The New York Toy Fair wrapped up this week and we’ve culled together some of the top trends and products featured at the show.
New innovations ranged from nostalgic to gross and everything in between! We bet you can’t make it through this article without saying “I want that!” at least once…we couldn’t!
“The toy industry continues to do an incredible job of keeping pace with innovation and trends seen beyond the toy aisle in order to bring kids and families exactly what they are looking for: play that is engaging, enriching, addictive, and fun,” says Adrienne Appell, leading trend specialist at The Toy Association.
Every year, the Toy Association’s team of trend experts predicts that 2018 will see some of the best new products to hit store shelves in recent years. To do this, the team meets with hundreds of global toy companies throughout the year to track the latest developments in toys and youth entertainment.
At New York Toy Fair, the team combs through thousands of products on the show floor before making an official announcement of the year’s hottest trends at a “Toy Trends Briefing” for media, buyers, and other show guests. This year, the Toy Association highlighted the following SIX major trends:
The “Big Reveal”
There is something about the toy at the bottom of the box…
The act of removing a surprise toy from a “blind bag” is just as exciting as the toy itself and all part of the fun. The collectibles trend has grown tremendously since 2017 (14% globally). Some are mini “surprise” collectibles in blind bags and other larger toys that focus on the tactile aspect of opening and putting together the toy as part of the play experience. The one thing these toys all have in common: they get kids excited about opening the box to see what they got, how it feels in their hands, and what the toy can do.
Playfoam Pals by Educational Insights
Each of the 12 wild animals (plus a super rare golden critter) comes hidden inside its own pod of PlayFoam, that squishy, mess-free modeling compound that kids already love. Kids peel away the playfoam to reveal the surprise animal inside, and then still have the foam to mold into whatever shapes they want, so each is like a collectible and a creativity toy all in one.
What is old is new again.
Millennial moms and dads – defined as those born between 1981 and 1997 – make up the majority of young parents in the U.S. today. Though the generation has been defined by its obsession with technology, millennial parents strive to “unplug.”
Similar to the trends we’re seeing in entertainment with reboots of popular sitcoms, this year expect reboots of toys millennials used to play with as well as toy industry staples, like Monopoly and chess and checkers, to spike.
Cra-Z-Art has done something similar this year and released a retro package of its Magna Doodle.
Other brands are creating new merchandise that taps into that love of nostalgia. Funko is selling characters from “The Princess Bride” as well as Bob Ross (“The Joy of Painting”) and Mr. Rogers figures.
Games, Games and More Games!
Growing interest in board games over the past few years has led to phenomenal growth in the games & puzzles category, with U.S. sales up 23 percent in 2016 and 3 percent in 2017.
From kids and teens to young adults to grandparents, game play is appealing to all ages and a variety of interests, thanks to niche games, licensed games, cooperative games, quick games, new takes on old classics and innovative board games. Social media is also giving game sales a boost, as laugh-out-loud, silly, and gross-out games continue to inspire social media sharing by teens and adults, with some videos even going viral. Most importantly, games of all kinds are fostering face-to-face play and getting families excited about playing together.
Tic Tac Tongue
With Tic Tac Tongue, the goal is to be quick to lick! Players put on the lizard mask and get ready for a game of skill and speed. One player flips over a number card. The other two players face off to knock down the correct insect card. The lizard that knocks down the most insects the fastest wins!
A sub-trend features games that have an awesome “gross factor.” A great example is from Jakks Pacific…
Who knew that the once untold satisfaction of popping a zit would now make for fun and exciting (albeit gross) gameplay. Players roll the die and squeeze the zit depending on number rolled. With Pop-a-Zit!, players will never know when the zit is going to pop!
Playing with pretend pets – whether they are furry plush or interactive digital pets – is a growing trend for children who are eager to care for their own pets, but not yet ready for the responsibility of a real, live animal.
Pet toys run the gamut from fantastical creatures (like unicorns, dinosaurs, or other made-up animals) to cats, dogs, horses, and other pet toys that feature realistic details, grooming and food accessories, and online worlds that bring toy pets to life. Parents love these toys because they prepare kids for the real thing by teaching them how to be empathetic and nurturing. Also included in this trend are “anti-virtual pets” that interact with kids in a funny way by being grumpy or gross, and collectible or wearable pets that are fun for kids to trade and display.
Huggers by Wild Republic
Wild Republic Huggers are 8” soft, stuffed, lovable toys that hug you back. Triple-protected, specially-designed snap bands provide a safe and friendly grip. Kids can wear them on their wrists or they can be wrapped around strollers or bikes.
There is something to be said for good, old-fashioned imaginative play that inspires children to picture themselves in adult roles or future careers, create new worlds, and explore their talents.
According to The Toy Association’s Genius of Play initiative, studies show that kids who play make-believe games are better able to self-regulate their emotions, develop a problem-solving approach to learning, have better language abilities, and much more.
Nail-a-Peel Deluxe Color Kit
It’s like creating 3D art…only in the form of nail polish! The kit comes with a specially-formulated polish, design tips and tools, stencils, glitter and tinsel, so kids turn each nail into a tiny work of 3D art. When it’s dry, each one neatly peels off so kids can do it all over again.
Toys that Teach
“Play with a purpose” is a buzz-phrase among educators and parents…and the toy industry has stepped up to the plate to create teaching toys in a major way.
With the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting that STEM jobs will increase to more than 9 million by 2022, parents are eager to get their children interested in these topics at a very young age.
Botley the Coding Robot
Botley the Coding Robot teaches kids as young as five the basics of coding in a fun, friendly way with no screens required. Botley comes with a 77-piece activity set so kids can program him to make his way through an obstacle course of their own making.
This trend also encompasses toys that teach kids how to make the world a better place – by being responsible citizens, kind to their friends, and open-minded about different cultures.
LEGO DUPLO My First Emotion Set
The LEGO DUPLO My First My First Emotions set contains pieces that mix and match various facial expressions to allow toddlers to start to recognize emotions as they play, and create their own stories around those emotions.
Tech & Entertainment – What’s New
2018 will see the release of Aquaman, A Wrinkle in Time, The Incredibles 2, Wreck-It Ralph 2, Duck Duck Goose, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Madagascar 4, and many more family-friendly blockbusters that will influence the toy aisle, as well as new TV shows that will spawn creative new toy lines.
Jurassic World Thrash ‘n Throw Tyrannosaurus Rex
Mattel’s Jurassic World Thrash ‘N Throw Tyrannosaurus Rex can snap open and close its mouth to grab other figures or creatures. It has stomp and roar sound effects, as well as an innovative tail activated thrash and throw feature.
In terms of tech, the team expects to see more affordable and user-friendly virtual and augmented reality toys, interactive and buildable robots with new features, and RC flyers (like drones) that are easier to handle and fly.
Air Hogs Supernova
The Air Hogs Supernova is a small quadcopter uncased in a light, spherical plastic cage open enough to allow the propellers to lift the toy, but enclosed enough to keep small fingers away from the spinning blades. Recommended for kids aged eight and up, it doesn’t come with a remote control and doesn’t connect to a phone – everything will be done through hand gestures. There are four tiny infrared sensors on the sphere and a laser sensor on the bottom.
While the toys we’ve highlighted here are only the tip of the HUGE iceberg that is the New York Toy Fair, we hope they inspired you to come up with new ideas – or at the very least, go out and play!