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Entertainment/Character

Feature Creatures: Horns, Hooves & Hybrids

Contact the editor at karina@plainlanguagemedia.com

Take a moment to recall last year’s feature headline for New York Toy Fair: Blind Bags, Glitter & Poop. This year, we can safely replace the last one with: Unicorns.

The unicorn motif dominated the show floor across practically every animal and creature—everything from the household cat and dog (and hamster), to the familiar llama/alpaca (sometimes we weren’t sure what a given toy was), panda, and flamingo, to the more exotic narwhal (still here from three years ago) and sloth (last year), and finally the magical creature itself.

The western market doesn’t seem to have much enthusiasm for the star of the Chinese Lunar New Year—the pig—outside of the “farm animal” trend. Horses, cows, and pigs are having a heyday alongside barnyard playsets and tractor vehicles (which are perennial sellers, just like the dinosaur, but received a bigger stage this year). Boasting pigs, cows, and dung, Chickapig is along for the ride from Buffalo Games—co-invented by Dave Matthew, the “farm to table” board game will enjoy a separate plush and apparel line.

Interestingly, based on our visit just two weeks ago to the combined NSS, NY NOW, and Surtax shows in New York, home decor/housewares surface and fabric patterns are trending away from the farm and moving a bit further out into the woods to favor creatures like deer and raccoons. Apparently, the kids haven’t caught on yet.

While cats are having a moment, dogs aren’t to be left out. Pugs were the most prominently featured creature on the floor, but as a rep for KD Group‘s Rescue Runts shared, the most popular breeds for its toy lines were the German shepherd and the husky (the company is also releasing a limited-edition unicorn for kids to adopt and heal).

Despite his tragic passing at the young age of twelve, Boo — The World’s Cutest Dog will continue to grace a strong product line to help support his legacy with licensees like Gund, which made a donation in his name to the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. And the world’s most followed dog on social media, JiffPom Cutelife, just launched a collectible plush line with Brandable.

While we didn’t actually witness a tremendous number of flamingos, we were assured that they’re all the rage among tween girls.

In addition to the classic cute character design, we picked out some notable trend-setters:

  • Horror is trending more generally. Specifically, that translates into brands like Fiesty Pets (the Jazwares collectibles snap at you).
  • But characters can also be punk. A star is born with Aggretsuko, a corporate satire/musical comedy from Sanrio boasting a Netflix show. The red panda character is getting the star treatment with a hard collectibles line from The Loyal Subjects.
  • Aurora World debuts a sea punk-themed line of plush for Tokidoki.
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