On a weekly basis, we are seeing headlines about the difficulties high street retailer are having, stories of poor results and restructuring. Toy retailers aren’t excluded from the bad news, with Toy ‘R’ Us facing uncertain times ahead. According to the BBC News report on the findings of the British Toy and Hobby Association, after three years of consecutive growth toy sales in the UK fell by 2.8% in 2017 compared with the previous year. Despite this news there are some positives…there were more than 26,000 new toys launched. It’s not all doom though, collectable sales are up 17% and the UK represents the fourth-largest market in the world behind the US, China and Japan.
One of the first major trade shows of the year is Toy Fair at Olympia, organised by the British Toy and Hobby Association. It showcases more than 260 brands. We find it a must-attend event every year and it provides us with insight into the upcoming trends in the world of toy. We sent our ‘kids at heart’ toy team to Olympia to report back on all the fun of the fair!
Schools are now teaching basic coding thanks to cost-effective technology such as the sub £50 Raspberry Pi computer, as a result, we observed an increase in technology-based toys at Toy Fair. The halls were alive with fantastic new innovation in robots and drones, with interacting smart devices helping control all of the fun. There were robots for every age with coding noticeably popular across a wide range of new science and learning toys.
BOTLEY the Coding Robot and Mind Designer were both in the top 25 toys to be given the ‘Toy Fairs Hero Toys 2018’ award. Only toys that are innovative, exciting and break the mould are considered, so they are both worthy winners.
This cute hands-on, 77 piece, screen-free coding robot will teach children as young as 5 years the principles of coding. By using the remote programmer to enter commands he can perform object detection, loop commands and follow unique mazes and challenges. We loved this little chap and are sure he’ll feature highly on Christmas lists.
This is a programmable robot that can draw. You program him and he has fun drawing figures and geometric shapes for you. He has voice recognition too and will respond to your commands – fellow designers we will have to watch out!
Remember how parents all joked about the little treasures abandoning the must-have toy (and quite often expensive) at Christmas and spending hours playing with the box! Well, we’ve noticed a trend for manufacturers producing toys based on this train of thought. Some are using cardboard in a traditional way, whilst others are substituting plastics for cardboard, producing a more eco-friendly offering. But Nintendo, with their Labo, brings things to a totally different dimension, offering traditional card construction linked with the very latest gaming technology.
Launching April 2018 with the strapline MAKE / PLAY / DISCOVER, the Labo combines the magic of the Nintendo Switch console with the fun of cardboard DIY creations or Toy-Cons as Nintendo have named them. Choose either the Variety kit or Robot kit, these contain all the cardboard pieces for your construction, then add your Switch and discover new ways to play!
A freeform architectural modelling system that allows you to physically explore designs and bring your ideas to life with speed and precision. Based on modern building techniques and a 1.2m/4ft grid to scale, the ‘click and connect’ modular components make it possible to create a vast range of structures that can be quickly assembled, endlessly modified and finished to perfection. A toy for the architects of the future!
A fantastic idea that takes everything back to basics and lets children use their imagination. These simple ideas appear to be the launchpad for more things to come from Bildy.
The world is turning to Slime
If your children are of a certain age then you can’t have helped to notice the craze for homemade slime. Kitchens all over the UK have been covered in shaving foam and food colouring in an attempt to replicate what kids have seen on YouTube and social media platforms. Historically, toy manufacturers introduce a product to market and as demand grows through TV and magazine advertising, kids then pester parents so they can own it. But with Slime it’s different…kids are driving the demand and manufacturers are now playing catch up!
The first question to ask is….do kids still get pocket money anymore?
If you speak to the guys at Thought Machine, they think not (well not in the way we remember), so they have introduced Money Monsters, that even has the backing of Santander.
A modern-day money box designed to help kids save and spend wisely in this increasingly cashless digital world. For young children, the concept of money and what things cost can be intangible. Learning about money and the basics of saving and spending is an essential part of everyday life.
These colourful, customisable coin-free critters have partnered with Santander and are digitally linked to a secure account with a contactless payment card controlled by the parents. Money can be transferred to the Money Monster account via an app and the child will see its eyes light up and a message appear on the display. Mum has sent you £5 – “Thanks, Mum!” They come in a variety of vibrant colours, with a multitude of accessories and clip-on body parts. Saving money has never been such fun!
In conclusion, Toy Fair was as vibrant and busy as ever. There appeared to be no obvious slowdown in trade. There will always be a place for traditional toys but we predict that technology or at least the joining of traditional and technology will increase in the future.