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

According to Pew, a third of Millennials frequently use their phones in public for “no particular reason,” and 13% say they frequently use their mobile devices to avoid interacting with other people. (Queue the “anti-social Millennial” pieces.) But another study might shed some more light on their “for no reason” phone use: 60% believe their smartphones enhances their leisure time. The research hypothesizes that young consumers are using phones for moments of “micro-leisure” throughout the day. (Washington PostSocialTimes)

Malia Obama has grown into a bit of a style icon. Though the fashion world has been watching her mother since their first day in the White House, now that Malia is a little older, and interning for HBO’s Girls in NYC, her looks are beginning to influence her young fans. One designer, whose look nearly sold out after Malia was photographed in, it tells the New YorkTimes that she is “a blossoming influencer.” (JezebelNYTimes)

Millennials are all hopped up on fancy coffee. The CEO of coffee chain Peet’s says that young consumers are “driving a shift in coffee consumption away from traditional economy brands and towards pricier, higher-quality beans." Millennials reportedly are looking for the best cup of joe, instead of the cheapest, and higher price coffee chains are benefitting from their high-end java tastes. (Eater)

You would think that with all the horror stories of cyber-bullying that have become national news stories in the past few years, parents would live in fear of their own kids being victims of bullying—but there is something else that they fear even more. Homework. A new study by notorious social platform Ask.fm found that 52% of parents say they are worried social media use will be a distraction from homework, compared to 21% who worry they may be bullied. (Business Insider)

Google has launched YouTube Gaming, a new platform that aggregates over 25,000 gaming channels into one place so that gamers can find the content they want more easily. Gamers are some of the most popular YouTube creators, and YouTube Gaming “is already a hit with advertisers”—and not just gaming brands. Kotex, Wendy’s, and NBCU have all purchased ads on the site, another sign of the mainstream embracing the gaming world. (Adweek)

Quote of the Day: “Forever 21 is my favorite store to shop in, the clothes are affordable and I can find every type that I might be looking for.” –Female, 27, NY

Netflix is entering the teenage world. Their latest programming plans include shows and movies for teens and tweens, including YouTube celeb vehicle Smosh: The Movie, in an effort to attract more young viewers, “known for their elusive and fickle tastes.” Netflix’s new focus on teens is a part of their goal to be a place for every kind of audience, and could help them gain more subscribers overall, as teens tend to influence their parents’ entertainment decisions. (NYTimesFortune)

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