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2024 Toy Trends Briefing


2024 Toy & Play Trends

Eco-lasting Play

Forty-five percent of parents under the age of 40 consider a toy’s environmental impact when making buying decisions, according to a Toy Association survey of U.S. parents. In 2024, toymakers will prioritize sustainability not only as a commitment to using eco-friendly materials, but also as a holistic approach aligned with these evolving consumer values. And what consumers care about most when it comes to sustainability and purchasing products is durability (i.e. quality over quantity) (58%), according to a Deloitte 2023 Sustainable Consumer report.
Beyond being environmentally friendly, this trend centers on toys and brands that stand the test of time, emphasizing craftsmanship, heirloom qualities, extended play value, and a toy’s ability to adapt and grow with children as they age.

Eerie Enchantment

Mystical, magical, and supernatural toys transport kids and kidults on an enchanting journey, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. Thanks to a resurgent cultural interest in spooky, mystery, and horror genres across movies, TV, and literature, expect to see an array of toys that leverage new technologies, hidden features, secret codes, and unfolding narratives that tap into our natural curiosity, explore the thrill of the unknown, and lead kids to new discoveries. Among the properties driving this interest is Wednesday, a 2024 license to watch from the top-viewed English-language Netflix series (at 341 million hours watched in its first week, surpassing Stranger Things’ previous record of 335 million hours.)

Vitamin P(lay)

In this era of mindful parenting, the toy industry is stepping up to the plate to offer a diverse range of toys that aid both mind and body. Fusing emotional intelligence, screen-free active play, and sports-inspired fun, this trend is set to redefine the landscape of children's play, as toymakers deliver more toys that not only promote physical fitness but moreover stimulate creativity, healthy emotional expression, and social interaction. This trend recognizes holistic child development and play’s role in the equation. In fact, some U.S. states are now mandating play-based learning, with research indicating that “playing with a purpose” leads to a deeper understanding of the curriculum.
Bolstered by expected fanfare surrounding the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, we also anticipate sports toys to surge in popularity. 

Anime Mania

A fervent global fandom is bringing anime to the forefront in 2024, and its impact on the toy space is expected to reach unprecedented heights.
Teens and kidults are engaged in the anime community through conventions, online forums, and social media, with fans actively participating in discussions, fan art creation, and cosplay tied to anime content. This enthusiasm coupled with increased accessibility of anime through streaming channels (Crunchyroll, Netflix, Max, etc.) has propelled the genre from niche to mainstream, creating a cultural ripple effect that extends beyond entertainment and kidult audiences into various consumer product categories, including children’s toys. Last year, Bandai opened a flagship Tamashii Nations store in Times Square selling a diverse selection of anime figures and the marketing teams at Spy X Family in Japan and Disney teamed up for crossover promotions of their films –Wish and Code: White. In 2024, expect to see more crossover partnerships and toymakers leveraging the distinct, beloved stories and aesthetics of anime to create toys that resonate with hardcore and casual fans alike.

2023 Q4 Toy Trends Update

Cool to be a Kidult

Young kids won’t be the only ones adding toys to their holiday wish lists — 89% of parents surveyed are toy shopping for grownups this holiday season, with 43% shopping for their spouse or significant other. More than half of the men surveyed (53%) will also buy themselves toys, as well as 48% of millennial parents under the age of 40.
As the data indicates, the spending power of kidults is growing and giving way to new opportunities for toymakers on either end of the kidult age spectrum – from tweens to the elderly. With nearly 4 in 5 (79%) parents agreeing that there is less stigma today than when they were growing up around tweens and teens playing with toys past a certain age, we are seeing a surge in toys and toy-adjacent products that inspire play among teens and tweens (from collectibles, games, and fidget toys to toys inspired by social media).
Thanks to the now well-known and proven benefits of play for all ages, 20% of parents said they will also buy toys for aging relatives this holiday, with 70% noting that mental stimulation is one of the most positive impacts of play for the older adults in their lives.

Conscientious Consumers

Parents are more discerning than ever when it comes to choosing which companies they support, with 31% stating that they want to be sure the company they purchase from has core values that align with their own – especially dads (38%).
This holiday season, key themes that will have an impact on toy purchasing decisions include sustainability, diversity, and representation. Nearly a third of parents have already purchased toys designed to teach their children about diversity, equity, and inclusion, while 45% of parents under the age of 40 are prioritizing the sustainability of toys when making decisions. In response to these evolving preferences, we expect to see more toys that not only prioritize these social issues but do so in authentic ways, such as through strategic partnerships and the adoption of innovative techniques and technologies to ensure diverse backgrounds and cultures are thoughtfully and realistically represented in dolls and other toys.

Playing it Smart

Parents know that play is crucial to kids’ learning and development – that’s why 81% are very or extremely likely to make sure they buy at least one toy with educational value. Whether kids are coding their own pet, playing a game that boosts their reading skills, or roleplaying in the kitchen or as a caregiver and building important social skills in the process, toys offer a proven pathway to learning through play. Nearly 2 in 3 parents (65%) will consider how the toy they choose helps build a skill set, particularly when it comes to helping boost kids’ understanding of STEAM concepts and even skills like cooking, sewing, baking, and cleaning. Just over half (51%) of parents also consider whether a toy promotes mental well-being when shopping for their kids.

Pop Culture at Play

Toys have an enduring impact on pop culture (and vice versa), bridging generations and evoking feelings of nostalgia. Against the backdrop of a banner year for blockbuster toy-related movies like The Little Mermaid, Barbie, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 38% percent of parents expressed an interest in buying toys inspired by movies and popular entertainment franchises.
As in the world of fashion, we are also seeing a revival and reinterpretation of toys from the 1990s and Y2K era as they gain traction among a new generation. In fact, nostalgia is an increasingly significant driver in the resurgence and expansion of specific toy categories and brands, with 2 in 5 parents stating they are likely to buy toys they played with in their own childhoods.
Franchises tied to gaming and anime are becoming more mainstream as well, with 26% of parents likely to buy toys based on gaming or anime content.

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