The fortnight prior to Christmas can account for as much as 12%
of total toy sales. As such, trends relating to toys and toy sales are heavily scrutinised by retailers. Moreover, competition between retailers is gains a lot of momentum during the Christmas period.
One such retailer, Argos
conducts research every year on what toys are likely to be the most popular toys sold over Christmas.
This article looks at trends relating to the purchase of toys in 2019, including this year’s research conducted by Argos
and will highlight what the key toy sales trends are likely to be in the run up to Christmas 2019.
Coming in at position 8 on the Argos toys list, these dolls are designed to encourage imaginative play and they feature four colourful characters – Marsha Mello, Jessicake, Peppa-Mint and Donatina. Aimed at pre-school age children, they all have glittery eyes, “rooted” hair and clothes that can be changed and collected. The line of toys comes with mostly food-themed accessories and several play-sets including the bear fridge, kitty supermarket and the bunny shopping cart.
Accompanying the dolls are videos that appear on Instagram and You Tube
. On YouTube
, a musical Kindi Kids and Rainbow Kindi series depicts how the toys can be used in play. The Instagram series includes performances by four-year old twins Mila and Emma Stauffer depicting how they play with the dolls and ideas for their use in play.
The dolls retail at 25 GBP per unit and are designed to be part of a collectable range, with children being able to collect all four dolls and the various clothes and play-sets that are designed to accommodate the figures.
Buzz Lightyear Toy
Top of the Argos list this year is a walking and talking Buzz Lightyear toy
. There is a small switch on Buzz’s head and a red button on his front and when both areas are activated he walks back and forth and speaks a number of phrases recorded by Tim Allen.
This toy is actually part of a huge range of toys featuring the Toy Story
brand. Included in this line of toys are a glow in the dark spaceship, action figures including Bo Peep and Woody and one figure that speaks over 20 phrases.
Lego Harry Potter Knight Bus
The Lego Harry Potter Knight Bus combines two very high profile and popular brands – Harry Potter
, to capture the imagination of children and encourage interactive and fun playtimes for children. The bus is featured on the Harry Potter film Prisoner of Azkaban, and little figures can be assembled in the seats on the triple decker bus, which has a convenient carry handle that folds into the top of the bus, when it isn’t in use.
The Bus toy is priced at 35 GBP and is number 3 on the Argos toys list.
Fortnite Battle Bus
battle Bus is priced at 40 GBP and is at number 2 on the Argos Toy list, just behind the Buzz Lightyear toy that claims the top spot. The bus comes with figurines that can be assembled inside and outside of the bus.
LOL Surprise Dolls
The LOL doll has proven to be very popular with children, with MGA Entertainment
reporting that sales of the doll have increased from $600 million
to $4 billion between 2018-2019. Its underlying concept has however attracted criticism from parents and experts alike.
The idea behind the LOL doll is that the doll itself contains a series of surprises, one of which is the actual doll that is included in the purchase. LOL dolls come pre-wrapped so you never know what doll you have bought until it gets unwrapped. LOL dolls also come with accessories, and these need to be unwrapped as well. The dolls are incredibly detailed and life-like, which is one of the reasons behind their popularity. As the CEO of MGA Entertainment, Isaac Larian
puts it “you cannot put garbage in a box. People think that you can put anything in a closed box and kids will buy it. Kids are very smart. They’re looking for uniqueness, they’re looking for detail, they’re looking for cuteness”.
One of the most popular LOL dolls at present is the “coded” doll, which has 15 layers of wrapping, each revealing a different accessory and the final layer revealing a box that must be opened with one of the codes that is contained in the wrapping. The box itself is a carrier for the various accessories that are contained in the doll. Another LOL surprise doll toy is the 2 in 1 Glamper, and this features at number 9 on the Argos list of toys that are likely to sell well over Christmas 2019. At 100 GBP, it features an intricately designed camper van, with seats at the front that have seatbelts and a colourful interior design.
