The Toy Association announces US Hot Holiday Trends

Published on: 7th October 2021

The Toy Association has revealed its pick of the latest toy trends and encouraged families to shop early to avoid industry-wide shortages.

The Toy Association trends team has unveiled the hottest toy trends of the ‘21 holiday season in the US. These range from innovative takes on fidget toys to toys that promote kindness and sustainable lifestyles.

The announcement was made during The Toy Association’s virtual Q4 Toy Trends Briefing, which can now be viewed online; the video includes specific product examples to illustrate each trend. Families were encouraged to get their hands on coveted items as soon as possible, with industry-wide shortages caused by global supply chain bottlenecks expected to worsen as the holidays draw near.

“Trends in the toy and youth entertainment space are evolving quickly, particularly in the Covid-19 era which has more families turning to toys and play to unwind, destress and connect with each other – an underlying theme of each of the trends we announced today,” said Adrienne Appell, senior vice president of marketing communications at The Toy Association. “From Fidget Fever toys that help ease anxiety through fidget play, to Catering to Kidult toys that give older toy consumers a means of escapism, the hottest trends of this holiday bring all ages together through play, allowing kids, teens, and adults to reap the many social, emotional, and cognitive benefits of toys and games.”

The Toy Association trends team virtually previewed hundreds of products to determine what will be topping wish lists, taking into account how the 2021 toy trends announced by the team earlier this year have evolved. Companies showcased their many innovations and latest licences across a whole range of products, but the worldwide shipping crisis has put a serious strain on many small- and mid-sized businesses.

“There is so much creativity and innovation coming out of the toy industry right now, but shortages will be a real issue this holiday season which is why we can’t overstress the importance of getting out there early to shop for toys and games,” added Adrienne.

The top trends identified are:

Fidget Fever
Part of the larger Zen-sational Toys trend identified earlier this year, fidget toys continue to be popular with the added bonus of helping ease stress and anxiety − a bonus SEL (social-emotional learning) skill development. Popit fidget toys are the latest viral fidget toys on every kid’s wish list. We expect to see this trend play out across multiple categories.

Catering to Kidults
The pandemic only heighted the demand for playthings that cater to an older group of toy consumers, as first identified with the Not Just for Kids trend at the beginning of 2021. Retailers are setting aside more dedicated shelf and online shopping space for grown-up toy lovers, and toymakers are rolling out products with cross generational appeal to get the whole family playing together. In further recognition of this trend, the Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards has debuted a new Grown-Up Toy of the Year category for 2022.

Building a Better Tomorrow
There is a growing movement of today’s young parents looking to be more eco and socially conscious in the products they purchase and the companies they support. In the toy aisles, this translates to toys made of more sustainably sourced materials coupled with messaging that encourages kids to be more socially responsible individuals. First identified by The Toy Association’s trends team earlier this year, this is currently one of the fastest growing trends and is sure to impact purchasing habits this holiday season.

Hot for Holiday
Movie toys took a back seat to evergreen branded toys last year, but we’re predicting the influx of more ways to consume entertainment in 2021 (i.e. more streaming services, hybrid film releases, social media, and online gaming) will fuel growth of licensed toys once again. This will be most visible in categories including collectibles, dolls, action figures, playsets, and roleplay and dress-up. Also be on the lookout for toys infused with innovative new play features—from unique unboxing experiences to cool techy traits.

The Toy Association’s trends team will present its 2022 Toy Trends Briefing at Toy Fair New York (February 18-22, 2022).

A video of the Q4 Toy Trends Briefing can be viewed below:


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