Hot Toy Lists: UK vs. US

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U.K retailers, Tesco, Smyth’s, and Hamleys, have recently publicized their 2020 Hot Toy lists. I wanted to know how those U.K. lists compared and contrasted to the Hot Toy lists published by U.S. retailers Walmart and Target.

Earlier this month, I published an article “The 2020 “Hot” Toy Lists – A Meta-Analysis.” That piece focused on Hot Toy lists from three U.S. retailers (Walmart, Target, and Amazon) and one from the U.K. (Smyth’s). That was before the Hamley and Tesco lists. Based on the additional data, I decided to review the lists again, but this time from a national compare and contrast perspective.

Price Points (U.K. prices based on conversion from Pound Sterling to U.S. Dollar)

The first difference I spotted was that Walmart and Target combined had a higher market basked average than their U.K. counterparts. In fact, they were almost 1/3 higher. U.S. retailers appear more confident than their U.K counterparts that consumers will purchase high ticket items. Here is are the retailer rankings by market basket average followed by the U.S. and U.K. averages:

Target – $81.07

Walmart – $78.85

Smyths – $62.80

Tesco – $59.34

Hamleys – $58.80

Average U.S. market basket – $81.07

Average U.K. market basket – $60.31

*I am defining a market basket as the average price if you purchase all of the items on any one list.

Overlapping Listings

Although there were some overlapping listings within each country, there was only one case of a U.K. retailer and a U.S. retailer listing the same item, and that was the L.O.L. Surprise Clubhouse Play Set. That product was named by U.S. retailer Walmart and U.K. retailer Tesco.

Within each country, however, retailers agreed on the following items:

Fisher-Price Rollin Rovee – Hamleys and Tesco

Laser Battle Hunters – Hamleys and Tesco

Lego Super Mario Starter Set – Hamleys, Tesco and Smyths

Paw Patrol Dino Patroller – Tesco and Smyths

Hasbro Beyblade Burst Rise Hypersphere – Target and Walmart

Mattel Fisher-Price Little People Launch & Loop – Target and Walmart

M.G.A. Na Na Na Ultimate Surprise – Target and Walmart

Although we speak the same language (with some pronunciation and spelling differences) and enjoy some similar tastes, that does not translate to toys or possibly just Hot Toys.

Brand Popularity

Five toy companies dominated both lists: Hasbro, Mattel, Lego, M.G.A., and Moose. Not surprisingly, Hasbro and Mattel led the lists in both countries. Hasbro had 15% of the U.S. listings and 17% of those in the U.K. Mattel held 14% of U.S.listings and 17% of those in the U.K.

That, however, is where the similarities end. For example, Spin Master, which dominated the U.S. lists with 17% of the items listed, held only 8% of the listings in the U.K. Similarly, Moose, which had 9% in the U.S. held 1/3 the amount, 3%, in the U.K.

U.S. and U.K. retailers embrace the major global brands, Hasbro and Mattel. U.K. retailers, however, diverge from their American counterparts by favoring U.K. and European brands to build out their portfolios.


As we all know only too well, this is a very challenging year for movie tie-in licenses. What surprised me was that U.S. retailers invested far more in movie properties than their U.K. counterparts. The U.S. companies listed a total of twelve movie licenses in their portfolios: Disney Princesses, Frozen 2, Harry Potter, Jurassic World, Marvel, and Star Wars. The three U.K. retailers took a different direction, with only Smyths carrying one movie tie-in, a Star Wars item.

U.K. and U.S. retailers are facing two major variables. In the case of the U.S. it is Coronavirus and elections. For the U.K. merchants it is Brexit and Coronavirus. The U.S. retailers are being cautious but the U.K. retailers appear to have taken the more conservative path of lower price points and an avoidance of movie related products. Both paths make sense.

What is your take?

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