Toy Fair 2017


C2C Studios

Fresh, Fierce, and Fabulous: Innovative and Classic Dolls to Spur Sales Through Q4

by Kristin Morency Goldman, communications specialist, Toy Industry Association

This spring, The NPD Group reported a 16 percent uptick in doll sales for the first quarter of the year, and industry experts at BMO Capital Markets predict that doll sales will continue to grow by about 10 percent overall this year, thanks to a slew of innovative, licensed, and classic dolls hitting store shelves through the holiday season.

“The initial launch of Hasbro’s version of the Disney Princess dolls, the introduction of the curvy Fashionista Barbie from Mattel, and a new line of DC Super Hero Girls action dolls, also from Mattel, appear to be generating strong sales at retail,” says Gerrick Johnson, toy analyst at BMO Capital Markets.

Fashionistas

Barbie Fashionistas, from Mattel

Johnson said this could be the strongest year for dolls since 2009, when Mattel introduced Barbie Fashionistas and the I Can Be… Barbie line; MGA Entertainment brought Moxie Girls to market; and Spin Master introduced its Liv dolls. In 2010, Mattel introduced Monster High, “adding even more firepower to the category,” says Johnson.

“The doll segment went from being a negative trending category for the five years prior, to one of the strongest categories for the next five years,” says Johnson, adding that he is expecting a similar reaction this year. “We’ll see in the fall if kids keep up the momentum.”

Innovations and new licenses in the category are stimulating demand, but the enduring value of classic play is also having an impact on doll sales, according to Adrienne Appell, trend expert at the Toy Industry Association (TIA).

“We know that toys in general are faring quite well, and some of the classic categories—including dolls—are experiencing a surge because kids still love to use their imaginations and role play,” says Appell.

Earlier this year, TIA identified the top trends in toys for 2016, including toys-to-life, which combine technology with traditional play, as well as toys that encourage families to play together.

CPKBSR

Cabbage Patch Kids Baby So Real, from Wicked Cool Toys

“We are seeing tech-driven dolls, as well as licensed fashion dolls that appeal to both kids and adult collectors, which coincide with two of our top trends and tell us that the doll category is one to watch,” says Appell. “And we can’t forget about the enduring popularity of traditional dolls—like the classic baby doll—that allow kids to act out their future roles as parents.”

New introductions from leaders in the doll segment (Mattel and Hasbro) will spur interest in dolls—and sales—across the entire industry. From new innovations to tried-and-true classics, the following are just a few examples that are expected to impact the market through Q4:

Cabbage Patch Kids Baby So Real (coming in August), from Wicked Cool Toys, is an interactive, lifelike Cabbage Patch Kid that combines traditional doll play with groundbreaking technology. The soft and cuddly doll comes to life with animated LCD eyes that open, close, and look around as well as sensors for peek-a-boo, tickle play, and other interactions. An accompanying app heightens the play experience by allowing kids to bring the fun of parenting online with a virtual nursery, games, and video clips.

Little Friends Doll Feli, from Haba, is unlike any other Little Friends doll because her clothes and hairstyles can be removed and interchanged, allowing for customization. The 4-inch tall bendy doll is posable and compatible with all Haba dollhouse furniture and dollhouses.

Asana Yoga Girl, from Azaim Girlz, is an aspirational doll that encourages children to be active and develop lifelong healthy habits. The doll is sold with a pilates ball, hand weights, a yoga mat (which doubles as a slap bracelet), and a hair brush. A percentage of profits from the sale of each Asana doll will benefit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which is dedicated to reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity.

Mon Premier Bébé Bath Sail Away (Corolle) is a classic 12-inch doll for kids to play with in the bath, pool, or ocean. The lifelike baby doll is soft and posable, making it perfect for rocking and cuddling. It can also be hung to dry from the tab on the back of its neck after bathing or water play.

Based on the popular line of Star Darlings books and animation, the Disney Star Darlings doll line from Jakks Pacific encourages kids to “be confident, believe in themselves, and to shoot for the stars!” The fully posable dolls are decked out in outrageous fashions, and feature shimmer skin and sparkly eyes.

Betty Spaghetty dolls, from Moose Toys

Betty Spaghetty dolls, from Moose Toys

Harley Quinn, The Joker, and The Penguin are the new DC Comics Fashion Squad dolls, slated to “hit the runway” this fall. Appealing to doll lovers and collectors of all ages, members of the DC Comics Fashion Squad are decked out in couture costumes and represented in Madame Alexander’s 16-inch fashion doll sculpt.

