Black Friday brings incredible deals, frantic shoppers, and just all-around chaos in toy aisles. Experts are saying there isn’t one “it” toy this year, so what will shoppers see?
David Wyman, seasoned toy inventor and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Charleston, offers insight into 2013’s toy trends.
1. Gender Specific is Out
GoldieBlox is a toy company whose goal is to show the world that girls deserve more choices than dolls and princesses. Their video, “Princess Machine,” was viewed more than eight million times in one week.
“This is a great example of what we’re seeing more and more,” Wyman explains. “Companies are using toys to breakdown gender categories, which means a lot of stereotypical toys of the past that are gender specific are being changed.”
2. Made for Ages 3+
Handheld devices, like tablets, are making the market as toys shift down to younger ages. Thirty years ago, it was 10 and 11 year olds playing with Barbies and Hot Wheels, now it is six and seven year olds.
“What we’re seeing now are incredibly sophisticated toys, made to appeal to preschoolers. The features of Playskool’s Showcam rival the digital cameras that adults used five years ago – and it is designed for kids age three and up.”
3. Use Your Imagination
Legos are predicted to be one of the hottest toys this holiday season.
[Related: Forget the next ‘it’ toy.]
“I love seeing toys that require a child to use her imagination,” says Wyman. “For many years, the most popular toys have been those that over stimulate, or require no thinking on the part of the child. Lego is really strong for the development of spatial and imagination abilities, and I hope we’ll see more toys like it in the future.”
4. Play with Parents and Grandparents
The ability of games to bridge the generations is a sign of enjoyable gameplay, and it is something that Wyman would like to see more of.
“Angry Birds is a great example of a game that all generations enjoy. But what we’re lacking right now is intergenerational games that get us around the table. That is definitely an area of opportunity for toy developers.”
5. Instant Gratification
Children are growing up in a fast-paced world where time is at a premium and social media makes everything instantaneous. Sitting down for a four-hour game of Monopoly is much less likely now, than it was 30 years ago.
“People are looking for instant gratification, and that goes for toys as well,” Wyman notes. “It is certainly a challenge for the toy industry and it will be interesting to see the reaction and how developers navigate this trend.”
Wyman’s newest toy, the Iron Man Flying Extreme RC Hero, was predicted to be one of the season’s hottest toys. Wyman says it provides the instant gratification that is so prevalent in today’s market with the ability to see the action toy literally come alive and fly.
About David Wyman
Entrepreneurship is part of Wyman’s DNA, stemming from his father who is also a toy inventor. He says he’s had heroic failures, but he’s also had his share of top toys like the Iron Man Flying RC Hero. His invention, “13 Dead End Drive,” a murder themed board game for Milton Bradley sold more than 3 million worldwide. His other toy inventions include: Luggers (Corgi), Big Wheelie (Empire), Mr. Tambourine Man (Fisher Price), Hot Wheels’ Road Wars (Mattel), Shift Tac Toe (Pressman), and Skate Frenzy (Wham-O).
Wyman received his bachelor’s degree in economics with honors at Cambridge University in England, his MBA at Cranfield University in England, and his doctorate in property at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. He also taught entrepreneurship at Clemson University, Colorado State University, and the University of San Diego.
David Wyman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org