COMMENTARY: As Play Gets Smarter, More Toys Come to Life Digitally

It’s official: Smart toys are taking over the toy space.

Gone are the days in which kids are content with traditional methods of play. Books, activities, and games are all available for kids on mobile devices, and they expect their toys to be no different. But although the mediums that kids are interacting with daily are changing, the one thing that won’t ever change is that kids love play.

Angry Birds Stella Telepods

Angry Birds Stella Telepods

Smart toys integrate physical toys and technology—essentially giving digital life to toys. Manufacturers are starting to realize the added value in these products and how wildly popular they can be. More than 72 million kids say they want smart toys, according to market research firm Interpret in a GameByte study.

In addition, kids are using mobile devices more than ever before. Seventy-one percent of households with a child age 4 to 14 reported owning a smartphone in 2014, already up from 55 percent in 2012, according to The NPD Group. Also, kids who own tablets doubled from 2012 to 2014, growing from 21 percent to 43 percent, respectively. [Read more...]

HIT Entertainment Will Produce First Little People Series

imageHIT Entertainment, in collaboration with Fisher-Price, has announced that a new CG-animated series, Little Peopleis now in pre-production and is set to launch late next year. The new series is based on Fisher-Price’s Little People brand, and is being produced out of HIT’s UK content hub.

This is the first collaboration between HIT and Fisher-Price since Mattel acquired HIT in 2012.

The Little People line encourages open-ended, imaginative play among preschoolers, with environments built around familiar people and favorite places such as the zoo and farm. The Little People brand has been the No. 1 property in preschool playsets in the U.S. for the past two years, according to NPD Group data.

Toy Market Reflects FIFA World Cup Mania

According to The NPD Group, sales of World Cup-themed toys have been growing since the start of the year, as fever for the event starts to take hold across the UK. One toy out of every nine sold, or over 9.1 million toys, have been linked to the competition.

More than one quarter, or 27 percent, of all toys sold in the week commencing May 11 were related to the tournament, with the best-selling toy that week being Panini’s World Cup Brazil Official sticker album. Two other items in the top 15 directly linked to the competition were also collectibles: Panini’s World Cup Blister pack of 50 stickers and Topps Match Attax England trading cards. [Read more...]

NPD Group Reports Numbers of Gamers and Average Hours Spent Playing Per Week

Core Gaming 2014, the latest report from The NPD Group, states there are 34 million core gamers in the U.S. spending an average of 22 hours per week playing video games.

These core gamers are defined as individuals who play video games five or more hours per week on a PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, or Mac. They play action, adventure, fighting, flight, massively multiplayer, racing, real time strategy, role-playing, shooter, or sport genres.

While core gamers are most likely to play on consoles and computers, phones and mobile devices are also a popular method of play by two-thirds of these gamers, according to the data. In addition, close to 70 percent of core gamers play multiplayer games either regularly or occasionally, and 74 percent would opt for the physical format over digital if the price were the same. The preference for digital is up 5 percentage points to 26 percent this year.

Toy Sales for Easter 2014 Are Up Year-over-Year

According to data from The NPD Group Inc., U.S. dollar sales of toys increased 3 percent in the four weeks leading up to Easter, compared to the four weeks preceding Easter of last year. Easter toy sales got a boost from the warmer weather provided by the holiday occurring three weeks earlier than last year. This was also evident in the strong growth performance of outdoor and sports toys in the four weeks leading up to Easter.

Comparing the pre-Easter period of March 23 to April 19 against March 3 to 30 last year, U.S. toy sales declined by 1 percent, but enjoyed 3 percent year-to-date dollar gains through the holiday.

Measured in dollar sales, the top toy growth segments were: outdoor & sports toys, with 20 percent growth; building sets, with 10 percent growth; and arts & crafts, with 10 percent growth.

NPD Report Shows 36 Percent of U.S. Plays Digitally Downloaded Games

According to The NPD Group’s Exploring Digital Gaming report, an estimated 36 percent of the U.S. population ages 13 and up are digital gamers, defined as currently playing digitally downloaded games on either a computer, video game console, or portable device. Of that percentage, 16 percent report only playing games downloaded digitally.

The computer is the most popular device for digital gaming, owning 90 percent of digital gamers playing on the device, while 28 percent play digitally downloaded games on a video game console. Although digital play is increasing among console players, only about two-thirds of primary console players—or those who play on consoles most often—purchase digital games more than once per year. Only 14 percent purchase on a regular, monthly basis.

