Looking at NPD figures for the year, it’s the likes of Frozen, Panini’s 2014 FIFA World Cup stickers, LEGO Minifigures and Loom Bands that have kept the tills ringing at toy retail for the past 12 months.
But this doesn’t tell the whole story.
What about the stores that have missed the Frozen craze as a result of dodging licensed products? What has kept the aisles of wooden toy specialists busy without LEGO blind bags to make up the numbers? And those traditional stores which don’t stock any tech-related products – what’s been flying off their shelves this year?
ToyNews has asked a blend of retailers what toys have defined their 2014. And some of the answers may surprise you.
Ben Redhead, Firebox
“We have seen an increased appetite from Firebox customers for connected toys this year, with lines like MiP and the Parrot MiniDrones performing excellently. However, the runaway success was undoubtedly the Sphero Ollie.
The app controlled adrenaline junkie has proven to be the perfect mix of feature-packed fun at a great price compared to other connected toys on the market, so we expect it to be putting some serious smiles on faces this festive season.”
Helen Gourley, ToyHub
“It’s Frozen. The brand has just been phenomenal. It would almost be unfair to name just one product because everything has done so well. If pushed, I would say the plush Olaf from Posh Paws. We had customers sending us photographs from their summer holidays showing ‘what Frozen things do in the summer.’”
Matt Booker, AutoMattic Comics and Toys
“This year it has been Minecraft for us. Funko’s Pop Vinyl range has also done really well, and we have seen table top gaming boosted by Will Wheaton’s online web series, converting many video gamers to board gamers. Meanwhile, Magic: The Gathering has also enjoyed a resurgence. But if I had to pick just one, it’s Minecraft.”
Paul Wohl, Argosy Toys
“Our number one product has been LEGO. It has just been amazing this year, we are well stocked up on it now, so there won’t be a problem for us on that front this year.
“Meanwhile, we don’t expect to have any Frozen stock left after Christmas. Anything with Frozen on is brilliant, I have got 30 different lines. The costumes from Rubie’s are also really brilliant. I have probably sold more of that line than I have of any other outfit, ever, in the full 27 years I have been here.”
Jane Powell, Over the Rainbow
“People come in for things like Orchard and educational toys, but people have stopped asking for Fireman Sam and Postman Pat. I’d say our top toy of the year is Britain’s Tractor. Why? Well, we are really quite strange here in Leek. We have strange trends around here.”
Neil Waite, Captain Neil’s Toy Chest
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been brilliant, but a lot of the vintage games have done really well for us, like Snakes and Ladders and Ludo.
“We have just moved premises and we are now building on our vintage range. Over the summer we delved in to Loom Bands, but then every shop did. This Christmas, anything with Frozen is going to be a big one. It’s hard to get hold of, but we’re all stocked now. And puppets seem to be doing well. We’re seeing a return to retro.”
Taz Harney, PR manager, Red 5
“Without doubt, the product that has defined our year has been the Q4 Nano Quadcopter. This tiny drone has won numerous awards, including Best New Toy 2014 at the ToyFair, due to the amount of groundbreaking technology contained within its tiny frame.
“The Q4 is our smallest quad yet and still manages to give incredibly stable and manoeuvrable flight, even at high speeds. With four channel, six axis flight you can even perform flips, tricks and more with a bit of practice.
“The Q4 Quadcopter is the greatest flying machine we have sold to date and has proved incredibly popular with our customers.”
Paul Warner, When I Was A Kid
“Our find of the year has been Ben Petit and his range of Alphabet Jigsaws. He is something of a one man band: he created, paints, packs and ships out his jigsaws which range in price from £15 to £40. They are simply like pieces of art. We stock 19 different styles and we have sold around £2,000 worth of his jigsaws in just four weeks.”
Stuart Grant, The Entertainer
“We have had an outstanding year on two accounts. Loom Bands has carried us through March to the end of August. Then we have had Frozen which has been around all year. It’s been incredible. We have never known anything as big as Frozen.”
Luan Hall, Fairies n Frogs
“100 per cent it has been Green Toys. I can put my hand on my heart and say these have just been flying off the shelves this year. All the kids love them. They are recycled bottle caps that have been turned in to cars, boats, skipping ropes and other things. They are just as tough as old boots. I just hope the big retailers don’t start stocking them and pricing us out of the market.”