By Reyne Rice, Toy Trend Expert, 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.
In this month’s store checks in toystores in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Stockholm, Sweden, and on the Northern California Coast, eco-friendly toys were available in both the mass market and the specialty and gift toy stores that I visited. Some brands were more exclusive to the Scandinavian market, and others were more prevalent in the USA specialty toy market. Here are some examples. Lundby is a classic Swedish dollhouse manufacturer, with over 65 years of history in the Nordic countries. Lundby of Sweden will be launching and merchandising their famous Lundby wooden playhouses in the USA marketplace this 2013 Holiday season. GoToys from Denmark, HABA toys from Germany and Brio Toys from Sweden were also located at the Scandinavian retailers. Classic wooden toys such as the Danish Kay Boyesen monkey were stocked, and also nostalgic regional brands from publishing (from author Astrid Lindgren), such as Pippi Longstocking and Emil, were also available in Stockholm. Emil will be celebrating his 50th anniversary this year, commemorating classic play stories and nostalgic toy products in Scandinavia, available from Micki Toys of Sweden.
On the California Coast, the Eeboo line of wooden and eco-friendly toys and books were consistently stocked. Other favorites included the ArtZooka line of craft kits, the UberStix recycled and upcycled construction and exploration products, Plan Toys wooden preschool products and the Blue Orange games line of eco-friendly portable games. Green Toys, a California-based company, also had a fine presence for recycled plastic toy products, incorporating clean lines and classic play patterns including vehicles, pretend food products and even measuring cups and gardening items. The Insect Lore Butterfly Habitats were also a spring staple item, providing kids with an opportunity to see butterflies evolve from cocoons to beautiful flying insects, in just a few weeks.
Since eco-friendly can be interpreted in many ways, it was also interesting to see the National Geographic line of explorer toys (by Uncle Milton), which encourage exploring natural parks, forests and even the backyard jungle. These tools for play include multiple-use compass/mirror navigation devices, bug viewers, shoe flashlights and more, and offer kids tools for discovery of nature and their surroundings.
Take a peek at our newest video on YouTube:ToyTV for even more new twists on Eco-Friendly products at this link: http://youtu.be/wQpFvR7-V6c Product highlights include offerings from Portugal, China, and Germany and include wooden, solar-powered, upcycled and educational-themed activities to keep kids engaged.
Later this month, I will be on the lookout for more eco-friendly offerings at the ASTRA (American Specialty Toy Retailing Association) Marketplace show in Nashville, Tennessee. Over 100 new manufacturers and more than 500 exhibitors will be showcasing their newest products for Holiday 2013 and Spring 2014 sales.
Another resource to discover eco-friendly, classic and nostalgic products will be at the annual holiday Slow Toy Awards 2013 announcements, which will be prominently displayed in Harrod’s Toy Kingdom of London in Autumn 2013. Brands that still create relevant toys that entertain and educate using traditional materials and methods are the basis for this Slow Toy Award program, highlighting basic playthings that have a classic play pattern connection.
Check back frequently to the Spielwarenmesse YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ pages and to the main Spielwarenmesse website for a constantly updated perspective of our industry. As a trend expert, these are some of the resources I return to, each week, for a steady feed of news and perspectives from industry experts across all aspects of the business, and from across the globe