LOL dolls have been top sellers at several outlets in 2018 and 2019, including at Target and Amazon. Some researchers have suggested that it was one of the top sellers for five days over the Thanksgiving weekend, including Cyber Monday and Black Friday. Fuelling its success are unboxing videos that show the dolls being unwrapped and opened by children in videos that are posted on You Tube and various other websites. The item is then reviewed and discussed. These videos that can attract millions of views, shares and likes.
While the concept behind the LOL doll is brilliant and has led to enormous sales and profits for the creators, several experts and parents have expressed concern about the concept itself and its potential to create harmful effects
for children. The “surprise” element of purchasing the doll is potentially addictive
, and some experts have noted a similarity to gambling because of the “rush” and “thrill” that purchasing an LOL doll can have. Since gambling is a regulated activity in the UK, and children can’t be admitted to premises where gambling takes place, the similarities between engaging in gambling and buying LOL dolls have proven to be quite controversial. At the very least, parents need to be aware of the potential for harm.
Featured at number 10 on the Argos list is the Owleez doll, a nurturing toy that has proven particularly popular with children in 2019. This doll can be taught to fly and is capable of physically flying around like a drone. One of the central premises of the character is that is can be “rescued” by the owner who then gives it a name and takes care of it. It is a small toy, fitting into the palm of a child’s hand, with a very soft feel to the toy’s material.
The toy has very large eyes that glow, and change colour depending on how the toy is “feeling”. Sensors located at the top of the toy’s head, its belly and under its beak ensure it has a range of responses to different stimuli. Additionally, it is motion sensitive so it can be rocked to sleep. When it is “happy”, it “coos” and it “whines” when it is scared or unhappy. It can be fed with red berries. The process of teaching the toy to fly is intensive. The toy’s owner must place the toy on its charger (aka its nest) and ask it if it is ready to fly. If it is not ready to fly, its eyes turn red and it makes a sad noise. When ready to fly, the toy stretches out its neck and spinning blades underneath the wings enable the toy to take flight like it is a drone or small helicopter. The claws are made of soft plastic, but this does not impact on its functionality as a novel toy which at 50 GBP per unit, certainly packs a punch and makes a lasting impression on its little owners and their imaginations.
Although not featured
on the Argos list of popular toys for 2019, the Poopsie Unicorn
which “poos” glitter is proving to be another top seller in the children’s toys market.
The idea behind the toy is that its gets fed white powdered “unicorn food” which then gets digested and “comes out the other end”. The doll is sold with diapers and can be cleaned and have its diaper changed. A button on her belly button opens her behind and she can poop slime as well as glitter.
These novel concepts and the ability to “take care” of the unicorn have captured millions of tiny imaginations and as such have proven to be a massively popular toy among children.
Furreal Cubby Bear
Combining the traditional bear concept with modern influences including interactivity and built in noises, the Furreal Cubby Bear
is another popular toy expected to sell well over Christmas 2019. It is currently number 7 of the Argos Toys list and costs 80 GBP to buy. It can dance, play peek-a-boo and hugs its owner when prompted. It comes with accessories including a bottle, a comb and a treat, and has two modes - playtime day mode and nighttime mode.
When fed, the bear makes eating sounds, and when it is spoken to, the bear responds with cute responses. Alternatively the bear can play four, five minute long musical compositions to encourage sleep and relaxation for their owners. It has movable facial features, with eyes, nose and mouth all capable of making unique expressions.
are bird-like creatures that mimic the process of hatching from an egg. Although not on the Argos Toys list this year, these toys are also expected to sell in high numbers over Christmas 2019. Hatchimals
are interactive and must receive communication and encouragement from their owner before they hatch. When hatched, they “grow” through several phases, and they learn more complex tasks as they develop. These toys can be reset back to their baby stage at any time, although they only hatch once.