When asked about their purchase preference if both physical and digital formats of a game are being offered at the same price, 44 percent of primary console players are more likely to choose physical in this scenario. Primary computer players do not automatically choose digital, with the group being split between 25 percent for digital, 28 percent for physical, and the remaining gamers being indecisive.

 

Interview with Lego President Soren Torp Laursen

The Toy Book spoke with Soren Torp Laursen, president of the Lego Group, about the state of the construction toys category and how Lego is adapting to trends.

The Toy Book: Building sets saw a 23 percent increase in sales from 2011 to 2012, according to the NPD Group. And the category is the strongest toy category right now. Why has the construction category taken off over the past couple of years?

LEGO_LogoSoren Torp Laursen: Building is the best and most versatile play experience available to children, and it is our DNA. Our single brand status has given us the focus and discipline to offer the best quality material and grow our business—and the category along with it. Our momentum has been strong over the last eight years, which furthers our ability to invest in expanding the brand to invite new users and drive continued growth. Parents and children alike recognize the lasting value and versatility of a Lego building experience, which is why we strive to meet their evolving needs with Lego solutions. We don’t see that different play patterns need to be discreet experiences, and fortunately, our brand’s versatility allows us to adapt compelling play patterns to the building sets category, such as action figures, dolls and play sets, vehicles, and gaming. By changing the way we approach what constitutes a building experience, without fundamentally changing what makes it a Lego experience, we continue to deliver relevant, yet familiar, Lego products that are driving industry growth.  

TB: What are some of the biggest trends you’ve noticed in the construction category recently?

STL: Perhaps the biggest trend in building sets at the moment is licensing, which seems to be increasing as other players seek to establish or grow their businesses. Building sets is an incredibly tough toy category to enter, establish, and sustain, therefore it is not for dabblers. Being a player requires costly complexities in molding and supply chain operations, plus research and development to be relevant and broad enough to attract a sustainable fan base, which we have found comes not only from single event-based properties, but from a wide variety of original and licensed themes that appeal to any child of any age. [Read more...]

The UK’s Top 10 Best-Selling Toys to Date

The UK’s Top 10 best-selling Toys year to date (April 2013)

  1. Vivid ImaginationsMoshi Monsters Moshling Figures
  2. Lego‘s Lego Minifigures
  3. Leapfrog‘s Leappad Explorer Tablet
  4. Hasbro‘s Furby Hot and Cool
  5. Vivid ImaginationsMoshi Monsters Blind Bag
  6. Mattel‘s Monster High Doll
  7. Leapfrog‘s Leapfrog Explorer Game
  8. VTech‘s Innotab Learning Tablet
  9. Mattel‘s Cars 2 Character Clipstrip
  10. Flair‘s TMNT Basic Figures

Source: The NPD Group

Gaming Devices Remain Dominant Consumer Electronics Used by Kids

According to the Kids and Consumer Electronics: 2012 Edition, the latest report from the NPD Group, portable and console video game systems continue to have the highest usage levels among kids ages 4 to 14, but media tablets experienced the highest increase in usage at 13 percent this year, versus only 3 percent last year.

Additionally, while usage of the more sophisticated devices such as computers and video game devices tend to increase as kids get older, tablet usage is highest among younger children, which highlights how important it is for manufacturers to make their devices easy to use. According to the report, households with kids ages 4 to 14 own an average of 10 different devices, with kids using an average of five of those devices.

Televisions, computers, and cell/smartphones continued to maintain the highest household ownership, while portable digital music players saw the largest drop in household ownership with just 35 percent owning these devices in 2012, compared to 48 percent last year. Household ownership of console and portable video game systems, media tablets, and digital video cameras experienced the most significant increases.

Portable video game systems are the most popular devices personally owned by kids ages 4 to 14, with 6 years of age being the average age of adoption; this is slightly younger than last year, when the average age was 6.4.

This post was originally written by Loren Moreno and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

Acquisition Rises to 75 Percent for Online Gamer Segment

Results from the Online Gaming 2012 survey are in. According to the NPD Group, 67 percent of all gamers reported that they had acquired at least one game in either a physical or digital format within the past three months. This figure rose to 75 percent when looking specifically at online gamers only.

40 percent of all gamers obtained at least one game from both the physical and digital formats. The total population of gamers acquired an average of eight games. Those only purchasing digital games reported an average of six games, compared to the three for those who acquired only physical games. The findings appear to be influenced by the multifunctional devices online gamers use to access their games, including both free and paid.

This post was originally written by Lindsay Gordon and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.