NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Toymakers from around the country are here in New Orleans with their wares on display. You can't help but smile when you are surrounded by the magic of toys. Cassidy smith the national sales manager for Hape toys said, "We want to make sure that kids are keeping to the basics, they're keeping creative. You don't always have to be on that I-pad or phone."
The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association known as ASTRA is meeting in New Orleans for the first time. This organization brings together neighborhood toy stores and manufactures that focus on high value play. Smith said, "We make sure that we are using the highest materials. We were the first to use bamboo for our toys, but most importantly it has to be fun."
Parents are always jumping through hoops trying to make their kids happy. Well these toymakers they're trying to get those obstacles out of your way so you can make your kids happy and get them in toy stores just in time. Smith said, "Let me show you some toys that are only available in specialty stores. Our little penguin wobble. Our stay put rattle shelf has been blowing off shelves everywhere."
Erica Taylor, a toy specialist with Games Workshop, said, "What we've found is that when they're independent retail stores are doing well their community is doing well and they are successful." It's hard to miss the mark with so much creativity and development going on in the industry. Taylor said, "It's not just about a sales experience. It's about a relationship that we continue to have with our consumer base and with our specialty retailer community."
Games Workshop focuses on older kids with model building connected to serial novels that can even be incorporated into a board game. Their products are a part of the Smithsonian summer camp. She said, "I think every toy that you pick up has an opportunity to teach you something it's just about being open to wanting to learn something."
ASTRA wanted to leave a mark on the community as well inviting visitors to help stuff 1000 donated backpacks with materials for local schools including notes of encouragement. A wonderland on display coming to a store near you soon.
During the show participants are also voting on their favorites that will receive a special ASTRA seal for it's packaging.