Splashlings, from TPF Toys, is a beautiful line of collectible dolls and characters from under the sea with unique personalities. Collectible items within the line include mermaids and their “splashlings” (pets), treasures, gems, and play sets. Accompanying webisode content can be found at the Splashlings website.

Moose Toys is bringing back the classic Betty Spaghetty doll. First introduced in the late ’90s, the all-new Betty Spaghetty will let kids use their imaginations as they mix and match her outfits and hair to create a personalized doll that is completely unique.

The Hanna, Jane, and Theresa dolls from Little Poland Gallery are beautifully made of 100-percent cotton and other natural resources. The 15-inch tall playmates are perfect for little ones ages 18 months and up. »

Barbie, She Should Run Team Up For President and Vice President Dolls

Barbie women ticketMattel introduces President and Vice President Barbie dolls and teamed up with She Should Run, a non-partisan organization dedicated to expanding the talent pool of future elected female leaders, to help motivate more women and girls to explore leadership opportunities. The pair are working together to highlight female leaders, offer products that enable leadership storytelling, and get parents talking to their kids about being a leader.  [Read more...]

Madame Alexander Adds to My First Baby Doll Collection

6db1e3c2-e0e8-48e7-ae9f-2618ba74e3ecMadame Alexander is expanding its My First Baby Doll collection in July. The dolls are 12 inches tall and come in two new styles: Rock-A-Bye Musical Baby and Baby Powder Lilac.

The Rock-A-Bye Musical Baby plays music, and the Baby Powder Lilac doll features soft fabric. The line is designed with soft, huggable cloth bodies to ensure comfort and safety.

Mattel Introduces American Girl Line Geared Toward Younger Audience

unnamed-1Mattel introduced WellieWishers, an American Girl line geared to kids ages 5 to 7. The 14-inch dolls and accessories will include a theater stage and a wooden playhouse with more than 30 pieces. The line will also include a dress-like-your-doll collection, which is available through American Girl’s catalogue and americangirl.com. [Read more...]

Toy Photographer Uses Hasbro Disney Princess Dolls to Recreate Movie Scenes

i-L2cXrGt-LPhotographer Brian McCarty has created a Disney photo series that reimagines iconic scenes from Disney Princess movies. The photos depict the adventures of MeridaTiana, and Rapunzel, which mirror the film scenes in doll-size detail. McCarty and his design team used dolls from Hasbro’s Disney Princess line, custom created sets, props, and lighting to recreate the scenes. [Read more...]

Amazon, Mattel Ink Production Deal to Greenlight American Girl Specials

Amazon has signed a multi-year, multimillion dollar production deal with American Girl to produce four live-action specials and options to produce multiple seasons of episodic content.

The episodes will feature characters from the BeForever and Girl of the Year franchises. The first special is scheduled to premiere on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S., UK, Germany, and Austria later this year.

Jakks Pacific Named Master Toy Licensee for Make It Pop

by Melanie Rainone

MAKE IT POP - newDHX Brands, a part of DHX Media, has appointed Jakks Pacific Inc. as master toy licensee for the show, Make It Pop, for all territories outside of Europe. The products will include dolls, plush, dress-up, role-play, girls’ electronic toys, and Halloween costumes, and are expected to launch in 2016.

[Read more...]

Nifty ’50s American Girl Maryellen Larkin Debuts

AmericanGirl, Maryellen LarkinToday, American Girl is debuting its latest BeForever character, Maryellen Larkin.  An 18-inch doll with strawberry-blonde hair and hazel eyes, Maryellen comes with historically accurate 1950s doll outfits, including a poodle skirt and saddle shoes. American Girl is releasing numerous accessories to go with the doll, including a 30-piece diner set, a TV console that works with an iPad, and a jukebox that plays ’50s-style songs and connects to electronic music players.

[Read more...]

COMMENTARY: In the Doll Category, Diversity Is Finding Common Ground

Journey Girls2Dolls are getting more diverse all the time, and that diversity extends beyond ethnicity. Peek online or at your local toy store, and you’ll see that the doll aisle offers a wider variety than ever before, including boy dolls, ones featuring characters with interests in science and computers, and models depicting disabilities. Truly, we are living in a Golden Age of doll play, given how many niches are represented. And that’s leading to something pretty interesting: that the different niches themselves are starting to blur together.

[Read more...]

Little Charmers’ Licensing Program Continues to Grow Across Toy Categories

LittleCharmersLittle Charmers‘ portfolio of toy licensees has grown by a few more partners, reports Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana Enterprises, which co-produces the Little Charmers animated series.

[Read more...]