The Top Toy Trends for 2014

Santa’s got nothing on the Toy Fair. The exhibition space of the American International Toy Fair stretches over 412,000 square feet—that’s 7½ football fields filled with toys. Almost half of the toys from our pre-holiday spotlight won awards for “Toy of the Year” in various categories, with hands-on innovators Rainbow Loom and Goldieblox among the best and brightest. While digital natives are growing up with technology at the forefront of their everyday interactions, emphasis this year was not on digital play. Technology is rather being integrated into playtime as a base element for building and creating. Though the video game and toy hybrid market continues to rise, dominated by Skylanders and Disney Infinity, the biggest trends we saw coming out of the Toy Fair involved kids stepping away from screens and interacting hands-on with toys to create their own environments. Here are some of the major toy trends we picked up on:
 
#1—Super Sized Play
In the past few years, small figurines have dominated in the toy market, which has been a reflection of recession production and pricing. As the market rebounds and kids become more laissez-faire about new inventions than ever, companies are looking to “wow” them with the sheer size of toys, from life sized and beyond.
 
Product Standouts:
KidKraft Dollhouses
The interior of these life-sized homes for dolls are decorated down to the last detail, making Barbie’s Dreamhouse look like a starter home. Young girls can use their own dolls to play in the house, and competitor My Girls’ Dollhouse is just plain enormous, allowing for larger 18” dolls to fit.


 
Super Mario Kart Ride-On Vehicle
Millennial parents everywhere are wishing that they had real sized Mario Karts to ride around in instead of plastic vans. So, feeding into their…

 
 
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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “When I hear the phrase ‘The American Dream’ I think of 1950s cliches, the economic downturn of 2008, and how college debt has pretty much made it impossible.” –Female, 17, RI

We know Millennials have delayed going down the aisle, but how do they really compare to the generations before them? Over 30% of Millennial women will have stayed unmarried by age 40, “nearly twice the share of their Gen X counterparts.” Even if the marriage rate returns to pre-recession levels, Millennials will not catch up to Gen X marriage rates. The dip in married couples could have economic repercussions, as they are “often better off financially.” (CNNMoney)

25-34-year-olds (mostly older Millennials) are the most likely travelers to use mobile search and social media “to resolve a travel problem,” with close to 40% relying on a mobile solution to their issues and quandaries. Travel info startup Skift is calling this group the “silent traveler,” and the increasing number of travelling Millennials will likely make the number of silent travelers grow as well. In response, the industry is shifting efforts to mobile: 20% of Delta’s check-ins now come through their app. (MediaPost)

A recent survey covering Millennials’ political and economic views has some pointing fingers and saying the generation’s political views are “incoherent,” and “confused.” But others say they aren’t any more confused about economics than anyone else, and contradictory political opinions are not abnormal. One important takeaway that is often overlook is that a generation of over 97 million in the U.S. cannot all be painted with one brush, and that some of the contradictions in beliefs are likely due to various segments' contrasting views. (NYTimes)

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is a workplace trend that some IT departments may find frustrating, and not surprisingly it’s younger employees who are the biggest BYOD culprits. 70% of 18-33-year-olds admit that they break corporate rules and use outside apps (think Dropbox and Evernote) at work. Of those, 50% said they do it because approved apps aren’t good enough, and 60% said they didn’t think it was a security problem for their company. (Recode)

The app French Girls has been around for some time, but it is continuing to gain momentum—or at least to entertain the internet. (Yes, it is named after Titanic’s classic “Draw me like one of your French girls” line.) Users can submit selfies to the French Girl community and receive back digitally drawn versions of their likeness, often creatively interpreted. (Uproxx)

Quote of the Day: “If a photo of me went viral, I would feel angry but…maybe I would be a little excited because it went viral, as long as the picture is not bad.” –Female, 16, TN

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