Last year was a tumultuous time for the toy industry, and no story received more coverage than the spectacular collapse of Toys “R” Us in the U.S. and other countries. Following the bankruptcy and liquidation of the iconic toy retailer, rumblings and rumors on the future of the Toys “R” Us brand have been constant. Last fall’s launch of Geoffrey’s Toy Box in partnership with Kroger added fuel to the fire, followed by the recent launch of Tru Kids Brands. As part of The Toy Book‘s annual State of the Industry Q&A series in which industry leaders, retailers, and manufacturers weigh in on toy trends, Richard Barry, former global chief merchandising officer at Toys “R” Us, shared some thoughts on the future as he takes charge as president and CEO of Tru Kids.

What does the future hold for Geoffrey LLC?
At the end of 2018, we embarked on a new chapter in the brand’s history. We emerged in 2019 with new ownership, new management, and a fresh, new vision. The newly formed company, Tru Kids Brands, is the proud parent of beloved brands Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us, Geoffrey, Geoffrey’s Toy Box, and more than 20 trusted brands, including Journey Girls, Fastlane, True Heroes, You & Me, Imaginarium, and Just Like Home.

Leveraging globally recognized household names in the children’s space and more than 70 years of industry experience, Tru Kids delivers a wealth of valuable services, products, licensing, and wholesale opportunities to B2B and B2C partners worldwide. Tru Kids will remain a leader in championing play by developing new products and business models, and creating unique and immersive experiences that expand well beyond traditional retail concepts.

As we continue to evolve our retail presence (both in store and online) in the U.S., we will also focus on growing our family of brands internationally where both the Toys “R” Us and Geoffrey brands continue to be powerful with a great retail presence in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

What were the top-selling Geoffrey’s Toy Box products this holiday season?
Part of the Tru Kids family of brands, the team behind Geoffrey’s Toy Box leverages expertise in product design, development, and global sourcing to provide wholesale opportunities and unique in-store experiences for babies, toddlers, and kids of all ages.

The brands delivered through Geoffrey’s Toy Box were a proven success at our stores and on a wholesale basis. During the 2018 holiday season, we had product placed in more than 1,000 U.S. retail stores in partnership with Kroger and several other retail partners, and saw a huge appetite for our trusted brands. The best-sellers this holiday came from our role-play categories, including dolls from our You & Me and Journey Girls brands, as well as play sets from Just Like Home. Another best-seller was in the action figure category with our True Heroes brand.

What are your 2019 toy trend predictions?
I think it’s safe to say there will be plenty more surprises in 2019. We saw the surprise collectibles trend dominate last year, and it’s one that will continue to take hold, with MGA Entertainment’s L.O.L. Surprise! leading the way and new products in this category emerging from Just Play, Zuru, and WowWee. For older kids, the Fortnite trend is rapidly growing as more toys hit the market to support the biggest video game phenomenon. Now, kids can collect and play out a Battle Royale with action figures from Jazwares and an awesome collectible assortment from Moose Toys. With highly anticipated movies, such as Frozen 2 slated for holiday 2019 and Pokémon Detective Pikachu slated for pre-summer release, a new wave of excitement and products will be available for fans of these brands, including dolls, collectibles, crafts, and accessories. Finally, another stable category in which we predict continued growth is preschool, with product from kids’ favorite programs, such as Paw Patrol, PJ Masks, Peppa Pig, and Rainbow Rangers, seeing the most action.