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I don't think we'll ever fully replace toys.
They're an entirely different medium.
I bet someone said the same thing when books started getting cheaper and more people could read. Kids love playing with things, video games are just easy to play with.
Agreed. And books are still printed and sold to children
The problem I see is that virtual games are cheaper. Kids can play a hundred games (for free) on their parents tablet or smart phone. And like other redditor pointed out, most parents are not that aware about the issue.
Toys aren't going anywhere. Video games aren't going anywhere.
I've yet to find a video game that fills you with wonder as much as rubber poppers or aero-twirls
Maybe you’re correct. Our first instinct is to think one will replace the other (ecommerce replacing retails, online classes replacing schools etc).
I think it's a positive relationship. I've seen grown men buying dolls of characters from their fav game for their man caves. Then their little one talks them out of keeping it in the box, and boom, 2yo doom fan.
Only if you make false equivalences. Did video games replace movies? They’re both visual mediums. Did they replace books? They’re both story driven mediums. Why are you pitting them specifically against physical toys?
with more research coming out saying too much device screentime for young ones is bad, i could see parents reducing their screen times or cut it out entirely for the extreme cases.
É commerce isn't replacing retail and online classes aren't replacing schools.
True. Just like theatres are not replaced by cinemas. It is all about adding more forms.
People have been saying for over two decades that video games will kill the toy industry, but toy manufacturers are still making record profits y/y to this day. Kids like toys, kids enjoy playing with toys (as long as they have others to engage in that play with them)
The bigger issue in my mind societally is the ever growing cost of living as it relates to sustainability and the average time spent earning by parents.
It’s super easy to point fingers at parents lack of engagement until you realize that the average parent in todays society spend two thirds MORE time interacting with their kids, and 50% MORE time working when compared to even 30+ years ago.
Add electronics into the mix with the ability to socialize without leaving the safety of your own home, thereby reducing the likelihood of dealing withy bullying, pressure to participate in sports regardless of interest and just socialize face to face regardless of desire… and you have a recipe for what we’re seeing.
A toy store that offers innovative toys, or current stimming toys/collectibles would likely do very well. Women in my sewing group are selling homemade wooden and cloth teething rattles for 25.00/each and can’t keep them in stock.
As with any business it’s about knowing your market and offering something niche within it.
Totally get what you’re saying. Thanks, really. Especially for that statistic.
Not every parent gives their kid a phone or tablet to play on.
I have a sox year old who loves our phone games, but she gets bored after an hour and plays with toys.
Yeah, I disagree with OP. Physical toys will not go away. Physical toys have a vastly, vastly superior UX/UI over video games.
Consider any toy (doll, fidget spinner, legos, etc). Kids can just pick them up and play with them.
For video games, you gotta make sure the battery is charged (or the console is plugged in to TV/wall), the console OS & any software updates are applied, etc. Then kids have to navigate the game's menus and learn the game's controls. None of this is trivial or easy for young kids.
On top of all of this, what would I rather give my kid? Video games or physical toys? While I am a video gamer, I would give my kids physical toys so they aren't staring at a screen all day ruining their eyes.
Totally, 110% disagree with that hypothesis. Our local independent toy store chain has a booming business!
If you have a great idea for a toy, go for it!!
Great to hear. I am torn between my personal observation and what people are saying. Personal observation says less and less kids are demanding toys these days. Most of their demands are for new video games or even tabs to play games on.
Yet, research suggests there’s still space to fill in the toy industry. All of us are heavily dependent on china rn.
I'm curious what you mean by personal observation? Kids like manipulating things in the real world and that's unlikely to change - it's an impulse driven by instinct as the brain develops fine motor skills and basic understandings of physics.
Same reason why playgrounds are still a thing. Kids need to manipulate themselves and objects in the real world as part of growing up. Every species does it :)
Sure they do but I am seeing more kids glued to their screens rather than playing outdoors or making things out of play dough etc. But I agree with you. Kids have inherent desire to play and explore the physical world around. We just need to support and help them do that rather than giving them ipads.
How many kids do you have or do you interactive with groups of children on an regular basis?
Yea I mean a lot of it is also that it's no longer socially acceptable (or even legal in plenty of places) for kids to play without supervision. That said the kids in my life love toys, and are mostly only given an iPad in situations where playing wouldn't really work (airplanes, restaurants etc).
It might be worth joining your local parents group on Facebook ("Moms and Dads of [place]" should find it) and asking for insight! Kids may be given more screens outside of their house than inside which may be skewing your perception.
Frankly I’m such a video game person that I keep being surprised that my preteen sister doesn’t really care for them. She has inherited several systems from family members and like barely uses them. If I had that stuff as a kid I never would have left my room. Different kids have different interests, and there will always be some who don’t care for virtual.
This has been the trend for 25+ years. It's nothing new, and while accurate, it's also not the death of the toy industry. The industry continues to evolve, and in some spaces is stronger than its ever been. Your results will depend completely on exactly what niche you're looking to fill.
> Personal observation says less and less kids are demanding toys these days
> Yet, research suggests there’s still space to fill in the toy industry
This is why we shouldn't make business decisions based on personal observations or gut feelings. Do the research and listen to what the information is telling you.
My personal observation is that kids like to *have* toys, but they aren't *playing* with them like they used to.
So yeah, toy stores are still booming, especially with cheaply made Chinese garbage and not necessarily "cool" toys. It's basically a pipeline between Chinese factories and American landfills.
Wow … your observation makes sense. I’ve never seen a kid declining to get a new toy. They just don’t play with them.
Also nice way to put it - a pipeline between chinese factories and landfills. Quality and safe toys are needed.
> Quality and safe toys are needed.
I don't think many people would pay the extra $$ for that though.
