Not admitting to missing Toy Fair.

For the second year in a row, I skipped Toy Fair. My phone, email, and Facebook have been figuratively “ringing off the hook” with people trying to set meetings.

This got me wondering why I stopped going. There is the obvious …… I don’t work in the toy business. And the not so obvious …. I’m totally focused on interactive experiences – gaming, gaming everywhere – just not toys reliant on the retail shelf.

That doesn’t mean I’m not still interested in what’s up at the American International Toy Show. There’s always a lot of cool stuff and this year a lot of cool stuff featuring cutting-edge technology and innovative play patterns.

Here’s a couple things I wish I’d seen in person.

“Angry Birds Knock on Wood” – Mattel game based on the massive Angry Birds franchise. It’s great to see one of the first brands to break out from the phone to the toy world.

“Sweet Talking Ken Doll” – Apparently this doll will say what Barbie wants to hear. Should be amazingly successful and good training for guys everywhere.

Cisco Products has a “Digi Piggy”. This is a digital piggy bank that let’s you track what you are spending or saving.

Barbie has a new “I Can Be” line. Now in addition to being a Fashion Model or Rock Star, little girls can be a Computer Engineer. Wearing pink, but still a Computer Engineer.

LeapFrog has a kid’s iPad device for $99. It has a camera, plays Apps, and books.

Lego Hogwart’s Castle.  With so much discussion about social play, it’s nice to see a toy that by nature is social. You need a Harry, Hermione, and Ron to help you put this massively amazing project together.

Fisher Price has an iPhone holder so that little kids can easily play touch screen games. This is a really nice idea for little ones.

And finally,  apparently Lego created a life-size Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. That alone would have made the trip to the Jacob Javits Center worth it!

What’s your favorite toy announcement?

Blogging, 1 year later. Still on The Next Big Thing.

Forgive me blog for I have sinned. It’s been 3 months since my last post.  How did that happen? I’ve had something to say every day, but somehow, I couldn’t commit it to my blog. Until today. When the CEO of a company I really respect called me up and said “I was reading your blog” …. And a moment of panic set in …. “you mean the blog I haven’t posted on since September?”

So here we are. January 14. Nearly a year since I started the blog ….which was focused on Thinking about the Next Big Thing.

Here’s some Big Things I thought about in 2010:

1.     Social Games.  Spent real money buying a virtual Cathedral for my City, a Corvette for my Sorority Girl, and a whole lot of seeds for my Farm. Realized there was a big business here, but it wasn’t really gaming like I thought.

2.     iPhone.  Like High Heeled Shoes, it looks pretty, but hurts like heck when I use it. Dropped calls. Mystery voice mails when the phone never rang, but quite simply the center of my work/life universe.

3.     Mobile Games.  A refrigerator that’s always full where most of the food is free. Angry Birds. Tapulous. Scrabble. I started wishing the flight from Oakland to Burbank was longer.

4.     Facebook. Truly the single best way to stay connected with anyone – and a direct line into what all the college kids in my family are into.

5.     Education. After seeing “Waiting for Superman” I fully realized that the business of learning is where I want to be.

6.     Start-ups.  I advised several small companies and got inspired by the founders, the ideas, and the positive energy in starting something new.

7.     eBooks. I stopped buying real books, downloaded Barnes & Noble for iPad and starting reading 3 books concurrently. Just amazing to think what this will mean for the book business.

8.     Fundraising. I met a lot of VCs.  Most of them were wearing Khaki pants and blue shirts, went to Stanford/MIT/Harvard and “liked my idea”.

9.     Apps. FourSquare . Groupon. LoseIt!, Flixster, Instagram, LinkedIn, TripIt – life made better for free.

10. Video Games. The business was down 5% in 2010. It’s not the economy. It’s a radical change in the way consumers think about and play games. Realize that items #1 – #9 may have something to do with that.

I’m now Working on the Next Big Thing. You can read my next blog post to find out what that is.   Happy 2011!