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 thirteen 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 entire 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 trends 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 toy box) to “Totally Tactile” (a.k.a. the world that slime wrought).
Another major trend they’ve really seen explode? One they’ve dubbed “layers of fun.” If your kid has begged for a L.O.L. Doll or a Fortnite Loot chest, you are already aware of this recent explosion in kid’s toys. Mierzejewski says they’re such a hit with kids because it’s a gift that offers 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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Radio Flyer Plush Interactive Riding Horse
One trend indentified by Toy Insider is a fairly timeleses one: “Ready to Ride.” Just like kids 10, 20, and 50 years ago, kids in 2019 want things they can ride. But because its 2019, they have more to choose from, including toys that innovate on classics, like this plush but realistic riding horse.
Razor E100 Electric Scooter
The classic scooter gets an upgrade with electric motor power that can go up to 10 mph.
Little Tikes Ladybug Cozy Coupe
Little Tikes gets a cosmeitc upgrade to a perpetual toddler classic: Lady Bug dots and a big, friendly face.
RYAN’S WORLD Ultimate Tree House
Considering how much time kids spend on Youtube these days, it’s little wonder Toy Insider sees the platform as a huge driver behind kids toy trends. Not only could they want toys they’ve seen stars unbox or review, they may also toys the creators have endorsed or created themselves. Toy Insider is calling this category “As Seen On Youtube.”
Pinkfong Baby Shark Official Song Puppet
And, yes, that includes one of the biggest Youtube phenomena of all time: Baby Shark.
LAMO 5″ Vinyl Figure
Older kids may also want makeup or video games they’ve seen their favorite creators review. LAMO vinyl figurines are part of a multi-player game designed by Youtubers.
Foam and slime have never been absent from the kid’s toy aisle, but an explosion of slime videos in the last couple years have made them huge, helping launch a trend Toy Insider calls “Totally Tactile.”
Squeezamals Hopey Hedgehog
Tactile toys aren’t just slimes and goos – regular toys are getting the tactile treatment, like this hedgehog that shrinks when you squeeze it.
Nickelodeon Ultimate DIY Unicorn Arts & Crafts Slime Kit
Slime enthuisiasts will like this DIY kit that allows them to make swirling, glittery “unicorn poop.”
Skyrocket Blume Doll
“Layers of fun,” a huge trend this year, plays on a few things kids love: surprises and collectibles. Here, the doll’s hair “grows” to reveal who is inside. Once opened, kids can then discover her various accessories.
L.O.L. Surprise Hairgoals
L.O.L. Surprise Dolls are an enduring trend from last year. The smaller colletiblese are still affordable, but the makers of L.O.L. dolls have also started to roll out giant surprise boxes like a camper that costs $100 for dolls to play in.
WowWee Lucky Fortune Bracelets
Older kids can still get in on the surprise fun: these fortune cookies open up to reveal a fortune and matching bracelet. The bracelets can be worn, and cookiee can be used as a charm on backpacks or bags.
Playskool Sit ‘n Spin Classic
Classic play is always in style, and Toy Insider is pegging “Playtime Unplugged” as another major trend this year.
Exploding Kittens Card Game
Trendy “unplugged” games rang from classics like a sit ‘n’ spin to more recent phenomenon, like Exploding Kittens, a card game that will keep the whole family from checking their phones.
Melissa & Doug Mine to Love Baby Care Activity Center
Melissa & Doug’s entire line offers unplugged play that parents and kids can love. Parents like the sturdy, well-made pieces that inspire imaginative play, and kids love all the considered details and surprises. In the baby care center, for example, kids can switch the window in the nursery from night to day and rock the baby to sleep in an attached cradle.
VTech Myla The Magical Unicorn
If unicorn poop didn’t tip you off, all things glittery and sparkly are in this year as well. Toy Insider calls this “Getting Glam.” Like VTech’s sparkly unicorn – it’s color-changing with the tap of a wand.
Crayola Glitter Dots Sparkle Station Craft Kit
For a more low-tech option that still givese kids lots of options to spread the sparkle, this Crayola kit lets kids add glittery designs to paper crafts.
Cool MAKER, GO Glam Nail Stamper
As with all things glam, more is more. Who needs a boring mani when your glam-loving kid can stamp on patterns like unicorns, cats, and cupcakes?
Basic Fun Pound Puppies Stuffed Animal
Apparently the millennial love for nostalgia is infecting our kids, too. Throwback toys are a hit — maybe because movies of the 80s and 90s are being remade, maybe because parents can’t resist sharing some of their favorite toys with their own kids.
Cabbage Patch Kids Doll
Toy Insider calls this “Throwback Toy Box,” or “TBTB.”
Hand Operated Drone
STEM has been a hot trend in toys in recent years, and the focus on science and learning is continuing to grow. While STEM may bring to mind basic coding toys or science kits, Toy Insider takes a broader view, categorizing these hot toys as “How It Works.”
Learning Resources Spike The Fine Motor Hedgehog
“How It Works” toys keep kids engaged as they teach fine motor skills, critical tinking, and more, not just scinece and engineering.
Educational Insights Artie 3000 The Coding Robot
With so many toys in this category claiming they help with STEM education, it can bee hard to not feel like its all a marketing ploy. Artie the coding robot, however, is certified by STEM.org to actually teach basic coding concepts.
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