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

Quote of the Day: “I get spending money from helping my neighbors with their computer problems.”—Male, 14, FL

Although controversial to some, influencer marketing isn’t going away any time soon. A new survey by influencer platform Linqia revealed that 94% of marketers across many industries believe influencer marketing to be effective, despite 78% saying that determining the ROI of the approach will be one of the top challenges of 2017. The top benefits cited were creating authentic content (87%), driving engagement (77%), and driving traffic to website (56%). (Adweek)

Vine stars are finding a new home on live stream app Live.ly. The app, a spin-off from the popular video network Musical.ly, generated half a million downloads in its first week by creating a platform where broadcasters can engage with viewers and stream as long as they like—and then there’s the money. According to Musical.ly, the top 10 broadcasters on the platform have made an average of $46,000 in the span of two weeks with a monetization model that lets users make contributions during streams. (Business Insider)

Self magazine is leaving print behind, and going all-digital. The publication has announced that February’s issue will be their last print production, and their new strategy will make them “uniquely positioned to give consumers more of what they love while creating innovative and engaging opportunities for our advertising partners.” The all-digital tactic is a first for a major Condé Nast magazine, and reflects the decreasing interest in print in the digital media era. (The Wall Street Journal)

Teens and kids are embracing tech even more than Millennials. A new Quizlet survey found that U.S. students 16-years-old and younger are 28% more likely than Millennials to say that technology helps them learn faster than traditional tools like worksheets and lectures. Their teachers were even more open to tech: they were 32% more likely than students to say learning tech is good use of classroom time, and 20% more likely to say devices make learning fun. (CNET)

Retirement may be on the outs. According to a Merrill Edge survey, 83% of “mass affluent” 18-34-year-olds say they will still work after they “retire,” “either for income, to keep busy, or to pursue a passion.” Getting to retirement will be a struggle in itself: Half of 18-24-year-olds and 24% of 24-34-year-olds say they will need a side job to reach their retirement savings goal, which three in four believe will be $1 million. (CNNMoney

Quote of the Day: “My favorite thing to do to have fun is stay at home and invite friends over.”—Male, 32, VA

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