Toy Design Project

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Contemporary Trends in the Market


I haven't been able to find any study on current trends in the toy market, nor in any other childrens' product area for that matter. The trends change so rapidly that any study done would be outdated six months later. So most of my findings in this area is purely based on my own observations and predictions. I have talked to some kids through the previously mentioned focus group, I have watched cartoons and childrens programming on TV, read comics and magazines on games, visited toy stores and searched the web for anything involving toys. And I hope this will prove sufficient.

The trends that I find most promising are:

  • Manga style:
    The artistic style of Japanese comics is the most dominating style of aesthetics in all childrens' products these days. One could even go so far as to say that most products relating to play for people of all ages have been heavily influenced by this style.
  • Collectable Card Games (CCG):
    Since Magic: the Gathering created this game genre in 1993, these games have really conquered the non-digital gaming market. And Pokémon got the younger children hooked. This gaming concept seems perfect for creating crazes.
  • Scary more than cute:
    The last few years have seen a tendency for toys and childrens' games to be more scary and cool than cute. Cute and cuddly toys like Barbie and Pokémon are loosing followers and more "cooler" or "scarier" toys like Bratz and Duel Masters are gaining ground.
  • Hip Hop:
    Hip Hop and Rap music has become very popular amongst children the last few years (in Norway, that is). And this has made an impact on other areas than music as well. Clothes design and graphic design shows some general Hip Hop tendencies. Kids watch MTV and wear baggy clothes and find this cool. Programs like Pimp My Ride is really going to have some influence on the toy market in the future, is my guess. The clearest sign of Hip Hop in toys at the moment is the doll franchize Bratz, where fashion is a central theme. Bratz has become so popular even Barbie is trying to imitate it. And that says alot in itself.

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