Merch Monday: Emerging Toy Trends

In February, leaders and innovators in the toy industry gathered in New York for the 2011 Toy Fair. This year, more than 10,000 buyers attended and surveyed more than 100,000 products – some of which had never been seen before.

After scouting the showroom floor for the latest and greatest, we came away with four emerging trends for the coming year. While many of these toys won’t be available until this fall, they’ve got us talking right now.

Smart Toys

These interactive toys are taking a cue from social media. Labeled as smart toys, they often communicate with social applications. One new example is the FIJIT Friend, an interactive robot for girls that recognizes and reacts to voice commands, music and embedded codes within external sound sources. Sure to be a big hit, they come in a variety of colors – each with their own personality. 

Active Toys

Not only intended to boost physical activity, but several toys showcased at this year’s Toy Fair were created to boost learning and creativity. These toys improve memory skills and camouflage learning. The LeapFrog®, although not new to the scene, is a frontrunner in this toy category. At this year’s show, LeapFrog announced the new LeapPad Explorer™,  a learning and entertainment tablet for kids.

Angry Birds

The popular mobile game has taken the toy industry by storm, as characters were featured on everything from lanyards to slippers at this year’s fair. There is a wide range of toys set to release later in the year, featuring both the birds and the pigs. Turning the game into reality, the Angry Birds Knock on Wood table-top board game allows users to catapult little birds across the room.


The influx of several family-friendly Blockbusters has spawned a steady stream of licensed products. While big-name movies and television shows are generating large fan bases, consumers are vying for licensed merchandise. Thus, a demand for Batman, Harry Potter, Green Lantern and Monster High merchandise has increased, among others.


Are there any other trends that you're aware of? Post them in the comments section and we'll keep our eyes open!