The Toy Association revealed the six biggest new toy trends for the new year: The ‘Big Reveal’, Millennial Nostalgia, Games Galore, Pet Play, Inspiring Imaginations, and Toys That Teach.
2018’s biggest toy trends were officially unveiled by The Toy Association at the 115th North American International Toy Fair. These are the major trends that will dominate much of what we see on store shelves this year and it gives us a glimpse as to what we can look forward to in the year ahead.
Adrienne Appell, a leading trend specialist at The Toy Association, said in a statement: “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. 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 life-long skills through play.”
According to trend experts from The Toy Association, 2018 will feature some of the best new products in recent years. The team evaluates thousands of products on the show floor before announcing the hottest trends of the year at the Toy Trends Briefing. All of the products demonstrated during the presentation will be available by Holiday 2018.
Here’s a brief summary of the six major trends for 2018:
The ‘Big Reveal’
There’s no denying ‘unboxing’ highly-anticipated toys on social media is a social phenomenon heavily influencing what we see in our toy aisles. Not only is unboxing a surprise toy from a blind bag exciting, but it also adds to the overall fun and play experience. Last year collectible toy sales experienced 14 percent growth worldwide. The ‘Big Reveal’ can be in the form of everything from mini surprise collectibles in blind bags to larger toys where the tactile component of unboxing and assembling it adds to the overall play experience. These playthings thrive on the element of surprise and get kids excited for the ‘Big Reveal’, how it feels, and what it can do. Examples of the ‘Big Reveal’ from Toy Fair 2018 include Shopkins Season 10, L.O.L. Surprise! Confetti Pop, Fingerlings Minis, and LEGO Minifigures.
Millennial parents comprise a large part of young parents today in the United States. Although the Millennial generation is defined by its obsession with tech, these parents are gravitating toward simpler classic toys and retro brands to connect with their children on an unplugged level. Expect to see a ton of nostalgic toys delivering tried-and-true play value for a new generation of kids. Classic toys continue to perform well – with 8 percent growth in plush sales and a 4 percent increase in doll sales last year. Examples include Barbie Fashionistas, Teddy Ruxpin, Polly Pocket World Assortment, and Light Brite Ultimate Classic.
The Games and Puzzles category continues to show strong growth with a 23 percent increase in 2016 and 3 percent growth in 2017. These products appeal to all ages and people with various interests. Niche games, licensed games, cooperative games, quick games, new twists on classics, and innovative board games are driving much of the success of this category. Even social media is playing a big role in its success. Teens and adults are sharing laugh out loud, silly, and gross-out games. And, in fact, some of these videos eventually end up going viral. Games foster interpersonal skills, social interaction, friendly competitiveness, team-based cooperative play, and even get families excited to play together for family game night. Examples include Monopoly Cheaters Edition, Mecard Mecardimals, Speak Out Showdown, What’s That Smell?, and Chow Crown. Toilet and gross-out humor was in full force at Toy Fair with Hasbro’s Don’t Step In It!, Mattel’s Flushin’ Frenzy, Alex Brands’ Plunge It!, KD Group’s Snot It, and Wham-O’s Sticky Snot, and Pimple Pete, a pimple plucking game, to name a few.
Not ready for the responsibility of a real life pet? Pretend pets are the next best thing without all of the mess and responsibility. These furry plush and interactive digital pets serve as perfect companions for kids who have always wanted their own pet but aren’t quite ready for the responsibility required to care for real pets. From cats and dogs to horses, dinosaurs and unicorns, there is no shortage of pretend pets to choose from. Pet toys, like Hasbro’s FurReal Friends Ricky, the Trick-Lovin Pup, feature realistic details and animatronics technology to bring it to amazing life. Kids will learn empathy and nurturing skills and it prepares them for a real pup. Anti-virtual pets are also incorporated into this trend. These may range from grumpy and gross to collectible and wearable pets. Other examples of Pet Play include Rock-A-Too, the Show Bird, Munchin’ Rex, a dinosaur, Fingerlings Hugs, and Pomsies, the wearable pets.
Imaginative play inspires kids to envision themselves in adult roles or future worlds, create new imaginative worlds, and explore their individual talents. Studies show that kids who play make-believe games can better control their emotions, develop problem-solving skills, and have better language skills among many other benefits. From role-play and dress-up products to open-ended construction sets and larger-than-life playsets to arts and crafts and food play, there are a plethora of creative options for kids to develop life-long skills through play. Examples include Kid Kraft’s Adventure Town Railway Train Set & Table, LEGO Harry Potter Great Hall, Crayola Crayon Melter, Do Art 3D Sand Painting, and Barbie + Crayola Color-In Fashions Assortment.
Toys That Teach
‘Play with a purpose’ is an important buzz-phrase with educators and parents nowadays and the toy industry is stepping up to deliver toys that teach in a big way. Although STEM/STEAM/STREAM (Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) toys have been popular in recent years, these teaching toys focus on engaging kids in a variety of ways and oftentimes include new tech and licenses to make learning fun and exciting. Today, toys teach a variety of concepts from counting, alphabet, opposites, coding, and even higher level topics once reserved for the classroom. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM jobs are expected to grow to over 9 million by 2022, so parents are interested in introducing these topics to their children at an early age. This trend also includes toys teaching kids to make the world a better place by being responsible citizens, kind to their friends, and open to diverse cultures. VTech’s My First Learning Tablet, Botley The Coding Robot, and Fisher-Price’s Think & Learn Rocktopus are three concrete examples of Toys That Teach.
Tech and Entertainment
With every new Toy Fair, everyone wants to know about the latest and greatest tech toys and the hottest new properties. The trends team has its pulse on the latest innovative tech and hot new licenses for 2018. As for tech, expect more affordable, user-friendly virtual and augmented reality toys, interactive and buildable robots with new and exciting features, as well as radio-controlled flyers, like drones, that are easier to fly and control.
Some of the hottest new licenses are expected to be Avengers: Infinity War, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The Incredibles 2, Wreck-It Ralph 2, Aquaman, A Wrinkle In Time, Duck Duck Goose, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Madagascar 4, and many more.
Buzz-worthy tech toys from Toy Fair include Merge 6DoF Blaster, Hot Wheels Rocket League RC Rivals, HEXBUG Robotic Soccer, Hot Wheels Augmoto AR Racing Track Set, Hasbro’s Marvel Avengers: Infinity War Hero Vision Iron Man AR Experience, Spin Master’s Boxer, and K’NEX Thrill Rides: K-NECTED Roller Coaster Building Sets featuring a VR experience. Cool new drones include Mattel’s Jurassic World Pterano-Drone and Spin Master’s Air Hogs Supernova. Lastly, one hot licensed property from Star Wars to look forward to is Hasbro’s Star Wars Ultimate Co-Pilot Chewbacca.
Source: PR Newswire