Toy Fair 2016 opens Saturday, hosted by The Toy Industry Association at the Javits Center in Manhattan. From G.I. Joe and Mr. Potato Head to today’s crop of interactive smart toys, entrants in the fair are a good indicator of the year’s trends.
Here are 11 trends to watch at Toy Fair 2016:
- Mattel is banking on a more diverse Barbie line and a line of DC Super Hero Girls (at top) to inspire girls with relatable characters.
- The Powerpuff Girls are back, with an updated new series this spring on Cartoon Network and items at Toy Fair including Spinmaster’s Powerpuff Girls Deluxe Flip to Action Playset, which “magically transforms from The Powerpuff Girls’ bedroom to their superhero lab” according to a press release.
- Alex Brands is broadening its offerings with more than 350 new categories of play including: spa, crafts and DIY, outdoor/active, STEM, infant/preschool and licensing partnerships.
- IamElemental just released its Series 2/Wisdom “seven 4″ articulated action figures based on the “Elements of Power—superpowers that already exist inside each one of us,” said Julie Kerwin, IAmElemental’s Chief Elemental Officer.
Star Wars Still Rules
- LEGO’s upcoming 2016 Star Wars collection is one of the largest and most diverse since its 1999 introduction. New products include LEGO Star Wars:The Freemaker Adventures, Star Wars:The Force Awakens—eight new film-inspired building sets, Star Wars Saga—seven new building sets based on the original Star Wars saga and Star Wars: Rebels.
- Spin Master just released BB-8, the small Droid exploring a brave new world in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. BB-8 is taller than 16-inches, remote controlled and respond to voice commands.
- Hasbro light sabers helped the company stock rise 11% in the past year, selling nearly $500 million in Star Wars toys last year.
Batman v Superman
- Leveraging the highly anticipated upcoming motion picture Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, One:12 Collective’s collectibles of stars Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill promise to be a “game changer.”
Toys with a Social Element
- Moose Toys is debuting additions to its current hit brands, Shopkins and Little Live Pets and introducing new product lines include Betty Spaghetty (deluxe mix-and-match pack), Hyper Toss (fast-moving, electronic game) and SelfieMic (kids can create their own music videos).
- Fisher-Price‘s new Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar model encourages sequencing and critical thinking skills among preschoolers. “Coding is something parents like to hear, but kids putting together a Lego set have the rudiments of coding,” said Chris Byrne, content director for Toys, Tots, Pets & More. “The best toys that are being marketed as coding are toys that are really immersive and fun for kids to play with—after an hour of homework, who wants to do more homework?”
- Crayola‘s 2016 Holiday line “leans into creative play, enabling kids to make customized tools and outcomes that are unique to them.” 2016 products include Crayola Air Marker Sprayer, Crayola Crayon Factory, Crayola Jewel Maker, Crayola Emoji Maker, Crayola Color Spinout, Crayola Mess-Free Sand Scribbler.
- ThinkFun wants kids off the couch, moving, stretching, thinking and learning with yoga games. ThinkFun’s 2016 yoga games include Memory Yoga (ages 3 and up), Yoga Spinner (ages 5 and up) and Yoga Cards (ages 6 and up).
- The VTech scandal last year sent shockwaves through the industry when more than 6.3 million children’s accounts were breached. “VTech has worked hard to enhance the security of its websites and services and to safeguard customer information,” said a spokeswoman. “But no company that operates online can provide a 100% guarantee that it won’t be hacked.” New products include an expandable, three-in-one learning desk with interactive activity cards; new themes for the award-winning Go! Go! Smart lines and the expansion of Baby Amaze. Not to mention, it recently acquired LeapFrog.
Vintage Brand Reboot
- PLAY-DOH celebrates its 60th birthday at Toy Fair with PLAY-DOH Town, a new system of play that inspires creative storytelling through Town-themed playsets, vehicles and figures.
- Lionel introduces Mega Tracks, a revolutionary rail system where kids can design and build their own racecourses. It is also introducing a ready-to-play collection featuring kids’ favorites from Disney, The Polar Express and John Deere.
- Playmates Toys, the company behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, is unveiling TMNT-themed Talk-to-Me Mikey and T-Sprints Segment with a flywheel so kids can launch favorite figures with a Double Barrel and Cross Bow Blaster and a Talking Shell Cannon assortment.
- Pokémon turns 20 this year, so TOMY is introducing one retailer-exclusive Mythical Pokémon each month in 2016. Select Mythical Pokémon characters will be released as 8″ plush in a special crushed velvet material, and as 2″ pearlescent-finished figures with their own unique pearlescent-finished Poké Balls.
- Sonic The Hedgehog turns 25 with a limited-edition anniversary collector figure pack, commemorative coins and comics, and a 3” plush figure.
Drones and VR
- Odyssey Toys is showcasing the Pocket Drone (world’s first collapsing video drone that fits into your pocket), the Turbo Runner NX (transitions from flight to running mode) and the Galaxy Seeker II (high-performance drone with first video recording and VR capabilities).
Smart toys are getting smarter
- Arrow Smart-Kart is an electric go-kart for pre-teens with speakers in the headrest of the bucket seats and a top speed of 12 miles per hour. Its smart features include geofencing so parents can use the Arrow app to draw a boundary on a map for their kids. If the boundary is crossed, the kart shuts down.
- As for Barbie? She’s not only more diverse than ever, she’s also smarter and etcher than ever, with the Hello Barbie Dreamhouse now a smart home (priced at US$299) that boasts smart lighting, voice recognition and its own app, which can even turn the house into a party palace (with disco lights and stairs that turn into a slide) on demand. Barbie also now has a hoverboard (retailing for $60, reports The Verge) that actually hovers like a drone.
— The Noise on Toys (@thenoiseontoys) February 14, 2016
— TTPM (@ttpm) February 12, 2016