Most accurate comment I’ve read on Reddit this week.
I suspect kids now are more fickle and get tired of things faster. That might help the toy industry though if kids get tired of it faster and want new toys faster. From a business perspective, it does not matter what kids do with it after they buy it (assuming it does not result in a lawsuit to your company of course), it only matters that they buy it in the first place.
Toys are tactile. Video games haven't quite cracked that yet. Toys also allow more range of imaginative play than video games - yes, even sandboxes and construction engines.
Don't base a business on personal observations. If that's what you think do a feasibility study on the market and determine the viability of the product.
For sure I’ll keep that in mind.
I've noticed that a lot of kids don't seem to know how to play *pretend*. Especially the older one's I've met (past 6 or 7).
Like, I'm mid-30's, and I can still "play pretend" and just imagine stuff and that can occupy me for quite some time when it needs to. The fact that I can still come up with a fantasy world at the drop of a hat and a random given 8 year old can't really kind of makes me sad.
Some of these kids are *so* addicted to screens that they can't self-occupy and they can't just spontaneously *create* stuff even if you set them up to do it (pencils and paper, paints, etc).
I was blown away to find most of the special interest clubs at my old school have shuttered purely because kids don't want to join them anymore.
You have a lot of faith in parents wanting the best for their kids, but I feel like a lot of parents are just going with what's easiest, and what's easiest is putting a screen in their hand and walking away.
> but I feel like a lot of parents are just going with what's easiest, and what's easiest is putting a screen in their hand and walking away.
Unfortunately I think that's human nature. When I was a kid, it was the tv, now it's computers. Plus parents have fewer resources now, many don't have extended family or 'a village' to help raise kids so they don't get much downtime. However I would not say it in as an extreme way as you, I do think parents care about kids, it's just that their time will be spend in a balance between self interest and what's good for the kids, it's rarely going to be 100 percent always for the benefit of the kids. Also sadly I don't think many parents really understand a lot about what IS good for kids or how it should be done, plus they have their own psychological baggage to work through. So even when they think they are doing good for their kids, often they aren't really. For instance my brother and my sister in law felt sad when their kid was crying so they'd give her a cookie and cater to her to make her feel better. Yeah, not a good long term plan..
Mine are 6&4 and we don’t have video games in the house. They play with toys all the time. Not sure if it would be different if they access to video games
You are a good parent.
It’s not exactly that. I just never got into video games and never had them at home
I am a gen z'er (22) that grew up on electronics and just had my first child. My husband and I are very passionate about giving our kid(s) the wholesome childhood we didn't quite get, and I have a feeling the majority of my generation feels the same or will feel the same when they have children. In the next decade or so, toys are gonna be bigger than they are now I think 😸
That’s very nice of you guys.
We are the first generation to experience virtual world in this scale. And we learnt few big lessons. So yes, agreed. Never thought from this perspective before haha.
I really hope you are right, believe me when I say that older gens are praying that gen z can swing the pendulum back a bit more towards a practical center. I don't think the human species is well designed for the level of electronic stimulation that we have created for ourselves, adaptation has been IMO a bit rocky.
There a lot of garbage plastic toys, and there’s a lot of garbage video games.
The garbage plastic toys are basically marketed to get off the shelf, unwrapped, and forgot about in a week.
The garbage freeium video games are designed to trigger addictive behaviors to keep kids watching ads / beg parents for micro transaction coins.
The best toys are things that inspire creativity or physical activity. So buy those for your kids.
The customers are not kids but parents who get your point. Nice.
You should also focus your attention on a niche, 1 - 5 years, in that period children have less contact with electronics
And schools and kindergartens heavily recommend kids to play in that age group.
I am an educational toy supplier to schools.
Parents put their children infront of tablets way to much and its an issue. Luckily there are many parents that makes a point of not doing this. Your child needs to develop their dexterity for many careers like engineering and medicine. Your child needs to move their body for any sport. There are many toys that teach all kinds of things from life skills to math to sensory intergration.
Did you know that if a child can not use their right part of their body with their left part of their body they will struggle to read and wright?
Toys will always be relevant and will always be a tool to teach children.
Educational toys, toys for less abled people, and interactive toys will be of importance like you suggested. Thanks for pointing that out.
If I may ask, are most of those toys manufactured in your own country?
Also how can I learn more about what you do? Will you explain your business?
About half are manufactured in my country. As we have different languages we have products in those languages.
I buy from a supplier localy as I get orders from the schools.
Oh perfect! Thank you and good wishes for your business.
Therapeutic toys is an interesting concept. You could look at areas where there are a lot of people with problems, say autism and dyslexia, and work on toys that could maybe help them work on their weaknesses in a more fun way. You'd have to do some research and trial runs of course. But lets say you test out something like having different words different colors or different letters different colors, would that help reading skills for dyslexics? Wouldn't reading in general be more fun maybe if there was tons of colors or something like that? Or maybe bigger fonts or more space between letters or words? You could work directly with therapists and ask for ideas, print some stuff for them and have them try it. Plus it would be great to know you are really helping people.
Aha that’s heck of an idea. Will require lot of research but yeah definitely if I get into this field.
Jumping in with a a follow up question for the community (and thank you OP for posting this fascinating question).
If we can agree that there is still a future in toys (which seems the consensus here) can we discuss what type of toys and age range?
I am designing a line of educational type toys (think animals and zoos) and am considering the type of materials to use. I’m leaning towards wood (sustainability and durability) but realize that the cost to consumer will be higher. Is there a niche for wooden toys and if do, what age range?
You’re welcome. I had this on my mind for some time.
Are you a toy manufacturer owning a factory?
I was visiting my relative and noticed a note from school for their child. It recommended some activities and a few kinds of toys to develop kid's dexterity.
