Tech & tendencies from the Nuremberg Toy Fair 2018

For the third year in a row, Funday Factory visited the world’s largest toy fair - Spielwarenmesse - in Nuremberg. With 2900 exhibitors and more than 70,000 visitors from 120 different countries, it is needless to say that the toy fair is both amazing and a bit overwhelming.

The Nuremberg Toy Fair is where the international toy markets come together: Renowned brands, toy innovations, licensed products, trendy start-ups, buyers of large chains and many more. Funday Factory attended the fair to find inspiration, get insights about trends & tendencies and meet existing as well as potential partners.

As a digital play studio who focuses on age appropriate design and outstanding craftsmanship with regards to both digital and physical products - we were filled with excitement prior to the fair: What great play experiences will we meet at the fair and how will the digital aspect support and strengthen the play experience - if it’s even there?

This article highlights some of the trends and tendencies from this year’s Toy Fair. Enjoy!

Trends and tendencies from a digital perspective  

Compared to three years ago when Funday Factory visited the toy fair for the first time, it is easy to see that tech in combination with toys has grown exponentially.

This year, the show had a designated Tech2Play area consisting of 400m2 where various manufacturers let their digital toys take center stage. The digital focus was supported by the Business Forum: A programme with several talks about digital play and tendencies.


Tech for parents, babies and toddlers

Naturally, toys developed for babies and toddlers focus on physical aspects that support and challenge skills and senses corresponding to different ages. However, digital products for babies and toddlers were still very much present but in the form of handy and effective products that also help parents.

An example of such a product is the Humming bear from Wishbear which helps calm down the baby when going to sleep. And the Snu:mee from Cepelo which is a baby alarm that includes an mp3 player, loudspeaker and the possibility of tucking it into a soft pillow for the baby to snuggle with, thereby helping the parents to calm down the baby when falling asleep.  

Robotics for all ages

Robots are intriguing and wherever we saw robots, we saw people gathering around. For kids age 8 and up, the variety of robots is expanding and covers simple coding play to complex javascript, but even pre-schoolers can enjoy playing with robots as well.

Meet the Elfkins

The sweet communication robots, the Elfkins, help kids express themselves spontaneously. With scheduled message deliveries, group messaging and photo sharing, the whole family will be able to share moments - big and small.


Another interesting digital play experience we met was the life like robot doll Luvabella by Spin Master. She will progress and evolve when the child interacts with her. Luvabella will start with baby babble and when played with and spoken to, her language will evolve and she will be able to say actual words. The doll comes with accessories like a spoon, and reacts with real life like eating sounds and movements. Beside the nurturing element of playing with the doll, not much learning was integrated into this digital experience - so moving forward, it will be interesting to see how this digital play branch will evolve in line with the teaching and learning tendencies.   

The family of Dot, Dash and Cue

Once again, we met the well known robot Dot by Wonder Workshops. A little round eye tapping into the children’s need for creativity and at the same time teaching them to code. This year, Dot got a big sister called Dash which is able to move and drive around. And for the next age group, Dot and Dash have got yet another family member - Cue.  

CUE 2018

AR and VR play experiences

Also a nominee for toy of the year was ARIA from Wise Toys. An educational and entertaining play experience teaching the child about animals both through analogue cards and the use of VR and AR experiences.

ARIA 2018

We saw AR globes involving a tablet or smartphone that make cities and animals come to life when the child pans over the globe. The tangible and visual expression combined with information - either textual or audio - offers a fine way to learn about the world we live in.


Within the VR category, we got to go on an adventure in Jurassic World, an experience developed by Goliath Toys. With VR headsets and controllers, you were suddenly able to hunt down dinosaurs in your own laboratory.  

VR Jurassic park 2018

Create a Virtual Ocean Pet

Another AR experience is Ocean Pets presented by Pai Technology. Ocean Pets allow the child to design a fish in dough and then bring it to life in their own virtual aquarium using a tablet.

Ocean Pet

Connected toys and Toys to life

Connected toys, toys to life and smart toys combined with an educational element such as coding or parts of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) are hot topics already and will continue to be so in 2018.

Tech will save us

We spent time playing with a cool kit combining dough and tech developed by the company Tech will save us. The play centers around creating different products, e.g. a piano, a camera etc. with dough and then adding sound, lights and other features using cables and a tablet. The play sets come in different themes and target different age groups but common for all of the sets are that they teach the child about electricity and circuits.

Oniri Island - a digital cooperation game

Oniri Islands from Tourmaline introduced a co-op adventure game for two players. You activate the play experience on the tablet by placing two physical figurines, Mina & Tim, on the tablet, and from there, you and your partner explore the fabulous world of Oniri Islands. The game is funded by kickstarter.

The majority of the digital play experiences we saw during the fair use the digital aspect to add learning elements to the play experience. Whether the play experience has a starting point in creativity and DIY or coding and robotics, the element of teaching the child something appeared to be constantly present. We look forward to finding out what the kids think of the digital play experiences being developed with them in mind.

Interested in digital play experiences?

Do you have a great idea already or plan to develop a digital play experience but need help to take it to the next level, don't hesitate to reach out to:

Tine Knudsen
Sales & Marketing Manager

M: +45 60 22 93 42

Contact Tine