After attending the TIA’s Fall Toy Preview in Dallas a couple of weeks ago, I feel confident that 2016 is going to be an even better year for the toy industry. While the show floor seemed quieter than in years past, the majority of companies I met with were upbeat and excited for holiday 2015 and the year ahead. A number of my meetings were cut short due to drop-ins by Walmart, Amazon, Target, and Toys “R” Us buyers, which is always a good sign.
The industry is expected to be up approximately 6 percent this year, and I expect this success to carry over to 2016. I saw a higher than usual number of new lines, and interesting expansions of successful products, proving that manufacturers are riding high on the wings of rising sales, leaving them willing and able to take some risks.
I also took note that some of this year’s top trends are moving forward in 2016. This includes an emphasis on STEM toys; girl empowerment—particularly with the broad array of DC Super Hero Girls products; drones—with some really cool new features; and even smarter interactive toys and robotics.
The activities category continues to push previous boundaries, finding new ways to entice boys; and food play will be taken to new heights as well, as the industry is seeing tremendous success this year with products like Blip’s Yummy Nummies, Wicked Cool’s Girl Scout Cookie Oven, and Skyrocket’s Chocolate Pen. Small collectibles will also continue to expand with fun new offerings.
Some new properties hoping to take the industry by storm next year (based on the number of toys sporting the licenses) include the aforementioned DC Super Hero Girls; feature film Finding Dory from Disney•Pixar, due out June 17; and The Lion Guard, a new series launching on Disney Junior and Disney channel next November. I also expect Nintendo’s Yo-Kai Watch to make an impact next year, with Hasbro launching a toy line in January. And, of course, Star Wars will continue to be a Force to be reckoned with in 2016.
Before we know it, we’ll all be walking the floor of the Javits Center in New York, ready to see the final—or near final—iterations of the prototypes we saw in Dallas, and get an even better read on 2016!