So target users are definitely someone in kindergarten or 1st-2nd grade if we are talking about things like puzzles.
Hi - no, I am neither - just a guy nursing an idea that I think has merit.
Yes yes it definitely makes sense.
I would say the niche for wooden toys hits parents interested in Montessori
Thanks - why Montessori? Do they emphasize tactile play?
From the wiki: Specialized educational materials are often made out of natural, aesthetic materials such as wood, rather than plastic
To add to what others have said, my kid (6) just … isn’t that interested in screens. I’ve never rationed screen time (although she only uses a phone when she’s with me, not a tablet or TV, which probably ‘helps’), but sometimes I’ve even found myself trying to encourage her to use the screen *more*! For instance, her school suggested some educational games, but I couldn’t engage her with them or any kind of screen-based game at all yet. She just won’t sit down and I sometimes have to suggest watching a video for 10 minutes just to wind down at the end of the day or she’ll literally never stop moving and wear herself out.
So it’s not a given that screens work for or are desired by all kids, lol.
Wow that’s so rare to hear. I am happy for her haha.
I’ll keep in mind that there *are* kids who dont like to stay glued to their screens.
Not at all. Today they are more diversified with their IP but Hasbro is still primarily a toy company. Let's take a look at how they've done over the last 10 years
Link to data: https://imgur.io/a/p7cy6XT
Topline: Solid fairly consistent growth over any 3 year period within the last 10 years. Growing from 4B to 6.4B since 2013. It's certainly not amazing growth, but they've managed to garner more sales in the toy industry. Clearly people are still buying toys.
Cash flow: Again pretty reasonable growth. They are selling more toys without sacrificing cash flow to do it. The recent drop in cash flow coincides with a decrease in net working capital. We can also see via free cash flow that capex isn't taking a huge toll on them. Meaning, they have increased topline and cash flow from operations without requiring more substantial Capex.
If we use Hasbro as a proxy for toy demand then it's clear toy demand isn't going anywhere. Keeping in mind toys represent ~4B of its revenue, as I said they have diversified use of their IP. Of course the other element is that Hasbro's growth could be sapping sales from other toy manufacturers meaning the industry is still shrinking. But a quick look at their competitors makes me reasonably confident this isn't the case.
Don't forget there will generally be an age gap before kids start video games. I've not looked at research but I'd say kids younger than 4 years old will mostly be playing with toys.
That’s a very in-depth yet quick research you laid out. Thanks a ton!
I used to work in the toy business on the manufacturer side. Age compression - the idea that kids are getter older sooner - is a real thing and something that the industry has had to grapple with for decades.
You won't see an entire industry disappear, like videotapes, but you will see it change. First, you are seeing massive consolidation, meaning that larger manufacturers and large retailers control the business. The barriers of entry are much more difficult and will keep smaller players out. This will limit innovation within the sector.
Second, licensed toys (based on movies or intellectual property) will continue to prevail. The added marketing that the content provider adds is key to controlling the costs for the manufacturer and retailer. Also, retailers are not interested in investing the necessary time to help build brands. It either sells immediately or it's out.
Third, I think that you are starting to see a shift in demographics due to much of the available content. The success of Funko and some other pop culture geared manufacturers shows that toys have appeal to adults who used to play with toys. The question is whether today's children will have that attachment to content.
Thanks for putting it nicely. Wow and yes age compression is real.
>retailers are not interested … building brands
That was very important to be mindful about.
About manufacturing, what do you think about catering to a niche group of parents? Perhaps DTC ecommerce platform and social media marketing will help the company to grow?
Parents are the primary consumer with infant and preschool toys. Every parent believes that his/her child is exceptional and is willing to spend for quality and anything that will "help" the child develop. Therefore, you can offer products at higher price points.
The problem of tooling costs and customer acquisition costs are still big hurdles. Unless you go with plush or wood, that don't require a large upfront investment, you are talking tens of thousands to get started. Keep in mind that if you only offer one item, then your customer acquisition costs are allocated to that one item and the chance of repeat business is minimized. There is also a limit to just how much a parent will spend. After the initial fascination with a child fades and the daily costs of child rearing are realized there is less interest in spending on high end toys. I want to say that DTC is the future but it is awfully hard to get your message to break through.
My sister and I both opened our businesses about 8 years ago. Mine is a restaurant, and we’re doing well, finally bought a house this year and living comfortably. My sister opened a toy store, now has 2 locations and a million dollar home, plus she’s loaded now.
Good wishes to both of you.
I see your point.
My son works for Lego, and there is no slowing their sales. They do video games as well, but they are practically just advertising for the toys themselves. They are simply injected plastic in assorted shapes, sizes, and colors, yet sets sell for premium prices, so they are incredibly profitable, so there is plenty of money in the budget for marketing.
And speaking of my son, he was never a video game kid. I got him a console when he was young, thinking we could play together. But he was relatively uninterested. Not all.kids like video games.
I am slightly jealous of lego guys for inventing this toy. Just bunch of injection moulding machine and done. I saw their production video in mechanical engineering class. Super impressed.
I wonder if they are other toys which requires fewer machines to manufacture and stays out of the trend race (so that there is no need to pivot in short future).
I have elementary school aged kids, and I recently redesigned the website of one of Canada largest independent toy stores. So I think I have some anecdotal evidence.
Classic kids toys are still as popular as ever, my boys still love playing with LEGO, Pokémon cards, Beyblades, etc and every time I would visit my client and his store(nearly 20,000 sq ft) it was always packed and business appears to be booming.
