What went down at the London Toy Fair?
It was great to be able to attend the London Toy Fair 2022 with the team on Wednesday 26th January. I was excited to get a look into the top toy trends for this year and see what toys would soon be dropping to the market, and I wasn’t disappointed!
It looks like there are loads of exciting things in store for 2022 but there were a few toy trends which stuck out to me in particular, the first three below, all having some relation to the impact the pandemic has had on children and the way they interact, behave and play. The last two are bigger global trends that the pandemic didn’t specifically affect.
Educational toys / learning through play
I definitely noticed more games having some sort of educational benefit, whether these benefits dominated the game’s premise or were a bit more underlying. We believe this is a combination of a few things:
- Lockdown and homeschooling highlighted the importance of learning at home
- The need to have educational resources at home increased
- Parents are fearful of another lockdown
- Parents are worried their kids have got behind in school work
A couple of interesting companies that caught our eye in this space were UK company ToysUnite have created ‘ball and board’ games focused around different educational topics such as the solar system, animals and maths. They learn about these things by throwing a softball towards a velcro board and answering questions! Brainstorm also offer a multitude of toys with educational value, from globes to dinosaur projectors - they offer something for everyone!
- ‘Social lubricating’ games
By this what I mean is a way of facilitating people into socialising again; card games and group activities that can be played quickly and easily which help to initiate conversation and relieve any social anxiety that might have built up over the past year or so. This could be anything from card games like Psychobabble to silly games like Chicken and Hotdog, where you throw a slightly questionable looking hot dog at a surface to see if it sticks… all in the name of good fun!
We really did notice A LOT of card games at this year's toy fair, some more adult focused, others more child focused and lots for the whole family to get involved in!
- Outdoors play
What I think was also apparent, was this desire to get kids playing outside again. After having nearly two years of their lives impacted by Covid, resulting in many days spent indoors, perhaps inside the same four walls, toy companies realise the importance of encouraging kids and families to get outdoors again. There was definitely an increase in ride-on offerings than I’ve seen at the toy fair before, I particularly enjoyed the pink horse and carriage! Insect Lore are also stressing the importance of outdoor play with their product but in a different way; they want kids to see the joy in animals, even growing their own butterflies!
Other interesting trends I definitely noticed, but less directly linked to Covid were:
- Push for sustainability
There is definitely a sense that sustainability is at the forefront of a lot of thinking for companies. It is becoming a USP particularly for smaller, more niche businesses. Paper Engines have created toys made entirely of cardboard, while Aurora has created a line of plush toys made entirely of recycled plastic bottles.
- Role play / aspirational play
Whilst role play and aspirational play is certainly nothing new, I definitely saw more brands focused on it as a key play pattern. Even ‘adult’ brands such as Henry the Hoover have created a miniature kids version! Kids have that desire to feel older, and like they are taking part in more mature activities - a lot of brands are now feeding this desire directly.
That’s a wrap up of the 5 key trends I found most interesting at the London Toy Fair 2022! Exciting and positive times ahead for all involved in the toy, and kids and family, business generally!