Trend Spotting

Toys ignite a child’s imagination offering limitless possibilities. They also reflect cultural and societal trends unfolding within a generation.

At The Toy Association, we track what’s happening in the toy business, in other industries, at retail, and with kids and families to uncover the hottest trends shaping how children like to play.

Our team of trend experts meets with hundreds of toy companies throughout the year to preview what’s new and next in the world of toys and games. Our work culminates at Toy Fair New York, when the team hosts a presentation for media and play professionals unveiling the year’s top trends with product examples from the show floor. In the absence of the 2021 show, this year’s presentation can be viewed digitally.

Watch the Toy Fair Trends Video


2021 Toy Fair Trends

Rediscovering Play

During a historic year that saw the entire world shut down, families rediscovered the joys of spending time together and found value in bringing play into their daily lives in 2020 – a trend that is sure to carry forward in 2021. Families will be seeking new toys that promote togetherness, as well as inclusive playthings that can be enjoyed by kids of varying abilities and interests. This trend includes educational toys and activities that families can use to help their children learn new skills and subjects.


Not Just for Kids

The growing “kidult” trend was fueled by the pandemic, with more adults than ever turning to toys to bring some joy and levity into their lives. Toys and games have proven to be a means of escapism for adults and offer a way to reconnect with their own inner child. This trend includes games fueled by adult topics, social media trends, and other fads; collectibles and building toys that appeal to hardcore fans; and toys that invite casual fans into the fold across a wide range of fandoms.


Mixing in Music

Driven by social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok that have become incubators for viral music and dance crazes, toys that get kids moving and grooving are expected to grow in the toy aisles. This trend includes toys inspired by music-infused social platforms, channels, and programming; innovative new audio players that encourage screen-free play; unboxing toys that incorporate music into the reveals; and, of course, classic musical toys.

Zen-sational Toys

Toys aren’t just fun; they also serve up a healthy dose of emotional support and wellness in times of stress and uncertainty. According to The Toy Association’s Genius of Play initiative, families surveyed nationwide said playing together was the best way to help kids process their emotions. This year will see a growing demand for toys that help develop children’s social and emotional learning (SEL) skills, toys that promote mindfulness and self-care, and feel-good toys to make kids smile.


Socially Conscious Play

As families look for new ways to become better global citizens, toymakers are responding with toys that foster social responsibility and awareness. This trend includes toys that promote diversity and cultural awareness; encourage sustainability and minimize waste; promote the protection of endangered species; and give recognition to the essential workers critical to society.


Entertainment Update

In 2021, more theatrical releases will be moved to streaming services or will take a hybrid approach and launch both in theaters and digitally. Licensed toy sales will be driven by what’s happening on non-linear channels (Disney+, Netflix, HBO Max, and others) and, in the absence of live events, through video gaming (i.e. gaming systems, platforms, and brand anniversaries). Likewise, with continued delays expected for major blockbuster film releases, this will create new opportunities for original IPs bolstered by social media platforms (such as TikTok and YouTube) to cut through the noise and make an impact at retail across multiple categories.