Hot Toy Trends Discovered at Toy Fair ’11 Continue to Sizzle All Year Long

August 23, 2011 | The 108th American International Toy Fair may have closed its doors six months ago, but the hot toy trends identified by Toy Industry Association (TIA) experts at the show have been sizzling all summer long – and are expected to hold strong well into the 2011 holiday shopping season.

Identified from among the 100,000 + products on display at last February’s show, TIA predicted that four trends would persist throughout 2011: “Performance Play,” “Design, Discover and Learn,” “Simply Social,” and “Cent-sational.”

 “These trends have remained relevant, largely because toys within each category target every type of child and reflect exciting advancements being made across other industries, like technology and science,” said TIA spokesperson Adrienne Appell, adding that the key trends have been cropping up “repeatedly” in ToyInfo.org videos since they were identified at the show.

 “Toymakers have really tapped into what shoppers are looking for – whether they are looking to please children who have a need for speed and enjoy active toys, or kids who love hands-on, all-play games that encourage socialization,” said Appell.

Here’s a look at how toy manufacturers have been coming up with inventive, up-to-the-minute creations that appeal to the needs and desires of 21st century kids and families:

“Performance Play” – Retailers have been stocking up on an abundant array of active play products that have kids up and moving or incorporate a competitive angle: 

  • Classic outdoor toys with a twist: Glow in the Dark Junk Ball and Bat (Little Kids), Graffiti™ Chalk Scooter (Razor), Sky Bouncin’ Baseball (Maui Toys).
  • Toys for kids with a “need for speed:” Hot Wheels Wall Tracks (Mattel), Need for Speed Construction Toy Line (Mega Bloks), Remote Control Cars (Silverlit).

“Design, Discover and Learn” – Appealing to tomorrow’s artists, scientists and writers, toys that fall under this category have maintained strong sales by incorporating fun into the learning process:

  • Arts and Crafts: Xoomy portable light box illustrating machine (Ravensburger), Bizu Crafts (Spin Master), Color Blanks (Rose Art).
  • Camouflage Learning: Magic School Bus Science Kits (The Young Scientists Clubs), PathWords (ThinkFun), Computer Cool School (Fisher Price).

“Simply Social” – Trend spotters at Toy Fair noticed a huge shift from competitive games to all-play games that encourage teamwork … and role play toys that build self-esteem and teach children important lifelong values:

  • All-Play: Busy, Busy Airport Game (I Can Do That! Games), Madeline at the White House Game (Briarpatch), Phone Frenzy (Buffalo Games).
  • Role-Play/Pro-Social: Rescue Heroes (Fisher Price), Everyday Heroes Puzzles (Alex Toys), Boom Boom! Cards.

“Cent-sational” – Affordable toys that provide immense play value are so popular because they’re perfect for birthday party loot bags – or to reward small milestones like straight “A” report cards:

  • Mini Collectibles: Zhu Zhu Puppies and Pups Accessories and Zhu Zhu Babies (Cepia, LLC), Aqua Pets (Wild Planet), Assorted Figures (Playmobil).
  • Mini Games/Battling Minis: Beyblade Metal Masters (Hasbro), Rory’s Story Cubes (Gamewright), Spot It! (Blue Orange Games).

These are just a few examples of the countless toys and games on the market right now that align with 2011’s freshest trends. Stay in the loop about toy news, trends, and safety by bookmarking ToyInfo.org and checking back regularly.