The latest edition of the Spielwarenmesse has just been held in Nuremberg, from 1 to 5 February. The important toy fair was finally back in attendance after the last two digital-only editions due to Covid. It was also an opportunity to discover the latest licensing trends and innovations.
Toys represent the second largest licensing category. This is one of the reasons why Spielwarenmesse, the international toy fair for professionals, takes a great deal of notice of everything related to licensing, and gladly welcomes all new licences presented by companies.
During a meeting with Steve Reece, Kids Brand Insight, the future of toys was discussed. The trends of the moment that are set to last are niche toy, kidult, whose product sales have grown by 40%, sustainability and tech toys. These trends are also reflected in licensed toys.
The 2023 edition saw the birth of the Brands for Fans themed section, with several products inspired by classic and new entertainment characters.
These included Asterix: The village banquet by Playmobil, the Marvel-licensed products Guess in 10 – Marvel Edition Card Game by Skillmatics and Nano Pods by Wow! Stuff, the first collectible with a hexagonal connection system that allows unique structures to be built, the lamp by Grupo Erik featuring the beloved kitten Pusheen, the Super Mario™ Rally Tennis game by Epoch Traumwiesen, the Harry Potter Firebolt Racing Broom by Fame Bros, a 165 cm replica faithful to the film, made from natural materials.
Other licensed novelties come from Globe Trotoys E.U.R.L, which presented Original Kiprokos the Zebra Plush, a uniquely designed plush, the child of a zebra and a unicorn. Funko launched Bitty Pop!, with new figures in a smaller size. Trefl brought the 1000-piece puzzle dedicated to the Avengers. Famosa by Giochi Preziosi created the Trotties, girls who travel the world, making a TV series, dolls, apps and digital content.
Acamar Film has a wide range of toys dedicated to Bing, created by Master Toy Golden Bear Toys, with many playsets and soft toys. New products include Bing Lights & Sounds Fire Engine, Talking Rainybow Bing and Peek-a-boo Bing.
From Zag Entertainment comes Zag Play, the new toy production division. In just a few months, a Miraculous line was born that spans ten categories, with real working sewing machines and cash drawers, innovative slimes and stationery.
The Toynamics group offered the new Hape brand products with their mascot Pepe, as a little wooden dog that responds to voice commands. It distributes the Nebulous Stars and Dinosart brands, which encourage creativity and self-esteem in children. Kruselings is instead a collection of dolls inspired by the historical Käthe Kruse brand.
The Paw Patrol licence celebrates 10 years with a large presence at the fair. Dedicated products include the AR Tatoos&Stickers by HoloToyz, which won the Startup Award. Scanned with an app, the cute police dogs Chase, Zuma & Co. come to life as 3D animations.
Many successful licences were present at the fair. Gabby’s Dollhouse, in the global top 3 of Netflix kids shows in 2022, with 600M+ views on YouTube since launch, has Spin Master and Lego as key partners. Jurassic World, with $1bn at the global box office, is the No. 1 action figure licence, and has Mattel, Lego and Schmidt as key partners. The Squishmallows brand won the 23rd TOTY and introduced new licensed products such as Monopoly and Pokémon. Many iconic products were born from the Paris 2024 Olympics brand: Mascots, Mugs, Pins, T-shirts… Gang Beasts is a multiplayer game with fun characters fighting in absurdly dangerous environments. The first toys are plush and action figures.
In addition to the presentation of new products and licences, great space was given to licensing with the professional License Talks, organised with the support of Licensing International, Licensing Magazine and BRANDmate.
Bethan Garton, The Point 1888 illustrated how successful IPs from various sectors (publishing, gaming, digital content…) can give rise to amazing toy lines, for example as for the Youtube original show Super Sema and the BBC programme The Repair Shop.
Philippe Guinaudeau, BrandTrends emphasised the importance of streaming content, which raises brand awareness. For this, manufacturers and retailers are increasingly collaborating with these services, creating licensed merchandise, using advertising services on platforms, and developing interactive toys.
Francesca Romana Gianesin presented the new logo and the most recent IPs of Moonbug, JJ’s animal time and It’s Cody Time, also focusing on the toys born from their contents.
Helena Manfell-Stopher, Products of Change focused on sustainability, outlining ways in which the EU could achieve its ambition of becoming the world’s first neutral continent by 2050. In 2023, the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is coming into force, whereby every producer becomes more responsible for the packaging they use.
Jiella Esmat, Amuse Animation provided new perspectives for companies, calling for a greater dialogue between Toy World and animation, creating new animated content from toys.
Nick Richardson, The Insights Family recalled how 86% of toy purchases are influenced by children. Children’s aspirations are now strongly focused on digital and information content, and there is a great interest from families in the topic of mental health.
Curated by Rossella Arena