In 2017, the hottest toys included collectibles, squishies, slime, and toys based on popular entertainment properties. By Bianca Herron
At the upcoming Toy Fair show Feb. 17 to 20, every inch of available space at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center will be filled with hundreds of thousands of creative new toys and games, including affordable collectibles and innovative tech toys to licensed product and retro playthings, according to The Toy Association’s Executive Vice President of Global Market Events Marian Bossard.
“Buyers and other trade guests will have access to more than 1,000 innovative global toymakers,” Bossard says. “This not only includes veterans brands, but also more than 100 first-time exhibitors whose never-before-seen toys will be featured in the launch pad section of the show. In all, 30,000 global play professionals vying for a stake in the $27 billion U.S. toy market will be at Toy Fair.”
In addition to being one of the top events to spot the latest trends in toys and play, Toy Fair will also feature educational programming and networking activities to ensure that its 30,000 attendees have a satisfying experience. “Seminar highlights include the always well-attended toy safety seminar, drop-in sessions and workshops for entrepreneurs, a toy trends briefing led by our in-house trend experts, an insight-driven seminar led by staff at Amazon, and sessions tailored to the needs of specialty retailers,” Bossard notes.
Attendees also can plan their visit and navigate the show by downloading the Toy Fair Mobile app, which is free on iTunes and Google Play. The app lists seminars and special events, shuttle bus schedules, the exhibitor floor plan and more. “Buyers who want to get a head-start on discovering new products and companies at Toy Fair can also ShopToys365.com,” Bossard says. “It’s the toy community’s premier e-commerce platform, which enables retailers and toy companies to connect year-round and conduct business efficiently online.”
Top Trends of 2017
In 2017, collectibles, squishies, slime and toys based on popular entertainment properties were a huge success across all age groups. Traditional toys with tried-and-true play value – from board games and puzzles to dolls and plush – also drove sales, says Adrienne Appell, director of strategic communications.
“Affordable collectibles of all kind – a trend we dubbed Collectibles 2.0 – was one of the year’s biggest trends,” she says. “From skill-building and innovative collectibles to collectibles in blind packs, these toys were a top contributor to industry growth. We also saw a surge in educational toys for all age groups, and an array of licensed toys infused with creative components and educational play value.”
In a tech-driven world, it’s hard to believe that classic toys and games, including plush, are experiencing a surge in popularity, she adds. “Recent sales growth in traditional categories proves that millennial parents are seeking traditional toys that empower their kids to use their imaginations and limit screen-time,” Appell says. “For generations, kids have played with dolls and stuffed toys, which allow kids to act out their future roles as parents and foster open-ended play.”
2018 Toy Trends Forecast
The Toy Association’s top trends of 2018 will be announced Feb. 18 during its “Toy Trends Briefing.” “Our trend experts will share each of the top-line trends using product examples directly from the show floor,” Appell explains. “While I can’t give the trends away just yet, I can say that toys that teach a wide spectrum of topics will be popular this year, including playthings that teach kids how to make the world a better place. We’re also expecting to see a surge in classic toys and retro brands that attract parents looking to engage with their kids on an unplugged level.”