It's Fall Toy Preview time. Held annually in Dallas, Texas, the Toy Industry Association hosts the appointment-only event to showcase toy manufacturers' newest product lines to long-lead buyers.
The event is taking place Oct. 1-3, and plays host to buyers from across the industry–from apparel, book, gift and toy stores to wholesale distributors, drug stores and mass merchants to niche retailers such as hobby stores, school districts, discount chains, confection retailers and many, many more.
According to TIA, the toy industry's annual total economic impact in the U.S. is more than $75 billion, with the average cost per toy less than $8. More than 3 billion units are sold each year across the U.S., generating approximately $22 billion in direct toy sales. TIA also notes that the toy industry is good for jobs, generating $26.69 billion in wages for U.S. workers, and $11.54 billion in tax revenue annually.
Trends in the toy arena are making themselves known in the toy aisle, with licensed toys a top draw, says TIA. According to its figures, approximately 30 percent of all toys sold in the U.S. are licensed, and many of these are tied directly to entertainment properties.
"From apps and books to television and movies, licensed toys reflect what's trending in entertainment," says Adrienne Appell, toy trend expert, TIA, in her report, "Observations on Toys and Trends: Looking Beyond the Obvious," published in August.
TIA also notes other influences in the greater world and pop culture that could undoubtedly weave its way onto the toy aisle such as the influence of Britain's royal family (in particular Duchess Kate and her often photographed picks for apparel and now baby items); the color pink and its prevalence in Paris' fashion houses and its street corners, as reported by Pantone; the appearance of emoticons, which are graphics that are used in mobile texting across transmedia storytelling; and, interestingly, the influence of the STEM educational movement in Hollywood.
At the 2013 Fall Toy Preview, licensed toys from across the industry are converging at Dallas' Market Center/World Trade Center and include products from some of the best in the business.
Saban Brands and its roster of licensees including Cardinal, Blip Toys, Tech for Kids, Jazwares and more will be showing multiple products.
For Saban's Power Rangers property in particular, The Bridge Direct will be showcasing its Power Rangers Megaforce Battlers and Megaforce Battle Buddies, Big Time Toys will feature the Power Rangers Megaforce kickboard and goggles and Socker Boppers, Jada Toys has a radio controlled Dragon Zord cycle on the floor and Goldy Toys will highlight both the Power Rangers Megaforce: Swappz MegaBrawl and Power Rangers collectible coins and characters.
Wooky Entertainment has several licensed toy properties on the Dallas show floor including Doodle Jump (a 3D boardgame), Lamborghini (DesignMasters line of technical drawing sketchbooks) and Mike the Knight (three different puzzles); while Australian toy company Moose Toys will be launching two new brands, The Zelfs and Glitzi Globes, alongside its Trash Pack and Micro Chargers brands.
Wicked Cool Toys is bringing a broad portfolio of licensed toys to the Fall Toy Preview. New for fall 2013 and 2014 are Crashlings collectible figures; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles novelties; WWE-branded novelty, role play and electronic items; a The Wiggles range exclusive to Toys 'R' Us that includes plush, musical instruments, figures, a Big Red Car and more; and Scanimalz cuddly toys.
Wicked Cool has also been appointed master licensee for PBS' Wild Kratts! property and will create a line of figures, plush, play sets and role play products for the brand, which it will preview on the show floor.
Toy company Uncle Milton will be showing its line of Marvel Science offerings which include innovative toys like the Hulk Smash Lab, which make a connection between Marvel Super Heroes and real science. It will also preview items under its Star Wars Science brand.