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Toy Industry Association: Top 2011 Toy Trends

2011 Toy Trends Reflect 21st Century Values and Desires

"Simply Social"... "Cent-sational" ... "Performance Play"... and "Design, Discover and Learn" Spotted as Key Trends

NEW YORK, Feb. 14, 2011 -- From toys that inspire kids to be "everyday heroes," to miniature product lines at affordable prices, to "geek chic" games that make learning "cool," Toy Industry Association (TIA) experts have identified the freshest toy trends for 2011, currently on display at the 108th American International Toy Fair and destined for store shelves between now and the 2011 holiday season.

After combing through 100,000+ products now on display at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, TIA's trend experts report that this year's top trends target every type of child from those who like to learn through games and creative crafts, to those who have a "need for speed" and enjoy active play and truly reflect the advancements being made across other industries, like technology and science. The top trends for 2011 also meet the increasing demands of parents, the government and healthcare officials who are striving to amp up educational and active play to ensure a brighter, healthier future for today's kids.

"Toymakers are influenced by so many outside factors," said Reyne Rice, TIA toy trend specialist. "It's always remarkable to see how toys reflect what is happening in the world today and meet the demands of families who want to play in new and challenging ways. This has never been more evident than at Toy Fair 2011. The industry really outdoes itself year after year."

Rice made the comments during a "Toy Trends Tea" hosted by TIA at Toy Fair this afternoon. A video of the presentation will be posted to the Toy Fair 2011 (toyfairny.com) and TIA (toyassociation.org) websites.

A summary of the four top trends, as well as updates on strong secondary trends, follows:


Kids will become evermore engaged with their playmates and their own dreams and ambitions this year as "Simply Social" toys and games flood retail outlets. This exciting new trend includes e-connected toys, cooperative game rules and enthralling, pro-social play products:

Social Networks

Lots of apps are based on classic toys, but now an increasing number of physical toys are being introduced that originated with or will work with apps. This sub-trend also includes virtual worlds and toys that have an online component.

Social Face-to-Face

Reducing the "wait time" while other players take their turn, "all-play" games engage each competitor throughout the gaming experience with consensus play, team play, cooperative play rules and other techniques.

Socially Aware

Integrating a pro-social play pattern, a steadily increasing number of toys are teaching kids about the world around them and how to be a better citizen (think: eco-friendly, charity, values and manners and about other languages and cultures) and are showcasing "everyday heroes" such as firefighters, teachers, moms and dads, and others that kids look up to and learn from.


While 2010 data from The NPD Group* shows that parents have begun loosening their purse strings a bit following the recession, affordability and the "pennies-per-play" model are still a major priority for parents when shopping for toys.

The "Cent-sational" trend category includes: an expansion of affordable collectible items for boys and girls; "mini" toys (i.e., smaller versions of products already on the market) at "mini" price points; and broadened product lines with toys for every wallet size. This trend also includes games that are constructible, meaning they allow kids to build and re-build their games, creating a new play experience each time.

*U.S. retail sales of toys brought in $21.87 billion in 2010, compared to $21.46 billion in 2009 a 2% increase according to the leading market research company The NPD Group.


The "Performance Play" trend capitalizes on a mounting desire among parents, healthcare officials and the government to get kids up and moving to counteract childhood obesity; it also includes play that "exercises" the brain.

Brain-challenging toys and games that encourage logical thinking, strategy and mind puzzles; sports, dance and role play products that foster active play; games that incorporate motion-sensor technology; and enhancements to classic racing and competition play patterns that emphasize the "need for speed" are all pervasive at Toy Fair and will saturate the market in 2011.


Toymakers have brought learning through games, puzzles, experimentation and technology to new and creative heights for 2011. Educational toys have been transformed into play products that are captivating and nurture imaginative spirits:

"Camouflage Learning"

Just as parents might put "spinach in the cookies" to entice their kids to eat healthily, many toy manufacturers are expanding their brands with new toys and games that engage kids in interactive, "hands on" experiential play patterns that make learning fun. Toys in this category involve experimentation, knowledge-building games, and tech tools like handheld gaming devices and digital cameras.

Geek Chic

In conjunction with an increasing nationwide focus on the importance of education in Science, Tech, Engineering and Math (STEM) concepts, toymakers are helping to make learning "cooler than ever" with expanding product lines designed for kids of all ages. Toys in this category include trial-and-error scenarios, spy gear and model-building.

Constructibles and Crafts

A host of new construction sets and an increasing number of three-dimensional game-play are challenging kids to think spatially, while the arts and crafts play pattern holds strong with a broad range of products for kids to get in touch with their creative side.

The Toy Industry Association also tracks a broad range of ongoing cross-sector trends, such as toys celebrating significant anniversaries; classic toys and games that remain popular year in and year out; entertainment properties that span blockbuster movies or brands; and tech toys that incorporate online worlds and social networking.

"A surge in family-friendly Blockbusters will spawn a steady stream of new content tied to entertainment and licensing properties," said Rice. "These movies will have a major impact on toys and games throughout 2011."

About the American International Toy Fair

Toy Fair is an annual event that is owned and operated by the Toy Industry Association (TIA). The largest toy trade show in the Western Hemisphere, the show brings together more than 1,100 exhibiting manufacturers, distributors, importers and sales agents from 100 countries to showcase an estimated 100,000 toy and entertainment products to the 9,000 unique retail outlets scheduled to attend.

About the Toy Industry Association (TIA)

TIA is the not-for-profit trade association for producers and importers of toys and youth entertainment products sold in North America, representing more than 500 companies who account for approximately 85% of domestic toy sales. Toy safety is the number one priority for the toy industry. TIA has a long history of leadership in toy safety including development of the first comprehensive toy safety standard more than 30 years ago, and working with government, consumers and industry on ongoing programs to ensure safe and fun play. For more information, please visit www.toyfairny.com, www.toyassociation.org or www.toyinfo.org.

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