This is part 2 in my look back at 2016 toy and play industry's key events. For Part 1 click here.
7. Gender Free
Its been a big year for those who don't believe in gender categories for toys. The Toy Industry Association and the three major toy retailers (Walmart, Toys R Us and Target) all announced they were doing away with the "Girls" and "Boys" designations. The industry's TOTY Awards will no longer have gender based category designations while the retailers will no longer include the designation in their hot toy lists.
8. Major acquisitions
Retailer Dollar Tree purchased Family Dollar bringing its store count to 13,600 stores. Toy company, VTech, completed its acquisition of rival LeapFrog while Spin Master purchased the rights to the classic Etch A Sketch brand from Ohio Art. Walmart upped its digital game by purchasing Amazon wannabe Jet.com.
9. Millennial pass Baby Boomers as the largest generation.
While aging Baby Boomers were looking the other way they were passed by Millennials as the largest generation. These younger, digitally savvy consumers are more than happy to take their shopping to the internet.
10. Barbie's new look.
Barbie had a big comeback year highlighted by a major shift in her look. Rather than being limited to the famously dream girl proportioned doll, today's children have three new body types with which to associate: Petite, Curvy and Tall.
11. Target pulls out of Canada.
Canada looked like a dream home for Target but it turned out to be a nightmare as major problems with product selection and empty shelves forced the company to make an exit.
12. Disney Exits Toys to Life
In a shocking announcement, The Walt Disney Company announced it was pulling the plug on its billion dollar plus "toys to life" entry, Disney Infinity. Toys to Life has been seen as a major growth category with Activision's Skylanders, Lego Dimensions and Nintendo's Amiibo still active in the marketplace.