Fresh from this year's big Dream Toys unveiling, Robert Hutchins delights in the refreshing platter of innovation on offer...oh, and an early Christmas dinner.
There is something deliciously primal about the process of eating Christmas dinner from a bowl.
The action of lifting the ramekin to the lips, tipping the head back and letting the roast potato slide gently down the gullet, is the culinary equivalent to achieving Zen.
It is largely for this reason that Dream Toys always presents such an attractive prospect.
Not only has the event in which many of the UK’s biggest toy retailers join forces to reveal their top toy predictions for the year become the signaling gun for the start of the Christmas countdown, but it’s also the only place in town where indulging in a bout of dinner-gulping in such manner is socially acceptable.
OK, perhaps that will never be socially acceptable, so instead let’s shift focus back to real reason many in the industry delight over the years’ big reveal: the toys themselves.
Unsurprisingly, a number of heavyweight kids’ licences enjoyed large-scale presence within this year’s line up of Dream Toys, from Star Wars and Thunderbirds to TMNT and perennial favourite, Frozen.
But while recent results from NPD state that movie-based toy lines have helped the industry to five per cent growth this year, with Jurassic World, Frozen and Star Wars taking sizeable slices of that pie, is success purely down to a brand’s big screen presence?
While the fact that movie-based toys also represent 15 per cent of all UK toy sales compared to 12 per cent last year, the team behind the Dream Toys 2015 selection also insists that diversity, innovation and great play value are the key themes behind this year’s hottest products.
And just a brief look at this year’s Dream Toys list in full reveals that the industry is certainly not lacking in inspired invention.
If 30 years ago you’d have asked your grandmother for a slotless racing set, chances are you’d have ended up with a ‘thick ear’. But today, Real FX’s revolutionary car racing track is redefining the genre and topping wish lists up and down the country.
Meanwhile, Flair is putting 3D printing in the hands of youngsters with its IDO3D Deluxe 3D Design Studio, sand is taking on a whole new kinetic form courtesy of Spin Master and toilet humour is still – and thankfully – very much the highest form of wit, thanks to Drumond Park’s Og on the Bog game.
That’s just to name a few of the big brands championing ingenuity in the toy space this year, and as we all know platforms such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are harbouring a whole lot more.
Hasbro is certainly not ignorant of the fact that crowdfunding sites have been gaining popularity at the rate of knots over recent years and this week revealed the finalists of its crowdfunding gaming challenge.
Whittling down more than 500 entries from across the US to a lucky five, Hasbro will now go on to select one title to be turned into a real Hasbro game.
With titles such as HEXES, Irresponsibility: The Mr Toast Card Game, Warning! Signs, SUNK and Touchy Feely to choose from, it looks like the firm has its work cut out in picking a winner.
But whoever the winner, here’s hoping ToyNews will eventually be sharing a bowl of Christmas dinner with the creators in the near future.