keep their wits about them because the new kids on the block are leaving them standing.
OBSERVATIONS OF A TOY INDUSTRY SURVIVOR Jon Salisbury
Do you get the feeling that toys are very much ‘on trend’ at the moment, asks our columnist this month?
LOOKING AT all the coverage after toy fair season, someone in the media has obviously decided that we are currently worthy of special attention, so we must be doing something right. The industry’s early adoption of the likes of tablets and apps means that we are speaking the language of today. Or, as the US Toy Industry Association said of what people could expect to see at the New York Toy Fair: “Hot new toy trends that keep pace with advancements in the tech world and mirror societal trends.”
Mirror societal trends, eh? Perhaps we’re
due Trivial Pursuit: the Occupy London Edition or Greek Monopoly, where the object is to spend, spend, spend and then borrow, borrow, borrow?
All joking aside, the toy industry does seem to be enjoying a purple patch at the moment. Overall sales might have been up by only a modest three per cent last year, but the noise caused by hot product has once again made
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us the envy of industries with little of interest to shout about. Even existing toy companies need to keep their wits about them because the new kids on the block are leaving them standing. For example, I was asked by the owners of a very powerful kids brand and previous Toy of the Year, how Moshi Monsters had become such a big hit? Toys have that rare ability among consumer products of combining the wow factor of novelty and innovation with the heartstring pulling power of retro chic. On the one hand, you’re impressed by how clever and original a new toy can be and then you coo over a classic theme that reminds you of past toys and even of when you were a kid. That could be why a category like board games is surviving in the face of mind- blowing technological gaming advancements. Which is where we must stop for a moment and spare a thought for the current travails of the video games business. If toys were as easy as video games to sell online, toy
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retailers would be in more of a pickle, just like GAME. Video games have blown kids’ minds, it’s true to say, and keep getting better but the delivery of the content looks like it will soon shift away from the High Street and retailers might be left out of the loop. As a footnote to last month’s gender debate: Hasbro has now added more fuel to the fire with classic games being redesigned to appeal to the genders. Connect 4 Dunk, Battleship and Clue Elimination are now in the boys game range, while Candy Land Princesses is clearly aimed at girls, as is Twister with Twister Dance featuring Britney Spears. Perhaps online lobbyists will now add Hasbro to their list of pet hates...
Jon Salisbury has written about the toy business since 1985, editing magazines and running toy media events in New York and London. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonSalisbury www.wotkidzwant.com
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