by KRISTIN MORENCY GOLDMAN, senior communications specialist, The Toy Association

While The Toy Association’s recently unveiled Toy of the Year (TOTY) Award nominees are offering families a range of trending toy gifts to choose from this holiday season, the Association’s trends team has already turned its attention to the hottest toys for 2020, set to be unveiled at Toy Fair New York in just a couple of months.

“Gift-givers who are now on the hunt for incredible toys vetted by our esteemed TOTY judges — including tech toys, family board games, hot collectibles, skill-building science and artistic kits, and more — are flocking to for ideas that are sure to bring on the biggest smiles Christmas morning,” says Adrienne Appell, senior director of strategic communications at The Toy Association. “But within the industry, our trends team is already mapping out the trends for next holiday season, as we anticipate unveiling the top trends of the year at Toy Fair New York 2020.”

The trends team begins to intensify its work in October at Toy Fair Dallas and in Los Angeles-area showrooms (and beyond), where the group meets with hundreds of companies to collect embargoed details about the following year’s cutting-edge toys and games that can be included in future broadcast and print media opportunities — and used to formulate the official top trends announced at Toy Fair.

“Our main goal is to stay up to speed on what’s trending with kids so that we can accurately speak to our members’ products and promote the valuable impact their toys have on the healthy development of children,” Appell notes. “We also strive to have a deep understanding of what’s happening in other industries to ensure that we are in tune with the likes and dislikes of millennial families and what influences their purchasing habits.”

Following the fall marketplace, the team continues to meet with companies before sitting down as a group to discuss major themes and fads that are emerging. For example, last year it was apparent that a number of companies were incorporating new play patterns and features into unboxing toys, encouraging new ways to discover, unwrap, play with, trade, and display these collectibles — and with that, The Toy Association’s Unboxing 2.0 trend was born and went on to become one of the biggest fads of the year. It was also noted that family-friendly movies (Toy Story 4, Frozen 2, etc.) and the escalating popularity of YouTube and other online influencers (Ryan’s World, JoJo Siwa, etc.) would give licensed toys a boost. The team is monitoring how these trends might continue to unfold and evolve in the next year.

When Toy Fair New York opens its doors on Feb. 22, The Toy Association will be ready to reveal its final list of the hottest trends of the year in a special Toy Trends Briefing presentation for media, buyers, and other show attendees. Hundreds of thousands of toys and games displayed by about 1,000 Toy Fair exhibitors will help confirm the trend experts’ predictions, as will a variety of outside factors, including developments in education, pop culture, fashion, technology, and the economy. This year’s Toy Trends Briefing will take place on the first day of Toy Fair and will include products culled from the show floor. It’s a not-to-be-missed session for play professionals in search of unique new toys that are expected to drive
global industry sales through the next holiday season.

“Keeping up with what’s trending among kids is no easy task for the toy industry, which is why our trends team works year-round to stay in the know about the next hit toys and games. Our seminar at Toy Fair represents the culmination of our work to track and identify what will resonate with families. We can’t wait to share what’s in store for 2020!”

Toy Fair New York will be held from Feb. 22-25. Full event details are available at

TOTY winners will be announced on Friday, Feb. 21 at an industry gala in New York City. Visit for event and ticketing information.

This article originally appeared in the December/January 2020 issue of the Toy Book.

About the author

Kristin Morency Goldman

Kristin Morency Goldman

As The Toy Association’s senior communications specialist, Kristin Morency Goldman leads the development of content for the Association’s print and online communications. Her articles on toy trends, toy safety, and industry news can be found in trade and consumer publications around the world. She holds a master’s degree in media, culture, and communications from NYU.