The Toy Book spoke with Isaac Larian, founder and CEO of MGA Entertainment, about several key topics for the year, including shifting business strategies, trends for the year, sustainability in toys, and more.

What are your predictions for the state of toy retail this year?
I believe the industry will decline another 6%-8% this year. This is due to the lack of focus on toys and innovations by the top toy companies. MGA Entertainment (MGAE) will grow high, double-digits because of our innovative toys taking market share — but not enough to close the decline gap.

What trends will have the biggest impact on the toy industry this year and beyond?
[Innovation is] the only trend that has a big impact on the toy industry. Kids are tired of the same doll and action figure remade into a different color for movie sequels. They want something new.

What business strategies are working now that wouldn’t have worked in the past?
The toy business and kids are both changing all the time — faster than ever before. Just 10 years ago, kids were watching Nickelodeon, and toy companies had to advertise there to drive consumer demand. Today, they don’t: MGAE has eight to nine of the top 10 toys and hasn’t advertised on Nickelodeon for six years now.

The 15% tariff on toys has been called off. How does this affect any strategies you had in place to mitigate its effect?
I never thought Trump would tax toys and hurt his base. I was right. We never took tariffs into account.

What is the biggest challenge facing the toy industry right now?
The lack of Toys “R” Us and lack of new, original toy innovations. Everyone copies. Nobody wants to take a risk.

How does MGAE fight against counterfeit toys in the marketplace?
We vigorously sue them — all over the world.

How important is sustainability for your products and packaging?
It’s extremely important, and I’m happy that MGAE is leading the industry in this regard. It costs more, but the health of this beautiful planet and our kids’ future is worth the extra cost.

This State of the Industry Q&A response originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of the Toy Book. Click here to read more!