COMMENTARY: Back to School Goes Full STEAM Ahead

The back-to-school season usually means the smell of newly sharpened pencils, a new wardrobe, and denial that the precious summer months have come to a close. You’ve probably heard the acronym STEAM being thrown around here and there, but this movement is making a bigger impact on the toy industry than ever before.

STEAM puts an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, art, and math, and these concepts have definitely made their way to back-to-school gear. But companies are doing a lot more than just making educational toys. They’re creating products that have value added to them—something kids appreciate without even knowing, and parents love for all of the extra benefits. [Read more...]

License to Build: Familiar Properties Fill Up the Shelves of the Construction Aisle

This article was originally published in the July/August 2014 issue of The Toy Book. To read the entire digital issue, click here.

The construction play pattern has always allowed kids to create buildable worlds and adventures straight from their imaginations. But with a recent surge of licensed toys entering the category, kids are able to build more and more familiar worlds based on their favorite existing properties. According to The NPD Group, dollar sales of licensed building sets grew by 6 percent from 2011 to 2013. As the world becomes more multi-media driven, licensed properties are deeply integrated into kids’ daily lives. Established building toy companies, as well as those looking to get their feet wet in the category, are jumping on the bandwagon with characters and environments that are already a staple among kids—and even collectors. [Read more...]

Spielwarenmesse’s TrendGallery Presents Four Trends for 2014

At Spielwarenmesse 2014 the new TrendGallery will debut upcoming trends and product novelties in Hall 3A. Product displays are given a platform next to presentations and guided tours. From Wednesday to Sunday during the Toy Fair, the trend experts Reyne Rice (U.S.) and Dr. Maria Costa (Spain) will detail the individual trend segments and introduce new products. Exhibitors will also be presenting campaigns live.

For an overview of the global toy trends, Spielwarenmesse eG has created an international TrendCommittee. These trends scouts report on the latest trends from the industry from all around the world. As a preview on Spielwarenmesse 2014, the international TrendCommittee has already spotted four trends:

  •  Fit4Life: Toys that Promote Life Skills: Through practical methods such as gardening, sewing, handicrafts, cooking and pretending to be doctors, these toys impart important skills and prepare children for life.
  • Retromania: Retro Toys and Retro Licences: Toys and heroes that grown-ups know from their own childhood are experiencing a revival. The new retro toys are often equipped with plenty of smart features.
  • Mini is King: Mini Toy Versions: This development presents particular challenges in respect of products, and games in particular. More often than not, they have to be scaled down to accommodate a growing demand for mobility and transportability
  • TechToys: Technology Teams up with Tradition: Traditional games and digital domains are producing game combinations which appeal to the young and old.

U.S. Companies Look to Overseas Markets for Growth

Since the domestic market is flat, American toy companies are increasingly becoming interested in exporting, says Carter Keithley, TIA President, who also informs about the New York Toy Fair, the importance of licensing for the toy business, the trends in the U.S. marketplace, and the Association’s activities.

by Daniele Caroli, editor, Giochi & Giocattoli

In order to be updated on the U.S. toy market and on the Toy Industry Association’s activities and events, I met Carter Keithley, president, at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, just a few days before the opening of the New York American International Toy Fair, which is managed by the TIA. [Read more...]

Fall Toy Preview

Everyone is in Dallas this week, but I’m working from home because I’m due to have a baby any day now! I’m hearing good things about the show though, and hoping it’s been a success for everyone. It does feel a bit odd to be here missing out on all the hubbub. I miss the excitement of getting that first peek at next year’s toys and picking up on the early emerging trends. If you’re at the show, I hope you were able to snag a copy of our September/October issue. Inside, you’ll get a look at a lot of the toys being exhibited this week in Dallas for 2010. In addition, Bruce Lund, inventor of some of the hottest toys the industry has seen, was so kind as to write our cover story for us this month. If you’ve ever wanted an inside look at the life of a toy inventor, be sure to check out his article.

If you were in Dallas this week, let me know how the show was for you!

Jackie