Our Summer Toy Trend Forecast
Here’s how it goes: first it becomes popular, then it becomes unpopular, then it becomes kitsch, then, sometime after that, it becomes popular again. Hence goes the pop culture cycle. Chances are by the time you grow up, all those toys that you abandoned when you became “too grown up” to play with, become important to you again. They become reminders of your youth and you begin to yearn for them. Of course, you’re not the only ones. Big business knows this. Because of this you should ready to pay a premium for your beloved Playmobil toys or My Little Pony’s because you’re not the only one looking for them.
I recently went to the Downtown Disney District in Anaheim, CA to meet some friends for dinner. As I was walking I noticed that there was a rather large Lego Chain store which sold nothing but Lego sets and products. I didn’t have to think twice, I made a bee-line for the store. Now, I know Lego’s are thought of as a little boy thing, but I’ll make no qualms about the fact that when I was a kid I loved Lego’s. Sure, I enjoyed Barbie’s, My Little Pony’s, etc., but for me there was nothing more fun then putting together a Lego airport, police building or pirate ship.
As I walked into the store and began to look around, two things immediately popped into my head. First: if you can dream it, there is a Lego set for it now. Forget airports, you can literally build the Taj Mahal now out of Lego’s. Second, and most relevant, Lego’s have gotten expensive. I’m sure you can still get a small set at Wal-Mart for something resembling a reasonable price, but wow, if you want to build an airplane or an building or a pirate ship prepare to open your wallet. A set can cost up to $70 now. Even the cheaper sets cost $30. Needless to say I passed on purchasing a set, even if I felt a child like need to.
It didn’t hit me until I got home why these Lego sets cost so much. These sets were not for children, but instead, for adults who grew up on Lego’s and again want to experience the thrill of constructing a building out of these tiny blocks. I recently help put together a small set a cousin brought over, and trust me; it’s still as fun to do as I remember it.
If anything, this experience at the Lego shop reminded me of the “kitsch” cycle. Toy sellers now understand that parents are as willing to purchase something that reminds them of their youth as they are to purchase these new products for their children, same goes for Playmobil too. Look at the Transformer franchise. Most of the people who saw the film hadn’t played with a transformer for 15 years, but went in droves to the movie because of cherished childhood memories (the movies were terrible by the way, which makes the success of the second one even more “memories” based).
Next time you’re at Target look around and look at how much of the DVD’s or home supplies marketed to adults are simply repackaged and “hip looking” products from your childhood. I think you might be surprised at what you find. Chances are while you’ve “grown up” your tastes have pretty much stayed the same.