The Maker Movement, open-ended play and tech products lead the top toy trends of 2015, according to the US Toy Industry Association (TIA). The year’s hottest trends in toys and play were announced at Toy Fair 2015, which took place over the weekend in New York.
Leading up to the event, TIA’s experts worked with hundreds of global toy companies to identify the products and trends tapped to drive consumer spending on play.
Below is a summary of the seven top trends.
Maker Movement: This trend spotlights toys that allow kids to build and create items that are unique to them. According to 2014 point-of-sales data from The NPD Group, the year saw building sets and arts & crafts categories grow by 13% and 3%, respectively. Play products in this segment include building and construction toys, programmable and user-generated playthings, cooking and food-themed toys, design kits and arts & crafts, musical and performance toys, hair and make-up toys.
Open-ended playtime: Known for promoting creativity, resourcefulness and problem-solving skills, these products include traditional toys (marbles, play sets, matchbox cars, dolls, balls, blocks, plush, outdoor toys), arts & crafts (Play Doh, finger paints, crayons, chalk) and innovative toys (programmable bots, electronic pets, RCs).
Mini madness: This trend encompasses toys that come in tiny packaging, as well as smaller versions of existing product lines. According to TIA, the lower price point makes them affordable for families for loot bags or stocking stuffers, and include novelty toys, high-quality miniature versions of existing lines and collectibles.
Smart play: “Smart” play speaks to the growing number of educational and academically-focused toys on the market, including toys that teach kids Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM)–a trend first identified by TIA last year. The category includes classic toys with an educational twist; infant/preschool learning toys; science and engineering coding kits, activity-based books and educational board games that teach language and culture and toys that encourage parental/educator involvement and teaching.
Under the sea: Toys that are aquatic-themed and/or involve water play are gaining traction in several categories, including dolls, games, collectibles and outdoor toys. Some are educational and teach kids about underwater life, while others are entertainment-focused. These toys include bath toys, boats, water-blasters, sea-pets, aquatic-themed items (i.e. mermaid and other sea animal plush, room decor, games, crafts) and educational activities that teach about aquatic life.
Top in tech: A continually evolving segment, many of these advanced tech toys incorporate open-ended and traditional play patterns to keep kids fully engaged, as they explore virtual worlds or new technologies. Some of the latest tech toys also allow kids to control and customize how they play, creating an immersive play experience. This category includes robots/robotic pets, RCs that interact with smartphones, apps that allow kids to play with physical toys in new and different ways, smart tablets for toddlers, augmented reality and wearables.
Dawn of the dinosaurs: 2015 represents the “Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” driven largely by the release of Jurassic World this summer. TIA predicts an inundation of dino-themed toys on store shelves, including dinosaur-themed books, plush for younger kids, as well as licensed and educational/scientific toys and games for older children.