But on our second date, I told Bill I liked board games. He was so excited. He liked board games!
"So, what kind of games do you like? Advanced Squad Leader?"
"What?" I asked, puzzled.
It turned out, I liked some simple little party games, but I didn't really like Board Games. Board games, at least the kind Bill likes, are complicated and involve rule books contained in 3-ring binders. They consume large amounts of time and physical space. They are usually made in Europe in very small batches.
Bill downloads no fewer than 3 board game podcasts a week. He's on multiple board game sites. He has an entire bedroom full of board games.
So, Bill likes board games. And now Nathan likes board games.
Nathan also likes toys.
And I like getting stuff for free because I'm a blogger.
So, we went to the special free blogger event at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair Last weekend.
The pictures I took were with my cell phone, because you had to tweet them as part of a complicated Web 2.0 scavenger hunt that you had to complete in order to get your free swag bag at the end.
My first photo is Nathan with Lego Santa:
Speaking of Legos, I love how you get a kid in a room of brand-new, innovative toys, and he could spend the whole time playing with toys he already owns and plays with hours a day at home:
This next toy looks really cool, but I have no idea what it is, so I'm not doing a very good advertisement for it:
Look at the adorable Viva Topo! with kitties and mice in it:
You had to pick the coolest toy to photograph/tweet. I picked the Air Swimmers shark. I've seen this in catalogs and online, and I have vowed not to purchase it because of the cost, but damn if it isn't pretty cool floating through the air:
Aaand by far the nastiest game was this one about a dog pooping. The object of the game was to collect the most poop.
Also, what exactly did this dog eat?
This is Nathan with Olly Oogleberry, a Chicago-based character who will appear in a new book next month. The people behind Olly are being very nice and sending me a free copy of the book, so I though I'd pimp him up a little:
This next toy is called Q-Ba-Maze 2.0, and it's a variation on the old marble maze with the tubes. What I like about it is that you also build a structure in addition to the marble maze, and you're guaranteed that the marble travels all the way down (as opposed to the old version where it might just plummet from the top to the ground).
Also look how adorable Farrah's kids are in the background.
Nathan spent a ridiculous amount of time on this game Contraptions, in which you build a structure for a ball to roll through.
I hate to say it, but we could kind of DIY this with blocks we already have.
Over at a booth co-sponsored by ArtTerro and the Girl Scouts, you could make a bookmark out of fancy papers. I actually really loved ArtTerro. They make craft kits that include papers made in India out of recycled cloth, so they are eco-friendly. I'm also really trying to get Nathan more art supplies this year, and I like the idea of something simple and creative. Unfortunately I thought the kits were a little more girl-oriented, although a few are unisex.
Play Foam is the newest weird substance on the market, and it was featured at multiple booths. One booth gave me a free pod of it, and I love it. It's super sticky and feels like a Rice Krispie Treat, but it doesn't actually make your hands sticky or stick to any surface. Also, it never dries out.
As part of the scavenger hunt, you had to have somebody take your picture in front of an exhibitor logo. Bill put a lot of thought into what company I should represent, and he picked Rio Grande Games:
Rio Grande games makes the Viva Topo! cat game shown above, as well as this game based on pie:
The game is called Piece of Cake, because according to the Rio Grande people, it's made in Germany, where pie is actually called cake. Germany sounds very confusing.
This next toy is called Doodle Roll, which I thought was a pretty cool toy consisting of a roll of paper and crayons. It would be good for travel or to carry in your purse for those many, many kid entertainment emergencies you seem to encounter.
Here's me in front of the Chicagonista booth, in the final picture of the scavenger hunt. Chicagonista is a fun site that I used to write for, until I decided I wasn't cool and in-the-know enough to keep up.
And, to conclude, a wholesome picture that reminds us that, whatever the fun new gadget on the market, kids still love playing with blocks: