Once the winter holiday shopping season wraps up and the New Year’s dust settles, parents know it’s time to relax. But not you. As retailers and toymakers, you’re busy finding out what’s going to be big on next year’s Christmas list. You’re busy planning your route at Toy Fair.
The upcoming edition of Toy Fair, held Feb. 16-19, 2019 in New York City, will be the 116th installment of the show. More than 26,000 professionals attended last year’s show, which has grown substantially to become the largest show in the Western Hemisphere. Of those 26,000 attendees, more than 11,000 are retailers, wholesalers, entertainment executives, importers and buyers from 97 countries. And this year is shaping up to be just as exciting.
“We’re particularly excited about the growth of our Creative Factor program for entrepreneurs and inventors at New York Toy Fair,” said Marian Bossard, executive vice president of global market events at The Toy Association.
Now entering its 16th year, Creative Factor offers informative sessions during the show about the state of the toy industry.
So, what can we expect from this year’s show? A place where it’s socially acceptable for adults to be children again, for one. In terms of products, Bossard said the trend sign is pointing to the continued popularity of collectibles, innovative robotics and engaging (but also educational) tech toys. Some of the best trends from last year have been slapstick and gross-out toys, toys based on mythical pets, and STEAM toys, so we can likely expect to see those continue to be popular.
When it comes to the classics, games like Monopoly and puzzles remain top-of-mind. But even companies that specialize in these favorites do their best to anticipate what will be popular among their customers. “While we are known for our wooden and metal puzzles, we have also recently been building up our selection of party games,” said Dan Baxter, puzzle specialist for Professor Puzzle. It’s interesting, how what was once old is considered new again. Baxter anticipates one of the company’s new items to be exceptionally popular – a Sherlock Holmes-themed range of puzzles and games. Also on the top of the list for Professor Puzzle, are the new wooden tabletop version of hockey and table tennis, as well as the VHS-shaped movie trivia pack, which adds just the right touch of nostalgia.
In addition to these hot-ticket items, many toymakers offer an array of products for kids of varying abilities. “We are increasingly seeing a great selection of toys that help differently-abled and special needs children develop skills at their own pace,” said Bossard. “From dexterity and hand-eye coordination, to social and problem-solving skills.”
The key is for parents and caregivers to be cognizant of their child’s unique interests and abilities, and to tap into the expertise of retail staff in order to select appropriate toys for their children.
Whatever type of toy, game or children’s gifting item you’ll want to stock your shelves with, the show promises to boast everything you’ll need to turn your shop into the local version of Santa’s toy workshop by the end of the year.
Chatting with an Old Favorite
We expect so much of them, but somehow USAopoly continues to exceed expectations by offering some of our favorite themes on a timeless classic.
Gift Shop: What new or favorite products will you be showcasing at the upcoming Toy Fair?
Jackie Miserany, marketing manager: (This year,) USAopoly will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the crown jewel in our catalog – Telestrations! To commemorate this special milestone of “the #1 LOL game”, USAopoly has partnered with the non-profit organization Operation Smile. We are proud to support Operation Smile in their mission to heal smiles worldwide, and throughout 2019 we will be spreading the message that laughter is healing. You can expect the big kickoff for this year-long endeavor at Toy Fair, with some fun surprises for the brand to be announced. Additionally, we’ll be showcasing new, exciting, fan-favorite pop culture titles in our catalog and continuing our partnership with Hasbro, Steve Jackson Games, Czech Games Edition and more.
GS: What is it about the USAopoly games that you think are so popular?
JM: USAopoly is serious about fun and games! I think our games are so popular because we offer everyone — from the casual party gamer to the die-hard hobby enthusiast — a unique and immersive opportunity to put down their cell phones, tablets and video game controllers and connect with others face-to-face in a highly enjoyable and meaningful way.
GS: How do you incorporate pop culture into your new/upcoming designs, and how do you know what will work?
JM: We have a fantastic product development team and wonderful relationships with the best licensing partners in the world, including Hasbro, Disney, Marvel, Warner Bros., FOX, HBO, Nintendo and Cartoon Network. The process of bringing any pop culture IP to the table top is very collaborative. We work closely with our partners to make sure we offer the best possible immersive game play experience for our customers. Everyone at USAopoly is a board game enthusiast and pop culture fan at heart, so there is no shortage of fun ideas and inventive ways to incorporate our passion into new game design! We put our games through rigorous play testing to ensure that our products offer fun, memorable, unique, and exciting experiences. With this emphasis on quality, we make sure to take the time to get it right before we release a game to market.