If I let my my children sit and stare at their iPads all day. I’m sure they would, but we’ve made it a habit to actually play and do normal kid shit. Most parents are just lazy and happy to let the iPad or video games raise their children. But I know there is still lots of parents out there raising kids that are still somewhat disconnected from electronics.
What seems to be happening is that online marketplaces like Amazon have decreased foot traffic and profit margins significantly, and a lot of stores struggled with their bottom line and failed to pivot to stay competitive. Not to mention that lots of toys have become ridiculously expensive and unaffordable for the average family.
Also, it seems the average kid will lose interest in classic toys at a younger age. When I was a kid I played with LEGO and action figures until I was 12/13. Now many kids seem to be addicted to their iPads by the time they are 7/8 so they have a shorter consumer life.
Finally, a parent can by an iPad once, and the kids can download games forever. With other classic toys, like LEGO, Pokémon, etc parents need to continually buy new toys and the most expensive and coolest things. with the iPad, little Billy can just download the new version of Roblox and has weeks of entertainment for no additional cost.
It’s early and I’m still in bed typing this, so probably could make my point better but the TLDR; toys and toy stores aren’t going anywhere yet. But maybe profit margins will continue to slide, and kids will lose interest in classic toys at an earlier age but never fully replace classic toys.
I don't know about that "no additional cost."
Microtransactions are absolutely a thing and I think it's draining parental checking accounts faster than *Littlest Pet Shop* ever could.
Everything else is pretty spot on. I personally feel like kids are getting most of their 'joy factor' with toys out of simply obtaining them. They almost immediately get thrown under the bed and forgotten until they get sent to Goodwill.
Very true, micro transactions and pay to win are expensive. From my child’s peer group I don’t see that too much at this early of an age though. Maybe when they are teenagers, but for the most part my children and their friends download the game for free, play for free, and maybe on their birthday will get a $50 gift card for some in game skins or something.
Even though I’m an advocate of classic toys, typically the hours of entertainment per dollar spent are way lower on an iPad or a video game so I can understand why parents don’t care about the social damage of electronics.
I bought a Nintendo switch and Zelda Breath of the wild in 2017. My kids still play on the weekend. That’s a good bang for our buck as I’m almost certain all the toys from 2017 have been donated or broken.
Good point but because of their longer life, peeps might be able to sell gaming accessories to enhance existing electronics.
Thank you for sharing your perspective as a parent!
Yep, i think for sure that brick and mortar will continue to have a harder time, especially for toys where you can get a pretty good idea of what you are buying by just looking at images. I think any market peeps go into for toys should be strongly oriented to remote sales. I would not want to be trying out a brick and mortar toy store these days.
Wow, that’s some detailed perspective for an early morning haha. Thank you.
If profit margins continue to slide down then won’t that deter people from investing in toys business?
Also, do you think this applies to all kinds of toys or just classic toys? Are there any categories in toys or business model (manufacturing/retail/e-commerce) that will remain largely unaffected?
I think any smaller retailers that are still around will continue to struggle. Especially if they aren’t willing to pivot or adapt. Larger toy stores and manufacturers with more capital will still be around for some time. There is always grandma wanting to take little Billy to the toy store for his birthday, etc, and outside of the physical toys, there is experiences that can’t be replaced by Amazon or the internet.
Some segments within the sector may continue to fall off, things like board games, and card games, but classic toys will always be around in some capacity in my opinion.
It might be a bit of a risk but I wonder if a market can be created to cater to adults at parties. We've seen some interest in things like escape rooms. It helps ease the awkwardness of socializing if people are given tasks to work on vs being left to decipher small talk with no direction. The younger gens also seem to like experiences a bit more than just physical stuff.
My family learnt 2-3 board games during the pandemic. I don’t know about the current statistics but people enjoyed that during the lockdowns.
For sure. My client mentioned that board game sales boomed during the pandemic, they even considered expanding the game section. But now that we’ve started to move past the pandemic and gone somewhat back to normal less people are sitting around the house locked down.
Yeah makes sense. That’s sad tho.
Can small players be DTC brands in this industry?
I think it can be done, but it needs to be done in such a way that the company can pivot quickly and jump on the next hype while also leveraging social media.
Creating a product and selling direct to consumer is a massive investment and gamble for an independent entrepreneur or a small mom and pop toy store. I wouldn't try it.
But, if you can leverage drop shipping and spot trends while being one of the first to market, there is always money to be made.
Think fidget spinner style products. If you can be the first to market, with a few good social media post and influencer shout outs, there is money to be made. But once the hype and novelty of the new 'thing' dies down, and every one of your competitors is selling it(probably cheaper than you), you need to be prepared to jump on the next hype train.
Got it perfectly. Thank you really.
I’m seeing growth in actual applicable/smart games. Things that actually make kids think. It depends on marketing from production, to actual toy wrapping/presentation for success/longevity.
Marketing matters, catering to a niche parents. Gotcha.
No, toys will still be a thing. Kids will play with toys that aren’t even toys if they are bored. They can’t play video games 100% of their free time… or at least, they shouldn’t. There will always be parents that limit screen time and make kids play with their toys or go outside.
I essentially own/operate a toy business. Not entirely but it's close. Kids still love toys and make the switch to video games moreso at the 12-13 year old mark. I know there are younger kids that play consoles or PC but the younger ones still primarily play with toys.
That being said, what exactly is the toy business idea you have? It's very cutthroat with pricing and the companies that make good money are importing high volume directly from the manufacturer. Import costs are insanely high this past year.
I am looking into toys manufacturing. The market is heavily skewed in favour of china rn. Their speed of manufacturing and prototyping is much better. Margins are dwindling in many manufacturing sectors.
I guess toys is one of them.
Good to hear that toys are not considered outdated yet.
Take this with a grain of salt - My suppliers are not always the most honest with me when they're looking to charge more than usual.
