While executives are eying the upcoming holiday with some trepidation, a few factors bode well for the toy industry. Last year's toy recalls have become a distant memory and consumer research shows that parents and grandparents consistently forgo buying something for themselves in favor of splurging on the kids.
The global toy industry reached almost $72 billion in 2007 sales, a 5% increase from 2006, according to the NPD Group. North America had 33% of global sales, followed by Europe at 30% and Asia at 2%. Japan with $5.95 billion in sales and the United Kingdom with $4.38 billion were 2007 leaders. The United States was the only market with negative sales. And the category's future looks good: NPD forecasts toy sales to top $86.3 billion in 2010.
This year, the toy industry saw a little controversy that continues to play out in the courts. An injunction to prohibit MGA Entertainment's production and sales of Bratz dolls was filed in federal court by Mattel on Sept. 29. The toy maker also has asked that MGA Entertainment not use the Bratz name and trademarks.
A jury unanimously awarded Mattel $100 million in damages from MGA and its chief Isaac Larian for wrongdoing. The court is expected to make the final determination Nov. 10 on the total amount of damages.
On a separate note, Mattel has reorganized its Barbie operations into one global brand management team led by Richard Dickson as general manager and senior vice president for the Barbie brand.
A number of toy manufacturers have powerful evergreen properties celebrating milestones.
Hasbro debuted My Little Pony in 1983 and in honor of 25 years, Hasbro plans to work with more than 150 licensees to manufacture and distribute apparel, DVDs, arts and crafts, party goods, stationery, books and more.
Hasbro extended its evergreen My Little Pony Line with a number of products to celebrate the brand's 25th anniversary.
Hasbro is again the master toy licensee for American Greetings' Properties' Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears. AGP has created a new look for both properties, which will be on shelves in 2009.
A line of limited-edition 25th anniversary Cabbage Patch Kids are now available at retailers around the world. The re-released 1983 Cabbage Patch Kids were created by Play Along, a division of Jakks Pacific, and retail for $29.99 each. The Cabbage Patch Kids brand is owned by Cleveland-based Original Appalachian Artworks.
Hallmark Cards' Rainbow Brite franchise has signed United Media as its exclusive merchandising licensing agent for the brand's upcoming 25th anniversary program.
Already, Playmates Toys has joined on to create a line of new fashion dolls, plush and role-play toys for holiday 2009. There also are plans for online content and the "Share A Rainbow" challenge to encourage girls to help create a better world.
The animated TV series "Rainbow Brite" debuted in 1984 and led to $1 billion in retail sales of dolls, toys and other licensed products.