Wednesday to Sunday!
31 Jan – 4 Feb 2018
Big toy manufacturers, like Disney with Marvel Heroes, Mattel with Max Steel and Hasbro with their Transformers, pay special attention to their licenses for super hero products. This gives rise to particular pressure on the market, in the media and on the trade. Multi-channel marketing by the big firms enables them to finance films that are becoming ever more expensive and lavish, because the films generate interest in merchandising products, which in turn puts money back into the film industry. Action figures were always the best-selling toys and also the best advert in this segment.
Moreover, we’re meeting old friends again. The worldwide success of the teenage mutant Ninja Turtles and of Furby in 2013 confirms that resurrecting once loved characters can produce very satisfactory results. What adults may find old is absolutely new for children and if the product is upgraded in some way it immediately becomes attractive again. At a time when the saturated market is stagnating and new markets are being opened up the industry will inevitably adapt successfully tested concepts to bring them in line with new expectations and technologies. A number of classic games like Monopoly or Risk, that continue to be favourites in the western world, may even be novelties on the Asian market. Pokémon and Beyblade too have shown that just a few years after reaching their peak in popularity they can captivate the next generation of children. Disney also will again focus more on its classics Donald and Daisy, and we can expect them to be similarly very successful since these figures are as hugely popular today as they were in the past.
Toys have always been based on TV series and films. However, since the media world used by children has expanded greatly in recent years, characters from the Internet are now appearing on the market. Moshi Monsters was the first license to be based exclusively on a website and it became a huge success. The characters of Moshi Monsters turn up in, for example, Nintendo games, a version of Monopoly, as soft toys and also as construction kits by Mega Bloks. The little creatures are also found in books and stationery. Many others have adopted the same line. Since children of today spend much less time in front of a TV than in front of a PC, it’s no surprise to find that characters from the online world become highly successful. It will be interesting to see what new games from the world of the Moshi Monsters or the Angry Birds come onto the market.
And since we’re talking about new characters, forget sweet, cuddly characters. As the example of Moshi Monsters reveals, the next generation is tending to be strange, monstrous and ugly. The reason for this trend is presumably that there’s a limit to how many sweet little teddy bears can be designed - in the end, they’re all just sweet little bears. After all, the traditional characters have been exploited, it’s time for something new. The answer is something wacky. New play characters don’t have to be sweet; what they want to do is surprise or shock with their weirdness. That’s marvellous for children because these toys take them into territory where their parents don’t want to venture, the reason being that adults see only the ugly surface and not the particular value beneath it. And the positive effect for the market: the strange visual impact helps the characters to stand out from the traditional designs in the relevant age groups and to reach new target groups.