One of my primary suppliers is a multi billion dollar company and imports directly. The owner told me that they had a hard time getting manufacturers to work with them and were lucky they had money and previous connections. They claim the demand is incredibly high to the point that supply is struggling so the manufacturers are able to be pickier than ever.
They also claim that their containers are costing between 14k and 27k with an average of about 21k to import. Working with some others direct from China, they told me they were importing full containers for 5k-9k..
Right now I think some companies are looking to make up for lost income from covid, so they're chasing record high profit margins. Which I do understand, my business was hit incredibly hard and although I had a good year last year, I need another good year just to fully recover before getting back to actually making money.
If you go down this route, PM me in the future and I'll take a look at what you have to offer.
There are a couple conventions in las vegas called ASD that may be beneficial for you to make connections/sales in the future. They used to be bigger pre-covid but seem to be getting back to normal these days, it may be worth looking into for you.
Good luck on your endeavors!
Wow thank you for that.
Sure I will.
And good wishes to you as well. 👏
I am in the 3D printing space. I definitely see how most humans have less need for most toys. But I also see Mark Rober (YouTube Scientist) create a sort of 'science kit' for the 12+ crowd. So it's a toss up. I am curious what others here think.
I was probably one of the first generations that was flooded with toys attached to Cartoons. Sure my pop's gen had Roy Rogers toys and stuff too, so it's technically nothing new. I think toys only work when they are attached to big syndicates like Blues Clues or something else on YouTube. If I were to go into the Toy Space, I would find a way to partner with a developmental psychologist and an animation team to produce kid-friendly stuff for youtube. Otherwise I just can't see how the selling of toys on it's own will be viable.
Is there anyone else doing that? I am not getting a complete picture that you’re hinting at.
You mean to say develop kids friendly youtube videos to promote toys somehow?
My son, a tech driven video game playing 4 year old with an addictive personality, will throw his fire tablet down if I ask him to play transformers or paw patrol.
Toys will never go away.
I’m opening a toy store in my town within a few months.
Haha that’s a relief.
And all the best for your new store! 👏 That’s delightful.
As a parent to 2 kids under 5, they ask me for a new toy every.single.day. without fail (they certainly don't get them every day). "Let's go to the toy store!" "I want a toy!" It honestly never stops. At this age, we do not have game systems but we have a tablet that they can watch shows on once in a while (1x weekly). They once in a while also get to play educational games on it.
Toys are irreplaceable in our home, we do a lot of make believe play.
As a business owner, I wouldn't want to own a toy store, not from a profits perspective, but from a lack of personal interest perspective.
Some of you guys are parenting real nice haha.
Just curious, what kind of toys they are into these days?
LOL my kids would NOT agree! :) I honestly don't know most of the popular toys, but I notice any shows the kids watch, if they see a toy of the characters ,they want them. I have two girls who love playing Polly pockets, anything unicorn or fairy related, anything that's a costume, trains, cars, calico critters, monster high. Many are older toys we pick up at kids consignment stores. I've noticed a big uptick in people after toys with natural materials, kind of like Montessori open ended toys. That said, I know my family isn't quite 'the norm' - we live in a tiny home, have a zero waste business, are taking up urban Agriculture, and basically live at farmers markets with all the other crunchy hippy folks lol
Unicorn, fairy related thing wont get old anytime soon. I’ve noticed more adults getting into that culture.
Yes while you are not a typical family, I think more people will join you in the coming future. So I am not worried about that. There will be enough people for me to stay profitable if I ever go this route haha.
And now I am curious about urban agriculture thing. You grow your own food? Are you taking any lessons for that?
Oh yes, there will always be a profit to be made in this space, for sure! Urban Agriculture is basically growing your own food, and I'm lucky enough to also be able to grow enough in my space to sell as well. I'm mostly self taught, but have had my hand in growing food 'recreationally' for 20+ years. I learned a lot from John Seymour's 'the self sufficient gardener', jean-martin fourtier 'the market gardener' books. On IG I follow a fellow @spicymoustache who is extrordinarly knowledgeable on high density urban growing and zero waste - he has been my biggest resource as of late.
Super interested. Will definitely try it someday on a small plot of land.
My nephews (ages 7 and 9) lose interest in new toys after a few seconds and then go back to their iPads. I spend more time buying toys for them than they spend playing with them.
:/ that’s sad.
I guess it depends on set of rules decided by parents. Fast feedback from ipads will win against a toy anyday.
Yeah, I agree that it's sad. I'm only going to give them cash or virtual currency (e.g. Robux) in the future.
Is robux some kind of meme coin? Never heard of that before.
It's digital currency for Roblox, which is an online game platform and game creation system.
As noted here in the variety of examples people use of physical toys, the answer is much more nuanced. Different segments of the toy market have flourished while others fall by the way side as time marches on. Video games are basically their own industry. Other sectors like table top games have had a renaissance in the last decade. With all sort of other physical toys getting meshed with electrics like interactive robots that play games or food truck stations that make noises, there are so many sectors doing big things. Are thing like wood trains probably not as popular, probably. But it’s because the variety is out there. Plus don’t forget the toy markets that have boomed by looping in adults as well as kids to increase their popularity. (Looking at you LEGO.).
Interests change and globalization has expanded our options, so-yes stuff when we’re we’re kids and when our parents were kids may not be as popular but there are plenty of example of physical toys being MORE popular along side those that have declined.
Yes. I have heart IoT toys sector is booming. Whatever that thing is. I have never seen smart toys personally. (I should visit a big toy store someday lol)
No I have two kids that love their toys and if I hadn’t introduced them to my phone or iPad they wouldn’t know any better
Straight to the point. Thank you. You are a wise parent haha.
