By Reyne Rice, Toy Trend Analyst and Trend Spotter, New York, New York USA
First posted on the YourToyCom.com blog forum and community website serving the toys, games and childrens’ technology industries, on behalf of the Spielwarenmesse. Spielwarenmesse is the leading and largest International ToyFair in the world, held annually in Nuremberg, Germany in early February.
The focus of this trend is on identifying those toy & game products that encourage personalization, creative expression and completing a physical product or distinct output. It may involve designing jewelry or room décor, building a foosball table or wooden creation, completion of arts & crafts and science experiments that reflect skill-building, or simply imaginative storytelling and role-playing. From toddlers to teens, kids want to have freedom of expression and this trend celebrates their uniqueness.
Creative Art for Girls: Crafting, Jewelry and Fashion Design:Girls love creating wearable and sharable art. This includes jewelry creations. New entrants like Shainsware (New Exhibitor Center, Hall 11) offer customizable jewelry and bracelets, and even notebooks to decorate. Creativity for Kids, Fashion Angels, Alex, Wooky Entertainment (Canada and Europe) and Moose (Australia) all have new innovative fashion-forward selections, where girls can design art pieces and also display them in their rooms or as wearable art pieces. Alex has created a multi-pack option, in their tween crafts line, perfectly suited to girls desires to create together, at slumber parties or after-school get-togethers. NOTE: This emerging trend toward multi-packs in also evident in the games category, to encourage social group interactions.
Hands-On Storytelling through Manipulatives: Numerous game manufacturers have devised games that tap into kid’s love of storytelling, and have created rich options that kids of all ages will enjoy. A 2013 ToyAward winner, the Shadow Magic Game by HABA illustrates the richness of a classic cultural storyline with a new twist. Some other new stand-outs include Extraordinaires Design Studios (by The Creativity Hub, Ireland) with over 200 design challenges that provide prompts and story development themes, to jump-start creativity. The DIX-IT JOURNEY game by the Asmodee Group provides rich art cards that illustrate connections through visual cues, and encourages group interactions. Many more options exist in the Game aisles in Hall 10. Also in Hall 10, check out the Games Café (SpieleCafe), another place to find and play with new games, for all ages.
Crafting with wood and other materials: Kids and parents enjoy working together to build projects through shared hobbies. A perfect example is the 2013 ToyAward SIKU Racing set by Sieper Gmbh. Building a free-form race-track encourages discussion and strategy, to make tracks that will provide the best racing configuration for competitive play. And then, of course, racing the cars, to test out and perfect the optimal configurations. Another 2013 ToyAward nominee, KORXX, offers a twist on building materials, in specially-formulated cork bricks that offers a noise-free, frustration free building and stacking experience for kids as young as two years old. A third new option are the real building materials devised by www.red-toolbox.com. Real wood designs and building materials include tools and layouts for billiard or foosball/soccer tables, workbenches and more. Multiple country distributors are referenced on the website. For younger constuction, SMOBY has introduced a new Black & Dsecker work-bench, sure to delight any pre-schooler who like to work alongside Dad or Grandpa in the workshop, with their own sets of ergonomically designed tools.
Puzzles that offer more that take a flat-playing surface and add dimension: Ravensburger has added the option for framing your finished puzzle creations with the new Complete Puzzle Sets. Vertical puzzles, with the ability to customize with your own color creations, is offered by KV&H Verlag. A 2013 ToyAward nominee, the new exhibitor 4D Cityscapes, offers cityscape puzzles with 4 different dimensions: a classic portrait of a city, where layers of history are added to show the current city portrait, with added 3-D main buildings, and a 4th layer incorporating a time dimension. Other builders may enjoy the game ASARA, by Ravensburger, which appeals to the architect-builder, with a 3 dimensional game.
NOTE: Later this week, a separate blog post will review the variety of newness in the building and construction category, and reveal the richness and evolution of this classic category, with new players and new options. Since building and construction has been a consistent double-digit growth segment in the toy industry for the past few years, it has attracted a great deal of attention and manufacturers have responded with new innovative ways to build, appealing to a variety of builders, and across multiple toy categories!
Arts & Crafts: This category offers a variety of hands-on tools to excite and stimulate the artist within us all. From Alex, TOTS Art Start is a new Toddler art series, designed to encourage even the youngest artists to experiment with new materials and to create masterpieces. The Panini Group has taken kids fascination with stickers to new levels , providing a variety of classic stickers, character stickers sets and books and added new puffy, glitter, felt and puzzle stickers to their line-up. They have also added “Dress me Up” wardrobe sticker and treasure boxes to their portfolio. A Canadian manufacturer, The Orb Factory has had great success with their collection of mosaic stickers, with designs that appeal to both boys and girls. Their holographic, glitter and colorful mosaic pieces decorate art posters, and 3 dimensional objects for a delightful experience and great finished products, to build self-esteem for kids. Many more artistic options can be found throughout the Fair, especially in Halls 8 and 5.
We try to provide some clear examples, and innovations. We can’t capture them all, so please provide your insights on other products that fit these trends in the comments section!