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Guest blog: Andy Myall, Editor of Toys ‘n’ Playthings September 28, 2009

Posted by BCME UK in PR, Social media, Toys & Games.
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Editor of UK toy trade magazine Toys ‘n’ Playthings Andy Myall writes about this year’s big Christmas toy.andy

In my job there are two questions I’m asked most frequently. The first is: ‘So do you get to play with toys?’ (Answer: yes). And the second is ‘What’s going to be the big toy for Christmas?’ (Haven’t got a clue).

Predicting what’s going to be the number one Christmas toy is usually hard enough, but for this year it’s especially difficult, due to a number of factors I’ll touch on in a moment.

‘Parents search/fight for toy’ is a headline the press love at Christmas – they even made a film about it – and it’s easy to accuse toy suppliers of engineering shortages to create free PR. The only problem there is, they make more money the more they sell, and toy companies prefer making money to not. The issue here is that decisions need to be made in the first part of the year as to what will sell, and in what quantities, in the second part of the year – due to Far East manufacturing and shipping times. This usually means that when one toy does prove to be a winner above all others available that year – Tracy Island and Teletubbies are the two most recent examples in this country – supply has no hope of keeping up with demand.

Even so, in any given year anyone in the toy industry with half a brain should be able to suggest half a dozen toys or range which will do well at Christmas. Adding to the complication this year though is what has been termed ‘The Woolworths Effect’. Dear old Woolies accounted for around 15 per cent of the toys sold in the UK before it was wiped off our High Streets at the turn of the year. Despite its big name competitors rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of all those extra sales up for grabs, those in the know were able to foresee that the Woolworths customers have fragmented across the entire industry, with small independent shops the main beneficiaries. Woolworths shoppers were High Street shoppers, mums and dads taking their kids into town on a Saturday, and Toys R Us, Tesco and Asda can’t be found in these places, so the consumers have migrated to the nearest option, which proved to be local independent toy shops.

Compared to a Woolworths these stores carry a wide variety of product, so these consumers have been exposed to many more toys, which has resulted in sales spread across more suppliers and more toys than ever before. Ranges which have benefitted the most form this sea change at retail are classic toy brands like LEGO, Playmobil and Sylvanian Families, while there’s also bee a resurgence in interest in traditional items like wooden toys.

All of which makes predicting this year’s big toy harder than any year I can remember. But lets have a go anyway. The ranges I’ve already mentioned will still be big, especially LEGO. Added to those big licences will continue to sell well, such as Ben 10 , Star Wars Clone wars and Transformers. Something new to look out for will be Waybuloo. Pre-school licences always do well and Waybuloo stands out on it’s own as this year’s key introduction. It’s been on air since May – long enough to establish demand, is parent friendly, and manufactured by Mattel under its well respected Fisher-Price brand.

Games are another area which could do well – traditionally board games make great christmas presents, but there is evidence to suggest that with all the staying in people have been doing this year, playing games is one of the things they’ve been doing, and with video game sales on the slide this year, the traditional approach could be back in a big way.

Please don’t hold me to any of these, and don’t come crying to me if you buy a lorry load of Peek & Pull Yojojos to sell on eBay closer to Christmas and can’t get rid. Not my fault sunshine. But for now, this is my best educated guess. Media event Dream Toys at the end of October will really kick off the press talking about Christmas toys, although their own agenda may then kick in (too expensive, not enough of them, too electronic etc etc). But whatever happens, Christmas, kids and toys go together, the last three months of the year are the most exciting in my business. Although if I really knew exactly what would sell, I’d be a retailer…


1. Guest blog: Andy Myall, Editor of Toys 'n' Playthings « Chocolate Fix | ClassicToyline.Com - September 28, 2009

[…] See original here:  Guest blog: Andy Myall, Editor of Toys 'n' Playthings « Chocolate Fix […]

2. Tnelson - October 1, 2009

Hey, I found your blog while searching on Google your post looks very interesting for me. I will add a backlink and bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!

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