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: “My favorite app is Pokémon Go, because it's kinda a big deal for those of us who've been dreaming about it for over a decade.”—Female, 21, NJ 

The hottest new trend at Millennial companies: student loan repayments. In a 2015 Iontuition survey, eight in ten respondents say they would like to work for a company that offers student loan repayment assistance, and about half say they prefer student debt help over 401(k) contributions. The benefit has also been shown to deter employees from job-hopping and instead stay to “reap the entirety” of it. Despite the high interest, only 4% of companies are currently offering such programs—including Aetna, Fidelity Investments, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and SoFi—but a change in legislation that will make the “benefit more favorable from a tax standpoint” may motivate others to follow. (Forbes

Fast casual restaurant Zoës Kitchen sees kids as the “no nugget generation.” The restaurant is debuting an updated kids’ menu that focuses on a variety of nutritious made-from-scratch meals for the “next generation of foodies,” including salmon or shrimp kabobs, ham and cheese piadina made with fresh mozzarella, and an orzo pasta bowl. The President of Zoës Kitchen, who happens to be the father of two young daughters, say that the kids of today “love experiencing new flavors, and gladly choose kabobs and hummus over fries… Ultimately, they crave food that makes them feel good.” (Business Wire

A new documentary is putting six recent graduates in the spotlight as they navigate the startup world in Detroit. Generation Startup, created by an Oscar-winning director, is revealing the “big sacrifices” young entrepreneurs are making “in the hopes of building something new, exciting and, hopefully, financially rewarding.” The graduates are all fellows or alumni for Venture of America, an organization that assists aspiring entrepreneurs, and are faced with challenges that include working 18-hour days, living in uncomfortable environments, and handling disapproval from parents who encourage a more stable career path. (Fast Company

According to a 2016 Bankrate survey, Millennials are great at saving—but that’s mostly because they have to be. About 62% of 18-29-year-olds are saving at least 5% of their income, which has become even more necessary in unreliable workplaces of today. Employers are increasingly hiring temporary employees or independent contractors, and as a result are not offering benefits like health insurance and paid leave. Many Millennials who can save have also been privileged with access to their parents’ financial help, which white children are three more likely to have than black children. (Quartz

Pokémon mania is passing its peak. Sensor Tower, SurveyMonkey, and Apptopia data have revealed that “Pokémon Go's daily active users, downloads, engagement, and time spent on the app per day are all well off their peaks and on a downward trend,” which many have observed is expected of any app that receives such intense initial attention. In our recent survey on Pokémon Go players we found that more than half consider the game a fad that no will care about a year from now. Google Trends data is also showing declining interest in augmented reality, however the possibilities of the technology shouldn’t be discounted after so many young consumers showed they will embrace it. (Bloomberg

Quote of the Day: “Political correctness is a two-way street of respect and telling the truth.”—Female, 17, WI

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