Remember the year of the Cabbage Patch dolls? And the year of the Star Wars action figures? And the year of Teddy Ruxpin or Trivial Pursuit? And all the years when one specific toy or game seemed to be at the top of most everyone's list?
This year won't be like that, according to industry analysts. This year, they say, there is no single standout toy expected to dominate the market. Trendiness will take a back seat to timelessness this season, with a return to classic toys of the past."The basic baby doll appears to be regaining its popularity," says a company spokesman for Spiegel. "Perhaps the novelty of the do-everything doll has worn off, and there's a return to tradition."
"Back to basics is the thing to say to parents this year," says the director of merchandising for Best Products. "There will be no `Cabbage Patch' standout this year."
"No item has emerged as this year's `must have,' " says a spokeswoman for the Toys `R' Us chain.
Donald Thomson, president of the Toy Manufacturers of America, a trade association, says caution seems to be the watchword this year for both retailers and customers. "Retailers are cautious, extremely slow in placing their orders this year, and in the kinds of toys they order, too. They're taking fewer chances," he told Associated Press.
Thomson sees the following trends in this season's toys:
- A continued resurgence of popularity in video games, especially among young boys. The trend is led by Nintendo products, which are holding their popularity from last year. Last year home video games sales were estimated at $1 billion, and this year could equal that.
- Board games will continue strong. Pictionary is still the leader, with more than 10 million copies sold since it was introduced. But other board games are expected to do well, too.
- "Back to the basics" toys remain popular, like the "good play value" of Fisher-Price toys, make-believe toys, and construction sets such as Duplo and Lego. Barbie and G.I. Joe are still in the list of best-sellers.
That's not to say you won't find any new offerings out there. Of the 150,000 items to choose from this year, more than 5,000 are new.
- the Roger Rabbit talking stuffed toy, expected to do well in view of the popularity of the Roger Rabbit movie. Roger shows up in other forms as well.
- Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sword-toting, masked, teeny-bopping reptile figures are expected to be at the top of the action-figure category.
- Starting Lineup sports figures that are replicas of heroes from sports. The lifelike figures are dressed in team uniforms, complete with logo and number.
- Always Sisters dolls that feature a set of three sisters, baby, middle and older, each with a family resemblance.
- Last year's popular food category has been expanded to include the Magic Scan Checkout Counter and the Now You're Cooking series.
- Mickey Mouse on everything from watches to sleeping bags, as manufacturers take advantage of the mouse's 60th birthday.
- A space shuttle model kit that includes fuel tanks, solid rocket boosters and a ground transport platform that moves the shuttle to the launch pad.
- Divorce Cope, a game that is supposed to help parents and children cope with divorce. Players are encouraged to talk about feelings as they go through the ups and downs of the board.
Toy and Hobby World magazine surveyed retailers to find the top-selling toys. Its list of the top 20 is printed below. But that list breaks into categories as follows, according to a UPI report:
- Top selling items for girls: Barbie dolls, Little Miss Makeup doll and accessories, and Fun With Food.
- Top selling items for boys: Nintendo, Micro Machines, G.I. Joe, Starting Lineup, Real Ghostbusters and Hot Wheels.
- Top selling items by categories: Games, electronics, preschool toys, plush toys, diecast toys.