“Larger than Life” … “RC Rampage” … “Full STEAM Ahead!” … and “Frightfully Fun” Among Top Trends
111th American International Toy Fair Opens Today in New York CityUnveils Hundreds of Thousands of Toys, Games and Youth Entertainment Products
Most Outstanding Toys and Games of the Year Recognized at “OSCARS®” of the Toy Industry: Rainbow Loom from Choon’s Design LLC Grabs Coveted “Toy of the Year” Title and Three Category Awards; GoldieBlox™ and the Spinning Machine from GoldieBlox™, Inc. Bestowed “People’s Choice” Honor
New York City was transformed into a magical playground this morning when hundreds of thousands of innovative playthings were unveiled at the opening of the 111th American International Toy Fair – the largest toy marketplace ever held in the Western Hemisphere – taking place February 16-19, 2014.
More than 30,000 play professionals from 100 countries are expected at Toy Fair 2014 to explore a record-breaking 412,000 net square feet of exhibit space at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Upwards of 1,150 toy companies – 285 of which are exhibiting for the very first time – are slated to unveil the year’s hottest trends in toys, games and youth entertainment products in front of an estimated 14,000 global buyers.
Supersized and classic toys, innovative RC vehicles, custom-built creations and zombie-inspired playthings are among the top industry trends of 2014, according to experts at the Toy Industry Association (TIA). The trade group unveiled this year’s hottest playthings during a packed seminar for media and buyers at TIA’s 111th American International Toy Fair.
The American International Toy Fair (www.ToyFairNY.com) is an annual event that is owned and operated by the Toy Industry Association (TIA). The show brings together more than 1,150 exhibiting manufacturers, distributors, importers and sales agents to showcase 150,000+ toy and youth entertainment products to 7,000+ unique retail outlets from 100 countries.
The Toy Industry Association (TIA) (www.ToyAssociation.org and www.ToyInfo.org) is the not-for-profit trade association representing all businesses involved in creating and delivering toys and youth entertainment products for kids of all ages, representing more than 700 companies who account for approximately 85% of domestic toy sales. TIA is the owner and operator of the American International Toy Fair and Fall Toy Preview. Toy safety is the number one priority for the toy industry; TIA has a long history of leadership in toy safety and works with government, consumers and industry on ongoing programs to ensure safe and fun play.
“Personalization and open-ended play are definitely the buzz words of 2014,” said Adrienne Appell, TIA trend expert. “Whether kids are building with classic blocks, designing their own dolls, playing in virtual worlds, or ‘mashing up’ play patterns, toymakers are giving them more freedom than ever to play exactly how they want. Best of all, these value-packed playthings come at a variety of price points – we are seeing a great selection of both splurge-worthy items and very affordable toys to fit any budget.”
The toys, games and youth entertainment products revealed at today’s “Toy Trends Tea” seminar will be appearing in stores now through the Holiday 2014 shopping season. A video of the presentation will be posted on the Toy Fair 2014 and TIA websites (ToyFairNY.com /ToyAssociation.org).
A summary of the six top trends follows:
- LARGER THAN LIFE
Large-sized toys are becoming increasingly common in just about every category, from plush and play sets to RCs and building toys. As a counter-balance to the micro-sized trend seen in years past, these toys engage kids in imaginative role-play activities and make impressive gifts for special occasions. They don’t all come with hefty price tags, either – the value-conscious shopper will find many “BIG” toys at affordable prices.
Includes: dollhouses; inflatable toys; cars, trucks and trains; plush; and baby doll carriages, cribs and other role-play accessories.
- RC RAMPAGE
Playtime will shift into high gear thanks to an influx of innovative remote-controlled vehicles for various ages and at varying price points. Older kids with a ‘need for speed’ will have plenty of options to choose from, including helicopter RCs and vehicles that launch projectiles. Animal-themed and licensed RCs based on popular entertainment properties will engage younger children and promote active and imaginative play.