Pets Alive Boppi the Robotic Llama
Featured at number 4 on the Argos Toys list is the robotic llama by Pets Alive, selling for 25GBP per item. This toy can dance and “twerk” to three preloaded songs and it is complemented by a range of You Tube videos, which aim to capture the imaginations of its little owners. Its ascent to the heights of being one of the most popular toys for kids this year was aided by it being featured in the 2019 New York Toy Fair.
The doll itself has a wide range of functionality as it swishes its head and shakes its “booty”, while running off four AA batteries. The manufacturer, Zuru
, a New Zealand based company has received awards for its innovation in the children’s toys market and it has made its name by creating a range of “living” toys including snakes, fishes and turtles.
Another collectable range of doll features on the Argos toys list – the Blume doll
is part of a wider trend for dolls that “hatch” or emerge from some wrapping, similar to LOL dolls and hatchimals.
Owing to its popularity it sits at number 5 on the overall Argos Toy list, and it is priced at 10 GBP per doll. The doll is designed to “sprout” from a flower pot when it is “watered”, so Blume dolls also have the “surprise” element that has allowed the LOL doll to thrive, as buyers do not know what doll they will get until after it is “grown”. The doll comes with a lot of accessories, some of which are included with the doll, but many of which can be bought separately.
After a few drops of water are added, the doll emerges, first as a large mane of hair. Different dolls have different hairdos and the individual hairstyles include hair that looks like waves, ice cream, rainbows, crystals and flowers. After the doll emerges, the pot it comes from can double as a play set for the dolls. Some doll owners decorate the pot with stickers and coverings, and when the doll isn’t being played with it can be conveniently stored in its pot.
Fisher Price Transforming Batmobile
Not all toys on the Argos toy list are “new” innovations. Many, like the Fisher Price
Transforming Batmobile are “old favourites” based on stories that have been around for many years.
Priced at 100 GBP the Batmobile is number 6 on the Argos Toy list. The toy comes with a Batman figure, a jet pack armour vest and a bazooka, and it is aimed at 3-8 year olds. The figures can be placed in the cockpit, where there is room for two figures (other figures are sold separately). Additional figures can be secreted away in the small compartment on the underside of the Batmobile. The vehicle itself has wheels without hubcaps and feature transparent wheel covers. The toy also “transforms”. When the figure is placed on the Batmobile and turned, kids will see the wings pop out and the wheels turn flat creating a flying batmobile.
This toy is designed for imaginative and narrative play and can be complemented with toys and figures either from the accompanying range of toys from Fisher Price, or with generic toys that are Batman themed.
Paw Patrol Super Paw Jet
Again powered by the inspiration of a well-known brand, the Paw Patrol
Super Paw Jet is a must-have for kids this Christmas 2019. Featured at number 11 of the Argos Toys list and priced at 60GBP the jet promises to ignite kids’ imaginations.
Peppa Pig Theatre Playset
The Peppa Pig
Theatre Playset is number 12 on the Argos Toys list. This toy draws on a popular kids character and may be complemented by the hundreds of videos and books of Peppa and her family’s adventures, to encourage imaginative playing and role-play among young children.
Priced at 40 GBP, it is an interactive unit designed to provide hours of fun for the lucky owner! It features steps up to a raised podium and platform, and seating galleries on either side for Peppa’s spectators. The play set allows for other figures (bought separately) to “attend” recitals and performances.
Which toys will sell best this Christmas?
Although not an exact measure, the Argos Toys list is a good indicator of what is likely to sell well over Christmas 2019. The list incorporates modern, innovative concepts such as interactive toys and toys that “emerge” from an outer shell or wrapping alongside more traditional toys like Harry Potter and Lego, suggesting that many “old favourites” are still on kids’ “parent pester lists”.
Retailers can use the list to help them order the right stock levels, and know what stock lines are likely to need to be replenished more quickly. The article has considered other toys outside of the Argos Toy list, based on what items have previously sold well at Christmas, to allow a comprehensive overview of what toys retailers should pay special attention to over Christmas to ensure sales opportunities arising from interest in these toys are effectively managed.