How cool is our job?: We spent the weekend at New York Toy Fair, meeting with awesome toy companies and scouring the show for the latest and greatest in toy innovation. As a bonus, we had a front seat to The Toy Association's unveiling of the top toy trends of 2018 -- and wanted to share some of our favorite new toys that tap into those trends!
So here they are: the top seven toy trends for 2018:
1. The Big Reveal.
There's no question that blind bags, blind box toys, and surprise eggs have become insanely popular over the past few years, spurred on by kids' obsession with YouTube unboxing videos. These trends have inspired toy makers of all shapes and sizes to design new products that feed kids' fascination with unboxing a surprise. Spin Master was the first big toy company to really innovate in the space with 2016's hit holiday toy Hatchimals, and MGA Entertainment found the same kind of success in 2017 with their LOL Surprise dolls. So it's no wonder everyone wants to get in on the game.
The coolest surprise concepts we saw? Moose Toys is debuting the adorable new brand Scruff-a-Luvs, fuzzy balls of fluff that kids must unpack, wash, and clean up before they discover what animal they have on their hands. We love this concept because it promotes awareness of animal rescue organizations with kids; those balls of fluff you unpack are positioned as rescue animals and the play pattern follows the process a shelter volunteer goes through to clean up and save a new animal friend.
While Scruff-a-Luvs were the talk of the show, we were really blown away by what Learning Resources is doing in the surprise space: their new line of Beaker Creatures combines science education with the blind box collectibes / unboxing trends. Kids must perform "kitchen chemistry" style experiments to reveal which Beaker Creatures they've got. The play sets are styled after chemistry sets and the creatures are super cute. They'll be on-shelf Fall 2018 and we anticipate these will be our own kids' favorite gifts this holiday season!
2. Pet Play.
Pets are going to flood the toy aisles in 2018 in a big, big way. A classic nurturing play pattern for kids, toycos have been busy coming up with all sorts of amazing creatures for children to love! Of course there's the aforementioned Scruff-A-Luvs; Calico Critters have made a huge comeback and WowWee's Fingerlings -- one of the darlings of 2017's holiday season -- has debuted both mini and huge "Hug" versions of the popular monkeys for 2018.
Our favorite take on the trend? Giant inflatable plush that are easily machine-washable. Brilliant!
3. Millennial Nostalgia.
This is a trend that has been infiltrating industries across the board for a few years now, and in 2018 it's hitting toys in a major way. Remember Polly Pockets? Mattel's relaunching the classic version of the brand -- supported by an animated series. Basic Fun's bringing back the original My Little Pony designs(!). And our favorite? Shrinky Dinks! We used to spend hours with these!
4. Inspiring Imaginations.
Another classic play pattern, toys that allow children to "make believe" and push the boundaries of their creativity will have a big role to play in 2018. From veterinarian kits to bubble grills, role play sets help kids explore the "you're not old enough yet" aspirational jobs they're dying to try out. And the creative arts & crafts sets coming out this year are going to be AMAZING.
5. Games Galore.
Physical games have seen a 3% rise in sales over the past two years, and they show no signs of stopping in 2018. With limited budgets and a desire to turn off tech and spend more quality time with friends and family, Millennials are driving a board game renaissance. Games we're looking forward to playing with our kids? Tactic's Life in the Coral Reef, already out in Europe. Games our kids will demand and we're super not looking forward to? Hasbro's gross-out game Don't Step In It and Yulu's soak-em Watermelon Smash.
6. Toys That Teach.
Last, but certainly not least, educational toys will carve out significant space at retail this year -- and as moms of preschoolers ourselves, we're super excited about all the toys that will help our kids have fun learning. The stand-out for us was another toy from Learning Resources, Botley the Coding Robot. With no tablet necessary, Botley is a toy that introduces coding concepts to kids -- and grows and evolves with them as they master new skills. Already available to pre-order, this toy is going on our wish lists right now!