Includes: traditional RCs with added features, such as the ability to fly higher, drive faster or launch projectiles.
- FULL “STEAM” AHEAD!
Educational toys, games and crafts that teach kids STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) are heating up in the toy aisle and getting kids of all ages, interests and abilities excited about learning. Toymakers are increasingly incorporating storytelling and other artistic components into science, engineering and building toys to get more kids than ever on board with STEAM.
Includes: hands-on science kits and innovative tech toys that inspire kids to think outside the box; and arts and crafts that introduce kids to STEAM concepts and skills at an early age.
- FRIGHTFULLY FUN: ZOMBIES, MONSTERS AND MORE!
Vampires were hot … but now zombies and monsters are all the rage, thanks to a rise in popularity of zombie-themed movies, TV shows and video games. Ghoulish action figures and dolls with relatable characters and back-stories are less frightening for younger kids, while older boys and girls will get a kick out of ‘gross out’ toys. These toys not only have the ability to transport children to mysterious worlds – they also teach them that it’s OK to be different and stand out from the crowd.
Includes: classic toys with a zombie twist; gothic-style fashion dolls and accessories; detailed figures for older collectors; and trivia games for fans of popular movies and TV shows, like The Walking Dead.
- RETRO / BACK-TO-BASICS
First identified by TIA in 2013, the retro and back-to-basics trend is alive and well this year thanks to a huge abundance of classic toys and games slated to hit store shelves. Today’s parents and grandparents fondly remember these playthings from their own childhoods and are excited to share them with the little ones in their lives.
Includes: re-releases and refreshed retro toys; low-tech / back-to-basics toys that reflect the enduring popularity of classic play patterns over time; and old-school family games that foster intergenerational play.
- CUSTOM BUILT
2014 will take building to a whole new level. In addition to building and construction toys, this trend extends across several toy categories – from arts and crafts to action figures – and encompasses playthings that allow kids to create, customize and personalize to reflect their unique tastes, styles and imaginations.
Includes two sub-trends: “Mash-up” toys, which incorporate many uses or ways to play in a single toy or game, giving kids the freedom to choose how they’d like to play; and “Fashion Forward” toys, which include DIY sets that allow kids to create their own accessories, fashion dolls that can be styled in a personalized way and realistically-designed dollhouses and building / play sets.
“New York Toy Fair is the only show in the world that provides the international toy industry with direct access to the tremendous creativity and talent of North American toymakers,” said Carter Keithley, President of the Toy Industry Association (TIA), the trade group that owns and operates the show. “The diverse Toy Fair marketplace offers something for everyone – including niche buyers, mass retailers, licensing executives, and many more – all of who consider the show to be a ‘must-attend’ stop on the global buying circuit.”
The Toy Fair opened at 10 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring GRAMMY-winning artist Alicia Keys, co-creator of the interactive children’s app, The Journals of Mama Mae & LeeLee. Immediately following the show opener, trade guests surged the exhibit hall and kicked off four, jam-packed days of trend-spotting, networking and order-writing. Playthings ordered at Toy Fair will be appearing in toy stores through the holiday shopping season.
Most Outstanding Toys and Games of the Year Recognized at “OSCARS®” of the Toy Industry
Hundreds of toy executives and industry guests from around the world gathered in New York City tonight to honor the year’s finest toys and industry luminaries at the 14th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards and Toy Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
A TIA-administered event in support of the philanthropic work of the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF), the “Oscars” of the toy industry took place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, kicking off the 111th American International Toy Fair.
