The biggest toy trends of 2018 include kids’ obsession with “unboxing” and collecting toys; a revival of nostalgic brands; and toys that teach children to be better global citizens--according to the team of trend experts employed by The Toy Association.
The toy industry trade group, which concluded its 115th North American International Toy Fair show yesterday at New York’s Javits Center, further predicts that this year will bring some of the best new products to stores in recent years.
“The toy industry continues to do an incredible job of keeping pace with innovation and trends seen beyond the toy aisle in order to bring kids and families exactly what they are looking for: play that is engaging, enriching, addictive, and fun,“ said Adrienne Appell, leading trend specialist at The Toy Association, during the group’s official announcement of the trends at a “Toy Trends Briefing” for media, buyers and Toy Fair guests.
Appell added: “The top trends announced today reflect a continued demand for collectibles, family games, creative toys, and tech-infused products that allow kids to create and explore new worlds and build lifelong skills through play.“
The briefing followed the trend team’s viewing of thousands of products on display at Toy Fair, as well as meetings with hundreds of global toy companies throughout the year. The products shown will be available for the 2018 holiday season.
The leading trend, called the “Big Reveal,” concerns the popularity--and influence--of “unboxing,” that is, excitedly opening toy packages on social media.
The toy industry has now responded to the unboxing trend by introducing a variety of toys across several different categories that focus on the act of unboxing itself. Another major trend is “Millennial Nostalgia” and addresses the millennial parents (defined as those born between 1981 and 1997) who make up the majority of young parents in the U.S. These parents are turning to classic toys and retro brands that are “unplugged,” even though they themselves are very much technology-oriented.
A third trend observed by The Toy Association, “Games Galore,” is the phenomenal growth in the games-and-puzzles toy category, with games of all kinds appealing to all ages and interests thanks to niche games, licensed games, cooperative games, quick games, new takes on old classics, and innovative board games.
“Pet Play” with toy pets—everything from fantastical creatures like unicorns and dinosaurs to cats, dogs, horses, and other pet toys that feature realistic details, grooming, food accessories, and even online worlds—is trending, too, and also includes “anti-virtual pets” that interact with kids in a funny way by being grumpy or gross, as well as collectible or wearable toy pets.
Other trends include “Inspiring Imaginations,” which involve imaginative play via role play and dress-up items, open-ended building kits and playsets, arts-and-crafts and food play activities. “Toys that Teach” reflects the current “Play with a purpose” buzz-phrase among educators and parents, and the continuing STEM/STEAM toy trend of the past few years, which now incorporates new technologies and licenses, and teaches toddlers as well as school-age kids; the category is also expanding to include instructing kids to make the world a better place by being responsible citizens, kind to friends, and open to different cultures.
Finally, regarding “Tech & Entertainment,” The Toy Association predicts more affordable and user-friendly virtual and augmented reality toys, interactive and buildable robots with new features, and radio-controlled flyers (like drones) that are easier to handle and manipulate. Meanwhile, forthcoming movies like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and How the Grinch Stole Christmas will be accompanied by new licensed toy lines.