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Toymakers Target Grown-Ups

Adults, not kids, are the ones who want traditional toys this Christmas - or at any time during the year.


Trivial Pursuit board game
Credit: Hasbro

As kids gravitate to screens, adults want to reconnect with their own childhoods. This surge in demand could be a lifesaver for the struggling toy industry… and may even pique the interest of kids who have grown up in an era when playing with action figures or dolls isn’t as cool as it used to be. It's a kind of cultural circularity.


Axios found teenagers and adults who like cartoons, action figures, board games, building sets, and puzzles (aka “kidults”) are driving toy sales. Remarkably, The Toy Association reports that a whopping 41 percent of parents have bought toys for themselves in the past year.


During the holiday season, The Toy Association's survey discovered that 43 percent said they’ll buy toys for themselves, while 89 percent said they’ll buy them for another adult.


The consensus is that the surge of adult interest in toys has been sparked by a wave of nostalgia, fueled by 'enforced entertainment' and the popularity of collecting that arose during Covid and, perhaps, new 'nostalgic' movie releases like Barbie.


And now, those adults want to share their favorite childhood toys with their kids… which just so happens to reignite their own love for them.


Lego Titanic model
Titanic | Credit: Lego

Toymakers have been pivoting to meet the moment - Lego’s 'Icons' series has complex products meant to be displayed (such as the Titanic model), Mattel is in full-on Barbie marketing mode as the movie breaks records, and even McDonald’s has rolled out Happy Meals aimed at parents.


But let's not leave grandparents out of the fun - 'eldertainment' is also taking toy stores by storm, with things like animatronic pets and updated versions of board games like Trivial Pursuit becoming popular purchases once more. And not just for Christmas.

 
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