After viewing tons of the 100,000-plus products that were on display during the 109th American International Toy Fair last week, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) found six new toy trends for this year. A presentation was made during a “Toy Trends Tea,” hosted by TIA.

The six top trends identified were: toys that work with smart devices and apps; toys that glow in the dark or light up; educational games and toys for infants, preschoolers, and children of all ages; toys that have multiple play patterns or customizable toys; higher-priced toys that pack a “wow” factor; and toys that teach music basics or allow older kids to emulate their favorite pop stars.

Descriptions of each trend can be found below, courtesy of a TIA press release:

GENERATION APP: An emerging trend identified at Toy Fair 2011, this year there is an abundance of toys that work with smart devices and apps. Toymakers are using technology to enhance classic play patterns —not erase them. Physical toys remain integral to the play experience; in many cases, companies have created traditional toys that interact with popular devices that are already in so many homes…while tying in educational or active components for a well-rounded play experience.

Includes: Products that work with an app or smart devices and products that are based upon an app or web property but have no digital tie-in.

GLOWING WILD: Toys that glow in the dark or light up will infiltrate the toy aisle this year across multiple categories—from outdoor and active toys to arts and crafts and creative products. Toys in this category add a fantastical element to playtime for kids of all ages. They “ignite” imaginative play by drawing kids into a world of whimsy and wonder – from arts and crafts toys that incorporate LED components to exciting light-up toys that safely simulate fireworks.

Includes: Toys that rely on a glow component to drive the play experience and toys that are equally enjoyable in the light of day as they are in the dark (i.e. glow-in-the-dark wooden building blocks).

LITTLE LEARNERS: Far from simple “watch me” toys, products in this category build cognitive and developmental skills beginning at a very early age, transforming little ones into well-rounded, lifelong learners. These toys also give tykes a wide range of play options to choose from – allowing them to explore their interests and talents and develop these skills as they grow older.

Includes: Infant to preschool toys and games that educate and challenge and educational toys targeted to children of all ages.

MANY WAYS TO PLAY: Toys in this category engage kids on multiple levels. Parents can buy one very dynamic toy that will entertain and educate a child for hours, days, weeks and months…allowing them to truly get their money’s worth.  These toys have real depth – kids can play differently each time depending on their moods or interests. Many of these toys also grow with a child so that they can play in another way depending on their age.

Includes: toys that combine multiple play patterns (i.e. active play, role play, game play, etc.) and customizable toys (playthings become a unique reflection of a child’s individuality).

SAVE ‘N’ SPLURGE: Recent toy industry data released by The NPD Group showed that consumers are increasingly making “purchasing trade-offs” – that is, buying higher-priced toys at the expense of mid- to lower-priced ones. As a result, 2012 will see a resurgence of toys that fall on the higher end of the price spectrum, as consumers are willing to loosen their purse strings a bit and spend more on products that pack a high play value punch or have a certain “WOW” factor.

However, shoppers will always be attracted to affordable prices. Affordability was a trend in the past few years and this sub-trend will persist in 2012 as parents and other shoppers have really come to expect big play value at affordable prices.

Includes: “The Big Ask” / impressive toys (at higher prices) and collectibles / expanded lines (at affordable prices).

YOUNG MAESTROS: A wide variety of musical toys will hit a high note in 2012 as kids of all ages – from infants to tweens and teens – rock out with toys and games that teach them how to play different instruments, practice their singing, or show off their dance moves. This trend is being driven largely by pop culture – such as television shows like American Idol, Glee, The Voice and X Factor.

Includes: toys for young kids that teach music basics and toys for older kids that let them emulate their favorite pop stars.

This post was originally written by Elizabeth A. Reid and published by For more news, visit, 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.