ever popular Star Wars Character Luncheion with the Star Wars 501st Legion is an event we will be doing next year for sure. Both of my kids are fascinated with Star Wars but haven’t seen all the films yet. They have seen the LEGO versions and love them and most of the characters…well the Troopers and Darth Vader mostly.
I considered participating in the first U.S. Rummikub Championship for a chance to win a trip to Germany for the Rummikub World Championship event but I chickened out. I’m pretty good at the game though so if they have it again next year I might just sign up.
One of the first things we got to experience was a Live Zoomer Dino thanks to Spin Master! I couldn’t believe how real it looked and acted and it even made a few guests jump when it grumbled at them. My kids were loving him but also a little scared of him…though I can’t blame them since I wasn’t exactly rushing to get near him either.
There was so much going on at different times and on top of all that the booths of vendors with their wonderful toys and games! We met up with companies we knew and check out their new games and toys and discovered a ton of new companies, new toys and new games too.
Spin Master also had little Zoomer Dino’s for you to play with, Paw Patrol toys which until the Fair I did a great job of hiding the existence of from my kids (now they want them all), Sew Cool sewing machine that uses felt but no needles, Flutterbyes fairies, Digibirds (which I kind of want), Kinetic Sand (which our whole family wants!), Air Hogs that climb walls and new games including Shark Mania. Their booth was amazing and had so much to play with including a giant Shark Mania…which we all played a couple times.
Mayfair Games was there with their giant blow up sheep and various games. They held a Catan National Championship which allowed participants a chance to qualify for the Worldwide Championship! I am not that good at that game but my husband might give it a try next year!
The Bob & Angus Show sheep were there as well much to the delight of my children. My Diva had an extensive conversation about what she did at the Fair with Claire (who also helped the Gentleman find his lost Starfish friend!).
Blue Orange Games had a booth which we of course had to stop at and play as many games of Pengaloo and Gobblet Gobblers as possible. Our friends at Peaceable Kingdom were there showing off Jean Tats which we HAD to try and get some. Rainbow Loom was there letting guests make a small bracelet which was easy enough for the Diva to do by herself.
Another of our old friends, Ravensburger, was there showing off their new games, Dream Cakes, Bugs in the Kitchen and Spy Tag. All of which we played and loved and will have reviews for two soon! Razor showed off their new Power Rider 360 which was awesome or so says my son. The Diva was a bit to young to ride it which she didn’t like one bit.
Patch Products was showing their Giant Perplexus and we met the inventor of The Game Of THINGS, Tom Quinn which was pretty awesome. HexBug had giant robot bugs that we couldn’t get enough of. The Diva ran hers over her brothers robot so real life was reflected too.
We discovered an awesome new company, Educational Insights, which has so many wonderful toys and games! Frida’s Fruit Fiesta Game, BBQ Blitz!, Diggity Dogs and Dino Construction toys! So many amazing things! Look for reviews coming soon!
PRIVO is a “FTC-approved, neutral third-party Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Safe Harbor and identity & consent service provider.” It enables websites, apps, games and other online services to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) when they interact with and market to children online under the age of 13 (“U13″). My kids are a little young to need this yet but I am keeping it in mind as my 6 year old does more and more things online.
I cannot possibly name all the wonderful companies we encountered or their amazing toys and games but there were a lot. But I can try to show you some of the fun with a LOT of pictures!
Here is a gallery of some of the fun from ChiTAG 2014.
We were there from open to very close to closing both days and only took snack and lunch breaks…well potty breaks too of course. There was a food stand INSIDE the hall too if you didn’t want to walk to the other parts of Navy Pier but we always love exploring.
If you have never been to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and you like playing with toys and games you have to experience it at least once. Chicago is a great city to visit and that area is one of our favorites so if you are from out of town book a hotel and have a nice vacation and enjoy ChiTAG, Chicago and all both have to offer.