CBME China 2024

17-19 July 2024 | National Exhibition and Convention Center (NECC), Shanghai, China

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Top Toy Trends of 2018

"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. "The top trends announced today
reflect a continued demand for collectibles, family games, creative
toys, and tech-infused products
that allow kids to create and explore
new worlds and build lifelong skills through play."

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.
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. The briefing was held this afternoon at the Jacob K. Javits
Convention Center; products shown during the presentation will be
hitting stores in time for holiday '18.

A summary of the top six trends follows:

  • The "Big Reveal" The obsession with "unboxing" a
    much-anticipated toy on social media is having a real influence on the
    toy aisle. Now, 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 toy
    industry has capitalized on this social phenomenon and the mounting
    popularity of collectible toys (sales for collectible playthings grew 14
    percent globally in 2017), by introducing a variety of toys across
    several different categories that focus on the act of unboxing. Some are
    mini "surprise" collectibles in blind bags (which have the added bonus
    of being affordable, making them attractive to parents and easy for kids
    to buy with their own pocket money); others are 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.

  • Millennial Nostalgia 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 believe it’s
    important to engage with their kids on an unplugged level in today's
    world and are turning to classic toys and retro brands that are the
    equivalent of "mom's chicken soup" and harken back to a simpler time.
    This year we expect to see an influx of toys that are nostalgic and
    offer tried-and-true play value for a new generation of kids to enjoy
    with their parents. This trend is supported by the fact that classic toy
    categories continue to perform very well – in 2017, U.S. plush sales
    grew 8 percent and doll sales were up 4 percent.

  • Games Galore 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 and 3 percent in 2016
    and 2017, respectively. 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.

  • Pet Play 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. 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.

  • Inspiring Imaginations 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.
    From role play and dress-up items, to open-ended building kits and
    larger-than-life playsets, to arts & crafts and food play
    activities, toymakers have been developing imaginative toys for decades
    and have perfected these playthings for kids today, offering so many
    options for the creative child … and endless opportunities for building
    lifelong skills through play.

  • 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. Though
    STEM/STEAM toys have been a mainstay the past few years, these toys are
    now engaging kids in several different ways and often incorporating new
    technologies and licenses to get kids excited about learning. Today
    we’re seeing toys that teach toddlers everything, including counting,
    the alphabet, opposites, and even coding … and toys for school-age kids
    that teach high-level topics once reserved only for the classroom. 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. It's important
    to note that 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.

  • Tech & Entertainment – What's New The Toy
    Association is always asked about the latest tech toys and hottest
    properties on the market, so the trends team continually tracks
    innovative technologies and new licenses. 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. 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.

Source: the toy association