The media, pop culture, technological advancements, and the nation’s collective emotional state can all shape the trends that influence people’s buying decisions. Toys, like fashion and music, are subject to trends, and at no other time are toy trends more evident than during the mad rush of the holiday shopping season.
We received our first glimpse into this 2013’s toy trends at the American International Toy Fair in New York City last February. After the show, the TIA made the following observations which we’ve seen carried out through the year. It’s safe to guess that the products that fall in line with these themes will sell the best in the next few months.
Toys with tech
Did you get the memo? Geek is now synonymous with cool. In an age when 3rd graders have smart phones and toddlers are more adept with an iPad than their grandparents, technology is changing how kids experience their world. Toy companies have responded by integrating technology into new products, not only to hold kids’ attention and keep up with the times, but to enrich the quality and potential of play. Many toys that work together with tablets and apps have risen in popularity, along with products that create 3D interaction, that are powered by robotics and remote-control, and that blend real and virtual worlds.
Holiday toys to look for: Popar Toys 3D Adventure kits, The Explorer Globe from LeapFrog Enterprises, LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robotics kit, Skylanders Cloud Patrol App Sets
Blast from the past
As our ultra connected, high tech lives become the norm, the past becomes more and more attractive and romanticized. Classic play appears novel to the millennial generation. Vintage styling and nostalgia have been hot for the past several years, and now even playthings are going back to basics. Kids are discovering the classics of their parents’ and grandparents’ youth, who are delighted to share in the fun. And for the first time, the 90’s is long enough ago to be a decade to bring back. Just take a look at the new crop of Furbies, introduced onto the market to much fan fare in 1998. Hitting an emotional note with families, retro toys are proven hits that will last for generations to come.
Holiday toys to look for: Wooden doll houses, marble runs, The new Cabbage Patch Kid Dolls, classic board games, Easy Bake Oven, Lincoln Logs, Spin Around Kids, Play Doh
Teens want more than screens
Treading the teen and tween market has always been a slippery slope. In response to the realization that Millennials are growing up a heck of a lot faster than preceding generations, the toy industry sought to reach this audience with what they knew best: technology. But as we’re seeing with the Retro trend, what’s old is new again, and suddenly no-tech is refreshing! Whether they are aware of it or not, kids are craving the physical. Given the rise in playing board games among kids and adults, we’ll say this is definitely starting to show. Hey, even the web company Match.com got on board and now host in person mixers where eligible men and women get to know each other over games like Spot it!
Holiday toys to look for: tabletop games, licensed figurines & collectibles, outdoor action toys, and extreme sports equipment.
Reality competition shows have been rocking the air waves over the past few years and with a positive effect. TV shows like Chopped, Project Runway and American Idol that celebrate every day peoples’ skills have inspired kids to pursue their talents. The toy industry was listening. Crafts and DIY kits are ever popular, along with hands-on toys that encourage creativity, role playing, and performance.
Holiday toys to look for: Creative Toys Haute Couture Fashion Studio, Small World Living Toys Young Chef Cookware Set, VTech – KidiJamz Studio, ALEX® Toys – Do-it-Yourself Wear! All Duct Out, DIY Rubber Band Bracelets Loom Kit
Going Beyond Blocks
Construction toys received a huge demand in the past few years and show no sign of slowing down. Classic sets like Erector and Lego are still going strong, but the new kids on the block are bringing innovation to sets that are interchangeable, eco-friendly, electrically powered, or licensed. Manufacturers have become mindful of appealing to kids across gender, age and ability. No doubt, the rise in construction toys has been fueled by the recent attention advocates of STEM education (science, tech, engineering, math) have received.
Holiday toys to look for: Play Sets by Roominate, HexBug, GoldieBlox, Keva, Hanz, Eitech
Guess who made Amazon’s 2013 Holiday Toys List?
Browse the list and see if you can spot it….