Anne Carrihill, Director of Toys & Games at Amazon talks retail in this extended edition of The Toy Book’s 2024 State of the Industry Q&A. For our annual roundtable, The Toy Book brings together a panel of industry leaders, manufacturers, retailers, and distributors to discuss the trends, wins, challenges, and opportunities shaping the North American toy industry as it regroups after a tough year and gets ready to rock and roll. Click here to explore the series archives.

The Toy Book: Amazon had another record-breaking start to the holiday season last year. What were some of the big wins and successes in the toy department?

Anne Carrihill: We kicked off the holiday season by announcing the 2023 Toys We Love list — our biggest ever with more than 200 toys, games, and activity kits, including over 100 new toys and over 80 Amazon exclusives, that were sourced from the nearly 12 million toys and games in the Amazon U.S. store. We featured iconic brands like Crayola, Disney, LEGO, Mattel, and Squishmallows and unique offerings from small businesses like Magna-Tiles, Taco vs. Burrito, and Orijin Bees.

Source: The LEGO Group

During the holiday season, we were also proud to offer unique opportunities to integrate brands into entertainment experiences. For example, during the very first NFL Black Friday game that streamed on Prime Video, Amazon offered 30% off (our biggest discount ever) the LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Express Collectors’ Edition during the broadcast.

Of the more than 600 items we featured in the 2023 Amazon Holiday Kids Gift Book (now in its sixth year), the bestselling toy was the Barbie Dream House. Customers were also excited about the Amazon-exclusive 3-in-1 Barbie Camper Van.

Source: Mattel

TB: What are the opportunities for Amazon this year?

AC: Nostalgic ’90s toys are an opportunity for us. It’s fun seeing millennial parents introduce throwback favorites to their kids. For example, Hasbro’s next generation, interactive Furby (available in purple and coral) was a big holiday hit — among our bestselling toys of the season. So was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Another opportunity is the recent growth in toy purchases from grown-ups, including those ages 65 and up, which shows the importance of play at any age or life stage. Amazon has a wide selection perfect for multigenerational play, from games like Hasbro’s Guess Who? to LEGO sets and plush toys.

Source: Dolphin Hat Games

TB: Can you share any success stories from the past year regarding smaller toy and game makers that have delivered hits to the Amazon crowd?

AC: Amazon makes it easy to shop and support small businesses in our toy store. Customers can easily filter their searches and discover eligible products from small businesses with the Small Business Search filter while continuing to look out for the Small Business badge. One of my favorite examples is a game called Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza — we sold more units of this game during the 2023 holiday season than any other.

TB: What are your predictions for the industry this year and what products and trends are you excited about?

AC: Saving money is top of mind for our customers. For the past seven years, an annual study from Profitero has shown that we’ve got the lowest online prices across U.S. retailers, including categories like toys. It’s important to offer a selection of toys for every budget that will continue to be engaging over time. Games like Bananagrams (in both English and Spanish) or a classic like Rummikub offer hours of affordable, interactive play for the whole family. Other classic toys like The Original Slinky and Lite-Brite Classic are great on a budget, too.

MESH (Mental, Emotional, and Social Health) toys are trending. MESH toys take different forms: comforting, stress-relieving toys like plushies (Sesame Street Monster Hugs Elmo); sensory objects (Creativity for Kids Outer Space Sensory Bin); or a peaceful building set (LEGO Icons Tranquil Garden). These toys also help build communication skills, like storytelling around a beloved doll, playing pretend with a kitchen set, or problem-solving while assembling a multiple-piece toy.

A version of this story appeared in the 2024 edition of The BIG Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue. Want a copy in print? Click here for back issues and subscription options.

The Toy Book Magazine, Volume 40, No. 1 — February 2024

About the author

James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn, AKA The Rock Father, is Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider, and Editor of The Toy Report, The Toy Book‘s weekly industry newsletter. As a pop culture and toy industry expert, Zahn has appeared as a panelist and guest at events including Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) Wizard World Chicago, and the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Zahn has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment, retail, and publishing industries, and is frequently called upon to offer expert commentary for publications such as Forbes, Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, and more. James has appeared on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, was interviewed by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and has been seen on Yahoo! Finance, CNN, CNBC, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, CBS, WGN, The CW, and more. Zahn joined the Adventure Media & Events family in 2016, initially serving as a member of the Parent Advisory Board after penning articles for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, Sprout Parents (now Universal Kids), PopSugar, and Chicago Parent. He eventually joined the company full time as a Senior Editor and moved up the ranks to Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief.