KUSA - The largest toy industry expo in the western hemisphere continues today. We got an update on 9NEWS 5 a.m. with Toy Guy Chris Byrne.
Byrne said some of the talk this year is that within five years, traditional toys will be gone and everything play-related will be on tablets.He's not buying it.
"The facts tell a different story,"Byrne explained."Yes, tablets are appealing to younger and younger children. More and more of these kids have access to tablets, but they are not replacing traditional toys."
Byrne points out an infant can't teethe on a tablet. "And you can't cuddle up to one. There have been a slew of tablet-related toys in the past couple of years, but many of them just aren't any fun and haven't done well," heobserved.
But aren'tkids playing with more apps? "Yes...at least the good ones," Byrne said."But there are a lot of terrible ones out there, too, and kids are swift to reject those. What's more, parents' and caregivers' response to this growth is to seek out other types of play experiences. They are seeking to limit screen time for their kids-and that includes any screen."
However, for kids who are technologically-minded, they can look to updates of old favorites this year.
Byrne saidconstruction toys are booming for 2013. Arts and crafts companies are seeing double-digit growth in some product lines. "NERF blasters, sports toys, even some games have been successful in the past year," Byrne said.
"Small companies like Zing and Hog Wild are finding a steadily growing market for their classic toys. All of these have one thing in common: they deliver play experiences that cannot be replicated on a tablet or in an app," he said.
Byrne believes social, physical and manipulative play are all critical to children's development and the brain centers stimulated by play that can't be replicated by technology.
"More importantly, some of the most exciting new toysare traditional toys," he said."It's going to be fun to bring them to you as they come to market."
Among the construction toys to hit the shelves this year include Skylanders, a toy where kids can interchange different body parts to create different characters.
Byrne says Barbie wouldn't be outdone with her Build 'n Style Mega Bloks, which allows players to build a pool party scene for the famous gal and her beau, Ken.
"It's all about the building and the playing," Byrne said.
One of the more traditional toys to hit the market this year includes the Doc McStuffins Get Better Check-Up Center. Kkids can use the Disney character's tools to make her stuffed-animal friend, Lambie, feel better.
Rose Heaphy contributed to this article.