by Debbie Dunn, Licensing, Marketing, Promotions, & Mom Expert, GennComm LLC
What’s old is new again, and vintage brands are expected to be the biggest hits in the toy aisle for this year. Many of these brands have reinvented themselves in modern ways with digital entertainment content to reach today’s savvy kid consumer, yet they still offer the same trusted attributes that parents–and even grandparents–knew and loved.
Described as vintage, nostalgic, classic, and ageless, some of these brands are actually AARP-qualified. Here’s a look at some of the most popular and seasoned brands expected to blow off the shelves this year:
Girl Scouts (102 Years Old)
Founded in 1912, the Girls Scouts boasts more than 59 million women alumnae in the U.S. Until recently, the Girl Scouts’ only product available to consumers were its famous Girl Scout Cookies, which year after year, are ranked the second best-selling cookie on the market, despite only being available for a short six-to-eight-week time frame. Girls can now bring the magic of Girl Scout Cookies home with the Girl Scouts Cookie Oven, a real working oven by Wicked Cool Toys LLC, which comes complete with tools and mixes that allow girls to make favorites such as Thin Mints and Trefoils that look and taste just like the real thing.
Colorforms (64 Years Old)
Founded in 1951, Colorforms is one of the oldest and best-known brands in the toy industry. It was one of the first plastic-based creative toys, and one of the first toys ever advertised on TV. The first boxed sets featured basic geometric shapes and bright primary colors, and over time, the brand grew to include popular animated characters and more. Since its inception, more than 1 billion Colorforms play sets have been sold. Named one of the Top 100 Toys of All Time by Time Magazine, Colorforms relaunches this fall with hot licenses in children’s entertainment, including Disney Frozen, Despicable Me, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more.
Star Wars (38 Years Old)
Most know the story of how in 1977, toy company Kenner licensed the rights to the Star Wars brand to produce action figures based on characters from the original Star Wars movie trilogy. More than 100 unique action figures were produced between 1978 to 1985, during which time more than 300 million Star Wars action figures were sold. And since the new iterations came out beginning in 1999, these toys have never left store shelves. This year, Uncle Milton is introducing a line of Star Wars toys that are truly science-based, including The Force Trainer II: Hologram Experience, which uses the power of the user’s mind to recreate favorite Star Wars scenes with hologram images.
American Greetings has enjoyed much success over the years with its core brands, and the key to keeping them relevant with every new generation of fans is innovative marketing and sales tactics, such as utilizing the Toys “R” Us Geoffrey Jumbotron in Times Square and premiering straight-to-DVD product via in-theater promotions. Recently, the company created quite a buzz with its crowd sourcing, digital apps, streaming video, social media channels, and more.
A mega-hit for young girls throughout the U.S. during the 1980s, Strawberry Shortcake and her berry best friends have seen several updated looks, but her wholesome values and strength of character remain the same. Recently acquired from American Greetings by Iconix Brand Group Inc., Strawberry Shortcake will have a 35th Birthday Celebration doll line out later this year, which will include a classic anniversary rag doll–reminiscent of the original and berry sweetly-scented. As a true social maven, Strawberry has more followers than you shake a Berry Bitty stick at, proving the brand’s own motto, “Anything is Possible.”
The Care Bears, meanwhile, are a group of playful, multi-colored teddy bear characters created by American Greetings for use on greeting cards in 1981, and introduced as plush toys in 1983. Each Care Bear comes in a different color and has a specialized insignia, or Belly Badge, on its tummy that represents its unique power. Several looks over the years have brought us to the new iteration of Care Bears, which are more vibrant and colorful than ever, as well as 50 percent more huggable. The true stand-out among the crowd this fall will be the Care Bears Sing-a-longs by Just Play, which interact with one another. The Care Bears have also launched an exciting campaign, #ShareYourCare, which speaks to the core values of the brand and reminds all of us how important caring and sharing is in our world today.
Cabbage Patch Kids (33 Years Old)
Created by Xavier Roberts in 1978, these iconic dolls were mass-produced for store shelves starting in 1982, setting off a holiday frenzy. Cabbage Patch Kids went on to become one of the most popular toys of the 1980s and one of the longest-running dolls franchises of all time in the U.S. Now Wicked Cool Toys has taken up the reins with dozens of styles and SRPs, while the original birthplace of all Cabbage Patch Kids–Babyland General Hospital, an old converted clinic located in Cleveland, GA–continues to serves as a retail unit and theme park where fans can adopt premium Cabbage Patch Kids in person.
Power Rangers (22 Years Old in the U.S., 40 Years Old in Japan)
Go-Go power franchise! Power Rangers is a long-running American entertainment and merchandising powerhouse built around a live action children’s series featuring teams of costumed characters and silly-looking villains. Catapulted to popularity during the early 1990’s with a line of action figures and play sets by Bandai, the franchise is the longest-running boys action series on TV with 22 seasons to its name. The latest toy line from Bandai brings dozens of the iconic Morphers, Zords, Megazords, dinos, battle gear, and action figures to boys hungry for adventure. However, the centerpiece of the Power Rangers arsenal is the Deluxe Megazord, which allows fans to morph three Zords to bring the ultimate strength to battle.
These retro toy brands are so popular among kids young and old that a Toy Time Machine tour is planned this fall, to help fans travel “back to the good ol’ days.” H.G. Wells would be proud.
Debbie Dunn is the account executive at GennComm, which is a communications, strategy, and connections agency focused on toys, kids entertainment, licensing, and consumer products. GennComm is headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif., and headed up by Genna Rosenberg, who boasts 20 years of experience in the world of consumer products public relations. The company’s website is www.genncomm.com.