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Toy Industry Wrap-Up

The Toy Industry Association is changing its name, logo, offices, and mission to “align with the way the toy industry is changing and shifting.” As part of its expanding presence on the world stage, the newly-dubbed Toy Association is expanding its core services and embarking on new ventures:

  • Play Fair, a large-scale kid and family business-to-consumer event;
  •, a first-of-its-kind business-to-business digital marketplace for toy retailers and suppliers; and
  • The Genius of Play, a consumer-focused initiative which encourages families to make time for play by educating them about play’s critical role in healthy childhood development.

As well as a new Manhattan headquarters and Washington, DC advocacy office the Association is relaunching its digital presence with a new mobile-first website. The Association currently produces the North American Intl. Toy Fair and Fall Toy Preview; advocates on behalf of members around the world; sustains the Canadian Toy Association; acts as secretariat for the Intl. Council of Toy Industries and Intl. Toy Industry CEO Roundtable; and chairs the committee that reviews and revises America’s ASTM F963 toy safety standard.

Target is now part of the Toy Association. Don Asleson, Senior Compliance Analyst at the retailer, joins its federal, state, and safety standards/technical committees.

At this year’s North American Toy Fair, we noted the popularity of unicorns as a micro-trend. With both licensed and not offerrings available from toycos, most were in squishy plush and collectibles formats. Some toys also played on the aquatic trend with unicorn-mermaid hybrids, and added horns, tails, or both to beloved licenses. As Publisher’s Weekly list of children’s books featuring unicorns demonstrates, the water theme is strong with these mystical creatures. Now that Starbucks is getting into the trend with its limited-time Unicorn Frappuccino, are unicorns here to stay?

Toys ‘R’ Us saw its net sales slip 2.2% to $11.5 billion in 2016 thanks to declining sales in video games and electronics, store closures in the U.S., and soft returns in the European and Asia-Pacific markets. Ecommerce was one bright spot, with sales up 11%. Same-store sales were down 1.4% domestically and 1.6% internationally. The retailer points to its lack of steep discounts during the holiday season as one reason for poor sales (40% of activity is centered around the holiday season), and aims to increase in-store activities as a way to encourage shoppers to visit retail locations during its off-season. This news comes as TRU combines its Asian stores under one umbrella.

Mattel’s Q1 sales also underperformed expectations, falling 15% globally (or $113.2 million), despite higher sales in Asia Pacific and Latin America. CEO Margo Georgiadis attributed the loss to too many unsold items from the holiday period (any relation to TRU?). Sales declined worldwide for brand groups Fisher-Price (-9%), Mattel Girls & Boys (-16%, this group includes Barbie), and American Girl (-12%). Regionally, sales dipped in North America (-23%) and Europe (-6%), but grew in Asia-Pacific (19%) and Latin America (4%).

Gifts licensee Vandor celebrates its 60th anniversary with special promotions, discounts, and customer appreciation gifts and incentives.


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