Nik Nayar, Senior Vice President of Hardlines at Target, discusses the retailer’s growing partnership with FAO Schwarz, the increased assortment geared toward kidults, and predictions for the future in this extended edition of The Toy Book’s 2023 State of the Industry Q&A roundtable. Want more insight from the all-stars of the toy industry? Click here to explore this year’s lineup!

Target’s Bullseye’s Top Toys at FAO Schwarz in Rockefeller Center | Source: AP Images for FAO Schwarz

The Toy Book: Your collaboration with FAO Schwarz grew over the past year. How has that relationship impacted the toy department in your stores?

Nik Nayar: We rang in the holiday season by announcing an exclusive, multiyear agreement with iconic toy brand FAO Schwarz to ignite even more magic and inspiration across our unrivaled toy assortment. Target store toy departments feature playful store displays that highlight must-have FAO toys, inviting toy enthusiasts of any age to get creative and experience hands-on play. We’re excited to continue our partnership with FAO, which features a broad range of toys to inspire magical moments and nostalgic memories, signature to FAO Schwarz.

Target partnered with NECA for Haulathon 2023. The drops in this year’s event include products from fan-favorite franchises like E.T., Gremlins, Scream’s Ghost Face, Hello Kitty, Rob Zombie’s The Munsters, Universal Monsters, Sonic, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more. | Source: NECA

TB: Target has become known for its expanded selection of collectibles for the kidult market, a demographic that has now gone mainstream. What kind of excitement can the industry expect in that space this year?

NN: Whether it’s animated classics, epic sci-fi, or fantasy universes, Target delivers the most sought-after collectibles. This past fall, Target was excited to bring even more excitement to the toy aisle – and the kidult space – with the studio partnership and exclusive items from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Target also offers a wide range of exclusive Funko Pops from favorite entertainment properties such as Star Wars, Marvel, Stranger Things, and more. Looking ahead, we’re also excited to bring our guests Target Con this year, a Target-owned “surprise and delight” event.

Related: The 2023 Edition of The BIG Toy Book is Here!

HarperIman dolls | Source: Target

TB: Last year, Target planned to increase its efforts to work with diverse suppliers in the toy and game space. How did those efforts pan out for the remainder of the year and how will they shape the business moving forward?

NN: Inclusivity is a key value at Target, and our commitment to diversity and inclusion comes to life across our business – including the merchandise we sell. For example, this past season, Target toys was proud to offer Black-owned brands including new dolls from HarperIman, an inclusive doll brand. We continue to prioritize diverse offerings within the toy aisle.

Source: Target

TB: What are your overall predictions for the state of the toy industry and toy retail this year?

NN: This year, families will continue to look for ways to celebrate the seasons and key milestones with their kids, with toys playing a central role. Target strives to meet the needs of all families with a particular focus on differentiation, newness, and value. We know value will also be top-of-mind for guests, and they can continue to count on Target to offer an industry-leading toy assortment at an incredible value.

A version of this Q&A was originally published in the 2023 edition of The BIG Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue! Want to receive The Toy Book in print? Click here for subscription options!

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.