Rainbow Loom – the hot-selling arts & crafts toy from Choon’s Design LLC – was the runaway success of the evening, taking home the overall “Toy of the Year” award and prizes in three additional categories. Social media and Super Bowl ad sensation GoldieBlox™ and the Spinning Machine (GoldieBlox™, Inc.) snagged the admirable “People’s Choice” award for pulling in the most online votes from consumers and was also awarded a prize in one additional category. [SEE FULL LIST OF CATEGORY WINNERS BELOW]
“This year’s top TOTY winners are outstanding examples of the magical and creative playthings that originate from innovative toy companies of all sizes,” said Carter Keithley, TIA President. “We congratulate Choon’s Design, Goldieblox, and the winners across all 12 categories – from e-Connected to Outdoor – for their wonderful achievements!”
Interspersed with the awards presentation was a special tribute to the Toy Industry Foundation, which gifted more than three million toys and games to children in need worldwide in 2013 alone. The event also welcomed the induction of five individuals into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame: Jill Barad, Former Chairman and CEO, Mattel; Horst Brandstätter, President and Sole Owner, PLAYMOBIL/geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. KG; Jack Friedman, Former Chairman, CEO and Co-founder, JAKKS Pacific; and Arthur “Spur” Melin & Richard Knerr, Co-Founders of Wham-O Toy. These new inductees join a distinguished roster of dozens of luminaries who have been inducted into the Hall since its establishment in 1985.
TOTY Award winners were selected with the input of consumers (on ToyAwards.org), retailers (mass and specialty), media and members of the toy industry. The five ballots were weighted and used to determine the category winners, with the exception of the “People’s Choice” award, which was selected exclusively by consumers.
And the winners are…
Recognizing an outstanding toy that inspires creative play through various forms of activity, the Activity Toy of the Year was presented to Rainbow Loom(Choon’s Design LLC)
Recognizing an outstanding toy developed for boys of any age, the Boy Toy of the Year was presented to Despicable Me 2™ Special Feature Minion Dave Talking Action Figure (Thinkway Toys©)
Recognizing an app-cessory or other physical toy that interacts with a smartphone, tablet or gaming device, the e-Connected Toy of the Year was presented toLeapPad Ultra™ (LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc.)
Recognizing an outstanding toy that helps children develop special skills and knowledge through play, the Educational Toy of the Year was presented to GoldieBlox™ and the Spinning Machine(GoldieBlox™, Inc.)
Recognizing an outstanding children’s board, card, CD-ROM or electronic game, the Game of the Year was presented toBoom Boom Balloon™(Spin Master Ltd.)
Recognizing an outstanding toy developed for girls of any age, the Girl Toy of the Year was presented to Rainbow Loom (Choon’s Design LLC)
Recognizing an outstanding toy developed for infants and toddlers up to 36 months, the Infant/Toddler Toy of the Year was presented to Big Hugs Elmo(Playskool)
Recognizing an outstanding toy that combines innovation and play value, the Innovative Toy of the Year was presented Zoomer(Spin Master Ltd.)
Recognizing an outstanding toy that is designed for outdoor play, the Outdoor Toy of the Year was presented to Razor® Crazy Cart™ (Razor USA LLC)
Recognizing an outstanding toy developed for preschool-aged children (ages 3-5), the Preschool Toy of the Year was presented toDoc McStuffins Get Better Check-Up Center (Just Play)
Recognizing a property that has had the greatest success spreading its brand throughout the industry, Property of the Year was presented to Minecraft™(Mojang AB)
Recognizing an outstanding toy that is distributed primarily through specialty toy retailers, the Specialty Toy of the Year was presented toRainbow Loom (Choon’s Design LLC)
Descriptions of all TOTY finalists can be found online at ToyAwards.org. The nominees were carefully selected by committees of academics, journalists, retailers, and more who considered 520 submitted products and properties.
Event sponsors for the evening were Spin Master Ltd., VTech, WELLS FARGO ADVISORS Fuchs Schulman Wealth Management Group (gold level); Dallas Market Center, Coyne PR (silver level); Educational Insights, Keller & Heckman LLP, LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc., TekConn, Gourvitz Communications (bronze level); and Women in Toys and Locker, Greenberg & Brainin (friends).