WORLD NEWS

The Toy Association reveals 2024 toy trends

Published on: 12th February 2024

The Toy Association has unveiled the top trends expected to drive consumer spending on toys, games, and youth entertainment products in 2024.

From spooky, sustainable and anime-inspired toys, to holistic products that give young minds and bodies a boost, the announcement was made during The Toy Association’s annual Toy Trends Briefing, a virtual press conference that gave retailers and media a first look at the latest developments in toys and play.

“With budgets continuing to be carefully curated, today’s toy shoppers seek more than just playthings; they seek enduring play experiences — and the toy industry is delivering,” said Adrienne Appell, executive vice president of Marketing Communications at The Toy Association. “This year’s top toys will prioritise consumer budgets, durability and sustainability, while also emphasising how toymakers are broadening their product ranges in ways that lean into cultural trends and make play more accessible for all ages and abilities.”

The Toy Association’s team of trend experts meets with hundreds of global toy companies throughout the year to track the latest developments in toys, play and youth entertainment, as well as parallel industries. Today’s press briefing represented the culmination of this work and featured many sneak peeks of top products which will be hitting stores in time for the festive season, from companies of all sizes.

45% of parents under the age of 40 consider a toy’s environmental impact when making buying decisions, according to a Toy Association survey of US parents. In 2024, toymakers will prioritise sustainability, not only as a commitment to using eco-friendly materials, but also as a holistic approach aligned with these evolving consumer values. And what consumers care about most when it comes to sustainability and purchasing products is durability (58%), according to a Deloitte 2023 Sustainable Consumer report.

Beyond being environmentally friendly, this trend centers on toys and brands that stand the test of time, emphasising craftsmanship, heirloom qualities, extended play value and a toy’s ability to adapt and grow with children as they age.

Mystical, magical and supernatural toys transport kids and kidults on an enchanting journey, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. Thanks to a resurgent cultural interest in spooky, mystery and horror genres across movies, TV and literature, the industry can expect to see an array of toys which leverage new technologies, hidden features, secret codes and unfolding narratives that tap into kids’ natural curiosity, explore the thrill of the unknown and lead children to new discoveries. Among the properties driving this interest is Wednesday, a licence to watch this year and the top-viewed English-language Netflix series (racking in 341m hours watched in its first week, surpassing Stranger Things’ previous record of 335m hours, according to the streaming service).

In this era of mindful parenting, the toy industry is offering a diverse range of toys that aid both mind and body. Fusing emotional intelligence, screen-free active play and sports-inspired fun, this trend is set to redefine the landscape of children’s play, as toymakers deliver more toys that not only promote physical fitness but moreover stimulate creativity, healthy emotional expression and social interaction. This trend recognises holistic child development and play’s role in the equation. In fact, some US states are now mandating play-based learning, with research indicating that “playing with a purpose” leads to a deeper understanding of the curriculum. Bolstered by expected fanfare surrounding the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, the Toy Association also anticipates sports toys to surge in popularity.

A fervent global fandom is bringing anime to the forefront in 2024, and its impact on the toy space is expected to reach unprecedented heights. Teens and kidults are engaged in the anime community through conventions, online forums and social media, with fans actively participating in discussions, fan art creation and cosplay tied to anime content. This enthusiasm coupled with increased accessibility of anime through streaming channels (Crunchyroll, Netflix, Max, etc.) has propelled the genre from niche to mainstream, creating a cultural ripple effect that extends beyond entertainment and kidult audiences into various consumer product categories, including children’s toys.

Last year, Netflix adapted One Piece into a live-action series; Bandai opened a flagship Tamashii Nations store in Times Square which sells a diverse selection of figures, including many popular anime characters; and the marketing teams at Disney and Spy X Family in Japan teamed up for crossover promotions of their films Wish and Code: White. In 2024, the toy world can expect to see more crossover partnerships and toymakers leveraging the distinct, beloved stories and aesthetics of anime to create toys that resonate with hardcore and casual fans alike.

Last year was a powerhouse year for kids’ entertainment and toyetic content, but in 2024 we’ll see more toys inspired by evergreen characters of the past and small screen entertainment that has cross-generational appeal. With new pre-school entertainment rolling out, keep an eye out for toys inspired by both edutainment and entertainment properties that entice little ones as well as many anniversary celebrations. Toys inspired by social media trends, video games and digital worlds (such as Minecraft and Roblox) will also continue to carve out a bigger piece of the pie.

A video of the Toy Trends Briefing will be available online in the coming days (www.ToyAssociation.org/trends).

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