Industry leaders, retailers, and manufacturers weigh in on toy trends, changes, and more in The Toy Book’s annual State of the Industry Q&A. 

ANNE CARRIHILL, Category Leader, Amazon Toys & Games

How will you continue to evolve your toy department this year?
Our mission is to build a world-class shopping experience that offers customers a vast selection, value, and convenience. We seek to provide the world’s largest selection of toys and games from manufacturers and brands of all sizes—from established brands to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Today’s customers seek toys and games from classic play patterns, such as the Disney Princess Dress Up Trunk, LEGO’s Classic Creative Brick Box, Melissa & Doug’s Let’s Play House! Dust! Sweep! Mop! Playset, Mega Bloks’ 80-Piece Big Building Bag, or Hasbro’s Play-Doh Modeling Compound 10-Pack Case of Colors. They’re also looking for new and innovative toys, including MGA Entertainment’s L.O.L. Surprise!, Mattel’s Jurassic World Alpha Training Blue, LEGO Boost, Crayola’s Ultimate Light Board, and Learning Resources’ Botley the Coding Robot. In addition, they’re shopping for items that feature their favorite TV or movie characters.

Last year, we continued to offer even more innovative ways for consumers to shop our selection. To name a few, we published our first “A Holiday of Play” lookbook—both print and digital—which augmented our Holiday Toy List digital experience as a new way to research and shop for toys on Amazon. We expanded Amazon Books locations, which feature a curated selection of top-selling toys and games; launched 4-Star stores, allowing customers to discover, touch, and demo highly rated products from some of our top categories on amazon.com, such as LEGO and NERF; and launched Presented by Amazon pop-up stores, featuring items from the Holiday Toy List. We offered new subscription programs beyond STEM Club with Funko’s Marvel Collector Corps Box and Star Wars Smuggler’s Bounty Box, Prime Book Box for Kids, Bitsbox, and Loot Crate. In addition, customers continued to shop items from the Amazon Launchpad program, which includes a selection of toys from STEM learning to open-ended play, and future-forward toys from today’s emerging brands. We also launched an easy way for customers to donate a toy to a child in need during the holiday season via Alexa and Toys for Tots. Customers could simply say, “Alexa, donate to Toys for Tots,” and they were presented with a reasonably priced item appropriate for kids across a broad range of ages directly from the Toys for Tots Charity List.

This year, we will continue to surprise and delight customers by making shopping for toys on amazon.com fun and convenient to offer a broad selection with low prices and fast, free shipping options. We expect to see games, collectibles, and innovative toys for preschoolers continue to garner customer interest. We expect toys and games from PJ Masks, Marvel Avengers: Endgame, Star Wars: Episode IX, and Frozen 2 to be popular this coming year. Other highly anticipated releases include The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, The Secret Life of Pets 2, Shazam!, How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World, Pokémon Detective Pikachu, It: Chapter 2, and Jumanji 2.

We will continue to support innovators with the Amazon Launchpad program, which makes it easy for start-ups to launch, market, and distribute their products to hundreds of millions of Amazon customers worldwide.

How successful was your first print catalog? How do you plan to build on that this year?
We are always looking for opportunities to enhance the customer shopping experience and saw an opportunity to make Amazon’s Holiday Toy List shopping event even better. We augmented the digital experience with a lookbook format as a new way to discover, consider, and shop for toys on Amazon. Millions of physical “A Holiday of Play” lookbooks were sent to customers this past holiday season, and copies were also available in Amazon Books stores, 4-Star stores, and Presented by Amazon pop-ups. A digital version of the “A Holiday of Play” lookbook was also available for the season on Kindle and online. Parents and kids alike enjoyed flipping through the lookbook for inspiration and to discover the top toys for holiday.

What were some of the most popular toy categories on Amazon last year?
Among the most popular categories in 2018 were dolls, plush toys, and games. Kids and collectors of all ages enjoyed the fun and ever-surprising unboxing experience that came with some of the hottest doll brands, notably L.O.L. Surprise! (L.O.L. Bigger Surprise, L.O.L. Surprise! Glam Glitter, and L.O.L. Surprise! House), Hairdorables, and Poopsies. Indicative of the same customer insight were best-selling collectible plush toys, such as Pomsies, Pikmi Pops, and Hatchimals.

Games that encourage families and friends to come together to laugh and play was another top trend, and adult card games continue to gain popularity. With endless options to choose from, some customers’ favorites included What Do You Meme, Exploding Kittens, Codenames, and Relative Insanity.

Customers also continued to love classics, such as Barbie, Hot Wheels, Catan, Ticket to Ride, Jenga, and Connect 4, as well as innovative takes on traditional best-sellers, such as Monopoly Fortnite and Monopoly Cheaters Edition. In 2018, families came together to play outside with products from Radio Flyer and Step2.

Educational and STEM toys continue to trend among parents and kids. Learning is always fun with some of the most sought-after STEM toys, such as the Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit, littleBits’ Avengers Hero Inventor Kit, and Ozobot’s Bit Coding Robot. Toys from popular movies and TV shows, such as Marvel Avengers, Harry Potter, Incredibles 2, Paw Patrol, and PJ Masks, delighted kids and kids at heart, including Hasbro’s Marvel Legends Series Infinity Gauntlet, LEGO’s Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Hall, Jakks Pacific’s Incredibles 2 Jack-Jack Plush, and Just Play’s PJ Masks Deluxe Headquarters Playset.