Like the fashion business, the toy industry lives and dies by trends. So what's hot this year, and what will grab consumers' by their pocketbooks this holiday season? We asked the industry experts.
Diane Cardinale, Toy Industry Association: "Licensing [of movie-driven products] is going to be the biggest trend, and high-tech. This is going to be a comeback year, so anything goes. One thing people will be buying is Teddy Bears, because it's the 100th anniversary, and there's so much hoopla going on about them. They're a classic."
Christopher Byrne, "The Toy Guy": "The trends this year are switching back to a focus on basic play, what I call an authentic play experience. You're seeing it in lines like Hasbro's re-done Star Wars [toys] and what Mattel is doing with Slime and Hot Wheels. There's a lot more emphasis on arts and crafts."
David Niggli, president, FAO Schwartz: "I think there's going to be a lot of entertainment-driven and literary properties [this holiday season]," he says. "Action is going to be great. But is there going to be any one particular toy this year that anyone is saying is the sure thing? I don't think so."
Jim Silver, publisher, Toy Wishes magazine: "The educational area is very hot, and the Tween category. The toy industry lost the 9-to-13-year-olds and has been looking to get them back over the last few years," he says. "Kids are growing up a lot younger."
Sean McGowan, toy industry analyst: "This should be a pretty good year for licensed products, with Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and another Harry Potter book coming out this year."
Carol Rehtmeyer, president, Rehtmeyer Design & Licensing: After 9/11, fun with a serious tone is in-consider the sudden popularity of rescue action figures and toys Also expect to see the "playful, silly, slightly retro doll look with the big, apple head and over-exaggerated features and makeup," she predicts. What about the holidays? "I don't think there's anything that's going to be super-hot, nothing that people are really going to be waiting in line for," Rehtmeyer says. "It's going to be a very bad year for some toy companies because of their need to be so conservative."
Chris Penttila is Entrepreneur's "Staff Smarts" columnist
- Cranium Inc.
(206) 652-9708, www.playcranium.com
- FAO Schwarz
(212) 644-9400, www.fao.com
- PlayDate Inc.
(212) 885-4111, www.playdateinc.com
- Playstages Inc.
(866) MINIKIN, www.playstages.com
- Rehtmeyer Design & Licensing Co. Inc.
(630) 717-9304, www.toysngames.com
- Talk Inc.
(312) 819-0611, www.paddypillow.com
- Toy Industry Association
(212) 675-1141, www.toy-tia.org
- Toy Wishes
(212) 575-4510, www.toywishes.com
- Wham-O Inc.
Chris Penttila is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist who covers workplace issues on her blog, Workplacediva.blogspot.com.