I decided to stay in NYC to reflect on a Toy Fair that I felt had a lot of potential. Unlike most years, I don't believe there to be one toy or booth that dominated the exhibition recaps. Instead vendors focused on capitalizing on proven play patterns, established licenses from major studios, and of course the Hatchimal craze. I saw quite a lot of non-plush product with Hatchimals licensing, FYI… A lot of plush introductions with little tooling risk seemed to be more prevalent than other years. While some played it safe, below you will find my recap on trends, new innovations, and some risk-taking products for Holiday 2017.
— Construction Super Category (Down 3%) —
Did I read that, right? Construction is down?? That’s the first time in over three years that the category saw a decrease. While its biggest player LEGO will surely have a huge rebound year with Star Wars Episode VIII: The First Jedi (Dec 15th, 2017), it does show that there is room for a new player that can connect with consumers on a new way to build.
1. Strawbees – Sometimes simplicity wins. This Swedish brand is all about using common household components, previously thought to be common household items, to create a fun new way to build. This product inspires creativity and drive home the idea that construction toys are the basic blocks for adulting; aka solving problems with what you have.
2. Pushinz – This product inverts the way block builds snap together; not from within, but instead by poking the patented lacquered foam like material from the top. Instead of relying on a base or stuck in the play room, these can be stuck to the refrigerator or even played with during bath time. Bonus points for the inventor's super cute child on packaging.
3. Roller Coaster Challenge – Games + Puzzles was the highest growth super category in 2016 with an 18% increase. This product has you building coasters to solve challenges and practice spatial thinking and design to overcome obstacles.
— Super Category Top Picks —
Games & Puzzles (+18%)
Soggy Doggy (Spinmaster) – Sure skill and action, or rather reaction, is the new trend for TV advertised games but this one is the cutest. Easy roll and push play pattern builds up excitement for that moment when our canine friend does his best "shake it off" audition and reenacts a big laughable real life moment.
‘ Vendors focused on capitalizing on proven play patterns’
Arts & Crafts (-5%)
Fashion Super Star (Crayola) – This app/art set hybrid rethinks a classic theme of fashion designer. Physi-digital is top of mind for retailers now and this product seamlessly combines challenges from the app and the physical coloring/design book.
******** Miscellaneous Toy (aka the Fidget Category in 2017) ********
Thumb Chucks (ZING) – Although this isn't an official category occurring to NPD, this was the most used (and overused) word at Toy Fair. Fidgeting is the new rainbow loom and I've covered it before in Hong Kong to Atlanta to Dallas; Diverse Insights' top trends from January Trade Shows. This is my favorite NEW product for this trend pod and it's super addictive!
******** Best in Show, Innovation **********
3. Beast of Balance – What if tech toys were of heirloom quality? This true physi-digital twist to Jenga is beautiful. It's thoughtful enough for a museum store while also being positioned for the premium mass market. Living somewhere between Cards Against Humanity & Sphero.
2. Moonlite – I love when something intuitive is also low-fi. Instead of making you buy some oversized piece of plastic; Moonlite uses your phone's flash light to project stories on the wall as you tuck your little ones to bed. The included app comes with three stories with more available for download. It doesn't hurt that their kickstarter raised $340,000 on a $20k ask!
1. Goblies – A party in a can and my favorite new product from Toy Fair. 50 ready-to-throw, washable plant-based paintballs already hydrated in a can! This is the most fun you can have for $7.99 retail. The canning factor adds to the charm of the item and that the owner/inventor is doing it her way.
******* Early 80s Licenses that have 2017 Appeal *******
Last year it was all about 90s is the new retro while this year felt like it was early 80s. With the new My Little Pony movie debuting later this year (Oct 6, 2017), complementary brands can be used to create nostalgic retro sections for a more complete consumer experience.
1. Care Bears – This brand debuted in 1981 as artwork for American Greetings for a card line and is now seen in the RC category (JADA) and in blind egg plush impulse (Surprizamals by Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company.
2. Classic Disney from FUNKO, 80s Pony & Thun-dercats from The Loyal Subjects, Ghostbusters from Playmobil, Pokemon from Pop Sockets.
3. So technically Pokemon debuted in 1996 but I just want to tell you how hot the license still is and that it's not going anywhere! New licensors like Pop Sockets continue to offer newness within this content-rich property.
Slither.IO the new APP that you need to download
600 Million played this app in December 2016. Almost 50/50 male/female breakdown for players for kids while simultaneously reminding millennials of the classic Nokia Snake game. Although the blind bag is projected to be the top product, a full range of toys is coming from UCC Distribution.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, if you would like to discuss anything in this trend report in more detail please don't hesitate to contact me SteveS@DiverseMail.com or follow my adventures visually on Instagram at @RedStarArmy1.
Chief Discovery Officer