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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The Newsfeed

“It[‘s] only about the music for me, nothing else dictates what I listen to, I either like it or I don't.”—Male, 28, WA

A new app is getting teens’ attention as it rises through the ranks of the new social apps to know, even surpassing Houseparty’s popularity—but the catch is it’s “piggyback[ing]” on Snapchat. Polly allows users to create anonymous surveys that they can send on Snapchat (there's that anonymity allure again), meaning many users may not have actually downloaded the Polly app, so they “could slip away if friends stop posting questions.” For now though, the app amassed 20 million users and 100 million answers last month, proving it’s one to keep an eye on. (TechCrunch)

Designers are taking to social media to “shame” the retailers ripping off their work. When Zoila Darton spotted a Forever 21 shirt eerily similar to the one she helped create to benefit Planned Parenthood, she posted a tweet to let the brand know their copycat didn’t go unnoticed—and quickly gained attention from fashion editors and others. This isn’t the first time pieces have been copied by Forever 21, but designers have a hard time taking legal recourse against the powerful company. Instead, social media posts are often their best bet. (NYTimes)

BeautyCon is continuing to take “Sephora and Coachella and smash it into one thing” to appeal to young consumers. At the latest L.A. event, 20,000 beauty fans came to meet their influencer idols and try out the latest makeup trends, surrounded by empowering slogans and messages—true to the brand’s idea that “beauty can be something beyond a concealer culture.” Of course, brands were there “to win over the new generation”—ChapStick Duo offered cotton candy while Rimmel London’s “slayground” gave attendees a chance to set down their makeup and enjoy a jungle gym and swing set.
(The New Yorker)

It turns out saving money might not be cord cutters’ top reason for switching to streaming. Instead, a recent Magid Associates survey found that “the attractions” of SVOD programming (aka their content) is their top reason for making the move, followed by the overall decline of TV-viewing among 18-24-year-olds. Cable companies are trying to reel The Post-TV Gen back in by offering lower-cost cable bundles (so-called “skinny bundles”), but stepping up their shows might be a better first step to reversing the “accelerating” trend of cutting the cord. (TheStreet)

Pokémon is reaching out to a new generation of trainers with its first app for preschool-aged kids. Pokémon Playhouse follows in the wake of the massively successful augmented reality app, Pokémon Go (which was so popular that we put together an entire infographic on it) but won’t be AR-based. Instead, Playhouse will tap into the collectibles trend by featuring favorite characters like Pikachu for kids to collect by completing activities. There will also be puzzles and more in the app’s “interactive park.” (Kidscreen)

“I'm literally listening to music any time it is socially acceptable.”—Female, 28, MN

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