Spielwarenmesse: Interview Simba Toys: dolls as a reflection of current trends

Choose language


Mädchen kuschelt mit Puppe
  Movers & shakers

Movers & shakers

Interview Simba Toys: dolls as a reflection of current trends

from Harald Hemmerlein

Hardly any other toy portrays social developments and trends as realistically as dolls. Both retro dolls and modern fashion dolls with technical components are a firm favourite of buyers all over the world. That is why there is no “either...or” in the Simba Toys doll range, but a clear “and”, as explained by Maximilian Stork, Senior Product Manager, in our interview.

Spielwarenmesse®: Dolls are a classic among toys. Is their appearance simply based on prevailing tastes or are there true innovations?

Maximilian Stork: Dolls are still one of the classic toys to be found under any Christmas tree. The fundamental role-playing behaviour has fostered children’s development and will continue to do so. While playing, the child can give free rein to their imagination, feed and change the doll and potty train with it.

Of course there are true innovations in this product category as well. Technical enhancements play a key role here, but so does digitisation. Nowadays, dolls can speak, respond and interface with smartphone apps.

Your company operates internationally. What differences are you seeing in the demand for dolls in the various regions of the world?

M.S.: The Simba Dickie Group does indeed operate worldwide, and has its own subsidiaries in many countries. Essentially, there are different demand patterns in the various markets. This affects dolls only to a limited degree. In southern Europe, customers prefer dolls with elaborate functions, while greater value is placed on traditional doll and play worlds in northern countries. However, in principle, it is important to recognise that children all over the world just love playing with dolls!

Current market research may produce an unclear picture when it comes to dolls as dolls are literally on offer everywhere - from funfairs to factory outlets. How high do you think is the annual turnover in the German retail trade, for example, and is there momentum?

M.S.: Dolls are still absolutely synonymous with toys and are therefore offered in almost all sales channels. In Germany, we estimate the annual volume of turnover in the toy trade to be approx. 260 million euros.

The market environment and its development are characterised by momentum. The doll market has grown by 7% compared with last year, driven not least by market leader Zapf Creation and other leading manufacturers such as Bayer, Heless and the Simba Dickie Group.

There seems to be a bitter fight going on at the moment between the traditional and modern when it comes to dress-up dolls. Presumably, this does not perturb the SIMBA DICKIE GROUP as it has a foot in both camps?

M.S.: There has always been a balancing act between traditional and modern when it comes to dress-up dolls. This is the nature of the category. Fashion dolls are all about current styles and trends. For example, we have a new addition to the range in the form of Steffi Love with a selfie stick. But you cannot lose sight of traditional play themes either, such as Steffi Love as a horse rider. We really are backing both horses in the race in this regard. 

What role do licences play in the doll business?

M.S.: At first glance, traditional dolls are of only minor importance in the area of licences. The licensing topic predefines the product category and associated target group and can therefore automatically limit the role for dolls.

However, the right licence can also offer enormous potential, as with the soft body and functional dolls from Simba Toys under the “Masha and the Bear” licence at the moment. These represent the perfect symbiosis between traditional play values and a licence.

Be the first to know what moves the toy industry! With the Spielwarenmesse® newsletter, you get the latest information on toy trends and innovations, interviews with movers & shakers from the toy industry as wells as updates on current toy market developments worldwide. Register now!


Author of this article:

Harald Hemmerlein

Tags in this article:

Mentioned product groups:


Stay informed with trends and developments of the toy market. Register for one of our newsletter.



Stay informed with trends and developments of the toy market. Register for one of our newsletter.