Only one of my three sons cares about video games. The other two play them but not that much. 7yo birthday recently he said “Toys are better than games, right?”
So, for some, games. Others, toys. Starting a business in it, idk. You’ll probably need games too.
Kudos to that 7 y/o haha. Toys will help him explore physical world around him. But games are nice too for cognitive development.
if you have been to toy faire in nuremberg i would say the very opposite.
Got to visit that. Have you been there? I hope there won’t be any language issues. Never been to Germany before.
When is the next fair?
My wife is a teacher, a majority of our friends have a teacher in their household as a result. Very textbook parenting approach - push for creativity and such. I'd say universally we tried desperately to keep our kids playing with toys as much as possible. That meant buying a ton of toys - so good from a small business standpoint.
As to our children's interest in toys vs tablet offerings, tens of thousands of hours of on-demand kids programming, etc... toys were a **distant** second. And near impossible to sway her towards playing with toys rather than electronics without it resembling a punishment. A notable exception being Legos.
She loved *getting* toys for birthdays and holidays (she's now almost 13 so not as relevant anymore), but almost impossible to keep her interest when she knew the other stuff was sitting in the next room. I suspect we bought a hell of a lot more toys than we would have in previous generations because we were always hunting for the the holy grail toy that would pique her interests.
Bottom line, I think you're marketing toys towards parents these days, not kids anymore.
The constant feedback given by digital medium can’t be compared with a toy. Or even smart toy i think. Because even that can only do so much.
I got the same conclusion as you from reading all the comments here.
Thanks for sharing. :)
I don't think video games will fully replace toys, but it's obvious that games are taking more and more market share
Toys are huge! Lots of toys have electronic components now.
We don’t usually buy online though. Normally at target now
Why not online?
Kid likes to see and pick out usually.
My economic indicator is the number of Nerf guns in my two kids closet. They could single handedly fully arm each US marine with at least one Nerf gun and enough foam darts that if laid end to end would wrap around the Earth… twice.
I don’t think they’re being replaced. Using my eldest son (who is now 7), he has never been able to get into video games, despite me trying my best to get him into them. Still loves toys though.
My granddaughters will tell you otherwise.
I would prefer that to happen. Always in favour of kids playing with toys haha.
Yes. They get so much out of it as they develop.
Toys are extremely popularity driven. There are always cycles for certain types of toys and they come and go. There will always be some type of popular toy.
Right now it's squishmallows, a bigger beanie baby. People are paying hundreds over MSRP for certain ones. It's insane. It's a giant beanie baby. There will be another new one in 20 years in that category. Next year it will be a new elmo. The year after some other thing. I think we're due for some type of collectible card game soon.
So collectively card games will have its come back?
Yea, but it might not be as it was. In the early 90s it was pogs, in the late 90s it was pokemon, in the 2000's it was magic. It doesn't always take the same form. But it's similar.
Basically it's a matter of figuring out your niche and hoping you're what catches fire next time that niche gets hot. Fluffies, TCG, some robot thing, an elmo iteration. They all cycle.
Toys are huge for my family! We have one child, a 2.5 year old and I get very invested in the type of toys he plays with! My demographic is millennial working mom with disposable income.
I spend dumb money on cute toys that are aesthetically pleasing, functional and ecofriendly! I love toys that encourage open ended play and creativity. I usually stray away from plastic toys or anything that needs batteries.
Thanks so much for your personal input.
Hey can you please give me few examples of toys that you like?
I walked into a kids store yesterday in Little Tokyo, DTLA. I saw and immediately became obsessed with CandyLabs’ little cars + parking garage storage! It’ll be my next big purchase because I’m planning on spending like $200 with them at least.
I love the Nugget couch, and I still really love Grimm’s wooden toys. Some more mainstream things my son likes; kinetic sand, Legos + Lego Duplos and he has some Batman + Lightyear action figures that he likes to pretend play with! And some stuffies that he loves.
Oh, we also have a wooden Ikea Play Kitchen and lots of wooden food for him to cut and felt food for him to play with.
Aha all of these are so cool. Especially nugget couch. Thank you so much.
No. Physical toys will always exist and everyone will love playing with them. Video games are a whole different thing. I don't even think of them as competing with each other.
If you want to start in the toy industry and your first thoughts are that video games are the completion you have a lot more research to do on the toy industry.
What kind of toys? what age are you targetting? What kinda scale? What are the safety regulations you need to comply with? Do you have designers? Do you have a manufacturing pipeline? Do you know how much a steel mold costs? What are you distribution options? What are you marketing strategies?
I believe there will always be a market for tangible toys. There just has to be a good story crafted around it. Back in the day, you could make a so so action figure of (insert whatever childhood classic show/franchise) and people would eat that up (transformers figures were my preference) because they felt connected to the brand. Once you find that connection with your audience, you're golden.
My kids (6,7,10) are still just as much into toys as games. They have tablets, a computer, and console, but still play with action figures/dolls, puzzles, hot wheels, etc. I have 2 boys and 1 girl, and pretend play is still as important to them as ever.
Lovely! Kudos to them.
You can't bring/sneak your video games into school easily. There's always going to be some version of Beyblades and Pokemon cards.
