Toy Fair 2013: behind-the-scenes

This year's Toy Fair was brimming with exciting new ideas – and it’s not all expensive technology

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The fifth annual Toy Fair was bursting with the trendiest toys that your children will be eager to own come summer and, dare we say it, Christmas 2013.

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Surprisingly, there seems to have been a shift away from technology and tablets by the British Toy & Hobby Association, who compile the list with the help of independent toy retailers. While the Leappad Explorer Tablet from Leapfrog and VTech’s Innotab Learning Tablet racked up the highest number of sales in 2012, not a single tablet has made it onto the list of toys predicted to be big for 2013. Tablets didn’t make it onto last year’s predicted bestsellers list either, even though they went on to top the list of best-selling toys for Christmas 2012. Even with VTech’s launch of the first ever tablet for babies, the BTHA’s verdict is that kids will be looking to figurines and build-it-yourself sets to play with. And as Playmobil told us, “Kids want to play with the things they see,” giving a nod to the success of their impressive Police Headquarters set, which made it into the top three for Preschool toys.

Indeed, with several Lego sets, a new penguin-come-pirate take on Buckaroo from University Games, scooters and dinosaur figurines taking top spots on the prediction list, kids are set to return to traditional play and seemingly give the apps a rest for a while. This was a trend which also came out at the 2012 Toy Fair in New York, with Disney Junior specifically making a big push towards make believe with the launch of new show and toy range Doc McStuffins – although ironically a new digital doll has made it onto the 2013 top list. 

Dinosaurs are certainly big news, with VTech, Playmobil and Schleich all offering varying versions of pre-historic play. With news of a Jurassic Park 4 film and the re-release of Jurassic Park in cinemas in 3D, helping to boost this trend for mini paleontologists.

Moshi Monsters dominated last year’s top selling toy list, along with monster-esque Furbys and Monster High School sets from Mattel. With the recent re-release of Monsters Inc in 3D and the upcoming prequel Monster University, there are plenty of monster themed toys for your kids to get their teeth into. Inspiration Works are set to launch their own smartphone and tablet themed around the movie – although perhaps plushes and figures will do better judging by the predictions. Plus, there’s Aqua Dragons, Helmutzz and the Trash Pack Ultimate Fighting Trashies Battle Arena to quench a monster thirst.

Predictions are usually pretty spot on, with toy retailers spotting the Furby trend a mile off, along with last year’s success of British-inspired toys among the Jubilee and Olympic celebrations. However Majen Immink, Senior Communications Manager from the British Toy & Hobby Association, notes that the Toy Fair is a playground for creativity in the toy world, as well as “advances in technology”. Various tablets are going to be there for the taking, along with toys designed for house a tablet or phone and toys that react with a smart device. Years of research has gone into the new Tatty Teddy Puppy – an interactive puppy that sits, barks and wags it’s ears along with 13 other individual smart device or touch controlled movements – which sellers are predicting will fly off the shelves. Even a simple throw and catch ball at VTech has a digital voice counting out the throws. So, while House of Marbles continues to sell well with little pick ups, like echo animal shaped torches and elastic band controlled planes, perhaps judging by last year’s sales lists, it’s too quick to discount technology and the wants of our savvy toddlers. A dinosaur you have to roar for, or one that opens its mouth, looks around, reverses on command…which will rule the toy kingdom? Only time will tell.

UK top 10 selling toys of 2012:

  1. Leappad Explorer Tablet, Leapfrog
  2. Innotab Learning Tablet, VTech
  3. Furby Hot and Cool Tiger, Elecectronics Hasbro
  4. Moshi Monsters Figures blister pack, Vivid Imaginations
  5. Lego minifigures, Lego
  6. Moshi Monsters Blind Bag, Vivid Imaginations
  7. VTech Kidizoom Twist Digital, V Tech
  8. City Great Vehicles, Lego
  9. Leapster Explorer Game, Leapfrog
  10. Monster High School, Mattel
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See the full list of 2013 predictions here

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