Reporting from the 110th American International Toy Fair, TIA product and trend spokespersons discuss the hot new trends for 2013.
In 2013, it’s back-to-basics for many toymakers, who are introducing an abundance of nostalgic, vintage and classic playthings. Just like bell bottom jeans and neon colors, the best-loved items of generations past can grab hold of a new generation decades later. These favorite toys and characters bring kids, parents and grandparents together in reminiscent fun.
- Nostalgic toys are playthings that evoke feelings of excitement among nostalgic parents, who in turn want to share their favorite childhood memories with their children.
- Vintage toys have retro styling features with old-school touches, finishes, and coloring that give toys a specific look and feel. While the product itself may be brand new, the design gives it the appearance of something from early- to mid-20th century.
- Classic toys are the beloved toys and games, such as Monopoly, Checkers, a ball, blocks, puzzles etc. These are tried-and-true staples in every household that children will always love.
Pop Culture Persuasion
The runaway success of reality television shows – particularly those that celebrate the creativity, talent and skills of contestants – have inspired a new range of toys, games and crafts that encourage kids to build skills across several areas, such as cooking, fashion, design and performance arts. Toys in this category are heavily influenced by popular shows on Food Network, HGTV, Bravo, MTV, TLC, ABC and more.
- TIA’s Little Chefs category includes food-themed toys allow kids to make actual food or engage in creative role play. The food ‘theme’ is also infused into traditional game play. This trend ties into reality food shows and cooking trends on a wider scale in the adult world. Fun for Fashionistas toys build on the success of TV shows like Project Runway, The Rachel Zoe Project, Fashion Star, etc. this category includes craft, design and sewing projects for all ages.
- Pint-sized Pop Stars are toys for kids who love to perform and enjoy shows such as Dancing with the Stars, American Idol and The Voice will gravitate to toys that encourage them to play music, dance and show off their vocal skills.
- DIY Design products are for kids who like to build … and have a flair for creativity.
360 Degree Play
Toymakers are always coming up with new and innovative ways to leverage technology and new production techniques to enrich playtime. As advancements are made in other industries they trickle down and find their way into toys of all kinds – from educational games to active toys and everything in between.
- Virtual Reality toys draw children and the physical world around them into the play experience, making the real world part of the game.
- Augmented Reality products that allow users to “change” or enhance the physical world as they play.
- 3D toys create more interactive experience, even in lower tech products such as nail art.
Enticing Teens and Tweens
During the “KGOY” (Kids Getting Older Younger) phenomenon a few years ago, the toy industry was of the belief that older kids were beyond the age of playing with toys and more interested in technology and electronics. Now, there are many more options for tweens and teens seeking to engage with something other than a computer or a TV screen, such as licensed figures, augmented reality games, outdoor activity toys, and design kits.
Additionally, social interaction is becoming more paramount to the way older kids are playing. You might even say that they are craving social activities… While they may love Words with Friends online, they might discover that an old-fashioned game of Scrabble is equally exciting. This is a big opportunity for the toy industry.
Compact, portable toys fit into lives that are very busy and scheduled, allowing kids to enjoy more play time – in the car on daily errands, at the dentist’s office, during recess, at family functions, and so on.
Building on last year’s trend, “Many Ways to Play,” we are also seeing more and more toys that serve multiple purposes. Multi-function toys are appealing to parents for being practical and good value
According to NPD Group point-of-sales data, the building sets category grew nearly 20% in 2012 … and 2013 will be even hotter. Many manufacturers are diversifying their existing building lines (ex: LEGO Friends, MegaBrands Barbie, etc.) and other companies who may not have previously specialized in building toys are responding to this surge and creating construction sets for kids of all ages, interests and abilities.
Families will see more innovation and licenses in this area, giving them even more exciting options to choose from.