Are action toys for girls the future as action toy sales flatten out for boys? Dr. Michael Brody, chair of the Media and Television Committee of the American Academy of Child Psychologists, suggests to retailers, “There is incredible competition for a child’s mind, so if you want to get their attention, you need something that rehearses for adult roles, is terribly clever and celebrity branded.”
|"What's going to grow now is boys' action toys marketed to girls." —Stephen Smith, Atomic Vision
According to Brody, the difference between boys’ action toys and girls’ is that the girl hero has to be attractive, smart and compassionate. “Boys want to compete and girls are interested in communication and relationships.”
Illon Kantro, director of corporate communications at Abrams Gentile Entertainment, said major toy distributors have trouble with action figures sticking to the shelves while boys focus more on video games for action outlets. “Girls have not become as engrossed in the video game scene, so they are where the growing market in action toys will be found.”
President of Atomic Vision R&D, Stephen Smith, agreed that video games have pulled boys away from action toys. “What’s going to grow now is boys’ action toys marketed to girls.”
Sakar Manufacturers’ SpyChix combines these features of cleverness, celebrity branding and adult role rehearsal. The line features a Lipstick Listener, Backlight Secret Message kits and more, all in hot pink and purple, and tied to characters in the packaging, that girls can dress and act like.
Director of marketing and public relations, Elizabeth Ashear, said, “Girls want to be somebody, not just play something.” SpyChix was introduced in individual packets in 2004. Due to customer demand, combination packages were created for 2005.
SpyChix has done well in specialty stores, where it can fit in multiple aisles and/or categories. The sets are currently in Limited Too, which is primarily a fashion store. SpyChix can be placed in a general toy aisle, in a handheld computer/technology aisle, in a doll or dress-up section, as an end cap or at the front of the store as an impulse item.
Along the same lines, Marathon Productions has created an animated program on Cartoon Network called “Totally Spies” in which three Beverly Hills teens struggle with boys, school and saving the world. “Retailers will see dolls and fashion first for holiday 2005, followed by a wide variety of toy and play products,” according to license holder RC2 senior vice president, Greg Miller. Miller believes growth in this category will be more in the role play spy gear type toys that will take more time to develop.
Another popular television show that breeds girl action products is “Sky Dancers.” According to Kantro, “While boys’ action figures are sitting on the shelves, Sky Dancers ( Watch Video)are flying off the shelf.” The program will return to the air in 2006, bringing with it the launch of new licensed apparel and toys.
Forward looking retailers will have their eye on the “Alex Cryss Chronicles,” expected in summer 2006. Cryss is a new girl action/adventure hero who’s also starring in at least two novels, a direct-to-home movie , a journal and a full-adventure backpack. Creator Stephen Smith, president of Atomic Vision Entertainment, created the series with Johnny Quest-styled gadgets that will translate easily into toy sales.