What makes one toy an impossible-to-find commodity, and another something that simply takes up shelf space? Toy manufacturers have been trying to figure that out for years. But, as with so many things with kids, the secret may never be known. Who could have predicted the mania around Tickle Me Elmo in the ’90s, or the racing rodent Zhu Zhu pets 13 years later? The delightfully random brains of children have caused so many toys to rise from obscurity — and then to return there once again.
Of course, there’s some method to the madness. Marketing, pop culture, social media, and even research into child development also enter into the constant feedback loop that can start with something like DIY slime videos and end with something called the Pop Pop Snotz Slime Hammer. No toy is an island, either: Popular toys are often part of a larger trend — if they haven’t sparked a trend themselves. To find out the top fads for 2019, we spoke with Ali Mierzejewski, editor-in-chief of The Toy Insider. She and her team have identified eight major trends in toys this year, from “TBTB” (throwback toybox) to “Totally Tactile” (a.k.a. the world that slime hath wrought).
Another major trend the folks at The Toy Insider have really seen explode? One that they’ve dubbed “layers of fun.” If your kid has begged for a L.O.L. Doll or a Fortnite Loot chest, for example, you are already aware of this recent explosion in kid’s gifts that keep on giving. Mierzejewski says they’re such a hit with kids because they’re toys that offer two experiences: the fun of the reveal, and then getting to play with it later.
“These smaller toys tend to be packed with activities that keep kids busy for awhile, and don’t just end up at the bottom of the toy box in January,” she says. They also tend to be less expensive and also on the smaller side, offering great value for parents. Mierzejewski credits parents embracing “layers of fun” toys for their longevity, too.
“Since toys like this appeal to both kids (who are asking for them) and adults (who usually have the purchasing power), it’s a win-win for manufacturers,” she explains.
For examples of toys in the “layers of fun” category — and all of 2019’s hottest trends — read on.
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