Source: PlayMonster/the Toy Book

Scott Flynn, vice president of sales and marketing at PlayMonster, discusses throwback toys, surprise sellers, and more in the Toy Book‘s annual State of the Industry Q&A.

The Toy Book: Nostalgic brands, entertainment properties, and products continue to dominate store shelves. How does this trend affect innovation and new product ideas in the toy industry?
Scott Flynn: There are a few layers when we think about this question. Innovation can be brought to nostalgic brands in a lot of ways to contemporize them for the current market. You can do it through product innovation, you can do it through the look, you can market it in a different way — and that combination will be a catalyst of driving sales in the industry in the future. In fact, here at PlayMonster, we are working on some iconic brands and products from the ’90s that we are modernizing and really excited about bringing to market.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen consumers becoming risk-averse and, instead, turning to the nostalgic brands they know and love, and, more importantly, brands they trust. Through the dynamic of the pandemic, they are finding comfort in things of the past.

One thing that is working in our — and the industry’s — favor is that the children of the ’90s are [now] the ones purchasing the toys, games, and activities. With the rise of this early-onset nostalgia and the consensus that millennials have a stronger affinity to this sentiment than previous generations, we believe we are going to continue to see the demand for nostalgic brands and innovation in how they are presented to the market.

TB: Games, puzzles, activities, and active toys were the top categories of 2020. Were there any surprise sellers for PlayMonster last year?
SF: Overall, a lot of longstanding, mainstay PlayMonster games and activities saw huge spikes in sales in 2020, especially in the second and third quarters. It has been really gratifying that as consumers were looking for things they are comfortable with, they turned to PlayMonster products, and that is definitely a feel-good moment.

In 2020, we introduced Drone Home and it really hit that sweet spot in the games category in innovation, play value, and price value. It was a huge success and established a platform for the game in the future to become evergreen.

When we look at products like 5 Second Rule, Relative Insanity, THINGS…, and Yeti in My Spaghetti, all these products did really well, and in the case of Spirograph, it went through the roof. Spirograph saw disproportionate growth and is continuing to see tremendous momentum as we continue into 2021. Speaking of innovation and nostalgia, we are bringing some innovation to Spirograph later this year to take it to a whole new level, but the foundation is the brand people know and love and trust.

This State of the Industry Q&A response was originally published in the February 2021 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!

About the author

Maddie Michalik

Maddie Michalik

Maddie Michalik was the Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book from 2020-2022. She was also a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider.