Every February, New York transforms into Mecca of toys for the annual Toy Fair. Thousands of companies, big and small, flee to Big Apple announce the hottest toys and game to rule the retail space in a year ahead. The event is a time of innovative discoveries and premiers by the industry's most remarkable toy properties, and it's always worth attending it - even if just for fun. Our team has attended the fair this year and, under the impression from its programs, made a list of the most interesting in our opinion toy trends in 2019.
Among the most prominent trends spotted at the New York Toy Fair is an increased interest in innovative video games. As expected, Fortnite’s position in the market has solidified as it reached the title of the most commercially successful game in the digital space. Currently, the game is also gaining momentum in the licensing industry, where it has already landed some important deals in various licensing categories.
Together with Fortnite, a few other games also ran the Toy Fair show this year. The freshly released Apex Legends was one of the most talked gaming properties. Many debated whether or not this game in on track to become the next Fortnite. And while it’s a bit too early to conclude, the game’s success journey has certainly started on a strong note.
The toy industry’s all-time favorite characters also had a blast at the expo. Many well-known toy companies disclosed their plans on increasing their presence in the market. First ones on this list, Angry Birds and Lego are both preparing for new product launches tailored to the respective sequels of their branded movies, and the samples were widely praised in New York last week.
According to the industry’s specialist, CEO of Fangirl Consulting and Brand Management Anita Castellar, another big trend at the expo were retro brands, whose popularity was building on last year's successes. Among the prominent examples is Basic Fun, which has recently announced the come back of the popular Speak & Spell toy featured in the movie E.T.
Although influencers have long had ties with the toy industry, this year they had a proper breakthrough at the Toy Fair. To name a few, Ryan's Toys review was widely discussed by the expo attendees.
As Anita notes, Licenses and Toys based on Social Media influencers (both 2 legged and 4 legged fur friends) also continue to expand. Some examples included Jiffpom, who debuted a line of Toys with Brandable, and Ninja launching a product line with Wicked Cool Toys.
Finalizing the list of trends, diversity of toy and product categories was an important trend at NYTF as never before. Especially significant was the rise of innovative categories and the strong influence of the entertainment factor in the retail space. For instance, location-based entertainment is currently on the rise also with new theme parks and especially escape room deals increasing in numbers globally.
More traditional toy formats also thrived at the expo. Like this, compound and slime toys, probably driven from the craze on YouTube, could be spotted everywhere at the fair. Anita, who saw them in multiple formats, noted how Nickelodeon, in particular, is going back to using their “green slime logo after a hiatus”.
Last but not least, no unicorn toy was found at the Toy Fair this year. It’s because llamas and narwhals are now giving unicorns a run for their money! As seen in New York, both of these creatures were prominent in plush, housewares, and other categories. Are these funny animals on track to conquering the toy market? This is yet to be seen.
This is far not a complete list of trends spotted at NYTF - all of them combined would probably make up a book. Rather, these are the ones we liked the most. What were your favorites? Leave a comment below!
Big thanks to Anita Castellar for the contribution to this article. You check out her work and connect with her here.