Last week, from January 30 to February 3, Licensing Magazine was in Nuremberg to participate as a content and media partner at the Spielwarenmesse 2024, to capture the most recent industry news and trends.
The must-attend toy expo Spielwarenmesse took place in Nuremberg from January 30 to February 3. The 2024 edition featured 2,354 exhibitors from 68 countries (a 10% increase over last year) and 57,000 international visitors.
Soft toys that appeal to children and kidults, such as Bon Ton Toys‘ new Peanuts plush collection produced from 100% recycled PET, were unquestionably the most popular category among the products on show. It was also the year of wooden and sustainable toys, which dominated halls 3 and 3A. A very interesting product turned out to be Wobbel BV’s Macarons, an open-ended wooden toy that is ideal for games such as rolling, sliding, wobbling, spinning, and so on. With Basic Building Blocks – Multicolored by Haba, made of untreated beech wood and winner of ToyAward in the Baby & Infant category, the children get to know the basic geometric shapes through the medium of play and train their motor, sensory and creative skills.
Licensing became even more significant with the new License Lounge in Hall 12.0, curated by BrandMate, which represented licensors such as Paramount, NBCUniversal and Warner Bros., and allowed industry professionals to create key connections while also hosting nine License Talks on the first three days of the fair. The first day, moderated by Licensing International, featured a discussion of the most recent trends in licensing, ranging from the expansion of specific categories such as music and sport (+26% and +19%) to the resurgence in theatrical entertainment (Barbenheimer effect), and video gaming. Other conferences focused on kidult culture, and trends in manga and anime, examining the work of significant players such as Toei, Crunchyroll, and Vizmedia. Licensing Magazine was the content partner for the second day of talks, organising compelling interviews on new IP development with Massimiliano Piazzolla of Play Around and Cristina Camprubi of IMC Toys. Giovanna Sanzò of Sanrio conversed about the 50th-anniversary celebrations and the strategic importance of toys for the Hello Kitty brand. On the third day, the BrandMate team discussed with several speakers (Sven Thierhoff of IMG Europe, Licensing Expert Ute Stauss, Lisa-Christine Grey of TCC Global, Ervin del Castillo of G2 Esports) about sports brands such as the NFL, shopper marketing and loyalty programmes, and the world of e-sports, a $1.38 billion revenue sector that is increasingly benefiting the toy industry.
Relevant licenses at the exhibition included Garfield, whose next film will be released in May 2024 and is featured in items like Play by Play‘s colourful plush line. The Majorette’s 60th anniversary edition by Simba contains luxurious vehicles with nostalgic metal boxes, honouring Majorette’s connections with firms like Renault, Lamborghini, and Porsche. Super Mario and the Disney characters (particularly Stitch) are among the other licenses that Simba will be most concerned with. PMI Kids’ World will make its 2024 debut with a stunning transformation and a new logo. The company continues to establish ties with highly popular licenses such as Sonic Prime and Pudgy Penguins. The company is delivering fans of Stumble Guys a brand-new line of Booksy Monster Tales Collectibles, as well as two additional brands, which will be launched in Q1 2024. Mattel is capitalising on the mini craze with Barbie, releasing miniature versions of the brand’s most iconic dolls, vehicles, and playsets. Mini BarbieLand features fan-favourite Barbie lines such as Barbie Fashionistas, Barbie Color Reveal, Barbie Cutie Reveal, and Barbie Pop Reveal. Hot Wheels Let’s Race, an all-new animated children’s series from Mattel Television Studios inspired by Hot Wheels, the world’s best-selling toy, will premiere globally on Netflix on March 4. A new line of toys will also be released to commemorate the new television series.
The exhibition is not only a showcase for new licensed items, but it is also an opportunity to analyse industry trends. The kidult target is currently in the spotlight, as demonstrated to the industry by the Life’s a Playground – Toys for Kidsters, Kidults & Co. area in Hall 3A. Experts from firms such as Ultra Comix, one of Europe’s largest comic and toy stores, showcased new items, such as the Disney Lorcana card game by Ravensburger, and vintage games, as well as useful recommendations.
Presentations on the Kidults topic were also held at the nearby Toy Business Forum, with specialists such as Philippe Guinaudeau, CEO of the BrandTrends Group. The conference of Toan Nguyen, founder of Jung von Matt NERD GmbH, showed that many kidults’ purchases are motivated by nostalgia and escapism: 65% by nostalgic feelings, 69% by memories of childhood, and 74% by a desire to forget about daily troubles. Mattel announced an increase in new kidults toys under the motto Never Too Old for Play, while Fizz Creations‘ miniature games Tetris and Pac Man Arcade in a Tin received a Toy Award in the Teenager & Adults category.
International start-ups were present in the special StartUp Area (Hall 3A), and they should be kept in mind for future partnerships in the licensing market. Inöuqa is a modular, life-size construction set that encourages kids to develop imagination, motor skills, and independence. The ultralight, safe modules can be assembled endlessly. Schmetterline creates natural, ecological wooden games and musical instruments that are fun and enjoyable to play and learn! Flops is a game inspired by the Magis of Sun Ring, Sky Ring, and Dark Rings story. It allows youngsters to socialise, bargain with one another, and learn what it means to win and lose while providing a balance of physical and digital play. Weirdoh is the most sustainable modelling dough available, made from recycled unconsumed bread. Augmented Robotics uses powerful augmented reality and patented RoboLink technology to create virtual worlds based on real toys.
The Spielwarenmesse 2025 is going to be held from Tuesday 28 January to Saturday 1 February 2025.
Curated by Rossella Arena