Up & Active Toys Take Off in 2017

April 17, 2017 | The NPD Group’s Outdoor & Sports Toys super category grew 10 percent in 2016, and experts say that strong growth is likely to continue as toys that encourage kids to move are a part of a larger health and wellness trend spanning multiple industries.

“We see consumers making healthy lifestyle choices, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, athleisure, wearable devices, and natural looking beauty options, so I believe the outdoor and sports toys trend will continue into the near future as well,” says Juli Lennett, NPD’s senior vice president and U.S. toys industry analyst.

The Up & Active trend – which encompasses toys and games that get kids moving – is one of six toy trends for 2017, according to experts at the Toy Industry Association (TIA).

Toy companies are launching plenty of toys and games designed to motivate kids to move – both indoors and outdoors – particularly as they respond to the demands of millennial parents, who are seeking more engaging toys for their kids, such as offering educational or more active play. 

“Toys that encourage kids to get up and move are on both kids’ and parents’ wish lists,” says Adrienne Appell, TIA trend expert. “It’s not just classic outdoor toys that are popular; we are seeing toy companies innovate with tech toys that weave in active components, educational toys that incorporate physical activity, new exciting ride-ons, and traditional games that require kids to move around in order to play."

Games that combine physical and digital play are on the rise. Jakks Pacific’s Mighty Runner (5+), available this summer,  is an active gaming system controlled by kids’ feet. The first edition game will include three different worlds for kids to play: Amazon Adventure, Zombie Dash, and Track and Field. As players run, jump, and slide, they grab gold coins while simultaneously dodging obstacles, objects, or zombies. When kids collect coins, new worlds open and it increases their options of what accessories they can add to their profile.

Digital meets physical activity with Fisher-Price’s Think & Learn Teach 'n Tag Movi (ages 3-6), an interactive learning buddy that gets preschoolers up and moving while developing gross motor skills, listening skills, and the ability tofollow directions. Available in July, the robot engages kids with active games like "Red Light, Green Light" or "Movi Says.”

Traditional outdoor playthings remain popular; with some added flair. 

Fin Fun's swimmable mermaid tails are a strong motivator for aspiring swimmers. While the tails are for kids ages 6 and up, being a competent swimmer is a must. For the summer season, Fin Fun is launching two new limited edition tail designs, the Razzle Dazzle and Lunar Tide Mermaid Tails.

Tucker Toys’ Kite-A-Pult (10+) can be launched as a kite or glider, offering hours of flying fun for kids. Using the Kite-A-Pult, kids can “train” as a cadet to earn their wings, moving up to airman and finally to become a Kite-A-Pult Ace.

Hog Wild LLC’s Stikball (5+) is a soft, sticky, squeezable ball with a moldable core that sticks when thrown against almost any flat surface. Kids can throw it against the Strike Zone Target or play catch with the Stikball Mitts.

Toys that incorporate active learning, such as Teach My Inc.’s Teach My Fish & Learn Yoga Mat Set (3+),  are also popular. Kids can master the alphabet, numbers, shapes, and colors, all while moving on the coordinated yoga mat. The set includes magnetic fishing rods, magnetic fish, and inflatable dice.

“Research has shown that children who move while learning may absorb more. Plus, physical activity is important for a healthy mind and body,” says Christy Cook, founder and CEO of Teach My Inc.

The activity also appeals to millennial parents, who aim to limit screen time in favor of screen-free family activities, Cook says.

Spring is the perfect time of year to remind parents and caregivers of some simple precautions they can take to make sure outdoor play is both fun and safe.

For more information about the hottest toy trends of 2017, visit www.ToyAssociation.org/Trends.