Ahh fair point haha
I don't think it will TOTALLY replace toys unless people become like full time batteries for the Matrix. However with VR making rapid inroads, I could certainly see a big drop in regular toy use being quite possible. If I were to go into the toy industry, I'd look more into niche and custom areas that are harder for big industry to compete in. For instance those real life looking baby vendors seem to be doing well. Also there custom toys that match people's pets and also toys FOR pets. Or maybe look into all natural hypo allergenic hemp with herbs or some kinda niche like that. I would not want to be trying to compete with disney and the dollar store with regular plushies but I think there will long be room in the niche toy arena. Also helps a lot if what you do simply can't be replicated by the big toy industry. Because I've seen time and again that someone comes up with a genius idea for something and starts selling it well at first only for big industry to make sometimes similar (only different enough to dodge whatever patent you may have) and quickly flood the market at lower prices and drive the original creator out of business. I also feel like it's sort of a hard market to get into in general because the hot toy trends tend to be short lived. Although it occurs to me another thing you could do is make parts for people who themselves make toys, maybe hair, eyelashes etc for dolls, custom clothing, etc. Art supply seems to be a bit more of a stable industry but still leaves a lot of room for your whimsical and fun loving side.
Lots of ideas to unpack here. Thank you so much.
I can’t speak for the whole, but my kid is barely interested in toys because he has no one to really play with them. For that reason, he favors tablet / mobile games. He sees toy commercials today and is not really interested in any of them.
Same, my baby is an only child & his cousins all live hours away
As a parent, I see more parents obsessed with toys, than kids. I know some parents who buy a lot of the more sophisticated toys for themselves, also grown men who play with Legos. It seems like they pretend to be buying it for their kids, but they aren't.
The kids seem to only want video games.
We can actually do with more toys for adults that helps them cope with banality of life and screens.
IMHO it has to do with the amount of tv commercials for toys reaching kids.
I've never bought cable as an adult and pay for ad-free on the few streaming services I do have. My 9yr old has never been exposed to the deluge of toy commercials like I was as a 90's kid. The things she does ask for are things she actually wants and will play with consistently. Win-win in my opinion.
My friends who do have cable...their kids are ALWAYS begging for new toys even though their houses are flooded with them in every room. Does not teach them to value what they do have and conditions the kids to always want more or the newest thing NOW. It's ridiculous.
Personally, I dearly miss Toys-R-Us. They had some pretty cool shit, even for adults.
Way too much stimuli with screens that toys just cant compete with. Kids dont need an imagination when the tablet does all the thinking for them.
Source: has kids.
Toys are not video games. Video games are not toys. Neither will ever supplant the other, any more than TV/movies will ever completely supplant books - even as entertainment.
Video games have encroached on toy popularity since the 1980s, and have continued to do so as they've become more capable and ubiquitous.
Toys will continue to be sold, and it wouldn't surprise me if total toy sales actually increase as population rises, but it won't be to the level it might have been if video games never existed.
Video games will never fully replace toys for many reasons. First, it would take a massive paradigm shift for parents to unanimously decide that video games should take up 100% of their child's free time. On average the amount of time children play video games has certainly gone up in the last 20 years but I don't think it will come anywhere near 100%.
Next, young children just aren't capable of much gaming. The developmental hurdles for video games are FAR higher than hands-on play.
Lastly, kids crave physicality. My five year old nephew has a tablet that he plays games like Roblox etc etc and he certainly does spend a bit of time gaming. However, he will play video games for a bit and then go immediately back to playing with his army men figures and Hot Wheels and he would never give up one for another.
I have an 11-year old boy. Video games replaced television for him much more than they replaced toys. He still (voluntarily) plays with toys but watches basically nothing. He does play a lot of video games.
Yes 100% I find myself glued to my phone constantly. It's pathetic. I can't hardly watch a movie because I'd rather stare at my phone for hours
Same is happening with kids but at much younger age. Their level of patience is decreasing.
Classic toys are still popular. My daughter (6yo) recently had a birthday party. Her friends got her many popular toys-Magic Mixie, rainbow corn and other “fad” toys. She also got Lego, some dolls and art products. All of these things were on her wish list. She immediately played with the Lego, dolls and art supplies. The “fad” toys sat for over a week before she touched them and she played with them for only a short time
What are the fad toys?
I would only start a toy business if I wanted to lose money
Why so? Very interested to hear that from you.
It’s a trash business model. Low margins, limited customer base. Competition with Amazon and Walmart. Requires a store front, inventory and employees. Seasonality. If you want a job, you’d be better off buying a McDonald’s franchise.
What you are saying is correct. I wouldn't give a 12 yr plus kid a toy anymore
Five years later this age would be 8 or 9
Ps I am a toy manufacturer
Wow. Are you looking to pivot to something else rn?
No you find your little niches ..the industry is booming
My kids have their own (parental controlled and alloted timers) tablets, they still play with Legos, barbies, trucks, riding the bikes, swinging.. funny thing is, they always ask me to play the Xbox so they can watch.
Nice. You have got a cool audience.
Toddlers are in constant evolution. Mine just want an iPad.
Santa will need to setup iPad factory and shut down the toys department I fear.
That’s the way.
My toys got bigger as I aged.
I now have an electric car
haha. I hope you enjoy 'playing' with your new toy.
Toys are still relevant unto a certain age but that age threshold is decreasing year by year. IPad and mobile phones have replaced toys for a lot of kids. IPad is held in the hands of 4-5-year-olds nowadays.
There’s also sports
only those buy sports equipment who are enrolled in clubs or play sports at school. Those things are expensive and hence all the big businesses have got their loyal customers. I wonder if small to medium players can compete in this space.
I actually believe that a lot of people are trying to move away from digital forms of entertainment. Like we spend all of our time looking at screens so not looking at screens for recreational activities seems to be the future
So my username checks out and I have a lot ot say about this.
The question shouldnt be about toy popularity. Instead,
What toys are popular amongst kids?
Literally anything really. Even those that aren't even toys. Since my kid was born, my kid would rather choose a box or some other stuff over toys. She picks up leaves, twigs, stones. She wanted to play with tissue rolls and papers and cut them. Toys bore her. She figures out this wooden fish puzzle, then never touches it ever. She liked blocks though, and of course Lego. Anything that encourages creating or focusing on stacking, building, colors, etc.
