Adults are a bright spot for the toy industry.
Today’s tech-immersed kids are wreaking havoc on the ailing toy industry, with one category as the exception: Classic toys that also appeal to adults. As an example, U.S. sales of Lego and other kid-assembled toys such as Mega-Bloks and Tinkertoys jumped to $1.6 billion last year, a 23 percent rise, according to NPD Group. Indeed, there’s been a steady sales increase in old-fashioned building-block toys since 2007, due in part to adults fondly recalling their own youth. During the recession, parents sought out simpler, more affordable toys that kids would play with over and over again rather than the flashy, tech-laden wonders that often get quickly tossed aside. In some cases, adults are buying them for themselves, and toymakers have taken note. Check out the impressive Lego kit for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.
Major licensing deals are also roping in adults nostalgic for franchises that hark back to their youth, such as Lego’s Star Wars and Lord of the Rings lines. A new company in the U.K., Dudebox—founded by the original licenser of Star Wars memorabilia in Europe—is developing a line of collectibles for adults, including 4-foot statues designed by American street art legend Ron English. Product makers are taking notice: Style store Fab.com hawks Lego and robot cufflinks alongside pricey designer backpacks. The classic toys boom also squares with one of our 10 Trends for 2012, Objectifying Objects: the idea that tangible items are taking on a new allure in an increasingly digitized world.
Meanwhile, Hasbro has gone Hollywood, with big-screen versions of Transformers and G.I. Joe (which have reaped the company more than $3 billion) and now Battleship, a PG-13-rated action film based on the 45-year-old board game. The company also has plans for adult-targeted films inspired by Risk, Monopoly, Candy Land and the Ouija board. Clearly toys are becoming more than just fun and games.