What’s the hottest Christmas toy? Everything your child wants

The pandemic has given toymakers and retailers two consecutive winning years, but the industry doesn’t expect the same level of growth in 2022.

North Texas-based toy companies say they are confident in their business, even as retailers are more cautious about this Christmas and worried about the prospects of a recession next year.

The annual toy retail market in the United States reached $38.2 billion last year after increases of 20.6% in 2020 and 14.2% in 2021, according to NPD Group.

While toy sellers aren’t expecting another huge spike, consumers can expect to find deals, said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Toy Association.

Major toy shortages are not expected, but Pasierb warned that there is no hot toy yet. Squishmallows are still popular, he said, but plush toys that now boast 1,000 characters have been around since 2017.

That could change around Thanksgiving when the Toy Association’s Peoples’ Choice awards are presented, he said. “If your kids have a toy they care about, buy it soon because it might become a hot toy later on.”

You never know when a viral video on Tiktok or another unexpected boost will make a toy hard to find.

Goliath Games made 25,000 Password board games for holiday orders, but retailers have already sold out that supply after NBC relaunched the classic Password game show. The show premiered in August and is hosted by Keke Palmer. Late-night host Jimmy Fallon is a regular player who takes on a rotating set of celebrity contenders.

“The supply chain has loosened up and we are able to fill orders, but we had no idea Jimmy Fallon was going to start playing Password,” said Brian Turtle, national sales manager at Goliath, based in Richardson, which is the second-largest board game maker behind No. 1 Hasbro. Goliath is privately owned by a family based in Holland and manufactures games, puzzles and outdoor toys. He bought other companies and last year bought Endless Games, making it a popular family board game, The Floor is Lava.

“Retailers are buying from us about the same as last year, but it’s still at a high level after the big spikes in 2020 and 2021,” Turtle said. Goliath’s crime, thriller board games are trending among college students and young adults who then like to say on TikTok that they’ve “solved the case.”

Pasierb and Turtle were at the Toy Industry Association’s toy show, the first held in person in two years. It ended Thursday at the Dallas Market Center, where more than 300 toy companies exhibited and 2,600 industry people attended, including 450 retail buyers to confirm orders for this holiday season and preview ideas. for the 2023 holidays. The pandemic has canceled the last two years. the Dallas show and the industry’s largest toy fair that has been held every February in New York for 117 years.

The Dallas show attracted major retail toy buyers from Walmart, Target, Amazon and Sam’s Club and Costco, Barnes & Noble to smaller regional toy retailers.

“Big retailers can make deep discounts. They want to position themselves as fighting inflation,” Pasierb said. “There really haven’t been any big sales promotions in the past two years, and the toy industry hasn’t seen inflation like other categories.”

The average toy now costs $10.30, up from $10 eight years ago, he said.

Price sensitivity was a theme in the negotiations, said Curtis McGill, co-founder in 2015 with inventor Scott Houdashell of Amarillo-based toymaker Hey Buddy Hey Pal.

Big-box retailers are concerned about online price competition from Amazon, McGill said, “but it’s also easier to sell to brick-and-mortar retailers after you’ve already proven an item by selling 10,000 units on Amazon.” The company has a new Halloween game called Stack-o-lantern being sold on Amazon now that’s doing well.

Two of Hey Buddy’s popular toys, Cake and Bake, a board game inspired by food challenge TV shows, and Gift Box, an ornament decorating kit, are priced slightly higher online to help stores compete , did he declare.

“We are seeing a slight decline in orders. Most stayed the same and one order jumped 30% with a new item,” McGill said.

Shahnoor Adam, CEO and co-founder with her husband Alex Damanwalla of Dallas-based Best Ride on Cars, said the pandemic years had doubled the business they started in 2012 to reach annual sales of more than $10 million.

Walmart placed a larger order after deciding to add the company’s products to its stores after selling the brand online only.

The price of the company’s ride-on toys ranges from $99 to $399, Adam said. “By putting it in stores, Walmart is helping the customer feel and see the value.”

Adam said his Dallas warehouse is well stocked for the holiday season and early next year.

Emmy Grimes, co-founder of Dallas-based Once Kids, said the company is moving some production to Dallas to help address any future supply chain issues.

Once Kids, which makes wooden building blocks compatible with plastic Lego and Mega Bloks parts, was a popular stop at the Toy Fair.

Retailers are all looking for toys to appeal to parents looking for eco-friendly selections, Grimes said.

The company started in 2014 with building block sets sold at Neiman Marcus and has expanded its list of retail customers to include Pottery Barn Kids, Barnes & Noble, and museum and zoo gift shops. He added wooden figures of heroes and villains with stories about the trees they are made from. All products can be personalized with colored pencils, markers or colored pencils.

Prices range from $10 for a 4-inch figure to $250 for larger playsets.

The private company declined to give annual sales. Grimes said “we’ve had our ups and downs,” but business has doubled in the past two years.

This week at Toy Fair, “we got to see the retailers we wanted to see,” Grimes said. “People showed up. The show was on point. »

Need help buying toys?

Walmart released its best toys list in August with 55 must-haves identified from Lego, Cocomelon, Jurassic World, Paw Patrol, LOL Surprise, Magic Mixies and others. More than half of the list are toys priced under $50, with many under $25.

The Toy Insider released its Hot 20 toys during the Dallas Toy Fair last week. The industry trade publication lists its top toys by age. He also posted the top 10 rod toys and a dozen toys under $20.

Toy Association of the Year and Toy Industry People’s Choice winners in various categories will be announced Nov. 21 in time for Thanksgiving weekend shopping. Toy of the Year is determined by a panel of expert judges. Voting for the People’s Choice Award, which is decided by online consumer votes, will remain open until November 11. Members of the public can vote on toyawards.org.

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