It's interesting if you'll ask them, what do you consider as a toy. They will definitely not just say anything you find at Toys R Us.
The best kind of toys are those that aren't fixed. That leaves enough space for the kids to create.
Hence why Minecraft is so popular.
If you just let them in a room full of paper and pens and whatever stuff that are safe, they'll be able to entertain themselves and see it as playing.
Another question would be, what do kids consider as play? It isnt all about playing with toys.
The popularity of toys may be coming from an adult's perspective. Seeing that games from the app store are cheaper and more stimulating for kids, seeing that leaving the kids on their tablets is easier than leaving them with toys. Because tablets are better babysitters than toys. Better to hold their attention. So thats why traditonal toys arent as popular. Its not what the adults would want to spend on.
wow nerdmommy, thanks for that perspective. A unique one really. Kids want a miniature version of the physical world around them to experiment and to better understand it. I am surely keeping this in mind.
Yes for small kids. Having them myself I see how fast we have to change them up based on learning and where they are at in their development.
There is a store here in Austin, TX called bricks and mini figs. Completely devoted to selling pieces of legos, kits and collectibles.
One of our sons friends had a birthday party there and I was curious to go as I couldn’t imagine a business like this having a brick and mortar location and making it. It just seemed like such a niche market that you’d have to do it online.
It was slammed.
Young kids and even older dudes walking around, looking for specific pieces or figures. And get this..those mini figurine legos ranged in price from $5-$50! Can you imagine that mark up.
There’s something about holding something in your hand, creating it and then utilize it that I don’t think will be substituted in our monkey brains, unless we ever reach a point where from birth your world is digital or VR and we evolve out of valuing that.
But then again, we might be using virtual tools then but thinking they’re real…or maybe we’re already in that VR world and none of this is real and….nm.
No, I’m not high.
Haha no I get you. I don’t know what the future will look like. But till that mysterious sci fi future arrives, toys will stay. That’s what I gathered from this comment section.
And I learnt recently that there are no small niches. Every niche has thousands of customers and that if we succeed in providing them a value then we will succeed in our small business. Right?
I suppose that’d depend on how much profit you’re making per unit. But yes, it does come down to what are you really offering that’s valuable.
Toys and kids have never decreased in popularity.
Adults trying to understand the toys that kids want to play with however has shown how Unimaginative most adults are.
The fidget spinner is an example of what I mean.
I do think most adults lack imagination and therefore lost the ability understand toys. I would imagine most advice in this space comes from a left brain dominated marketing type person..
Got to think this over from a kid’s perspective and their imagination. Correct?
As a mum of 2,toys are definitely here to stay! Also puzzles and books are still doing well 😊
That’s actually great to hear haha.
Instead of going obsolete, I see the toy industry merging with digital industries as we head into the future. As I see the shift already happening with some toys on the market, I believe in the future there will be a mass adoption of toys with more bonus digital use cases (Augmented/Virtual Reality or even Modding)!
There is an uptick in IoT/smart toys. Mainly toys which interact in some form with kids. It is still in infant stage. But won’t this be costly?
I have a 5, 8 and 10 year old. It’s amazing how little they play with toys. There are a select few they like and everything else just sits. They get excited when they get a new one as a gift but after a few hours it’s never touched again.
It’s funny, we don’t have cable, just some streaming services so the kids don’t see commercials, they don’t know what’s out there. Commercials and the Sears Xmas catalog were the only way I had any idea what toys I wanted 40 years ago, I think that has a lot to do with it
Do you suspect any reasons for them not wanting to play with toys or getting bored so easily?
I wonder if we did this in our childhood. I can’t remember mine lol.
Video games are bad for you (and especially kids). It's a fact, but very few will admit it. People are like but but but it increases my dexterity and stimulates my brain some! Well, pretty much any other activity in life will do all that and more.
Basically, they fuck your brain up with an overload of dopamine, make you addicted, and eventually you become short and irritable with people. Then you no longer enjoy anything else cause your brain already got fucked with dopamine overload!
Will people admit this is a problem over the next many years? Probably not.
I have seen my nephew getting overly competitive and angry while playing games.
Not sure how much video games are to be blamed but I hear you.
I disagree and i agree with your statement. You see kids play with things in a couple stages in their development. Some of these toys are educational toys that parents buy for their developing child. Some of these toys are purely merchandising. The power ranger figures, the action figures, iron man etc, based on the childs favorite show or movie. Then there are Unique toys, such as legos, fao schwarz. These are creative toys that help kids express their creativity. lastly its the collecting "toys" Yu-Gi-Oh, magic the gathering, pokemon cards etc.
All of these sectors of toys are doing great. Infact their sales have been better than ever. Lego for example is having a huge boom both with adult collectors/builders and children.
The sectors that are seeing terrible returns are those random dolls, plushies, and toys that have no real basis of value for the child. the random doll or random bear "toy" is pretty much dead. What use to be an item parents use to buy for their children as a cheap substitute have all but died out. Why? well parents have fond memories of playing with "good" toys as a child and want that for their children. or they want to provide for their children something they couldn't get as kids themselves. Video games do have their time and place in child development years but its definitely not a replacement for physical toys and items.
If you want to see proof of this, find a local target and see how large their toy section is. its definitely very big more than double their video game section and rightfully so.
My kids don't give a shit about video games. It's all Legos, hot wheels, dinosaurs, etc.
Kids want every toy they see some other kid on YouTube playing with, so no.
Toys will never go away. It’s like saying books will go away because of EReaders. Yes they might decline but even as an adult I find myself going into toy shops to see what cool stuff they’ve come up with.