A look at global toy trends currently and into 2013 and beyond.
Toy fair season is upon us. Kicking off the international toy expos are three of the world's largest: the HKTDC Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair, set for Jan. 7-10, 2013; London's U.K. Toy Fair sponsored by The British Toy & Hobby Association, which will run Jan. 22-24, 2013; and the Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair Nürnberg, which will take place Jan. 30-Feb. 4, 2013.
The events highlight toys and games that will hit retail in 2013 and beyond, but they also reflect current trends in play, pop culture and business. License! Global has forecasted its top trends heading into toy fair season–trends that we'll certainly see on exhibition floors around the world.
Perhaps the largest influence on global toy trends of the past and those yet to come is the No. 1 evergreen boy's property, Star Wars. Disney's October acquisition of Lucasfilm will only ensure that the property will continue to remain in the top tier of boy's properties. The $4.05 billion deal will give Disney total ownership of the brand and the technologies used to create the franchise (LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound), ensuring that the planned 2015 release of Star Wars Episode 7 will continue to maximize the value of this truly global brand.
The superhero genre, bolstered by Marvel's stable of films and the conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Batman saga from Warner Bros., shows no sign of abating. The coming year will find Superman getting the big screen reboot with Warner Bros.' release of Man of Steel next summer. Licensees such as Mattel, Fisher-Price, LEGO, Thinkway and others are already on board to support the sure-to-be hit that will, in all likelihood, spawn yet another blockbuster superhero franchise. Warner Bros. Consumer Products will also support its evergreen Batman ranges from master toy partner Mattel abroad.
From Marvel, spring's The Avengers film led the charge for its roster of heroes–from Iron Man 3 (set for release in May 2013), to Thor 2 (November 2013), to sequels to both Captain America and The Amazing Spider-Man in 2014–and will only further bolster the toy trend on shelf globally.
But movie-led licensing programs aren't the only trend in toys. Apps and interactive toys and play are still gathering steam. Physical toys will continue to pop up around the globe in support of popular apps from 2011 and 2012 such as Disney's "Where's My Water," PopCap's "Plants vs. Zombies," Lima Sky's "Doodle Jump," Halfbrick's "Fruit Ninja" and the ongoing iterations of Rovio's "Angry Birds," which most recently got the Star Wars treatment. ZeptoLab, creators of the hit app "Cut the Rope," announced its next generation app, "Pudding Monsters!," this month, which will undoubtedly get the consumer product treatment as its frontrunner has. While it's too early to gauge how well these products are truly performing on shelf, early indicators point to continued success merging virtual properties with physical products and retailers.