According to retailer Toys 'R' Us and its hot holiday toy list 2012, app integrated, interactive or video game-based toys are all the rage and sales are trending well. Mattel's Angry Birds King Pig apptivity integration made the list, as did Hasbro's Words with Friends board game (based on the Zynga hit app). On the video game side, SEGA is continuing its support for its Sonic the Hedgehog property, taking the property to the U.K. Toy Fair on the back of licensee Meccano. Meccano will highlight Sonic the Hedgehog construction toy ranges (a trend in itself and one several licensors forecast will be big in 2013), which includes five different play sets. Another strong console-based property is Activision's Skylander's Giants, who's Legendary 3-pack found itself on many hot toy lists this year.
The flip side of innovation, however, is the familiar, and retro is another trend that's consistently making its way back to the retail shelf.
Nickelodeon made a splash in 2012 in a big way with the re-launch of the 80s series "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" for a new generation. The property, which appeals almost equally to boys and girls, has been updated for the tech-savvy viewers of the new millennium with product to support. The new TV series launched in September to stellar ratings–2.1 million viewers for the initial broadcast, making it the No. 1 kids program on basic cable.
"The most important factor for licensors in today's competitive marketplace is international expansion," said Michael Connolly, head of international consumer products and brand licensing, Viacom International Media Networks, in an interview with License! Global in "Turtle Power" from the September/October issue. "If there is one property that could have an immediate and long-term impact on a company, TMNT is that property, and it will have a huge impact on VIMN."
The series has been renewed for a second season already, and more than 50 licensees are on board to drive the property throughout the world. First products are hitting retail shelves this month.
Hasbro re-introduced its Furby range, a 90s throwback, to much fanfare this year, sparking high demand at stores and online for its pink, black, white, red and multicolor interactive toys. The toys are more sophisticated this time around, with LED eyes and a free companion app for download.
The ongoing success of other evergreen Hasbro brands such as Transformers and My Little Pony, whose hit Hub series "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" is a constant ratings boon, also points to the retro trend continuing for years to come.
Saban is also re-introducing two retro properties in 2013: Digimon and Popples. The Popples brand, another 80s staple, will be re-introduced first with a retro line based on the original toy. An all-new, refreshed line is set to follow in 2014.
Japanamation and manga are also having an effect on toy trends both currently and moving forward, evident by the resurgence of Saban's Digimon franchise, which will get a new global TV series, "Digimon Fusion," next year. Other properties include Zodiak Consumer Products' Ddee. Ddee, which is represented by Zodiak Kids Consumer Products Paris, who acts as licensing agent for the brand, is based on a Japanese design-led girl's property with broad appeal. Likened to other classic properties such as Hello Kitty (due to its multi-demographic appeal), Strawberry Shortcake and Little Lulu, the Ddee range includes collectible dolls, play sets, fashion, role play, publishing, furniture, apparel and back-to-school products.
On the whole, the coming year is also predicted to be big for construction toys, action figures, plush and dress up, as well as preschool age toys. According to WBCP, it also expects its classic animation brands like Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry and Scooby-Doo to perform well and grow into Q1 and beyond around the world.