104th Annual American Toy Fair: Care Bears And Ninja Turtles Still BigBy: Shawn Hess - February 14, 2012
Technology was the big seller this past year. While physical toy sales fell by over two percent, iPad and other tablets sold like hot cakes at breakfast time. Toymakers have latched on to that trend and are hoping to turn things around this year by integrating the physical toy into applications for tablet-style devices.
EVP of Marketing for Jakks Pacific Inc., Jeremy Padawer comments on what motivates sales:
“Although the down economy still presents many challenges, at the end of the day, kids will always want the latest and greatest toys. Technology and value will continue to be key factors in purchasing decisions,”
Mattel for example, is now going to offer a scratch resistant toy car that can be ran across the screen of an iPad on virtual racetracks (AppCessories). Hasbro offers a gaming platform just for younger children and Crayola offers another gaming app. that would fall under the AppCessories category.
Adrienne Appell, toy trends specialist with the Toy Industry Association comments on the trend:
“It’s a nice way to bridge the generation gap because a lot of these games are games that adults are going to have fun playing too,”
While it may be a current trend, I don’t know if I would be passing off my $600 iPad to my kids so they can play cars on it. An entirely separate gaming system might be okay, but I think it would still be pricey for something that will most likely be cast aside in a couple months. Regardless, that is probably why the old favorites are still a big hit.
What are those old favorites? The same stuff we had when we were kids; Legos, Care Bears, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and other comic book-based action figures are still the big hits at the show. I believe these are still favorites because they allow children to make believe and fantasize about the characters and their adventures; it’s good for stretching their imaginations. True, interactive games on the iPad and other gaming systems may be superior for learning and instruction, but sometimes playtime is just playtime.
I think it’s is very interesting that toy makers choose to bring back old favorites every ten years rather than creating new characters and providing different icons for a different generations. Perhaps there isn’t enough creativity in the business? I guess we haven’t come with anything better since Transformers, Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Care Bears stole the show in the 1980’s and 90’s. That’s kind of sad.