Adrienne Appell, senior vice president of marketing communications at The Toy Association, said this year’s trends “underscore the ongoing impact of the pandemic on play”.
Appell said the industry is increasingly committed to “helping kids become better global citizens” and the “social, emotional and cognitive benefits of mindful, musical, and ‘kidult’ toys”.
During the pandemic, families have rediscovered the joy of play at home. The Toy Association predicts that families will be looking for toys that promote togetherness.
This includes educational toys and activities, family games and puzzles, outdoor and active toys, nostalgic brands, cooking-themed toys, and role-playing toys.
Not just for kids
There’s also a growing trend for ‘kidult’ toys, according to the Toy Association. Adults are treating themselves to toys including collectibles, building toys, and crowd-funded toys.
Mixing in music
This trend is driven by social media platforms such as YouTube and TikTok. These have inspired a desire for toys that get children moving.
It includes audio players that encourage screen-free play, toys that inspire children to make their own music, unboxing toys that use music in the reveals, and classic musical toys.
Lego and Universal have just released Lego Vidiyo an app that brings minifigures to life with a music video making AR app.
Health and wellness is an increasingly popular trend, and toys are included. The association’s Genius of Play initiative found that play was the best way to help children cope with their emotions.
The Toy Association predicts that this year will experience growing demand for toys that contribute to the development of children’s social and emotional learning (SEL) skills. This includes toys that promote mindfulness, comforting plush toys and sensory toys.
Socially conscious play
Toymakers are also creating toys that promote social responsibility and awareness, including dolls that promote diversity and eco-friendly toys.
Additional offerings include plush toys that promote protecting endangered species, toys that recognise essential workers, and STEAM toys that feature renewable energy sources.
“The pandemic did not stop our trends team from virtually previewing hundreds of innovative new products as we set out to determine what will be topping kids’ wish lists between now and the holiday season,” added Appell.
“We are so excited to share a sneak peek at what kids and adults will be clamoring for as we dive deeper into the impact of COVID-19 on the future of play.”
As theatrical releases move to streaming platforms, the Toy Association forecasts that sales of licensed toys will be driven by brands on streaming services such as Disney+ and Netflix.