In an exclusive video interview with TDmonthly Magazine, Reyne Rice, Toy Trend Specialist for the TIA, confirmed early suspicions that 2011 is the year of the app in the toy world as well as the world at large. From Angry Birds, in app or tabletop form, to computer tablets designed just for kids, playing on or around the web continues to engage today's kids. Many of these games and resources are actually connecting kids, rather than isolating them, pointed out Rice. Some of the hottest games at Toy Fair (e.g., Phone Frenzy by Buffalo Games) use technology to help engage friends in wide-ranging social play. Rice also saw that socialization trend extending one's own personal orbit, via charitable and eco-friendly toys. Two other hot trends that continue are active games, which are bolstered by First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign, and toys that stimulate analysis and thinking.
Watch Reyne's video to hear her full remarks. You can also see a full transcript of the interview below the video.
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Hi, Reyne Rice. I'm the Toy Trend Expert for the Toy Industry Association. We're here at the American International Toy Fair in New York City. It's our 108th fair, and one of the trends that we saw coming out of 2010 was the industry actually had an increase in sales; it was up 2%, which is great, because many industries had kind of a flat or had a double-digit decline, so we can see that toys actually stay stable even in a time when there's economic turmoil.
One of the big trends we're seeing in 2011 we're calling Simply Social, and it ties into the social network, which is toys that come from apps, like Angry Birds turning into toys (actual, physical toys). There's actually toys that were a toy that and are becoming an app, which is kind if an app-lite version of a toy, so people can have their toy with them anywhere they go.
There's also social alt play games, where everyone plays together and it's an immersive experience for the whole group of people. Then we're looking at socially conscious as well. And that's eco-toys, eco-friendly, global citizens, and helping kids learn about the environment and learning about a lot of different things.
Our second trend that we're seeing, we're calling Performance Play. It's active sports challenges for kids where they're actually jousting, playing, having a lot of fun but getting up and moving, so it ties into the Michelle Obama "Let's Move" campaign. There's also a lot of great dance products out there for girls and boys: gets them up and moving. They're having a great time and they start to see that exercise is a part of life instead of its being a chore.
The third piece is the Brain Games or Performance Play. Brain games really tie into all the different ways you're activating your brain through logic, math and puzzle games. And those are the top trends that we're seeing coming out of this year.
I'd say, going into 2011, the smaller manufacturers and retailers should really just keep an eye on what's happening in the mobility space and the social networking space, not only for their own individual businesses and their customers, but for where children are playing. The digital natives are a very different group of kids. They're used to seeing what's happening on mobile, they're used to having their parents give them the pass-back effect -- which means they have an iPad or an iPhone to play with sometimes. So watch that whole space and see whether or not your toys or your promotions maybe tie into some of this social space. When we came out of the CES show this year, there were over 80 tablets that were introduced -- tablet computers for adults; we've seen three coming out of the Toy Fair for kids. So this is going to continue: it's going to actually mimic what's happening in the kids' world, as to what was happening in the adult world. So keep your eye on that mobile space and what's happening in social networking.
ALISON MAREK is an award-winning writer, director and cartoonist whose work has been published by Fairchild Publications and DC Comics (Piranha Press), broadcast on Showtime and other cable networks, and viewed worldwide in film festivals. See her short films and print work on www.alisonmarek.com. Watch her nefarious villains in the web series www.MuggsMovers.com. Get inspired by her cartoons "Daily ARFFirmations to Unleash Your Inner Fido" at www.ARFFirmations.com. Phew! And then ... Read more articles by this author